Love Loud: The Southern Baptist Convention 2009
Tomorrow I will fly to Louisville to attend the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s the annual meeting of the denomination to which I belong. This year’s theme is “love loud: actions speak louder than words.” I’ve been a Southern Baptist my entire life. Growing up a PK, the annual meeting also doubled for family vacation. Thanks Dad 🙂 I don’t go after the freebies at the booths as much anymore, but I still enjoy the convention.
I don’t hang my hat on any denomination. God can use any Kingdom citizen willing to serve. But I believe the SBC is one of the best representations of how believers can do more together than alone. Cooperating for the Great Commission is what most excites me about my denomination.
There’s always some measure of spirited banter at the annual convention. This year will be no exception, but I believe it will be a good meeting overall. I believe the SBC has a good future, but we do have our hurdles.
There are many worthy issues at the forefront – jumping on a Great Commission Resurgence, squelching our squabbles over tertiary and secondary doctrinal issues, changing the name of the denomination, increasing cooperative program giving at our churches, and empowering young leaders (I guess I’m one of the really younger ones at 29). All of which are important.
I see two issues that are critical to the future health of the denomination. I won’t pretend my concerns should be a priority, but my personal burden for the SBC involves these two areas.
More church plants where there is little evangelical presence. New churches reach people faster than established churches. We need droves of bold people willing to take risks for the gospel where soil is harder. Urban communities. Non-Bible-belt areas. Stable rural towns. College communities. We need to be louder in these areas.
An increased passion for small and traditional churches. There’s a lot of focus on large contemporary churches. Deservedly so. Many (obviously not all) of them are highly evangelistic and effective at assimilating people. Much can be learned from their successes. But the majority of churches in the U.S. could be described as “traditional,” “established,” or the “county seat first church.” The Southern Baptist Convention is no exception.
I’ll echo the sentiments of my father – don’t give up on the established or small church. If all the established and small churches went away, we could not replace them fast enough with church plants. And every church becomes established at some point.
Sure, many of these churches would budget for a flux capacitor and a DeLorean if it could take them back to 1955. But many of these churches have a strong desire to reach their communities. They’ve simply never had the right leaders to show them how. Southern Baptists need to be louder supporters of the small and traditional churches.
I believe the SBC loves loud. I believe we can turn the world upside down for Jesus. And I’m looking forward to a great future of partnering with my friends for the sake of the gospel. I’m stoked about loving loud.