By Jonathan Howe
This week, more than 5,000 Southern Baptists convened in Phoenix for the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. While I realize the audience of ThomRainer.com is a diverse one, many of you are Southern Baptist. In fact, we met numerous readers and podcast listeners while we were in Phoenix.
Whether you attended, watched online, saw some stories online, or were completely oblivious to the proceedings, there were several items of note from our time in the desert. Here are my six memories from this week:
- IMB’s Sending Ceremony and Presentation. The International Mission Board continues to be a force for the global spread of the gospel. We were blessed to commission nearly two dozen missionaries during the Tuesday night service. These commissioning services are great reminders of why we do what we do. But the IMB impressed with more than just the commissioning service. Dr. David Platt’s presentation on Monday evening was stellar. He walked us through the life of Adoniram Judson and connected his zeal for missions with that which is found in missionaries around the world today. It was a truly spectacular evening.
- Passing the Resolution on the Anti-Gospel of Alt-Right White Supremacy. The most public highlight of the week came on Wednesday as a result of something that didn’t happen on Tuesday. After much debate and procedural work, a resolution condemning the Alt-Right and White Supremacy made its way to the messengers Wednesday afternoon and was passed with a near unanimous vote.
- Presenting Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. with the Innaugural CSB Award. Dr. Mohler is a seminary president, Baptist statesman, and Bible scholar. He has influenced thousands upon thousands with his firm stance on the inerrancy of Scripture. It was only fitting that he become the first recipient of the CSB Award.
- A continued focus on evangelism. Regardless of the presentation, presenter, or topic, evangelism emerged as a common theme throughout the week. SBC President Steve Gaines appointed a task force to study the topic as well. An intentional focus on evangelism is needed in the SBC and beyond.
- Diversity in elections and nominees. Half of the elected officials this year were non-anglo. And it was good to see a more diverse group of nominees than ever before. Like evangelism, diversity takes an intentional effort.
- Engagement by younger Southern Baptists. It was again good to see younger pastors and staff making the trek to the SBC Annual Meeting. The need to show up and be involved is great and greatly obvious. But I am encouraged at the number of younger pastors I saw, talked with, and got to know this week. The future could indeed be bright.
The SBC Annual Meeting is always one of my most favorite weeks of the year, and this year was no exception.
Were you with us in Phoenix? What was your top memory? What did I miss?
Enjoyed reading this and glad too see such a great report. Looking forward to our convention next month. May God bless us also.
I would very much like to see the whole resolution thing done away with. It seems to me that nothing causes more division and accomplishes less then the passing of these basically meaningless resolutions.
I think you’d find more than a few people who’d agree. And many who would not. It’s a discussion point for sure.
My top memory? Meeting Jonathan Howe, of course.
You have a low bar for memories. 😉
The Grand Canyon was pretty good too.
I will be completely honest, I have never attended a SBC Convention or a State Convention. I abhor politics and grandstanding, which it seemed to me the two became to represent. I had a very good friend and mentor become severely hurt and jaded during his time of trying to serve in our state convention. That, with the many stories I heard from other pastors about their experiences there made me avoid it like the plague!! However, I am encouraged by your report. If we, not as a convention, but as Christians will be willing to put politics and “fear of man” behind us and move forward with evangelism as our focus, that is a cause and a group I’m willing to hitch my wagon too. Maybe I should attend our state convention and give it a legitimate shot? Thank you and God bless you for all the articles and info you pass along to us.
Thanks Michael. Give it a shot. Go with some pastor friends. You’ll enjoy parts. You’ll likely despise some parts too. But it’s worth being involved.
I have to agree with Michael. I simply cannot understand what the purpose or benefit is of the annual meeting. Since the churches of the SBC are autonomous any resolutions carry little weight. Most of the resolutions are simply the scripture restated in some manner. Of course we as Christians abhor racism. What does the story of the Woman at the Well and the Good Samaritan teach us? It appears to me we as Christians need to start living for Jesus and quit wasting money on conventions and conferences. It’s much like youth camp. Everyone gets pumped up for a few weeks and then it’s business as usual. Just think of the millions of dollars spent on the convention that could have been used for evangelism, missions. or local ministries.
Who are the Alt-Right White Supremacists ? Can you name one by name ?
Wikipedia says Alt-Right are among the conservative supporters of President Donald J. Trump. So is the 2017 SBC condemning in a vague way or making who ever supports President Donald J. Trump a suspect with being a White Supremacists ?
I for one deeply resent that kind of language. The race war has been fought and defeated years ago. True Christians believe all men are created equal.
Give me a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump, I’ll vote for Donald J. Trump any day of the week !
Some seem concerned with what the media says about us. No matter what we do the media will always find something to criticize us. Quit trying to please the media and focus on pleasing God!
We have done all that anyone can do and more (read resolution 10) as Dr. Gaines said. We just need to forget about trying to please the media, many of the reports that I have seen they still make us look bad (fake news)!
Let’s get busy and passionate about God and our ministries will answer our critics.
Just a few thoughts from me: 1) be wary of “Wikipedia articles”. They are user-submitted. 2) The Alt-right may have supported Trump, but so did Evangelical Christians, Log Cabin Republicans, and white Supremacist groups. Supporting a political candidate isn’t part of an integrity test. 3) If I would have to be classified as anything, I’d like to be a Christian above all else. God bless.
Joe Carter offers what seems to be well researched information re the alt-right. It can be found at the ERLC website as well at The Gospel Coalition.
As a new pastor of a small rural church, there were not funds this year to attend the SBC, but in years past, I found great joy in standing beside my brothers and sisters and making a point to let the world know of our evangelical thrust as Baptists. I was truly concerned by the low number of attendees, 5,000+, and I remember the days of 30-40K in attendance. Sure, those were days of some division and power struggling, but they were days of growth in many ways, nonetheless. I say let’s get a good ol’ stink going and build up our numbers. Just kidding. Reading this report of our 2017 meeting gave me a sense of involvement, so thank you for your descriptive words of the meeting. It was much more refreshing than having to read it in the secular media.
Thanks for reading, Lenny. And I hope you can join us in Dallas next year.
“Near unanimous” vote on condemning Alt-Right and White Supremacy? That’s extremely disturbing.
I understand your sentiment. In a hall that large, with roughly 5000 messengers, a unanimous vote is assumed to be impossible.
I only saw one “no” vote in the entire conference hall. Let that be the imagery of “near unanimous” for you.
5,000 messengers. One dissenting vote.
We face a deeply divided country and world. More than ever, we need to take the Lord’s Word seriously. We need to observe a Sabbath Day.
In the Jewish world, the Sabbath Day is Saturday because God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.
In the Christian World, our Sabbath Day falls on Sunday because Jesus rose from the grave on the first day of the week.
In any event, we need to observe a Sabbath Day, We need to do what we must do in six days and rest on the seventh. A good way to observe our Sabbath Day is to: 1. Worship and praise God 2. Read and reflect on God’s Word 3. Help others 4. Pray 5. Rest
I noticed that as in previous years, there was a good spirit among the Baptist family that was in attendance. When the original “alt-right” resolution was brought up and questioned as to why it was not brought out to the body, the committee was as kind as possible.
That same spirit became of total unity when the re-written resolution was published. When the time to vote came, there was no question as to where the convention stood. God’s greatest creation is mankind. Red or yellow or black or white, we are all precious in His sight. Let’s continue working together to share the Gospel with EVERYONE.
Thank you for sharing that information. Let us keep on keeping on until Jesus comes.