Category Archives: southern baptist convention

Sharpening our Focus, Renewing our Passion

(This is an article I wrote for the Illinois Baptist.)

Sharpening our focus, renewing our passion

This past June, Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines put together a task force charged with recommending how we might deal with the alarming decline in baptisms in our Convention. What a daunting task it is. Baptisms have declined precipitously for the past 17 years. We have gone from more than 400,000 baptisms per year, to less than 300,000. The needs in America are greater than ever, but our effectiveness in meeting those needs has plunged. This ought to greatly concern all of us who care about the Great Commission and this land in which we live.

The task force’s first meeting, held at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, was both disquieting and encouraging. We stared the terrible Continue reading

#SBC17 Our Greatest Need

If programs were our greatest need, the Southern Baptist Convention (and Evangelicals as a whole) would have accomplished all the Lord asks of us long ago. Programs are fine, even good. We need the practical application of our faith. But programs and methodology are not our deepest need.

If behavioral changes were our greatest need, we might whip people into obedience and call it a day. Right behavior is good, even critical. We need to do the things God asks us to do and avoid those he tells us not to do. But this is not our deepest need.

If cultural battles were our greatest need, we could Continue reading

#SBC17 My Hopes

The Southern Baptist Convention meets in Phoenix for the annual meeting in just a few weeks. This will mark the end of my brief service as 1st VP. While I wonder how the convention will ever make it without me in this role (I’m pretty sure no one else besides me is wondering that!) here are some of my hopes for Continue reading

#SBC17 What I Look Forward to in Phoenix

The Southern Baptist Convention is in Phoenix, AZ this June and it will be different for me. I am the 1st Vice President of the Convention this year. That plus .79 cents (plus even more for taxes) gets me a soft drink at Circle K. There isn’t much power to the position but I did have a chance to learn more about the SBC. I will even lead a brief part of the convention on Tuesday afternoon. (A good time for controversialists to make their move if ever there was one!)

Here is what I’m looking forward to at the convention in Continue reading

The Cooperative Program Rediscovered

One of the the things I want to do in my time of service with the Southern Baptist Convention is to encourage greater support for the cooperative program (CP). Oddly enough, more attention than ever has been paid to the CP through some recent dust ups with churches and the ERLC- one of our SBC agencies. Perhaps the CP is being rediscovered.

Every church in the SBC can decide how much- if any- they give to missions through the cooperative program. Every state convention can decide how much they forward on to national agencies. Every convention can debate the percentages that each agency should receive. But, I contend, the CP remains a marvel of opportunity. Here are some of the blessings of this method of mission giving.

First, the CP has been remarkably Continue reading

The Value of State Conventions

The Southern Baptist Convention is organized through state conventions. (Though some of the “state” conventions combine multiple states.) I suggest to you that these state conventions play a helpful, but underappreciated role in the work of our faith and denomination.
I’ve heard people predict or even advocate the demise of state conventions for years now. Are they necessary? Do they add a level of redundancy? That sort of thing. While I always appreciate efforts to make our work more effective and efficient, there are some benefits to the work of our state conventions that ought to be considered. Here are just a few.
1. They keep us locally focused. I appreciate a big picture approach to SBC life. But that big picture is made up of many smaller portraits. State conventions have the pulse of churches in their region that national entities can’t. No one knows more about the needs of my state better than my own state convention staff. The very fact that they live and worship here allows them to understand our needs in church planting and revitalization and discipleship in a way that is difficult for others. Continue reading

Encouraging Missions

I want to encourage the members and churches of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to be involved in missions. Not only do I encourage cooperative missions and support of the Cooperative Program (see my last post), I encourage every church and every member to be directly involved in missions. Here are two ways to do that.

1. Get involved by encouraging our International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries. Never have they needed encouragement as they do now. With hundreds of our most experienced missionaries leaving the field, those who remain need Continue reading