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Report on the 2009 SBC Annual Meeting Print E-mail

I.  Introduction:

 I want to put our series on the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit on hold for one more week.  Some of you have asked me some questions about the SBC annual meeting and I thought it might be best to go ahead and share some about that tonight.  As always, any questions are welcome.

 Let me begin with a little background for those who may not be familiar with the SBC annual meeting.  The Southern Baptist Convention meets every year in a certain city to offer reports, discuss business, and worship together.  In one sense, this gathering is a large business meeting.  Any Church that sends a certain amount of money to the Cooperative Program (CP) is allowed to send messengers to the annual meeting.  These messengers are allowed to vote on the business discussed and the election of officers for the Convention.  I was the messenger from Trinity Baptist this year. 

The annual meeting lasts two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) and is normally preceded by a Pastor’s Conference (Monday).  The sessions consist of music, preaching, reports by certain entities (Seminaries, Mission Boards, LifeWay, etc.), motions/resolutions from the floor, and other business (election of officers, etc.).  The resolutions, which draw much attention, are not actually binding in any way on local Churches.  Rather, they represent ideas that the messengers see as important and encourage local Churches to consider and follow.  Motions deal with policies and practices within the Convention and do not directly impact the Churches.  Thus, even though the motions/resolutions are not binding on our Church, they are important when it comes to the Convention as a whole.  The resolutions (and motions I think) go before The Resolution Committee first, who decides if they are appropriate and should come before the whole Convention, who then votes.

 That being said, let me just note some highlights and personal reflections from this years meeting.

II.  Highlights and Personal Reflections:

 A.  David Platt: I arrived in Louisville on Monday afternoon in time to eat some dinner and go hear a sermon at the Pastor’s Conference.  The sermon I heard was by David Platt.  He is a young (31 years old) pastor from a large church in Birmingham, Alabama.  His text for the sermon was Hebrews 13:11-16.  I won’t go over all that he said, but I do want to note that he actually did comment on the text and let it drive his sermon.  He called us to ‘go outside the camp’ with Christ.  He cautioned us against trying to build ‘lasting cities’ here on the earth.  He spoke of the importance of foreign missions and encouraged the pastors to be leaders in that.  I was very convicted by what he said and was excited that he was having such a prominent role in the annual meeting (he spoke again to all the messengers on Wednesday, see below).  His preaching and involvement in the Convention was very encouraging to me.

 B.  The Great Commission Resurgence: For the last six months or more, Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Seminary, has been calling for a ‘great commission resurgence.’  He preached a sermon in which he outlined what this means in 12 statements.  These statements included a call for renewed passion for evangelism and discipleship, a willingness to cooperate together for the great commission, and a discussion about the structures of the SBC and how we can improve them to be more efficient.  Many signed the statement and were supportive of the approach.  Others were seemingly not so excited about changing the structures within the SBC.  These changes could have a great impact at particularly the State Convention level.  Let me try and explain.  Churches in the SBC give to the Cooperative Program through weekly tithes and special offerings (Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon).  All that money goes first to the State Convention, for us, the Missouri Baptist Convention.  The State Convention keeps a percentage of that money and then sends the rest to the National Convention, where it supports the mission boards (NAMB and IMB), the seminaries (we have six), along with some other things.  Many have complained about the structure for several reasons, including: too much money is kept at the State level (40-60%), too much overhead for mission boards, overlap in objectives for mission boards, agencies supported by CP money that should not be, etc.  The GCR statement calls for an examination of seemingly all of this to make sure that we are being good stewards of CP money.  

 So what happened at the annual meeting?  Well, besides certain people speaking for and against the GCR, one motion was directly related to it.  Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, moved that the president of the Convention (Johnny Hunt) appoint a committee to review SBC structures and CP spending over the next year and report in 2010.  Although some spoke against the motion, it passed by a large majority when it was voted on.  Personally, I voted for the motion and see its passing as a good sign.  I am concerned about the structure of the SBC.  I am concerned about our stewardship of CP money.  I am concerned about State Conventions keeping such large percentages of the money.  Granted, my knowledge of it all is limited.  But if we as a Church are giving to the CP to support missions, then I want the large majority of that money to go directly to missions and not to the State Convention.  How can I ask people to give to missions when most of the money never actually supports work on the field?  I struggle with that question and I hope that some answers will be provided over the next year.  Many pastors (particularly younger ones) have led their Churches to not be a part of the SBC because of these concerns.  We are a long way from addressing them all, but I am at least more hopeful that these issues are going to be addressed in the years to come.

 C.  The Adoption Resolution: Personally, the most moving thing that happened at the annual meeting was the passing of the Adoption Resolution.  Russ Moore, Dean at Southern Seminary, who has adopted two boys from Russia, put forward the resolution.  Let me read some portions of it to you.  The Resolution was voted on Wednesday morning and passed unanimously.  After the vote, they showed a video of a young couple telling their adoption story and I was moved to tears.  Just a little while later, David Platt addressed the messengers and began by telling the story of his adoption of a son.  Needless to say, I was moved by it all.  I pray that God would indeed burden Southern Baptists to take the lead in providing homes for those who need them.  We have been known for our stance against abortion and I pray that we will also be known for this.  But even more than that, I just pray that Christian couples would adopt and that Churches would support them as we have been supported by Trinity.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 14 July 2009 )

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