This week I had the opportunity to attend the SBC annual meeting in Orlando. This year’s convention featured two significant events–the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Taskforce led by Ronnie Floyd and the election of a new SBC president.
I must admit the convention proceedings were quite interesting. There was more intrigue and mystery in this meeting than I have witnessed in years. The division among the ranks of the report of the Great Commission Taskforce was much more significant than I anticipated. It appeared the redefining of the Cooperative Program as Great Commission Giving coupled with the apparent encouragement of designated giving as a great point of contention. Many also struggled with the redefining of the relationship between North American Mission Board (NAMB) with state conventions also stirred much concern especially among those state conventions that struggle financially and depend greatly on these cooperative agreements. There was also much interest in the new assignment of the International Mission Board (IMB) to work stateside with different people groups.
Once again Morris Chapman, president of the Executive Committee stood his ground against this movement led by Johnny Hunt, president of the SBC, and Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Seminary. You have to admire his courage, but the train had already left the station by time he stood on the tracks to stop it. Clearly a new day is dawning in the SBC, but what the future holds is a mystery to me.
Bryant Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church near Atlanta was elected president. Apparently the people were looking for new leadership because the establishment candidates were soundly defeated. I voted of Leo Engel, Executive Director of the Minnesota/Wisconsin Baptist Convention. Leo is a great leader. He would have been a good president. I knew he would not win, but voting for principle feels good even when I lose.
On the last day of the convention, I bumped into Jerry Rankin, the outgoing president of the IMB. After a friendly greeting he asked, “So what do you think about the future of the SBC?” I shared with him, “I am a bit confused, but overall I am optimistic that God is at work among us.”
One way or another, it seems the Great Commission is back on the front burner for the SBC. It is now time for us to get to work and move beyond simply talking a good game.