Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reflections on the Southern Baptist Convention

This year’s meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, Kentucky was one of the most exciting and encouraging meetings I have been to in my 23 years of attending Southern Baptist Conventions. I left Louisville with great optimism for the future of our convention. Let me share some reasons why.

1. The Great Commission Resurgence.
This was one of the leading motivators for my attending the convention. The Great Commission Resurgence is the vision of Dr. Danny Akin (President of Southeastern Seminary) and Dr. Johnny Hunt. The Great Commission Resurgence calls on Southern Baptists to unite around the foundational truths of the gospel for the sake of cooperating together to fulfill the Great Commission. It is a call for the convention to seriously examine itself to make sure that the Great Commission is the driving force behind all that we do. Dr. Al Mohler (President of Southern Seminary) brought the motion to the floor that President Hunt appoint a Great Commission Resurgence task force to study how Southern Baptists can work “more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission.” While there was some opposition to the motion, it passed with a 95% vote for the measure. To God be the glory.

2. The Southern Baptist Pastors' Conference
I was greatly blessed to hear tremendous preaching from Dr. Johnny Hunt, Dr. David Platt, Mike Huckabee, Ed Stetzer, and others. Their messages were not only well delivered but were challenging and encouraging. One of the best I've attended. I left with a deep conviction that I need to seriously look at my life and ministry to see what more I can do for the glory of God and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

3. Young Pastor's
For years, when one attended the SBC there was something noticably missing - young pastors. I felt young compared to the majority of those in attendance. The SBC was losing the next generation of SBC leaders. This year, the convention was full of young pastors (those in their 20's and 30's). One reason for this is their support of the GCR. Another reason for their attendance was the leadership of President Johnny Hunt. He led the drive to unite Southern Baptists around the Great Commission Resurgence. I also learned that it was he who bought lunch for the hundreds who showed up at the Baptist 21 event. As one young pastor put it, "There is a whole new constituency of younger Southern Baptists who are now looking to Johnny Hunt as one whom they can trust and whose leadership they can follow." This excites me.

4. Auxilliary Events.
Justin and I attended three auxillary events that not only encouraged me but taught me some things as well. The first event was called “9Marks at 9.” There were two of these meetings but the meeting I attended was held Monday evening and didn't start until about 9:15pm. Several hundred young pastors showed up after an already full day. It was led by Dr. Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. and founder of 9Marks Ministries. The second meeting I attended was the Founders Breakfast at 6:30am on Tuesday morning. I was really blessed by Dr. Danny Akin's message. At lunch on Tuesday, I attended the Baptist21 event, mentioned above, that featured a panel discussion with Al Mohler, Danny Akin, Mark Dever, Ed Stetzer, David Platt, and Daniel Montgomery. Finally, I attended the Liberty University alumni meeting. By the way, one of the best things about all of these meetings was the number of free books that were distributed.

5. Resolutions
Two significant resolutions were brought to the floor and passed. The first was Russell Moore’s resolution on adoption and orphan-care. While this resolution was being presented by the Committee on Resolutions Russell Moore stood on the platform with his two adopted sons. The second significant resolution was regarding the presidency of Barack Obama.

6. A Convention with My Son.
My greatest joy of the week was spending this blessed time with Justin. We attended all of the meetings together and had great conversation concerning what God was doing in our lives, our churches, and in the convention. We also spent Wednesday afternoon on the campus of Southern Seminary touring and seeing our convention's oldest seminary. Southern Seminary was celebrating its 150 anniversary on Wednesday. We had the opportunity to tour the library, the chapels, and went to the book store. I really enjoyed attending this convention with my son. I am so proud of Justin and what God is doing in and through his life.