A note of readers: I didn't expect to break a ten-month blogging absence by writing about denominational issues, but here we are. You've been warned!
After what seemed like 73 different rain storms kept our farm super-saturated throughout the course of last week, the ground has finally dried up enough to get back into the fields. So, I spent most of my morning preparing spraying equipment and my afternoon applying herbicide to kill the weeds where I'll plant sorghum-sudangrass in a few days. Usually on days such as today I'll pop my earbuds in and switch back and forth between podcast episodes and 90s music, but today was different. The choice du jour: the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting.
Why in the world would I voluntarily listen to a denominational business meeting while I'm working? And why would I continue listening for nearly two hours after I came home?
One thing you should know about me is that I'm a bit of an "organizational nerd." Nope, strike that, I'm a BIG organizational nerd. Discussion of bylaws and resolutions and policy proposals bore many people to tears, but I weirdly enjoy the sausage being made. Granted, some of what I heard today induced a fair amount of eye-rolling, but I appreciate the process. But there was more at stake today for my denominational affiliation than just the process in and of itself. I'm not going to get into specific issues because there are many others who can explain them far better than I. I'll just say there were a number of questions that needed to be asked and issues that need to be raised, and quite frankly it turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag from my perspective. Some decisions I agreed with, some I disagreed with, and some issues were kicked down the road to be dealt with at a later date. Such is the nature of business at any large membership meeting. But I'm grateful I had the opportunity to listen in real-time as some 14,000 "messengers" discerned how best to advance the gospel in cooperation together without it devolving into a circus. You wouldn't have thought that was possible by reading "Baptist Twitter" over the past couple of months!
(A quick side note: some of you pastors are awesome follows on social media, but a few of you need to take off the eyepatch...err, blinders...and realize you come across like you don't have an ounce of grace about you. Stand firm in your convictions but be more kind to others because your public witness impacts both our collective witness and that of the flock you've been entrusted to shepherd.)
Revisiting the original question of why I would spend so much of my day listening to all this, it goes beyond my stated nerdery and enjoyment of the process.
I'm the most junior deacon in a small, rural church. My pastor and several deacons ahead of me would have to pass on the opportunity before I would find myself voting at an SBC meeting on behalf of our church. Even as I studied up on the issues over the past few months I knew I would neither have a vote nor be in a position to influence anyone who would. And whatever decisions were or were not made at the meeting likely would have a negligible effect on how our church goes about our daily ministry. But I firmly believe it's important to know what's going on in the organizations you belong to, especially faith organizations, so you can make informed decisions when/if you are called upon. I might never be asked to speak on behalf of my church family in matters of denominational policy or in the public sphere, but I need to be ready just in case.
|my family and I are members of Fellowship Baptist Church outside Vernon,|
where I serve as a deacon and Sunday School director
And let me close with this. I heard two outstanding messages in between the motions and debates and votes. Outgoing SBC president JD Greear gave what I thought was a phenomenal address warning us to get our house in order and not allow the leaven of the Pharisees to thwart the spread of the Gospel...same principle as spraying weeds so the crop will produce a greater harvest. Also, Ronnie Floyd's presentation of the Vision 2025 initiative had me stopping my tractor long enough to sign up for the prayer team.
Yes, the annual meeting has its share of both serious discussion and petty squabbles, but more than anything it highlights how much we accomplish for the Kingdom by working together and just how much work there is yet to do. And now it's my job to pray, to give, and to serve within my local church until everyone from Vernon to Veracruz to Vung Tau have heard the Gospel. It's time to kill the weeds so the crop can thrive.
Tomorrow I'll be back in the field spraying weeds, and sooner or later I'll be back with a standard "here's what's happening on the farm" blog post.
Thanks for reading, and God bless!