Day 1 SBC Reflections
Today was a long but fruitful day at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Before I turned in for the night, I wanted to give you a brief update of the highlights/reflections on our first day.
1. Business is better in person
One of the troubles with SBC politics is how much of it happens virtually. All-day today, I had the opportunity to see many friends and acquaintances that I love dearly and many of whom I disagree with about the direction of the SBC. Yet, every one of these conversations was marked by love, kindness, and a regard for one another. While I don’t know what tomorrow will hold, I have been encouraged by all my conversations thus far and thankful for the many brothers and sisters in Christ here.
2. The election of Daniel Dickard as SBC Pastor’s Conference President
If you don’t know, the Pastor’s Conference takes place the Monday before the business portion of the SBC. Further, its purpose is to encourage and set the tone for the rest of the Convention. This appointment is not for the SBC president. However, it is still important. The Pastor’s Conference president chooses who will preach to the pastors, which (as I said) sets the tone of the entire Convention. In picking the president, we select the person who sets what agenda and vision pastors take into the Convention and back into their own ministries.
With that said, I don’t feel qualified or informed enough to tell you anything about Daniel Dickard. I only write to inform you of what has happened, not to give an opinion on it yet.
3. The primary role of preaching is exposing God’s Word
I want to be candid: I had mixed feelings about the Pastor’s Conference today. There were some messages that I was encouraged by and some I was not. Every preacher was supposed to preach a passage of Scripture assigned to them. Yet, some preachers spent more time talking about ideologies than the Scripture. While they all said good things, and many were very gifted speakers, I often left not knowing much about what that passage of Scripture meant. I found that the best sermon was the last message. This preacher was the least gifted public speaker (or at least he yelled the least) but the most focused on the text. The church doesn’t need pastors who lecture on ideologies (no matter how helpful). The church needs pastors who will preach God’s perfect Word.
4. The most critical work to be done is in the local church
It is easy to think that because the SBC is so big, it has more weight than it does. Thus, there is a belief that churches will follow the state of the SBC. If the SBC drifts, then the local church will too. Yet, I think we must be wary of putting too much stock in the SBC. Remember that the SBC is a cooperation of churches. Meaning this: the SBC does not change the local church as much as the local churches change the SBC. Don’t hear what I’m not saying: the state of the SBC matters for the church. However, God’s plan for the world is not in a giant entity but faithful churches sharing the gospel with their neighbors. If we want the SBC to be a faithful organization, we need to focus on local churches being faithful to carry out their Biblical roles. Being here and looking out at the crowd of people has reminded me that the SBC is made up of thousands of local churches. So, regardless of what happens this week, let us not lose heart in doing the work set before us. Remember that our most important work is happening with what the Lord has right in front of us. Let us not lose focus of the mission God has set before Bethel Baptist Church: Joyful Gospel Advancement.
I love you all and am thankful to be your pastor.