Pray for the 2020 Southern Baptist Convention

This will likely end up being a rather long prayer request, but as your pastor I feel an obligation to keep you informed on events taking place in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Today we have more reasons than ever to pray diligently for our convention. Before I get into that though, I need to give some background for the folks who may not know how the SBC works and why what I am about to tell you is so important.

 

SBC 101

 

1. The first thing you need to know is that the SBC is not a denomination in the sense that most people think about denominations.                                

 

The SBC is the entity made up of over 46,000 autonomous churches who cooperate together to do the work of the great commission. That SBC churches are autonomous means that churches are free to govern themselves without any direction from a mother organization. Autonomy allows for diversity in methodologies and church polities. SBC churches agree on the gospel as outlined in the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M), but the BF&M was developed and agreed upon by the convention and was not handed down from a higher level. In the SBC, the local church is at the top of the hierarchy, and the Great Commission is our common cause.

 

2. The Cooperative Program fuels the SBC.

Every year, our church prayerfully considers how much of our undesignated receipts to give to the Cooperative Program. Currently, FBC Wiggins forwards %10 of everything her members give that is not designated toward any other fund (i.e. Chest of Joash) to the Cooperative Program. Our Cooperative Program gifts go first to our MS Baptist Convention to fund MS Baptists’ cooperative efforts in our state. The messengers of the MS Baptist Convention also set a budget each year to determine the amount of Cooperative Program gifts to forward to national convention entities such as the North American Mission Board (NAMB), International Mission Board (IMB), and the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission (ERLC). Currently, MS Baptist Convention sends 38 percent of FBC Wiggins’ gifts to the SBC. Our gifts to Lottie Moon (IMB) and Annie Armstrong (NAMB) are over and above what we give through the Cooperative Program. (Learn more about the Cooperative Program Here)

 

3. The Southern Baptist Convention only actually exists for 2 days each year, the rest of the year the interests of the SBC are carried out through her executive committee.

The SBC convenes for two days in June of each year when messengers from some of the 46,000 churches gather to hear reports from the convention entities. The elected president of the convention presides over the meeting and has authority to recommend initiatives and appointments to certain committees. Messengers can make as well as vote on motions or resolutions from the floor. Resolutions are basically public statements adopted by the messengers, while motions call for action from one or more SBC entities or the Executive Committee. 
 

4. The SBC Pastors Conference meets each year right before the SBC in the convention hall.

The purpose of the SBC Pastors Conference is to encourage SBC pastors. Pastors do not often get to be led in worship and hear sermons from other preachers. There is a pastor’s wives conference as well as a kid’s camp alongside the Pastor’s Conference, so the pastor and his family can attend together, be refreshed and ministered to. With the 2020 convention being held in Orlando Fl, you can imagine that attendance for this pastor’s conference will be even better attended than in past years.

 

 

Now, Here’s Why You Need to Pray

 

1. A tremendous controversy has erupted over the 2020 Pastor’s Conference and the proposed lineup of speakers and musicians.

 

The Pastor’s Conference is technically a separate body from the SBC led by a president and cabinet which are all elected by conference attendees. The president of the 2020 conference is David Uth, Pastor of FBC Orlando. Uth, last week, announced the lineup of speakers and musical artists. The list has not sat well with conservative Southern Baptists.

 

The list of speakers includes bestselling author Wayne Cordeiro, pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu. New Hope is a Four Square Gospel church that does not align with the BF&M. Cordeiro’s book “Dream Releasers” touts a Christology that aligns more with the prosperity gospel movement than widely held SBC doctrine.

 

Also on the platform is Hosanna Wong, a spoken word artist, who’s slated to deliver a musical performance where she will recite a poem. Wong holds the title of “Teaching Pastor” at Eastlake Church in San Diego, Ca. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, states, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastors is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” Even though she is not “preaching” per se, Wong’s role as “pastor” has raised a lot of eyebrows among conservatives in the SBC.

 

Finally, the pastor of the famed Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York City, Jim Cymbala and David Hughes, senior pastor of Church by the Glades in Florida have been asked to preach. Cymbala believes in a second baptism of the Holy Spirit. Church by the Glades borders on

Invitation to Church by the Glades Valentines Event

blasphemy by using these “Victorious Secret” calling cards and hip hop covers as worship songs to draw in crowds.

 

Reaction from conservative Southern Baptists has been fierce. Earlier this week, the Executive Committee voted to withhold the convention hall from the pastor’s conference unless changes were made to the lineup before February 24. This action sparked a debate as to whether or not the Executive Committee has any authority over the Pastor’s Conference especially since First Baptist Orlando has agreed to foot the over $100,000 bill for the use of the convention hall.

 

Pray that this conflict gets resolved in a way that honors God and reinforces the unity of the convention.

 

 

2. A group of conservatives has formed an internal network within the SBC.

 

In reaction to a perceived leftward shift in the direction of the SBC, a number pastors have joined in a grassroots movement known as the Conservative Baptist Network (CBN) in order to reverse what they believe is a downgrade of the Convention.  The number of Southern Baptists who have signed on with the CBN as well as their identities have yet to be reported. Brad Jurkovich, pastor of First Baptist Church of Bossier City, La is the group’s spokesperson. On their website, the CBN touts endorsements from Dr. Chuck Kelly, former president of New Orleans Seminary as well as several leaders of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.  

 

With the CBN announcement, the SBC now has one more “tribe.” This newest tribe is calling for another Conservative Resurgence like the one that took place in the 1980’s. I was just a child in those days, but I hear from many of my elders that though the Conservative Resurgence was necessary it was a tremendously difficult and tense season. Pray that SBC conservatives and moderates will, instead, be a model for our nation on how to come together and work through our differences.

 

 

3. The Executive Committee announced an investigation of the ERLC to determine whether or not its recent activities are in keeping with its mission as defined in the SBC Bylaws.

 

The ERLC is the ethics arm of the SBC tasked with guiding Southern Baptists in how to respond to our ever-changing culture and to seek the preservation of our religious liberty. As we all know, our culture has recently become increasingly more divided along political, social, and racial fronts. The ERLC has taken firm stands on all these issues and received a mountain of criticism for it. Dr. Russell Moore, a native of South MS, is the president of the ERLC. Moore was very critical of President Trump during the 2016 campaign when he boldly announced that he was a “never Trumper.” A combination of Moore’s criticism of President Trump along with the controversial stands taken by the ERLC led to a number of churches dialing back their Cooperative Program giving.

 

The Executive Committee voted to form a task force to investigate how the actions of the ERLC have affected Cooperative Program receipts. They will also investigate whether or not the ERLC has operated within its responsibilities as defined in the Bylaws. The Executive Committee claims that this investigation is not to take any personnel action as the Executive Committee has no authority over ERLC personnel (that would fall to the ERLC board of trustees). Regardless, whatever comes out of this investigation and the resulting report have the potential to further divide our convention. Pray for a God-honoring and Kingdom-building outcome.

 

4. Executive Committee Chairman, Ronnie Floyd has cast a 5-year vision to refocus on our mission to reach the nations.

 

The name of the initiative that will be voted on by the messengers of the 2020 convention is Vision 2025. With this initiative, the Executive Committee in conjunction with other convention entities hopes to accomplish five goals:

 

  1. Increase the total number of full-time, fully funded missionaries by a net gain of 500, giving the SBC 4,200 full-time, fully funded missionaries through the International Mission Board (IMB).

 

  1. Add 6,000 new churches to the Southern Baptist family, giving the SBC more than 50,000 churches.

 

  1. Increase the total number of workers in the field through a new emphasis on “calling out the called,” and then preparing those who are called out by the Lord.

 

  1. Turn around the ongoing decline in the SBC in reaching, baptizing and discipling 12- to 17-year-olds in the prime of their teenage years.

 

  1. Increase SBC-wide annual giving in successive years to reach and surpass $500 million given through the Cooperative Program.

 

Vision 2025 is a bold plan, and not the first long range plan to be rolled out by the Executive Committee. Pray for God’s will to be done. Pray that churches across the convention will jump on board with a renewed zeal for reaching the nations.