For many of us, the SBC annual meeting is the one week of the year when everything seems right in the world. We gather with several thousand fellow believers who share similar biblical and world-view convictions. It is an oasis of biblical and gospel conviction in a world that is a secular desert.
The SBC annual meeting is now behind us, and I left the meeting even more encouraged than I arrived. For the past several years this has been the case, but this year especially so. Here is why:
An Evening of Prayer
To be honest, I had no idea what to expect from the scheduled evening of prayer. I was thankful Ronnie Floyd recalibrated the schedule to emphasize and allow time for prayer, but I had no idea how well attended the prayer gathering would be.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the convention hall packed for an evening of prayer, and in near disbelief that almost everyone stayed for nearly three hours of prayer. Southern Baptists filled the convention hall, calling out to him in repentance for revival. God’s people are at their best when they are on their knees. The time could not have been better spent.
From start to finish, the sermons, ministry reports, presidential panel, and presidential address conveyed a resolute commitment to biblical authority. The inerrancy and authority of Scripture, the exclusivity of the gospel, and our unqualified submission to God’s Word were constant themes.
Of course, the pressing issue of the day is same-sex marriage, and on this issue the Bible is settled, and so are Southern Baptists. The world is changing at a rapid pace, but the SBC is not. This is unsurprising, but it should not be taken for granted. Southern Baptists remain a people of deep, biblical conviction.
Though at every turn we iterated and reiterated our biblical convictions, we managed to do so in a cheerful and winsome way. We came across as hopeful and confident, despite lost ground in the Culture Wars.
Moreover, we spoke with boldness and conviction without belittling a watching world. We must always remember that sinners sin. That is what they do because that is who they are. Sinners do not need patronizing; they need evangelizing.
We also seemed optimistic about our position in Christ. As the people of God, we may be under siege, but you would have thought we were the victors. That is because we are the victors. We know that Christ is reigning over the Cosmos and that we shall reign with him.
Collaboration & Commitment to the Great Commission
Other than the prayer gathering, the highlight of the convention was the NAMB / IMB joint commissioning service. David Platt’s first SBC report was a stirring one, and it left all of us longing for Great Commission advance. Through the entity reports, and especially the mission board presentations, we were reminded again of our primary task—to reach the world for Christ.
As a convention, we seem increasingly focused on ministry and mission, and increasingly willing to sacrifice to that end. Perhaps the recent uptick in Cooperative Program receipts and more charitable denominational discourse are indicators as well.
I was also encouraged by the many kind words spoken to me about Midwestern Seminary. Word of God’s work in Kansas City is permeating the SBC. By the minute I heard comments like, “Thank you for your emphasis on the local church,” “Congratulations on your enrollment gains,” “I’ve decided to apply to Midwestern Seminary,” and “I can’t wait to visit the Spurgeon Library.”
As a Southern Baptist seminary president, nothing encourages me more than having broad support from the churches of the denomination we serve.
The SBC president brings with it a big platform and the opportunity to shape the SBC project. Over the past 12 months Ronnie Floyd has faithfully used his platform to strengthen our collective SBC work. Thanks in large part to his effort, the Columbus SBC was a memorable and cheerful gathering, and I, like many, left encouraged.topicsSouthern Baptist Convention