In a matter of days, Southern Baptists will descend on Columbus, Ohio for our annual meeting. We will convene together for two days of ministry updates, convention business, and denominational fellowship.
With nearly 16,000,000 members in over 45,000 churches, the SBC is America’s largest Protestant denomination. Yet, we manage to feel more like a small family. In fact, for many of us, the annual SBC meeting is akin to a family reunion. It is an encouraging time to reconnect with old ministry friends, make new ones, and draw inspiration from all God is doing through our collective work.
Every year I look forward to the SBC, but this year I am especially anticipating it. Here’s what I’ll be looking for.
More Missions and Ministry
Under SBC President Ronnie Floyd’s leadership, the two-day meeting has been entirely restructured. Business will still be conducted. Resolutions will be considered, reports delivered, and motions made, but this year we will focus more on mission and ministry than process and reporting.
This is a welcome change. Many of our younger attendees had trouble identifying with the previous schedule. I’m thankful this year we are moving to the forefront that which most animates us: missions and ministry.
Joint Commissioning Service
This year’s schedule includes a new—and much anticipated—joint commissioning service of NAMB & IMB missionaries. Nothing inspires Southern Baptists like the work of our two mission boards, and bringing their work front and center is guaranteed to encourage us all.
What is more, this will be David Platt’s first opportunity to represent the International Mission Board. His report is guaranteed to inspire us all and call us to greater sacrifice for the Great Commission.
Auxiliary Activities & Events
While the SBC annual meeting has for many decades enjoyed attendant actives, over the past decade auxiliary events have become a major component of our gathering. Events and ministries like Crossover, 9 Marks, B21, and countless other luncheons, fellowships, and activities give the SBC meeting added value.
This year I am especially looking forward to Midwestern Seminary’s For the Church luncheon on Tuesday, the 16th. Jared Wilson, Paige Patterson, Mark Dever, Ronnie Floyd and Matt Carter will join me as we each make ten minute, TED Talk-like, presentations on urgent questions facing Southern Baptists. You can register for the luncheon here.
Motions & Resolutions
Southern Baptists are a free-church denomination, and that means that every year there is unforeseen business that occurs. Our polity allows any messenger to go to a microphone and say most anything. And each year, folks do just that.
The business sessions are occasionally tense, sometimes humorous, and from time to time even embarrassing, but they are never dull. Be watching for resolutions presented and motions made. Both have the potential of speaking for us and affecting our work.
Demographic surveys from recent SBC meetings indicate the average attendance is growing younger. This is a healthy and needed trend, and I pray it increases. I am especially interested to see this year’s demographics. I sense among those under 40 an enthusiasm about this year’s meeting. This is in part due to the restructured schedule, part of growing appreciation for the SBC’s work as a whole, and in part due to Ronnie Floyd’s intentional cultivation of the next generation.
Renewal & Recommitment
Finally, look for Southern Baptists to seek spiritual renewal and express convictional recommitment. Led by Dr. Floyd, this year’s meeting will give considerable time to prayer for God to bring a great awakening to his church. This has been on his heart since his election, and it should be on all of ours as well.
Also, look for Southern Baptists to recommit ourselves to biblical faithfulness, especially in light of same-sex marriage and other signs of cultural collapse. From generation to generation, Southern Baptists remain a people of the Book.
This year will be my fifteenth consecutive SBC meeting to attend and my third as president of Midwestern Seminary. I look forward to each year’s gathering, but never more so than this year. I’m praying God will do a great work in our midst and I look forward to reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. As I do, I’ll be on the lookout for these six things.topicsSouthern Baptist, Southern Baptist Convention