Monday, June 18, 2007

A Few Thoughts on the SBC

From my view point there seems to be four main camps in the SBC right now. Camp #1 is the Traditionalists--those that have been Southern Baptist and were a major part of the resurgence. Camp #2 is the New Traditionalists--those who have been Southern Baptist and were involved in the resurgence, but were not the movers and shakers; and those who have come on since the resurgence. Camp #3 is the Disenfranchised--This is made up of those who were against the resurgence and are still in the SBC, and those who are newer and are questioning the value of remaining in the SBC. Camp #4 is the Evangelical Southern Baptist--those who see value in the SBC, but are also connected and involved in the larger evangelical arena.

Camp #1 seems very interested on keeping the status quo it has achieved as a result of the resurgence. This group is starting to be defined more by what they are against than what they are for, which is the leading edge of fundamentalism. This usually leads to behavior based on fear.

Camp #2 seems very interested in keeping things Southern Baptist and keeping the tent large for the purpose of missions cooperation. They put a high value on local church autonomy and cooperation. However, when the tent gets too large it can start falling in on itself. This is potentially a problem in an age where individualism is valued over cooperation. In addition there is always the problem of having to accomodate for the sake of cooperation.

Camp #3 seems interested in doing their own thing. Those that were against the resurgence are mostly ignoring the goings on in the SBC and have their own niche within the SBC. Many of those who are new are resentful of being left out and disregarded. The remainder of the new group are feeling that the SBC has nothing to offer them. As a result many are looking to other groups to associate with like the Willow Creek Association, etc.

Camp #4 seems interested in getting the SBC to reevaluate itself in light of theology and church practice. They see value in the SBC in the areas of missions and seminary education, but also think the SBC should be doing some healthy self evaluation.

The struggle/battle, if you will, in the SBC right now is between camps one and two. Camp three doesn't care and will pursue doing its own thing. Camp four wants some changes made and is concerned with the health and future of the convention. There seem to be many things going on in the SBC right now and in my opinion we will see more tumultuous days ahead and the SBC will go through a shake out, a pruning if you will. In fact, I think that the pruning process has already started and is needful for us to bear more fruit.

We do need to reexamine ourselves, our values, our common ground, our procedures, our expectations, what holds us together, what defines us as Southern Baptists. There is too much disunity, and distrust for the SBC to continue on as it has been. As a result I think we will see a smaller, leaner, more focused, and therefore, more effective SBC. I believe that those who are involved in the denominational goings on know this is happening and that things will be brought to a head sooner than they think.

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