18 Observations of the 2018 SBC Annual Meeting

I’ve been attending the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting since 1985, when my parents strolled me around the convention hall. My wife is the same. Our families are deeply invested in this denomination. My father and father-in-law are trustees at SBC entities. I was on a council that concluded our business this week. I went to an SBC seminary. The church I pastor gave over $400,000 to SBC causes last year. Again, we are deeply invested.

 

I love the SBC and am encouraged about some things while I’m deeply frustrated about others. After this post goes live, I’m temporarily laying down my online comments about the Convention. Honestly, it exhausts me. I want to focus more on my family and church.

 

Here are 18 observations of the 2018 SBC annual meeting:

 

  1. The city of Dallas, Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, and Omni are awesome.

 

Yes, I’m biased about Dallas. It is my home city. However, you’ve got to admit it’s a great city. The convention center and Omni are both really sleek and modern. I enjoyed them. The view from my room was breathtaking.

My room at Omni Dallas

 

A View from the 22nd Floor at Omni Dallas

 

  1. The Presidential election was way more lopsided than I expected.

 

I predicted it would be tighter. Boy, was I wrong. The convention spoke, and they clearly wanted J. D. Greear.

Brad Jurkovich nominating Ken Hemphill for SBC President

 

Ken Whitten nominating J. D. Greear for SBC President

 

Whitten and Jurkovich right before they gave their speeches

 

  1. Mike Pence came, and it inconsistently bothered the Reformed camp of the Convention.

 

They defended Russell Moore when he invited Hillary Clinton to an SBC missions event. They never protested when Moore met with President Obama. I got raked over the coals on Twitter when I voiced my opinion on the matter.

 

When George W. Bush addressed the SBC several years ago, there was no pushback. The same is true with Condi Rice. This pushback pertaining to VP Pence shows the Convention has drifted to the left some and has become increasingly influenced become overly-sensitive. Political correctness may well be the SBC’s downfall if something doesn’t change.

VP Pence addressing the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention

 

  1. Non-Calvinists and non-Calvinistic-leaning people are the minority of attendees of the annual meeting.

 

It is the reality of the room. I feel like a minority member of my denomination. I have not moved theologically, but my denomination has.

 

  1. Bart Barber is the man.

 

I’ve known Bart for a long time. He is very level-headed and knows rules/procedures better than nearly any pastor with whom I’ve interacted. Bart’s statement revealed the Southwestern Seminary executive committee was forced into terminating Dr. Patterson. For those who don’t know Bart, he LOVES Paige and Dorothy Patterson. I can’t imagine how painful it was to experience that.

 

During the debate, I sat near my father, a fellow Southwestern trustee, as he cried. My dad was tensed up with major pressure. Bart had tears in his eyes as he spoke. The Southwestern trustees are tired. Bart defended them, and my respect level for him is higher than could be expressed in words.

Danny and Tamara Roberts during the Convention debate to remove SWBTS executive committee members

 

  1. There was a slanderous statement made that was inaccurate and unkind.

 

An attempt was made to replace a trustee of the ERLC with another man. This was a controversy around the representatives of the Kansas-Nebraska Baptist Convention.

 

The two representatives from that state convention were a pastor with whom I went to seminary and with whom I served on staff at a church, and a layperson who is an attorney.

 

From the Convention floor, they were accused of being dishonest. There is nothing dishonest that they did. Controversial? Yes. Dishonest? No. Everything they did was within the parameters of the Convention. Furthermore, the desire for the Convention floor to overturn their decision was within the right of the messengers. All was within the rules.

 

  1. Kevin Ezell is a fantastic leader.

 

If you went to the NAMB luncheon, you saw how crisp he is when he leads something. His reputation as pastor of Highview precedes him in this regard. Dr. Ezell is a buttoned-up leader who chooses where he is going, then leads people to it.

 

  1. John Crist is funnier in person than online—which is saying a lot.

 

My wife and I LOVE watching John Crist online. We have his stand-up album. He is hilarious. His stand-up act was fantastic!

John Crist doing stand-up at the NAMB luncheon

 

  1. The “For the Church” lunch was, yet again, fantastic.

 

I just love Dr. Jason Allen. He seems to be the most intentional bridge-builder amongst the entity heads. I enjoyed hearing from the panelists and feel I gained new perspective.

 

The culture Dr. Allen has built at Midwestern is so refreshing and exciting. The food at the luncheon was good, too.

 

  1. Southwestern Seminary feels gutted and in need of health, energy, and direction.

 

Going to the Southwestern booth, talking to professors, and attending the alumni luncheon made it clear that the leaders of Southwestern need to heal, the institution needs it, and there is just a lack of energy due to the exhaustion of the last few months. Totally understandable.

 

  1. D. Jeffrey Bingham is impressive.

 

This interim president of Southwestern Seminary gave the best seminary report I’ve ever heard. He was humble, clear, kind, direct, decisive, and wise.

 

  1. The exhibit hall was better than ever.

 

My kids love walking through there. I love it, too. It was great.

 

  1. The announcement of a joint ERLC and LifeWay study of abuse is really encouraging.

 

I’ve wondered about data pertaining to abuse in churches, and am glad Drs. Moore and Rainer did, too. This report will help churches see ways to more effectively protect women.

 

  1. David Platt’s story of the Muslim receiving Christ made me cry with joy.

 

The IMB report was great. I loved hearing about the financial stability they’re finally experiencing. Even more encouraging was the expression of missional movements around the globe.

 

  1. The church planting stats Kevin Ezell shared in the NAMB report were amazing.

 

Here are the stats:

 

  • In Minnesota-Wisconsin, 57% of baptisms came from church plants.
  • In New England, 34% of baptisms came from church plants.
  • Churches planted since 2011 have an 84% survival rate.
  • 34% of all churches in New York and 35% of all churches in New England were planted since 2010. 50% of all churches in Canada were started since 2010.

 

  1. The discipleship report given by Robby Gallaty and the evangelism report by Adam Greenway were both excellent and articulate.

 

I particularly like this website Robby and his team developed about the discipleship report. It is really helpful for churches to use in leadership meetings.

 

  1. Twitter is more of a political weapon than ever before . . . including in SBC politics.

 

You could see this from both political parties of the SBC. The spin is silly.

 

  1. I got to yell “Go Vols!” from the platform, and that was fun.

 

It lightened an otherwise tense time since our young leaders council immediately followed the presidential speeches.

Me briefly addressing the Convention

 

Lastly, it was a blast hanging out with fellow messengers of Brushy Creek. We got to represent our church family and enjoyed our time together.

Brushy Creek Baptist Church Taylors SBC messengers

 

Do you have any thoughts on the 2018 annual meeting? Share them in the comment section below.

8 Comments on “18 Observations of the 2018 SBC Annual Meeting”

  1. I don’t think being against Pence speaking at the SBC is inconsistent. Time and place and context matter here. Respectfully (and I mean that- no snark) jere is why, in my view, each of the scenarios you mentioned vary in kind from Pence.
    1. Moore/Obama meeting. Two distinguishing factors here: First, and foremost in my mind, Dr. Moore is the President of ERLC. The nature of his job is to speak to issues on the public square. It is part of his job to meet with presidents and politicians. Secondly, He met with President Obama AT THE WHITE HOUSE. In my view this is taking the message/view of the Gospel and the SBC into the political arena. What we experienced with Pence was the other way around- bringing politics into the church.
    2. Moore inviting Hillary Clinton. Moore actually invited ALL candidates polling over 10% to that event. The event was executed exactly as it was advertised: a time for SBC leaders to hear from the candidates on their stance on issues important to evangelicals. The fact that the invitation was given to all candidates removes any confusion that Moore was supporting one party over another. What we experienced at the SBC wasn’t a forum or an information session, it was very partisan and was nothing more than a political stump speech.

    3. As for President Bush speaking at the convention previously- I would argue that it was a mistake then as well. The SBC is no place for politics

    The reality is: President Trump has exposed how dangerous mixing politics and religion can be- SBC has been running with a knife for a long time. Now it is cutting us. Maybe this is a moment to realize we never should have ran with the knife in the first place.

  2. Thank you for a clear & objective summary. If we get away from God’s Heart, His Word, we’re in trouble.
    We survived the inerrancy squable. Here we go again. This time it’s political correctness (an empty shell & humanistic effort to replace The Truth).

  3. Thanks for representing! It’s good to hear that even in controversy, the people acted with respect for the most part. That there was true brokenness. The SBC needs revival. The Calvinism stuff bothers me…but we can’t let that take our focus off loving people.

  4. I felt gutted when I left the SBC18. If have been involved every way also. This now is a different convention that may very well move us quickly to the left theologically. The men I listened to and followed like Dr. Rogers are unknown the these young guys. I pray Drs. Moore and Mohler know what they are doing.

  5. Been a lifelong SBC kid/pastor like you, couldn’t make it this year. Followed closely online.

    I agree with most of those statements, especially on Bart Barber. So much courage and just well spoken under pressure that would demolish lesser men.

    My #19: The online streaming was an embarrassment. There are thousands who can’t make it but want to be in the loop. Someone should make a motion to use Facebook/YouTube Live next year instead of Lifeway’s half-baked “Digital Pass”.

    On the Pence issue… Brett said it better than I could, do ditto… I’d just add that it most definitely wasn’t just the “Reformed camp” that had issue with it.

    In addition, you blocked me on Twitter after my first, what I thought was an agreeable disagreement on principle not politics. I suppose you thought differently. 🤷🏻‍♂️

    1. I blocked you because you’re anonymous. It came across as spam. I encourage you to use your real name.

  6. I came to the SBC after growing up in a very strict IFB home. After the convention, I am really discouraged about the SBC and its future. When our new president praises Russell Moore, I realize he’s the wrong man to lead us.

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