As I sit here in New Orleans one more night waiting for an all day trip back to Oregon tomorrow I am reminded of why the annual meeting of the SBC is a significant event worth attending. First, there is an opportunity to hear great preaching. This year I heard Tony Evans, David Jeremiah, and David Platt to mention a few. The message from David Uth (the annual convention sermon) today was an excellent presentation of truth from the word of God. Apart from a meeting such as this I wouldn’t have the opportunity to hear such preachers live and in person. Second, the worship leaders exemplify excellence in guiding the gathered people of God to corporately praise Him. Third, the business sessions of the convention remind me that we are a congregational denomination. Messengers are elected by their home church. Messengers have the opportunity through motions and resolutions to address the convention in general. Last, the opportunity to connect with friends is important. Beyond friends I was able to connect with agency presidents and other notable persons in our convention. Speaking face to face with Thom Rainer, Pres. of Lifeway; Tom Eliff, Pres. of the IMB; Kevin Ezell, pres. of NAMB and several vice presidents of NAMB, IMB, Lifeway as well as the seminary presidents is an opportunity that can only occur at the annual meeting of the SBC.
This convention was historic in that the messengers elected Fred Luter, an African American pastor born and raised in New Olreans as President of the SBC. For a denomination born during the slavery era this was truly a God-moment, a watershed event in our efforts to allow God’s truth to be incarnate in our lives.
Another highlight of this convention was the willingness of those chosen to speak, and other convention leaders to address the bubbling controversy between Calvinist’s and what some are calling Traditionalists. We were regularly reminded that Southern Baptists in particular (just had to use that word) are comprised of both streams. Our history as Baptists in America reminds us that we owe a debt of gratitude to men (and women) from both streams of theological understanding. What unites us is our common commitment to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and to recognize that what God does in salvation is solely His work and His alone.
Finally, I am reminded once again, that my church needs a denominational structure that allows us to partner with other churches all across the United States to collectively share our resources in a strategic way that the message of the gospel is proclaimed clearly and powerfully in our world.