Southern Baptists, We Need to Talk!

Much has been said about the decisions made at the #SWBTS trustee meeting on May 22. I did not agree with their decision and I shared that here. Now we are looking forward to the national convention in Dallas (#SBCAM18). The concern is whether Dr. Patterson should still give the convention sermon. For those who do not know, that message is a “keynote” position and has been one of honor and prestige for decades. There are several options:

  1. Patterson could voluntarily stand down.
  2. Messengers to #SBC18 could move to disallow him and vote for the alternate speaker.
  3. We do nothing, and Dr. Patterson brings the convention sermon.

“Does it really matter?” you ask.

Yes.

I honestly do not see Dr. Patterson standing down. In his own words, “I have nothing to apologize for because I have done nothing wrong.” Thus, it is left to you, the messengers to #SBCAM18. What are you going to do?

Some wish to do nothing and just overlook the present and hope for a better tomorrow. As Ed Stetzer put it, “Hard times require honest conversations.”

We need to converse with God. The first place we ALL need to go is to God. Whether you need grace, mercy, compassion, justice, peace, or more it is God to whom we must cry. We must get our head on straight before we #dosomething, as some are saying. Let us pray. As my colleague Andrew Hebert said, “We must pray for @swbts.” We must pray for those who are on the campus reeling from this move on both sides of the cause. I remember being in chapel the day Dr. Dilday was removed and escorted off campus. I remember being stunned because the Chair had just spoken glowingly about him only to go into the meeting and vote him off the island. We must pray that our churches hold high the biblical, not traditional, view of living and serving in the Kingdom. We must pray that our churches are able to overcome the potential pitfalls from bad optics.

The Gospel is on the line.

Let us, as Dr. Gaines as called us to, pray and fast leading up to our meeting. We, wholeheartedly, must pray for the Patterson’s, Southwestern students and faculty, our churches, and our evangelistic reach. May we pray for forgiveness, justice, and accountability. We need them all, but only God can provide it.

We need to converse with one another. Friends, we will gather at #SBCAM18. We need to talk. May we keep our cool and have a conversation. I know it will be awkward. I know it can get out of hand. Yet, we need to talk out all the issues before us.

  1. We need to talk about who will bring the convention sermon. The media will be writing down our speeches and quoting us quickly. Yet, let us courageously speak our minds from our hearts. May we be respectful. May we be kind. May we be gracious. May we be truthful.
  2. We need to talk about our nominations for the next president. There has been WAY too much pandering to and running for the candidates. However, this is the world in which we live. Yet, when we come to that moment, let’s talk. Let’s talk about who will lead us into the future we must embrace. Let us not worry about attendance issues but a commitment to the Cooperative Program. Let us not worry about books written, positions held. Let us choose based on our prayerful consideration.
  3. We need to talk about the future of SWBTS. There will come a moment when the trustees will need to answer difficult questions. Let us remember that there will be some form of confidentiality that will not be broken. I pray that we can have a discussion. May we ask politely, respectfully, as Christ would. May we inquire without being rude. May we listen, too.

We need to converse with the media. Inevitably, someone will be asked questions. Every year, the media locate that one who is not prepared. I pray we will all be prepared. Regardless of who preaches the convention sermon, we must bring glory to God. Regardless of who is elected president, we must bring glory to God. Regardless of what the Trustees say, or not say, we must bring glory to God.

Please keep this in mind.

I would hope that #SBCAM18 would have a communication specialist to speak to the media. Hold a press conference. Schedule interviews. Hold court so the media has less chance to make us look bad. Let us hold high the standard of Jesus and hold out for God’s glory.

We need to converse with our churches. Pastors and teachers, please inform your people. Afterward, share with them. Our people are smart, but this convention stuff can be confusing! If the convention is really the churches, then let it be theirs. Let us share the future with them. Share the scriptures with them. Share the vision with them. I recently handed keys over to my son.

Scariest. Moment. Ever.

What a joy it is, though, to see him be free and responsible! Let our people enjoy the freedom of Christ. Let our people enjoy the freedom of leadership. Let our people enjoy the freedom of victory in Jesus.

We need to converse with our communities. Regardless of what happens at #SBC18, the gospel is the first message we need to share with our communities. Let us knock on every door. Let us pray with every family. Let us build relationships. We can experience a harvest of souls, but not without conversations. When will you have one next?

Southern Baptists there is much to do. Let’s talk!

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