Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Southern Baptist Convention Primer #1

The Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting is set to start in about two weeks. It will be held June 10-11, in Indianapolis, Indiana. I'm admittedly still a neophyte when it comes to Southern Baptist politics, but for those of you who are even newer to it than I am, I'm going to try over the next several days to do a quick overview of the state of the SBC right now.

This year's meeting will likely be one of the most interesting ones we've seen in many years. First of all, it comes not many weeks after a report by Lifeway found that the convention is actually declining in membership for the first time in years. I'm sure there will be much talk of that during the meeting. Secondly, there are six, count them, six, men running for the office of President. That might not have ever happened. I think it's a sign of a lot of new ideas out there, and a bit of splintering into several different factions within the convention. That splintering may or may not be a bad thing.

If the SBC is going to survive and thrive for years to come, I think this year may be one of the crucial years, not just for the annual meeting, but for all Southern Baptists, that we decide what we are going to do to properly reach the world. I don't know what the SBC's future is. I personally don't like everything that goes on within the convention's leadership, or within many of the individual churches in the convention. But I know there are a certain few things I can expect when I go into a church that affiliates with the SBC. I know it will more than likely be conservative, believing the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. I know what it's basic theology will be, though I also know that there is a fair amount of variation across the spectrum. I also know that at least some of the money I give in the form of my tithes and offerings will go to help pay for missions, both nationally and internationally. So for those reasons alone, I like the idea of the SBC, though in it's practice I sometimes find myself frustrated.

Over the next few days, I'm going to discuss some of the specifics of the convention: 1) how it works, at its very basic form, 2) the presidential election and the particular candidates, 3) the different factions that seem to be making up the convention right now, and 4) how blogs have lately formed the debate in the convention.

I've admittedly become fairly intrigued by SBC politics lately, though I also know that my knowledge of it is still limited. Whatever I write will only be good for the uninitiated. If you know much about the SBC, it probably won't be of much help to you. But if you, like me, are new to the inner workings of the convention, it might be of some help. We'll just have to see.

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