Meeting About More than SBC Name Change

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Southern Baptist Convention logoWhile discussion of a possible name change for the Southern Baptist Convention overshadowed the SBC Executive Committee meeting last week, the meeting entailed much more. Other pertinent issues dealt less with debate over the relevance of our brand and more with the relevancy of the gospel for a lost world.

Tom Elliff, the new president of the International Mission Board, shared about the “Embrace” challenge. Current research indicates that 3,800 people groups across the globe remain unreached and unengaged. That is to say, these groups of people with a distinct cultural identity, not only have less than 2 percent of their members following Jesus, but, tragically, we know of no person or group engaging them with the gospel.

Elliff is challenging our approximately 45,000 Southern Baptist churches, local associations, and state conventions to adopt one or more of those people groups with the goal of every group being adopted. In this case, adoption means praying for that people group and seeking to provide a gospel witness to them. Based on Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:8, Elliff’s vision is in line with God’s vision and is, therefore, attainable. Ready to adopt?

Kevin Ezell, the new president of the North American Mission Board, reported that the end goal of NAMB’s reorganization effort is for North American to be reached with the gospel. Reporting on a 4 percent increase in the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, Ezell thanked Southern Baptists for allowing NAMB to help facilitate partnerships to advance the gospel through church planting, disaster relief, and a host of other ministries.

Presidents from each of our seminaries gave updates about the education and training of thousands of students. Those students include the next generation of pastors, missionaries, church staff members, and denominational leaders. Through the generosity of Southern Baptists, my wife, Michelle, and I have been able to earn five higher ed degrees from Cooperative Program funded schools. We understand the value of that investment.

O.S. Hawkins, president of Guidestone Financial Resources, expressed gratitude to Southern Baptists for providing for “Mission: Dignity.” Since 1918, GuideStone has been on a “Mission” to provide “Dignity” to retired pastors or their widows. These are men and women who have faithfully served God’s people and now find themselves struggling to meet even basic needs. Many served small, rural churches that paid only modest salaries and couldn’t afford to contribute to their pastors’ retirement. Mission: Dignity currently helps more than 2,000 people with extra money needed for housing, food, and vital medications.

These are but some of the many ministries generous Southern Baptists provide through the CP and direct contributions. Each church has the prerogative to decide how their missions dollars are spent but I haven’t found any mission funding mechanism that even begins to rival the CP.

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  1. Connie Daugherty
    Posted September 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    As I read Dr. Chitwood’s article Meeting About More than SBC Name Change. I was surprised and concerned. Where is there more information about a name change? We have already changed everthing so much, can’t we just let things along and be concerned about people?

    Thank you for information on this subject.

    Connie Daugherty

  2. Jones Hiatt
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    I believe a name change would ruin the SBC ….. We would then be like all the others ,, A victim of PC… Which is the last thing we need…

    • Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. While I, too, would not want us to bow to the pressure of political correctness, I am trying to look at this dilemma from all sides. I have wondered how well the Yankee Baptist Convention (if it existed) would be received in south Alabama. Would the name be a barrier?

      As for a name change ruining the SBC, what do you think would be the cause of the ruination? Would churches look for other avenues to fund mission work? Would God be displeased and stop blessing the convention formerly known as the SBC?

      For those of us who were raised in the south and in the SBC, this issue stirs deep emotions. Like many, I am having a hard time remaining objective and am thankful not to be on the task force!

  3. T.B. Smith
    Posted September 28, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    The large portion of my ministry was in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, all considered to be new work states. These ministries spenned a time period of from 1959 until 2005. In the early years when SB were trying to gain a foot hold in MI. and I’m sure the other places were the same, the term Southern Baptist did carry a stigma with it. For the past 25 years Southern Baptist have been well enough entrenched in the new work areas that people, even Yankees knowwho we are and to some degree respect us as being evangelistic and conservative.
    Last thought, with all the in fighting we have done in the last thirty years how could anyone with any interest in religion not know who we are. Mayhaps our energies and thought could be better spent trying to turn around our glaring failures in soul winning and drops in baptisms.

    • Posted September 28, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Thanks for some firsthand input regarding reactions to the SBC brand north of the Mason-Dixon. I read yesterday that, prior to WWII, the SBC only had about 100 churches outside of the South.

      As you indicate, warming up to the SBC took some time in new work states. And, yes, we aren’t always known for the right things, especially early and late in our history (fighting for slavery and then fighting each other). Unfortunately, the evidence also confirms your position that we are lagging in our disciple-making.

      Regardless of what we name we call ourselves, if we aren’t calling on the name of the Lord for awakening and revival, we are ignoring the greatest need of our day.