The record may reveal that the 2010 Convention in Orlando was a historic moment for the churches of the SBC. Only time will tell. From my perspective it was a wonderful Convention as Southern Baptists affirmed overwhelmingly how we wish to chart our future. What were the crucial happenings and their significance at this year’s convention? Let me highlight several.
First, and by far the most important, was the adoption of the GCRTF Report. By a 75%-80% majority vote the report was passed with only a minor amendment, one that I believe actually strengthened recommendation #3 on “Celebrating & Empowering Great Commission Giving.” (For those wishing to read the final report go to www.PRAY4GCR.com ). The adoption of the report was a small but major step in the right direction. I agree with my good friend David Platt. Adopting the report was a small step forward in the right direction. Rejection of the report would have been a giant step backward in the wrong direction. Now we must ALL get about the business of implementing the report from the local church level to our national entities and agencies. I pledge Southeastern’s enthusiastic commitment to see that the report and its recommendations will permeate a campus known already for its Great Commission passion.
Second, Johnny Hunt completed two years of outstanding leadership as our president. History will identify him and his legacy with the GCR. This is most fitting. He was clearly God’s man for this time. It was a joy to work alongside of him, Ronnie Floyd and many other wonderful brothers and sisters on the Task Force. It also was a thrill to announce to our alumni that we have fully endowed the Johnny Hunt Chair of Biblical Preaching at SEBTS. This will be a wonderful way to honor this man of God until Jesus returns.
Third, strong evidence for the GCR received additional support with the election of Bryant Wright as our new president. That the two men who were strongly pro-GCR were thrown into a runoff is significant. It sends a strong signal where Southern Baptists want to go in terms of what we emphasize and what we support. In the “Axioms of a GCR” message, it was stated that Southern Baptists could come together and would support that which promotes 1) International Missions, 2) Aggressive Church Planting and 3) Healthy Theological Education. Here is a 3-prong vision that transcends generational and methodological differences. Here is a captivating agenda that can lead us into our greatest days as a Great Commission people if God would be so gracious as to allow this to happen and to let us partner with Him in what He is doing in bringing the nations to Himself.
Fourth, Frank Page was elected as the new president of the Executive Committee. The vote was closer than many would like, but Dr. Page accepted the call and has promised to work hard to be a team player and build a healthy consensus. He clearly deserves a chance to do exactly that. He also deserves our prayers as he implements the GCR recommendations at the Executive Committee. He will have both from me.
Fifth, the Resolutions Committee, under the excellent leadership of Russ Moore, brought strong and pointed resolutions which subsequently passed on The Oil Spill in the Gulf, Gospel Centrality, the Scandal of Divorce in the SBC, and Family Worship. Many thanks to Russ and the committee for their superb work.
Sixth, we say goodbye to the long tenured leadership of Morris Chapman and Jerry Rankin. Though I obviously disagree with Dr. Chapman’s opposition to the GCRTF report, I love him and respect his passion for the convictions he holds. I know he only wants what he believes is best for the SBC. I gladly applaud that. Dr. Rankin has become a good friend and encourager, especially since I returned to SEBTS 6 1/2 years ago. He has been a visionary leader at the IMB. I believe he and Bobbye will continue to serve our Convention of churches well as they champion the call of getting the gospel to all the nations.
As we move on from Orlando, we need to pray fervently for the search committees at both the IMB and NAMB. Both need God’s man to lead them in the crucial days before us.
Finally, what lies ahead for Southern Baptists? Of course only our sovereign and omniscient God knows. Will we be seduced by the non-biblical sirens of the emergent church? I do not think so. Will we be divided over the “bogey man” called Calvinism? No. Will we be distracted from our main assignments by differences in worship style, names on church marquees, and other methodological issues that are biblically neutral? Let’s hope not. These are interesting and challenging days to be sure. However, of these things we can be certain:
Jesus is Lord.
The Bible is True.
Salvation is by grace alone thru faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone.
God is Building His Church.
All the Nations will gather to worship the Lamb.
Our Savior is coming again.
In the end our God wins.
This is more than enough to give me hope. This is more than enough to keep me going until I see my Master face to face and worship at His nail scared feet. What a God we have. What a Gospel we preach. What a family we enjoy. What a Savior we serve!