Question: What is the greatest strength of the SBC? The greatest weakness?
I think the answer to these 2 questions is the same: our fraternal and family orientation. We gain great strength by being a family or convention of Southern Baptist churches united by a passion for international missions, North American church planting and theological integrity. Those are the three things that I mentioned in the “Axioms of a Great Commission Resurgence” message which I believe can unite Southern Baptists for the future. Therein lies great strength. However, some people wish to bring other issues to the table that go beyond these three. I think that is problematic. When that happens, I am convinced we harm ourselves rather than help ourselves. To say it another way, one weakness of the SBC is that there is a desire on the part of some that we all look alike, act alike, and talk alike. Some have even suggested that we have our own Southern Baptist liturgy, style of worship and particular way of doing church. The fact is we have never been like that, and we will continue to be less so in the days ahead. Any hegemony of style vanished long ago and it is not coming back. We must resist a carbon copy mindset that is myopic and would keep us from seeing things more clearly in light of all that the Bible teaches. Where God’s Word draws the lines we should draw the lines.
In that context, I do think that our greatest strength as we move forward into the 21st century is our uncompromising commitment to an infallible and inerrant Bible and the doctrines that naturally derive from such teaching. This can provide a way forward in spite of the methodological diversity, an increasing diversity I would add, that characterizes much of Baptist life. Such diversity is both acceptable and even desired as long as it operates under the Lordship of Christ and within the parameters established by the Word of God. Therein I believe lies our strength, and therein lies where we need to stand as we move forward in making disciples of all the nations.