Getting a Handle on the 2013 SBC Annual Meeting

SBC President Fred Luter

I know that this post will seem pedestrian for some of our readers who are seasoned Southern Baptists. Nevertheless, many of our readers are either students or folks from other ecclesial traditions. If the previous sentence describes you, then know that this post is written primarily with you in mind.

As you may know, the SBC Annual Meeting was held in Houston earlier this week. Every year, our network of churches meets in an annual Convention for two days. That meeting is part business meeting, part worship service, and part connecting with Southern Baptists from other parts of North America. At our Convention we hear reports from our denominational ministries, conduct necessary business (we are a quasi-democratic, non-hierarchical group), and pass resolutions on various topics.

If you want to learn more about the Houston Convention, I would refer you to several resources. Some of you may want to carve out some time to watch portions of the Convention. The Convention was live-streamed and archives of the sessions are available at the Annual Meeting website. You can also find this year’s program and a link to archived sessions from past SBC Annual Meetings. The video archives are the best place to get a handle on this year’s Annual Meeting because you can watch it for yourself.

Those of you who are connected to social media will probably find Twitter to be very helpful. The hashtag for this year’s Convention was #SBC13. While Twitter is by no means any sort of authoritative interpreter of the SBC Annual Meeting, it is probably the best place to get a “play-by-play” sense of the Convention. Many of our well-known pastors and denominational servants were active on Twitter during the SBC, alongside hundreds of “normal” pastors, students, and other observers.

If you like to read blogs, I would point you to a few that you might find helpful. Hopefully, you already known that we posted several video summaries here at Between the Times from Danny Akin, Bruce Ashford, Chuck Lawless, Ryan Hutchinson, and myself. (Look back over our earlier posts this week.) Also, come back next week to hear further reflections from Ed Stetzer, yours truly, and perhaps another guest contributor or two.

I would also point you to SBC Voices, a website that includes both its own blog (with a variety of contributors) and a “SBC Watchlist” that provides links to the “most influential” SBC blogs (including Between the Times). If you spend a few minutes perusing SBC Voices, you can find your way to other blogs that offer insights from every perspective under the sun. Dave Miller, the head honcho at SBC Voices and the immediate past Second Vice President of the SBC, also liveblogged the Convention at SBC Voices.

Outside the SBC realm, several other blogs offered perspectives on this year’s Convention. Christianity Today’s blog Gleanings offered some periodic updates from a centrist evangelical perspective. (By the way, read CT’s interview with Frank Page about his important new book Melissa: A Father’s Lessons from a Daughter’s Suicide.) CNN’s Belief Blog weighed in on some of our resolutions from a mainstream media perspective. World Magazine’s Daily Dispatches blog offered updates from a conservative evangelical perspective. The State of the Union blog at The American Conservative offered some thoughts from a traditionalist conservative perspective.

In terms of traditional journalism, the best place to look is Baptist Press, which always provides the most exhaustive coverage of the SBC. Of course, Baptist Press is our official denominational news organ, so it is “insider baseball.” Associated Baptist Press offers coverage from a moderate Baptist perspective. (As an aside, I found ABP somewhat less caustic in their coverage this year than in recent years.) Religion News Service covered the SBC from a non-sectarian, but generally informed perspective. The Associated Press published several SBC-related articles from a mainstream media perspective that were picked up by numerous other media outlets.

I’ve intentionally not addressed the Convention itself in this post. All I want to do here is point you to resources. Next week, after I’ve had a weekend to rest and reflect a bit, I’ll offer my personal thoughts on such topics as our resolutions, the transition at ERLC, the numeric decline in messengers, Danny Akin’s Convention sermon, and the Calvinism discussion.

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