Guest Post - Jeremy Freeman
10 personal take-aways from the SBC Annual Meeting:
1. The VAST majority of Southern Baptists care about the right things. They are focused on reaching people with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and care very little about the politics that come with such a massive denomination;
2. People are confused about the some of the things happening in the SBC based upon who they are listening to. Just as we saw in the US Presidential election, information can be very skewed, misleading, and confusing. At this year’s annual meeting, much of the confusion was clarified. Sadly, there are some who will continue to hear and see what they want, that will always be the case, but the leadership of the SBC could not have been more clear this week;
3. There were many fantastic sermons, but Tony Evans, JD Greear, and Willy Rice preached sermons that every Christian needs to hear. They were timely and prophetic messages. Once the links to these messages are available, I will post them. I plan to have my church hear JD’s entire message.
4. The Gospel was centralized. Truly, the Gospel above all was the focus…and that’s the way it needs to be.
5. Critical Race Theory (CRT) was a major point of discussion. There has been tremendous confusion over this. What was a well-intended effort to help build bridges with people of color in 2019 through resolution 9, quickly became a point of contention in our denomination. Sadly, some Baptists have made rescinding resolution 9 their main objective in the denomination. The convention spoke clearly to this. James Merritt, the chairman of the resolutions committee, did a fantastic job explaining why the committee chose to speak biblically about racism and leave everything else alone. Such wisdom! Yes, there are some who wish they would have decried CRT specifically in the resolution, but I stand with the committee and the thousands of messengers who nearly unanimously affirmed it;
6. Sexual abuse was a major point of discussion as well. It is no secret the SBC has not handled this issue as it should in the past. The SBC took a significant step forward this year as Grant Gaines brought a motion to have a third party investigation, without the executive committee’s oversight, to explore what has exactly happened in the SBC regarding alleged cover-ups and mishandling. The messengers nearly voted this in unanimously. It was a powerful moment and clearly communicated to sexual abuse survivors that they matter significantly and that the SBC cares more about doing what is right than what is easiest;
7. Ed Litton was elected the new SBC President of the SBC. Ed is a solid conservative who will lead us well. There will always be attacks by people whose candidate did not win, but I can assure you, Ed holds the primary doctrines of the faith very tightly. Just like his successor, JD Greear, Ed is theologically grounded, Gospel-centered, grace-saturated, and level-headed. Ed is a courageous and compassionate leader and is just who we need as this moment in time. He will help build bridges instead of walls, and will make S. Baptists proud. Pray for him and his wife Kathy;
8. This was the largest attended convention since Dallas in 1995. 17,000 registered messengers and a few thousand other people who attended as guests. Can you imagine leading a meeting with that many people who all have opportunities to express their opinions and thoughts? Yes, there were some tense moments, but the strong, joyous, and unifying moments far outweighed the hard ones. God was so good and gracious to us during the days of meetings…and we left more unified than when we came in. Glory to God!!!;
9. There is a small movement in the SBC called the Conservative Baptist Network. Their presence at the convention was felt. Sadly, what is happening is that a party is developing within the convention that is unhelpful and unnecessary. There is NO liberal drift in the SBC. While this small, but vocal group would disagree with that, the evidence is overwhelming that is it untrue. My prayer is that this group dissolves, although that is doubtful that happens, and that the SBC can unite around the Word of God and the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 (our denomination’s confession of faith);
10. Finally, I am leaving encouraged. SBC churches and members should be extremely proud of their denomination. We did some hard work this week…some really important work. Any one of the major issues we addressed could have divided us deeply, but instead, the Holy Spirit brought us together. JD Greear led us exceptionally well. The seminary presidents gave strong, unified reports. The entity heads all spoke with great clarity, conviction, and urgency to fulfill the Great Commission. I could not be more proud and am thankful for God’s good and gracious hand that led us this week!
Listen, in a denomination of 15+ million members and 50,000+ churches…there will be disagreements and challenges, but as long as we stand on the clear teachings of God’s Word and keep the Gospel above all, we will be fine. We commissioned 64 new missionaries! We rejoiced in hundreds of new church plants! We received a strategic vision that seeks to take our denomination to the next level of spiritual effectiveness. We prayed together a lot. We got on our knees together. We worshipped. We heard the Word preached. We worked through hard issues. We stood on the truth of God’s Word. We put the Gospel above all. And we did it all TOGETHER!!!