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Wednesday, June 22, 2005 

SBC Observations

This weekend I had the chance to take in some of the pre-SBC festivites in NashVegas. I wanted to comment some on what I saw and heard particularly at the Younger Leaders' Summit and then make some observations about the YL Initiative and the future of the SBC.

My wife and I attended church Sunday morning at Dickerson Road Baptist Church in northern Nashville. And while it was a typical SBC service, we could not have been more impressed with the friendliness of the church. Younger and older leaders could learn a thing or two about making people feel comfortable from these guys. We had no less than 20 different people speak to us, ask us if we were visitors, introduce themselves, and tell us to come back again soon. We would love to regularly attend a church that amicable.

We left from the church and made it to downtown in time to walk around and even to enter the Gaylord Entertainment Center just to take a peek at what was to come. After a meal at Sbarro's, we headed over to the Global Cafe across the street from the Gaylord for the Younger Leaders' Summit. We spoke to a couple of folks and headed upstairs where we sat behind Steve McCoy of SBC Emerging Leaders Blog fame and Joe Thorn of www.joethorn.net, who graciously offered to help us on our search for a ministry position. We saw Marty Duran but he was running around talking to people and trying to get his WiFi up, so we missed getting a chance to meet him, but he did send me a comment to my blog to let me know he was sorry we didn't get to speak. We also sat by Dr. Reggie Ogea and Dr. Jerry Barlow of NOBTS. Chuck Kelley was there too, but we didn't get a chance to see him either.

Russ Lee led worship, which was short, but well done. Jimmy Draper kicked the whole thing off by introducing the speakers and letting us know about the format. After the worship time, Robby Partain, director of missions, SBTC; Adam Greenway, new LifeWay trustee and pastor, Church at Andover, Lexington, Ky.; Kevin Shrum, pastor, Inglewood Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn.; Chris Seay, pastor of Ecclesia, Houston, Texas; Ed Stetzer, NAMB director of research; and Jeff Harris, pastor, Grace Point Church, San Antonio, Texas all spoke regarding the specific topics which have been discussed thoughout the YL initiative. Bob Reccord, O.S. Hawkins, and Bobby Welch also stopped by to give a word.

I will spare you the details of what all of them said, but I will hit some highlights:

Robby Partian: He kicked the thing off by saying we have to be missional.
Bob Reccord: He said they were restructuring their evangelism stuff and that the former Baptist hour would now feature a different pastor under 40 every 6 months.
Adam Greenway: He didn't say anything terribly memorable, but I was impressed with his humility and the fact that he was a pastor and trustee at 27.
Kevin Shrum: he said YLs need to stop complaining and start serving on boards and committees.
Chris Seay: I didn't like some of what he had to say, but he was challenging in regard to portraying the beauty of Christianity and recited a very interesting poem by Taylor Mali concerning conviction.
Ed Stetzer: He had great one liners -- "Chris is a Vegan and I'm on Atkins," Nike, Just Do It, the SBC, "Don't Do It." And he noted that we need a missional resurgence. He also said that we do have to still care about theology and that it is still important. I apprecitated that.
Jeff Harris: He spoke with a lot of passion, but at times in a condescending manner. He reiterated that there is a place for us in the convention and we should take it. Some of his thoughts were random, but he did say we needed a restructuring of the SBC leadership and more than a two year appointment for the president so he could set a better vision -- something I said last week on Steve McCoy's blog.

Some concluding thoughts on the YL Summit and YLs in general
1. I found it interesting that everyone who spoke had their own agenda and plan for correcting the problems in the SBC. In fact, some of them even contradicted each other. I think what we need is a specific set of goals and we need to agree on what those are and how to get them done. This may be the hardest task of all.
2. Missional is the new buzzword. Inerrancy is a now passe and a given. I wonder if anyone will lose their NAMB appointment if they won't affirm Missionality?
3. Some YLs speak as though we are still in the midst of the struggle to get heard, others like they have already won the battle and can say what they want now about Convention leaders and the elder statemen of the SBC. Do we need an already/not yet eschatology regarding the YLs initiative?
4. Humility and respect for the older folks is something that needs to be worked on among YLs. We will never get respect without giving it. And lip service is not enough -- especially when you are speaking out of both sides of your mouth.
5. YLs that I met and observed seem to be much more willing to help each other and less likely to be envious of one another's ministries. I think this will be tremedously helpful for the future of the SBC.
6. Having said #5, I think there is still too much emphasis on the pastors and not enough common respect for other ministers. One of the biggest problems I have seen in the YL initiative is that pastors are seen as the leaders, not guys like youth and college ministers who are actually specifically working with many of the people YLs are hoping to reach. There must be more mutual respect shown for those not in the Senior pastorate. Just notice the list of speakers for the Summit -- not one non-pastor in the bunch (with the exception of those in convention positions).
7. Blogging has now come to the convention and it will never be the same. Marty Duren is even talking about getting Bloggers press passes for next years convention. Maybe next year the convention leaders will seriously consider podcasting the whole convention or at least having regional sites where non-messengers can view the YLs Summit, the Pastor's Conference, and the Convention itself.
8. Finally, the SBC seems poised for a revolution. Gone are the days when only the older folks had a voice. Now, YLs must be heard and listened to.

I will try to post some more regarding other's blogs and what is actually taking place at the convention. For now,

Until Christ is Formed in All of Us,

Hi DR! Glad you got to go to the convention and to this young leaders' summit. Chris Seay is actually the founding pastor of my church and an all around interesting guy. I'm glad he's there. I'm also excited that some SBC leaders seem to be embracing the whole concept of being missional. So many of the conversations that I have at church and at school are focused on how the Church can be more missional. I'm saying nice things about the SBC again. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I'm going to CBF annual meeting next week in Dallas.(i'm not really strongly affliated with the cbf, but going to conventions like this helps to meet an outside learning graduation requirement we have. I also just want to see what it's all about.) So... it will be interesting to compare baptist notes. Have fun in Nash Vegas!

Some good stuff here D.R. I disagree with some of your take on the meeting and speakers, but that's no surprise. :) I've linked to this at eSBCL.

Interesting stuff D.R., thanks for the post. Concerning observation #2: it is good to hear that the Young Leaders (and the SBC in general) is discussing the idea of being missional. It is an idea that has been around for quite awhile, so I don't know that many outside the SBC would call it a "buzzword", but if that is what is now in that circle, then I am glad that it is. Also, on #2, I'm not sure that the issue of innerency is "passe" or "given". It may in fact be in SBC circles, but I'm not sure if that is a fully true statement with other Christians...and not really even sure if that would be completely true with many of the first thinkers of the "missional" idea as we know it today. Still, good to know that there are young leaders in the SBC wanting to see some things done and thought out differently.

To may anonymous friend,

Yes, you are right on both of your points. I was speaking of "missional" being a buzzword specifically in SBC circles. Heck before this year and the Emergent controversies, it wasn't a word that very many in all of Evangelicalism knew. And to the inerrancy issue, I was again speaking specifically of the SBCers who recognize themselves with the Younger Leaders Initiative. However, I do think that in the broader evangelical world it has become more of a non-issue. I think the new issue with the Bible has less to do with believing the Bible has errors and more to do with interpreting it with a postmodern v. modern mindset.


In respect to #6 ---- I would like to make the following remarks:

I fully understand the concern for the fact that many youth leaders and college ministers are not asked to preach on the platform of the Convention. It is true that these people are responsible for a great work and ministry across the nation, but it is also important to realize that the people responsible for leading the church, guiding the church, and "pastoring" the church is indeed the Pastor.

I truly believe that the younger leaders are going to be asked to serve within the SBC in the upcoming years following some remarks at the Convention, but we should never forget that the Pastor is truly responsible for the ministries below his leadership.

Having said this ---- I think that an address from some youth leader or college minister could be profitable to the SBC leaders. The pastors could hear what is going on within these ministries across the country.

Finally, I would like to say that the Convention was great. The preaching was wonderful and the leaders recognized this year are responsible for where our Convention stands today! To God be the glory!

Josh Buice

See, I'm not THIS big of a jerk!



I think your view on the pastorate is influenced by your church polity and I think you put much more emphasis on the role of the pastor than I think we should in a denomination that is supposed to distinctively be congregational. The SBC is not a meeting for pastors -- it is a meeting for the churches of the SBC; and more specifically, the people of those churches. Yes, the pastors play a key role in leadership, but I think if we are truly congregational then all areas of a church should be represented at the SBC -- pastors, staff, elders, deacons, and laypeople. But that is not the case and it I felt that continued emphasis was reflected in the Younger Leaders Summitt, which seems to be emphasize pastors to the exclusion of all other younger leaders. When I think of getting younger leaders involved I think of getting people in their 20's and 30's who are sitting in the pews of churches excited about the SBC and proud to be a part. I think about people in colleges across the country choosing to attend SBC churches because they know that it cares about them. And I think about the millions of children and teenagers who will one day decide what church they will attend as adults. Will they think of the SBC as a bunch of old guys in bad suits sitting around discussing whether iPODs have anything to do with the mark of the beast, or will they see the SBC as a passionate group of men and women who seek to glorify God by being missional and incarnational (yes, I am beginning to embrace those words as well because I think they sum up a great deal of what we are called to do). So I think that a younger leaders initiative must factor into it a decreased emphasis on the heirarchy that has so plagued our convention for years. I hope you will see my point now.

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Paul was not interested merely in the ethical principles of religion or of ethics. On the contrary, he was interested in the redeeming work of Christ and its effect upon us. His primary interest was in Christian doctrine, and Christian doctrine not merely in its presuppositions but at its centre. -- J. Greshem Machen.

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