On New Years Day while waiting in line at Chick-Fil-A (what better way to start the New Year, black eye peas have nothing on waffle fries), I wrote down on Twitter a few resolutions for my denomination going into 2019. I love being Southern Baptist. I love who we are, what we do, where we stand, and where I believe we're headed.
1. That we would love, pray for, support, send, and give for the sake of the Gospel going to the nations. It's really easy for us to write a check and pass it up the food chain. And I'm not against writing checks, especially big checks, for Lottie and Annie. But if all we do is write a check, we're missing out on what God has called us to as churches and individuals. Taking the Gospel to the nations, near and far, must not be an accessory but a primary for us in how we schedule, plan, budget, preach, and live.
2. That we would look long and hard in the mirror. It's really easy to fire off tweets criticizing our entity heads, our seminaries, megachurch pastors, and anyone else who doesn't do things like we would. But if everyone except you sucks, maybe the problem isn't them. We have to look long and hard in the mirror and examine our hearts. Are we genuinely concerned about biblical faithfulness, or are we jealous of the megachurch pastor or entity head? It's really easy to throw rocks, it's another to be in those shoes.
3. Our devotion to doctrine would not cause us to be callous or cold to lostness or to our brothers who we might have disagreement with. The last 10 years in the SBC have exposed a rift on a number of secondary issues (Calvinism, worship style, church planting, multicampus, and more). And rather than find our unifying call to the Great Commission and our common faith statement, we've dug trenches of tribalism. We must not allow secondary divisions to compromise our commonality.
4. We'd stop complaining about our lack of baptisms or how people aren't attending our worship services and actually do something about it. Again, it's much easier to wring our hands and lament the good ol' days. But the reality is our culture has changed. So have the ways we engage the culture. We cannot expect people to simply attend because we're open. We must engage.
5. That we as pastors would care more about our faithfulness in our churches more than we do our blog hits, Twitter followers, or if our books ever get published. I recognize the dripping irony that I'm doing this on my blog. In conversations with older pastors, one of their observations is that they don't see as strong a commitment to faithfulness in their context. Maybe they're on to something. Our influence serves to multiply our Kingdom impact, but the tail shouldn't wag the dog.
6. That we'd recognize homogeny is never going to happen in the SBC. We're not all going to look alike, worship alike, think alike, or do much alike at all. And that's great. Our diversity is a reflection of the Kingdom as a whole. Our churches will do things different, and we must defer (except in cases of heresy) to a polity of local church autonomy. What brings us together is not that we're all alike, it's that we're together for a coordinated, cooperative mission.
7. That as a number of key roles are filled, we would follow (not blindly) their leadership, and that our institutional trustees would prove the weight of their responsibility to oversee what God has entrusted us. A number of high profile entity positions are still empty, and will presumably be filled in 2019. The people who fill those roles aren't perfect, nor should we expect them to be. That's where we have trustees, who act on behalf of the SBC for the oversight and accountability of our institutions. Those trustees have been given a weighty responsibility, and my prayer is they would continue to prove that.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.