Saturday, February 25, 2012

Southern Baptist Convention: Change Our Name?

Southern Baptists are all abuzz over the recent discussions concerning the possibility of changing the name of the Southern Baptist Convention to something else. Yep, once again various factions within the SBC have made enough noise concerning the idea of changing the name of the convention that talks have gained enough traction to move forward.

These discussions got very serious as the current SBC president Bryant Wright appointed a task force to study the possibility of a name change. Thankfully, that group arrived at the conclusion that a descriptor in addition to the SBC name would be preferable to actually going about legally changing the name of the convention. Bravo! With the brand equity the SBC name has and the huge undertaking a legal name change would entail, this is really the only conclusion to these discussions. Of course, there will now be a great deal of discussion concerning the use of the new descriptor "Great Commission Baptists". There is little doubt that this will eventually be the topic of another blog on the topic.

So why change the name anyway? Are we trying to reach the lost or competing with others who are seeing their churches grow while the SBC has seemingly plateaued or is in decline? In his charge to Timothy, Paul warns about those who want teachers to simply tell them what they want to hear (2 Tim 4:1-5). We are to preach the Gospel. It doesn't matter if it is inconvenient or if it is not what people want to hear.

Honestly the terms "Southern" and "Baptist" might create issues for some. So also does the use of the word "church". These are the excuses the evil one uses to convince people not to listen when the Word is proclaimed. If we want to get the attention of the communities around us we must first live our lives like the Bible says we ought to. Before someone will listen to what the Bible teaches, people want to know if the person teaching it is also living it.

We must begin with ourselves. What we call our convention should be irrelevant in terms of reaching the lost. Having said that, there is a great deal of equity in the SBC moniker and it should not be cast aside. If an individual congregation so desires, they can call their church "ABC Church" and not mention "Southern" or "Baptist" in their name. A few might visit that would otherwise pass them by. The real impact is the effectiveness of said congregation's personal discipleship and outreach. The name on the door has no impact on the hearts and motives of the people inside.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm very ashamed at this moment to be a SOUTHERN BAPTIST, there is great problems in this world in the state of people's SOUL'S and BECAUSE of this PETTY SITUATION--duh, is the VERY REASON THE NUMBERS ARE DOWN. I have loved my brother in Christ, Bryan Wright, but I don't care if I hear him speak again, I have lost every ounce of respect I've ever had for him, and I'm shocked at his behavior, boy, how people take advantage of being President, huh? Because of the un-necessary commotion He has caused our convention and THE WORLD is WATCHING, Including family members that watch for this kind of stuff, so it gives them ANOTHER EXCUSE to not attend church, according to them, "all you do in church is argue about the stupidest stuff", and what do I say to that?

This is giving the world yet another reason to NEVER want to come to church to hear the gospel, and it saddens me very deeply. Its time Christians wake up and its time the pulpits that consist of CEO's rather than called men of God step down, and let the world hear POSITIVE things, I'M TRULY APPALED AT SUCH NONSENSE! We better be about God's business and NOT MAN'S BUSINESS..Thanks for letting me vent, I'm very sad, and hurt at such bizarre and ridiculous, and time consuming rederick that this is causing! One year at the convention, wouldn't it be awesome to hear that every one is in unity!

Melinda

Chris Sanchez said...

Needless to say I am not a fan. There are practical reasons such as many churches simply deciding not to use a different name (we Baptists cooperate with one another voluntarily you know). If churches feel the need to omit mentioning "Southern" or "Baptist" they are free to do so now and many do! There is no need to spend precious time and energy gong down this rabbit hole again.

Rum Punch Drunk said...

Chris
It's not about changing church names, it's about saving lives. I come from a very cultish church background which I will be covering via post one day. There are many people in this world in dire straits and in need of desperate help. If the church is not in a position to assist then they will ultimately go to the world for help. Despite asking many questions openly and honestly it seems the church is still not ready to give an answer, even if the answer is "I don't know". Anyway, I hope to live another day to get to the bottom of this life and to encourage people in the best way I know how, and will continue to ask many questions.

I guess it really is the end times.

Chris Sanchez said...

Rum,

If a changing the name of the Southern Baptist Convention to something else would be a watershed moment removing a stumbling block from the paths of those who have not yet come to know Christ then I am ALL FOR IT! However, I do not believe the SBC name is such a stumbling block. Perhaps there a re a few who will not enter the doors of an SBC church but it is not the name. Rather, there is some experience with an SBC church or the perception, rightly or wrongly, of what the SBC stands for. If that were the case then there are many other denominations one might visit.

No, it is not the name that needs to be changed. Rather, the hearts of those in our SBC churches needs to change and the saints found there need to have a burden for those who do not know Christ.

Just my opinion but it strikes me that our problem is twofold. First, many of our churches are focused inward rather than being focused on outreach. It is kind of difficult to go unto all the nations and make disciples when we are more concerned about what each other are wearing and which music ought to be played. Second, petty theological arguments (e.g. Calvinism versus Arminianism) that consume far too much time and energy and ultimately will continue to be debated by theologians for many, many years to come.

No my friend, the name isn't the issue that should be consuming our thoughts daily. The issue is standing ready to answer the questions you mention openly and honestly in a way that brings honor to Christ. The Savior is ready to accept those who are ready to seek him.

Rum Punch Drunk said...

Chris
Thanks for your response to me. Sorry for the delay as I was abroad on holiday and just returned today. I totally agree that the church is too inward and not focused outwardly enough, so to speak, and at times seem to be more concerned about what you are wearing etc...(I have personal experience of this and will give my experience one day) and I truly do hope that the church will begin to really spend time with people who are interested in knowing the truth, and possibly answering questions pertaining to real life situations.

My concerns are not about the songs you sing or the choir you join, not about the long dresses or broad hats you wear, but rather about how you live today and where you will end up tomorrow! I do believe in time all things will fall into place, ie: you will not dress like a whore if you believe that God wants you to be modest (drastic example but I hope it makes the point). I shall continue to read your blog with interest. Thanks again Chris.