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.

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