Next week, June 14-15, is the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (which will be held in Anaheim, California).  Sadly, there is a lot of division within the Southern Baptist Convention these days.  First, there is the sexual abuse report that highlights the need for a change in culture in regards to how churches respond to sexual abuse accusations and how they care for those who report such abuse.  Most agree that we need to address the issues and make appropriate changes in how we handle sexual abuse cases in the future.  There are going to be a number of recommendations from the Sexual Abuse Task Force and those recommendations will cost nearly $5 million dollars to implement.  That is a lot of Cooperative Program funds that could be used to support missions, missionaries, church planting, and gospel ministries. 

       There are also accusations from some groups claiming that some leaders and entities in the SBC are too liberal, too “woke,” or do not stand up strongly enough against CRT, LGBTQ+, abortion, women preachers, and other left leaning ideologies.  Many of those debates are taking place on social media (primarily Twitter).  It is hard for me to understand how some of the pastors/leaders in these debates have enough time to argue their cause day after day and still be able to faithfully pastor their churches.  Some of the mudslinging, accusations, and unkind speech is sinful and I think the greatest need in the SBC is repentance on the part of some of our pastors.      

       Some ask, is it even worth it to stay affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.  My answer is always a resounding “Yes!”  Why would I say that?  I regularly see evidence of the gospel impact that we can have when we work, give, and go together for the sake of the gospel.  Consider the International Mission Board (IMB) and the impact they are having around the world.  The IMB supports nearly 3,700 full-time Missionaries (including Kyle and Molly Jones).  Last year 592,408 souls heard the gospel and 176,795 became new believers.  Last year 107,701 new believers were baptized and 22,744 new churches were planted.  The work of our IMB is so encouraging and we are able to support the largest mission agency in the world.        

       I can speak firsthand about the ministries that are supported by the Cooperative Program in Kentucky.  Sunrise Children Services, Oneida Baptist Institute, Crossings Ministry, and Clear Creek Baptist Bible College are ministries/entities that are having a tremendous impact throughout Kentucky and beyond.  Our Baptist Campus Ministries are having an impact on our college campuses.  Our Disaster Relief teams are ready and willing to respond wherever there is a need.  The North American Mission Board is heavily involved in church planting, evangelism, compassion ministries, and chaplaincy ministries around North America. 

       Bottomline, I am proud to be a Southern Baptist.  We have our share of issues right now.  I believe that there is a significant amount of spiritual warfare going on in the SBC.  The enemy doesn’t like us working together and is doing all that he can to divide us.  The work is too important to give up on.  Most pastors I know are simply trying to love and serve their church and reach their community with the gospel.  A majority of our pastors and members do not even know about all the divisiveness playing out on social media.  In Kentucky, our pastors seem to be much more united and focuses on evangelism and discipleship.  We work hard to stay unified and committed to the Great Commission.  We certainly want to reach the next generation with the gospel. 

       I wasn’t planning on going to the annual meeting this year because of the distance (Anaheim) and some of the debating that goes on at the annual meeting can be discouraging.  However, I realize that we are at a critical time in the life of the Southern Baptist Convention and the future direction of the convention.  As a church, we give nearly 12% of our offerings to the Cooperative Program to support our missionaries and ministries.  Therefore, I made some last minutes arrangements this week to travel out to be apart of the SBC Executive Committee and participate in the annual meeting.  I would appreciate your prayers for our SBC annual meeting.  Pray that there will be an attitude of humility and repentance.  Pray that God’s will is accomplished as we take action on the sexual abuse task force recommendations and select a President of the SBC.  Pray that Southern Baptist realize that we really are better together.  I pray that God would do something God-sized, something unexpected and glorious when we meet together next week.  I look forward to reporting some good news to you when I return.  Thanks in advance for your prayers.

 

Bro Harold