As I indicated in yesterday’s post, I am taking two days to share about the annual meeting of my own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Again, thank you to all of you readers outside the SBC for being patient while I have this family conversation.
Again, my observations, for better or worse, are my own. They reflect how I saw things on this second day. So bear with me as I write from my hotel room as the midnight hour approaches,
- A more prayerful convention. There was more time spent in prayer during the meetings than I recall in the past. I hope this emphasis continues in the future.
- A more hopeful spirit. I heard more optimism about the future than I heard in the past. That optimism was not only for our denomination, but for the impact of Christianity in the United States and around the world.
- An emphasis on both church planting and church revitalization. I am hopeful that the SBC sees more than ever the importance of both. I heard that emphasis expressed in resolutions, in informal conversations, and in messages from the platform.
- The return of the reunion spirit. One important facet of our annual meeting is the opportunity for friends to reunite and enjoy fellowship. That seemed to be taking place in greater numbers with greater emphasis,
- The powerful statements by Russ Moore and the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission.Particularly poignant were his recognitions of the Green family, the owners of Hobby Lobby, and Saeed Abedini, an American pastor who is imprisoned for his Christian faith in Iran.
- The heartfelt convention sermon by John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas. His passion to reach the world for Christ is obvious and contagious.
- The excellent presentation of “Groups Matter” by Eric Geiger and Ed Stetzer. Of course, I am biased because this emphasis was part of LifeWay’s presentation. But these two men did an outstanding job of reminding us how critical it is for our churches to move members toward regular involvement in groups.
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.