Tag Archives: Southern Baptist Convention

2015 IMB Report at the SBC

imbWith over 16 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the largest Protestant body in the US and the largest Baptist denomination in the world. Connected with the SBC is the International Mission Board (IMB), which, similar to its parent organization, is one of the largest missionary organization in the world. I mention all of this because I think it good to pay attention to what they do as it effects a large portion of the population.

Below these comments is a video report of the IMB’s president, David Platt (pastor and author), given a few days ago at the SBC General Conference. In watching the video, two things stood out to me.

1)    The number of full time missionaries sent out by the IMB is steady dropping

This decline in missionaries is due, account to Platt, mainly to the lack of funds. However rather than trying to get the SBC member churches to give more money, Platt announced that the IMB is changing the way they think about mission work. As it currently stands, the IMB has a narrow view of who constitutes a missionary (i.e. fully supported, full time missionary living overseas) – meaning that they have had to reject large number of people over the years who have not fit that narrow definition.

Platt’s answer to this is to change the definition of a “missionary” to include college students, workers, or retirees living/studying overseas. As these new missionaries will be self-supporting, IMB would not have a huge increase in expenses – instead they would channel money normally used to house, feed and support a missionary into areas like resources, training and emotional/spiritual support. It is also worth noting that these new missionaries would have to meet the same requirements as a traditional IMB missionary and would be teamed with a traditional missionary in the same region. This would help provide stability and emotional/spiritual support for all the missionaries as they seek to start new churches.

2)    No tongues speaking

While I’ve always know that the SBC was more of a cessationist group, I didn’t expect Platt to come out as hard as he did against speaking in tongues. I know his hard line was a political move due to some news articles saying that the IMB had removed their ban against speaking in tongues, but wow…he sure had an axe to grind!  This venom sadness me on many fronts as I thought we as a Christian family had moved passed such petty fights. However it seems that there is still some underling pain and hurt within the family despite the advances we have made as a family group over the past few decades.  Hopefully the Spirit of God will work with us all to heal the pain and let us work together. By which, to be clear, is not to say that the SBC/IMB should start promoting tongues, but rather that they can set boundaries for their workers without speaking negatively against Christian family members who disagree with their practices/beliefs.

To be transparent, I have to mention that this issue also brought back memories as I was rejected by a mission agency (not the IMB) years ago because I spoke in tongues. The crazy part (to me at least) was that the agency rejected my compromise to restrict myself to only speaking in tongues in the privacy of my house and not in public. This rejection (fear perhaps?) of anyone who spoke in tongues, even if they weren’t promoting it, sadden me then and now… I know people/groups have different interpretation of what the Scriptures say… but really, do we have to draw such hard lines and speak with venom against those in the family of Christ with whom we disagree? Sigh… I guess we all have some growing left to do… =/


New Name and a New President for the Southern Baptist Convention

Yesterday was a historic day for the Southern Baptist Convention as they voted on two HUGE changes.

The first one was the election of a new president to replace the retiring Bryant Wright. While this is a major change for any denomination at any time, it was even more historic as the convention unanimously elected its first African-American president, Fred Luter.

Rev. Luter is a native of New Orleans and the “fire-breathing, miracle-working pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church”, as described by his friend and fellow pastor David Crosby (First Baptist Church in New Orleans).  Prior to be elected as president, Rev. Luter served the SBC as vice president (elected in 2011) and via the Baptist Faith and Message committee in 2000.

The other big change in the SBC is the election of a new name, “Great Commission Baptists”.  Well, technically it is a new “descriptor” as the legal name of the convention will stay the same – this just gives pastors and congregations a choice as to whether or not they want to promote their church as being “Southern Baptist” (which can be geographically and regionally challenging) or “Great Commission Baptists” (which, while more generic, also points towards their heart for reaching people for Jesus).

All and all, it was been one phenomenal week for the SBC. Way to go Jesus! =D