If you know me at all, you know I'm not a denomination guy on the ministry front. But I went to the Southern Baptist Convention that is meeting in Houston yesterday and here are my (surprisingly positive, even to me) reflections.
1. I saw plenty of old guys with preacher hair. But I saw a ton of young people. A lot. Maybe the whole culture warrior ethos that has been a part of the SBC is starting to wane. I consider that a good thing. The problem with cultural warriors is that everything is a fight to them, including when we need to have theological discussions rather than battles. We have plenty of problems to address internally in the SBC (a big one? how to address sexual offenders/predators in our ranks and among our ministers without violating the voluntary nature of participation in the SBC) and in our culture, and hopefully the new generation of articulate leaders can help us with those. Warriors were needed then. Builders are needed now. And I think there are plenty around. I'm actually more hopeful of the SBC's future than I have ever been about anything in particular related to denominational life.
2. We have a ton of resources as SBC'ers. A TON. Education outlets. Publishing outlets. World-wide connections. People who love Jesus and are willing to follow Him. Good, Bible-preaching churches. A TON. God, please help us to be good stewards of them.
3. The younger crowd seems to pal around less than the older crowd but also seems more committed to causes than to the Convention. Again, I think that's a good thing. As long as the SBC majors on the majors and not the minors, I think the younger crowd (of which I still include myself, though 40 looms but moments ahead) will be on board.
4. Some conversations are hard to have on a panel in front of the room. Some conversations shouldn't. That's why people of old (Luther and Erasmus come to mind) had polemical exchanges in writings that were published so people could read. I sat in breakfast yesterday that I thought would've been better content if writing had been the primary medium. With blogs, etc., it's even easier than in the 1500's.
5. Doctrine matters. It's the springboard from which other cooperation (like missions) comes. To say otherwise is to deny reality or reduce what you "do" together to social justice vacant of Gospel content. Again, I might have some quibbles with SBC as its currently constituted, but I don't have arguments.
6. I got to go with a friend and had a great time. Worthwhile discussion. Introductions to others. That part was energizing.
But that's just me thinking thoughts...