The denomination to which I belong, the Southern Baptist Convention, is gathering in its annual meeting this week in Baltimore, MD. I'm not there for multiple reasons, but I do have some hopes for that gathering.
I'm just a pastor of a medium-ish-sized church in Texas. So, you can take these or leave them. But here we go...
1. I hope they don't embarrass themselves. No resolutions or commitments that give the media fodder. I'm not talking about being biblically unfaithful. Far from it. But I am talking about not passing a resolution that is inflammatory without need or without consequence. Sometimes I think they pass stuff because someone brings it to the floor and no one wants to vote against it. But that's just it: someone please say out loud, "Hey, I think we're all on the same page here. And this resolution has no teeth, no consequence or binding authority on any church / entity / individual that breaks it. Therefore, let's shut up and sit down and not spend time on inconsequential things like this."
2. I hope they questions that need to get asked actually get asked and then get answered. There are some big ones, I think, that are lingering in Southern Baptist life. They need answers, even if it's, "Man, we really screwed up there and don't see a good out, so we're going to stay the course for the next 12 months until we figure it out." Humility seems to buy a lot of goodwill and patience.
3. I hope they don't do anything that further restricts the autonomy of the local church. Previously, entities have acted in such a way that the action was seemingly outside an entity's purview and without Convention approval. As a for instance, the IMB restricted the circle of applicants by denying certain spiritual gifts (and the individuals who were given them by God) and tightening the definition of Christian baptism. But in Baptist life, it should be the churches telling the IMB who they are sending, not the IMB telling the churches who they can send. The top-down stuff has to stop. More examples are readily available.
4. I hope the people who invited James MacDonald to the SBC Pastor's Conference check their heads and their hearts. He, along with some other prominent evangelical pastors, seem to be a little big for their britches these days. Controversy about character issues should at least deserve a second look before an invitation is extended.
5. I hope some genuine pastors have some time for genuine encouragement and genuine refreshment. I hope there are some genuine moments of prayer. And I hope God genuinely continues to use this group to advance His Kingdom, however falteringly, for the glory of Jesus.