Southern Baptist Disconnect
I was raised as a Southern Baptist until I was a teenager. My grandfather was a Southern Baptist pastor and I learned about Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong in Training Union. Like most “churchy” kids, I left church as soon as I got to college and didn’t look back until I met my wife. When we looked for a church to attend so we could eventually get married, we both settled on a Southern Baptist church in Orlando. When God called me to full-time vocational ministry, I was able to progress towards my Master’s degree at a Southern Baptist seminary through the incredible work of the Cooperative Program. All that to say this: I have a great affinity and an incredible love and respect for Southern Baptists and what they have meant to my life and to those around me through the years.
However, as the revitalizing pastor of a now healthy and growing church cooperating with the SBC, I feel more and more disconnected from the Convention with each passing year. We continue to lose ground culturally and God’s favor seems distant from most churches in the Convention as evidenced by the consistent percentage of decline. So, after listening to a few main platform messages this year, I decided to write out my message if, in the off chance, I ever got the chance to address the Convention:
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
We do this event every year and and every year we lament declining churches and we talk about revival. As Christians leaders, we show up, applaud and cheer the most effective, visible, high-profile pastors and then get up and walk out when they are done just in time for the music leaders to get on stage to lead praise to Christ. We head to the vendor area or to the bathroom or to grab a bite to eat while a band, choir or other group of musicians lead a waning group to worship Jesus. I believe our worship is sorely mis-targeted.
As difficult as that is to hear, we have to admit that it seems that every year, our conversations and the addresses from the platform remain the same: the culture is decaying, churches are dying, and revival tarries.
Because of this, we must recognize that our Convention of churches will continue to experience the same lackadaisical results as always. So I propose that we embrace our mediocrity and realize it for what it is OR we begin to pray that God would break us like we’ve never been broken before. We as leaders cannot expect God’s favor in the churches we lead when we ourselves live lives of worshipping each other, creative ministry methodology, and ego-driven pastoral leadership. We will never see God’s revival until we are truly honest and humbly repentant over how we have handled Jesus’ Bride.
And with that, I would simply turn and walk off the platform. I doubt I would receive any applause and no slaps on the back…but I pray that I’d be okay with that. I’m discovering that I don’t want to live my life for the inconsistent applause of the many; just the constant applause and approval of the One. And until we as leaders begin to live that out in front of everyone who follows us on social media, watches us on the internet or listens to us live each weekend, we will continue to have the same tired meetings each and every year.
Something’s got to change. I’m praying that it will be me…and then us.