Baptists know a little bit about Dallas.
Decades ago, the Southern Baptist Convention met with more than 40,000 messengers coming together at the height of the “conservative resurgence.” Here is one perspective provided by the publications arm of the SBC.
Nowadays, it difficult to get 4,000 Baptists to show up at the convention meeting. The same is true for the CBF General Assembly or ABC Biennial meetings. Times have changed in that regard. Thanks to a decreasing interest in denominational matters from a younger generation, along with the convenience of live streaming of these events, have resulted in folks staying closer to home. There are times I don’t want to attend meetings with five Baptists, let alone several hundred.
I was too young to be directly involved in the denominational warfare that occurred between moderates and conservatives. I do know that the timing of the conflict couldn’t have been worse from a missions standpoint. Dr.Keith Parks, then President of the Foreign Mission Board, was hoping to launch a global missions initiative called “Bold Mission Thrust.” This is old news for us who came along during the conflict or soon afterwards. But, time has proven that the dangers of liberalism that were supposed to deter baptisms and growth were unfounded. Southern Baptists are wrestling with their own problems relating to decreasing membership in their churches. Hopefully, things like cooperation over social issues like predatory lending with take precedence over which ones of us believe the Bible more than others.
It’s been several years since I’ve attended a CBF Assembly. So, I am looking forward to making my way to the Lone Star state to listen and learn about how things are going among us in the CBF. I don’t look at how many people show up as an indicator of interest, for the reasons I mentioned above. But, it should be encouraging to connect with friends and make new ones. There’s usually a lot of good energy at these gatherings and gratitude for being part of the Kingdom. My primary hope is that renewal is ahead and that we can truly be in the business of “forming together.” I would also like to know more about what that phrase means too.
There is one concern that I have moving forward, and that is our own global missions effort will be derailed by controversial social issues. It’s good that these issues can be discussed, hopefully in a respectful and attentive manner. I pray that that we can agree that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the primary thread which keeps CBF churches together. This may be easier said than done. But, the effort is definitely worth it and there is a lot at stake.
I’m looking forward to good things. See you in Dallas.