The Future of the SBC

August 25, 2009

In case you’re unaware, the Southern Baptist Convention is trying to find itself right now.  Who were we?  What have we become?  Where are we headed in our rapidly changing society?  Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently spoke to these issues with his characteristic insight and candor.  If you’re concerned about the future of the SBC, you should listen to his message.  If you’re not concerned about the future of the SBC, you really ought to listen to his message.

Here’s the link, and here’s a summary. The message begins with an enlightening historical overview of the development of the SBC mindset, a mindset that began with mission but has led to a corporate mentality.  If you’ve grown up in the SBC, you’ll enjoy Dr. Mohler’s autobiographical reflections.

Around the 24 min mark, Dr. Mohler uses two metaphors to describe the current SBC situation.  We’re in danger, he warns, of meeting the modern-day fate of General Motors and shopping malls.

Around the 37 min mark, Dr. Mohler offers ten questions that our convention must answer as we head into the future.  (These are slightly paraphrased.)

  1. Will we be missiological or bureaucratic?
  2. Will our identity remain tribal or become more theological?
  3. Will the basis of our cooperation be convictional or confused?
  4. Will our logic become secular or will we be appropriately sectarian (i.e., distinct within culture)?
  5. Will we become younger or dead?
  6. Will we become more diverse or be diminished?
  7. Will we become missional or remain methodological?
  8. Will we be more strategic or become more anemic?
  9. Will we be bold or become more boring?
  10. Will we be happy or bitter?  (“We as a denomination have taken on the reputation of denominational crankiness.”)

The conclusion begins just under the 51 min mark.  If you’re spot-listening, listen to this spot!  Dr. Mohler speaks of problems with perception and reality in the SBC.  He closes with an analogy drawn from the Apple/PC commercials, which so brilliantly expose a different logic in computing.  Are we more like the PC guy or the Apple guy?  I bet you can guess.

Southern Baptists have much to consider as we look ahead.  May God help us change where we need to change, for the sake of the gospel going to all nations.

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