1. Those of you who have various versions of autocratic church governments that never give the ordinary hoi polloi the microphone may look down your noses at allowing people to make motions to ban books, adopt flags and boycott Pepsi, but our circus has a lot to commend it over your imitation of the Vatican. Public perception has to go out the window, but meaning what you say about congregationalism, messenger representation and cooperation from the ground up outweighs the spectacle. No one will ever stand up in most of your churches and say something really stupid, and that’s a shame, because the pastor shouldn’t be the only one who gets to have fun.
2. The younger leaders of the SBC are taking on power in a denomination that has been, for the most part, attempting to lock the doors and hope they would go away. Well, they didn’t. They came to the convention and voted in a mechanism to take an urgent look at what we are doing for the one thing that holds us together: a commitment to carry out the Great Commission. What you saw today was a serious changing of the power grid in the SBC. The vast numbers of obedient old-guard messengers are never again going to show up and make the SBC into a wholly owned subsidiary of the culture war or the Jerry Vines version of the SBC. This is now a denomination that has given itself clear and simple instructions: Get to the task of world missions, not the task of building a denominational culture.
3. It’s hard for many people to see how the SBC is a victim of its own success. In its heyday, the SBC built everything, started everything, produced everything, thought of everything and told you everything. They were, unlike any denomination in recent history, a self-contained evangelical empire. But that structure was not built for the future. It has become, to the younger generation raised on the Biblical, Gospel emphasis of the conservative resurgence, a collection of distractions and unwanted structures with little relation to the Great Commission. While every agency and entity will defend its existence, the fact is that the SBC’s overall structure is too large, and younger leaders will not support the vision of the “Great Denomination” that the generation of the 50’s and 60’s valued and created.
4. Changes in the SBC will happen quickly. Seminary education is changing before our eyes. Finances are going to change. Cooperative models are going to change. Relationships with the local and state conventions will change. A lot of people are going to find that the old rallying cries- be they rhetorical, cultural or denominational- are not going to get the same response. The younger generation SIMPLY ISN’T GOING TO BUY THE OLD SBC MYTHOLOGY. The sooner leaders come to grips with that, the better things will be. It is ridiculous to lecture the audience about Calvinism or throw fits about teetotalism or books in the bookstore. The number of people who care, who are being told by ANY pastor or leader they respect that these things matter, is small and growing smaller.
5. The motions brought from the floor did reveal what an utter waste of time the culture war has been for Southern Baptists. With a $40 million dollar missions’ shortfall, some SBCers still want to boycott Pepsi and harp about Mark Driscoll. Such rhetoric is an embarassment to the next generation. In all honesty, fellows….you’ve lost. Either give it up or find one of the few churches that care about being the moral police department.
6. The patient teaching of the Gospel and church-centered theology by the Founders Ministries and 9Marks has paid off in more fruit than can be put in a basket. Hundreds and hundreds of young people, hungry to hear how to build a Gospel centered, God honoring, missionary focused church. It is astonishing. It may not be revival, but it is a solid outcome that will make a huge difference for a small number of churches.
7. No, the SBC’s generational turnover won’t be averted. Thousands of churches will die in the next 2-4 decades. But hopefully, thousands of new and revitalized churches will live.
8. It is now time for the large churches and the state conventions to come to the plate and take leadership in making sacrifices and doing what is necessary to get those stalled missionaries on the field.
9. Morris Chapman should resign. His moral mandate is utterly finished. He has served well, but his address today was an embarrassment.
10. Johnny Hunt has chosen to support the future of the SBC and the Gospel. He has laid aside the questions of style, culture and methodology- even the questions of Calvinism- and chosen to side with those who want the Gospel itself to be our unity. This is still a stunning development, in my opinion, and one for which Hunt should be deeply appreciated as a man of principle. He is not my style of pastor, and megachurches are not the future in my view, but Johnny Hunt is playing for the team, not his church or his “boys.” He is a gift to the SBC.
11. Younger leaders: You won today. Now be mature. Be gracious. Be kind. Build bridges. Heed wisdom and heal rifts. Watch Danny Akin and do what he does the way he does it.
12. God is amazingly kind to our old ship. Born in a love of slavery. Arrogant. Blind to the Kingdom outside its own borders. Cantankerous and stubborn. But the ship still sails because the Holy Spirit says it will be so.