Monday, February 05, 2007

Ed Stetzer on Staying in the SBC

6. What would you say to a young (or old) pastor who is considering leaving the SBC? Why should they stay a Southern Baptist?

I would tell them, “don't.” As a matter of fact, I just wrote an email to a young pastor of a well known megachurch asking me if it was worth it—and I told him it was.

But, honestly, I find myself making that statement with more frequency today than ever before. We have already preached most of my middle-aged Purpose Driven friends out of the convention and now it seems that some want to so the same to the next generation. We need understand that if we keep choosing our traditions over our young pastors, we may have our traditions; we will not have our young pastors.

I am not here in SBC life because I need a job. I was neither reared nor redeemed in a Baptist church. I became a Southern Baptist in college because I believed the theology and loved the cooperation. I am here by choice and by conviction, not chance or convenience. Our church gives 10% to the Cooperative Program, 3% to our Association, and 7% to direct church planting—not because we have to, but because we want to do so.

Mainly, I am Southern Baptist because of missions. I know there are many negative issues in the convention and some of our churches scare me. But I can find nowhere else that has a consensus of belief on scripture and theology, and funds the largest denominational mission force in the history of protestant Christianity. Nowhere else, period.

So, I am committed to stay and do whatever I can to be part of the solution. This Convention is too valuable a resource for the Kingdom to walk away. It is worth every ounce of our investment to bring it into the 21st century. I believe that the things Frank Page and others are saying are true: this is a new day. Things are going to get better.

I see a lot of good things. Schools like yours (NOBTS) are modeling the way—through innovative approaches to education, and a diversity of professors teaching forward-thinking ministry models (and asking hard questions like these). Thom Rainer is leading Lifeway to think biblically about how to reach and disciple people in culture. NAMB is getting even more focused on evangelism and church planting (see article here: Many of our state conventions and associations are providing initiatives to promote broader involvement. The IMB is challenging us to think about people groups, and to be committed to work with other like-minded conservative evangelicals to take the gospel to every group of people on this planet.

There is a lot of good going on and now is not the time to bail out. I think we will see some positive changes in the next few years.

For me, the SBC is my extended faith family. Anyone with family knows that they are both wonderful and weird, which is why there is an audience for Jerry Springer and for Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Large family get-togethers can be fun and awful at the same time. Some members make me crazy, cringe, and wonder how we share a last name or DNA. Then there are the times when they make me laugh, make me proud, and make me happy that they make the world’s best mashed potatoes.

The SBC is not only my extended family, it is a community, it isn’t always neat and tidy and is sometimes downright messy. But it is the best family I can find, and we share common bonds that really matter.


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