We just arrived home last night from a 1200 mile round-trip to Fremont for the California Southern Baptist Annual Meeting. Here were some highlights…
Once again, the Pastors Conference on Monday and Tuesday was excellent. Dr. Chris Morgan put together a great conference with some top notch speakers from across the state. They had a really interesting format this year. Each speaker was assigned a portion of the Book of Philippians, so over the course of five messages, we worked our way through the entire epistle. I was especially challenged by our call to unity and humility around the gospel of Jesus Christ. Monday night, the speakers shared a forum on preaching Philippians.
The business meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday was filled with music, preaching, reports, elections, recommendations, and recognition of our church planters. The most significant item of business occurred Tuesday afternoon, when the Focus 21 Task Force recommended to refer our progress report to the Executive Board. Discussion on the floor was lively, and it was obvious there was a quite a bit of hesitance or misunderstanding by some messengers. But by God’s grace, a spirit of love prevailed, and there were even some lighthearted moments of laughter to lighten the mood.
When it came time to vote, 68% agreed to refer the report to the Executive Board for further study and consideration. I wish even more would have seen the value of this report and the need for more effective stewardship and cooperation, but I’m thankful it did pass so this dialogue can continue.
Our California Southern Baptist annual meeting is less than three weeks away. This is an exciting year as we celebrate church planting across our state and vote on the Focus 21 Task Force Report. Here’s the itinerary. Hope to see you there!
“Philippians: The unity of the church”
October 24-25, 2011
Monday: 6:30 p.m. – 8:55 p.m.
Tuesday: 9:30 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Speakers: Rick Melick, Tony Chute, Adam Co, Walter Price, Anthony Dockery, Chris Morgan. Music by David Busch
“Together: Making Disciples of every Ethne”
October 25-26, 2011
Tuesday: 1:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday: 8:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Speakers: Francis Chan, Steve Davidson, Fermin Whittaker, Reggie Thomas. Music by Phil Wilson
Click here for the full Annual Meeting Program.
Baptist Press announced earlier this week that the Southern Baptist Convention will consider a name change to the denomination. I don’t have a strong opinion on this one way or the other, but I also don’t see how it would hurt for a Task Force to revisit the idea.
I highly respect our current SBC President Bryant Wright and agree when he says, “With our focus on church planting, it is challenging in many parts of the country to lead churches to want to be part of a convention with such a regional name.”
Almost immediately, Dr. Alber Mohler responded with some reasons it may be time for a name change.
But for me, the most surprising statistic comes from Ed Stetzer, Director of Lifeway Research:
“The Southern Baptist identity simply does not resonate as well with adults age 18 to 24. More than 40 percent of respondents in this group said knowing a church was Southern Baptist would negatively affect their decision to visit or join the church.”
That statistic is staggering. I wonder what has given young adults such a bad impression?
At any rate, this doesn’t mean any local church would have to change their name. As best I can tell, the SBC label might even help our church a little, giving name recognition to military families who move here from the South and are searching for a new church to settle.
But you will notice that no church plants are putting “Southern Baptist” in their name today. Far more common are thematic names like The Rock Church, Soma Church, Cross Community Church, The Well, Mosaic Church, Sandals Church, etc. This should at least tell our convention something about its branding.
Last fall, I and eleven others were appointed by the California SBC to form the Focus 21 Task Force. It has been a real honor and I’ve learned so much. We’ve traveled from across the state to meet nearly every month, and are finally ready to share the results of our research.
The intro to our report has just been released. It explains our purpose and rationale. You can read it here.
The full report should be posted later today. These changes are significant, but we believe they will bring greater focus and keep moving us forward in the 21st century.
Here are some ways you can help:
- Read the report after it is released on our Facebook page.
- Post your comments and click “like” on our Facebook page to help spread the word. We’ve deliberately chosen Facebook to encourage feedback and dialogue.
- Tell others through Facebook, Twitter, or email about the report. Every California Southern Baptist has a vested interest in these recommendations.
- Pray for unity and wisdom among our convention entities, leaders, pastors, and messengers.
- Make plans to attend the Annual Meeting in Fremont on Oct. 25-26. We need your support on Tuesday afternoon when this report is brought to the floor and recommended for approval.
May the Lord use this report to invigorate our cooperation and bring the gospel to over 30 million lost people in our state.
Here is Al Mohler’s recap of highlights of the 2011 Southern Baptist Convention. As expected, he gives a helpful analysis of what transpired in Phoenix two weeks ago.
On a personal note, this was the third year I’ve attended the convention, and the first time it was feasible to bring my family (since it was in the Western U.S.) It was wonderful to have my bride with me and to put the kids in the children’s program, but I probably won’t haul the whole family out to another one of these conventions until 2017, when the convention is back in Phoenix again. It would be far too much effort and cost to bring them to New Orleans in 2012, for example.
The other highlights of the convention were all the breakout sessions: the IX Marks at 9 Discussions, the Baptist Twenty-One panel, the Founders Breakfast with guest Wayne Grudem, and the great Re:verb Workshop sponsored by IX Marks on Wednesday and Thursday at Trinity Bible Church. The convention was a necessary part of ‘taking care of business’ on a national scale, but these other meetings fed me spiritually, and charged me up for returning home to serve the local church.