SBC 2018, Dallas – It was my pleasure to attend the Annual Meeting of the SBC in Dallas this year along with over 9500 registered messengers representing somewhere around 10% of SBC churches. Let me provide you with a snapshot view of the Southern Baptist Convention (http://www.sbc.net/BecomingSouthernBaptist/FastFacts.asp):
· 47,000 autonomous, but cooperating congregations
· 15.2 million SBC church members
· 5.2 million average weekly attendance in SBC churches
· Six Seminaries (Southeastern, Southern, Southwestern, Midwestern, New Orleans, Gateway)
· 2 Missions Sending Agencies – North American Mission Board (NAMB) focusing primarily on Church Planting (SEND Cities) and Relief work (SEND Relief), and the International Mission Board (IMB).
· 9,000 = the approximate number of missionaries serving through these two missions agencies
· 42 State Conventions in North America
· In Georgia:
o 3600 churches
o 92 church funded Associations (not CP funded) and 75 associational Leaders
· $475 million = the amount given to the Cooperative Program of the SBC in 2017 for the funding of our entities (Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Seminaries and Missions Agencies and the SBC Executive Committee)
· $152 million = the amount churches gave to Lottie Moon Christmas offering for the IMB in 2017
· $59 million = the amount given to the Annie Armstrong Easter offering for NAMB in 2017
· 964 = the number of new congregations added in 2017
· The Annual Meeting of the convention is a collective gathering of the messengers which forms a deliberative body that is empowered to vote on Convention business. Much like a church, the convention is divided into committees and (maybe differently) functions under a trustee system that manages and oversees SBC entities and agencies.
News of Note from SBC Dallas 2018
· J.D. Greear, age 45, pastor of Summit Church in Durham, NC became one of the youngest men in recent history to be elected as SBC president. This probably represents the confirmation of a youth movement within our denomination and signals something healthy in my opinion. I noted before that the SEND conference in Nashville last year attracted more attendance than the SBC in Phoenix which probably points to an important philosophical change.
· SWBTS trustees were affirmed by a vote from the floor of the convention as having acted appropriately in removing Paige Paterson as president because of plummeting attendance and finances and because of concerns about the improper handling of reporting of sexual abuse in the past. http://www.bpnews.net/51053/2018-sbc-blog
· A motion to defund the ERLC was defeated, and an effort to remove and replace an ERLC trustee from Nebraska with a less cooperative trustee was also defeated.
· Vice president Mike Pence spoke to the convention to the consternation and opposition of many messengers. Though there is a past precedent of hearing from politicians, there is a growing concern about its appropriateness. I addressed this and many other SBC issues in a recent Facebook video update that I would encourage you to listen to on the MBA’s FB page. https://www.facebook.com/bbraswelljr/videos/1824217421007964/
Why I go and what I do – I budget money from my compensation package to attend the convention because I believe it is important to do my small part to understand and steward the colossus that is our convention of churches. When I go, I typically:
· Attend Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) conference which occurs on the Sunday and Monday prior to the convention. It helps me as an associational leader and I am currently serving as the Southeast Regional Director for SBCAL as a volunteer within this ministry. I have started producing a podcast for other associational leaders as well. https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/bobby-braswell/associational-leadership-today
· I attend many luncheons, breakfasts and other ministry gatherings to help me in my ministry proficiency, many of which give away free resources. I attend as many points of connection as possible to hear from great leaders and understand the issues and direction of the SBC. I network. I go home a “good tired.”
· I connect with friends, some of whom formerly served churches in the MBA.
· I peruse the exhibit hall and try not to make eye contact with vendors unless I really have an interest in their area.
This is a lot of information. Denominationalism is on the decrease in our times. I understood Ed Stetzer to say recently that though we say the SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the world, there are actually more non-denominational churches than SBC churches now. Nevertheless, it’s important to have a handle on who we are, and if you would be interested in hearing more from me on this I’d be happy to come on a Sunday night and interact with your MBA congregation about this.