Things to Watch for at the SBC Annual Meeting 2014

by Dave Miller on June 8, 2014 · 38 comments

From time to time calls arise for us to go to regional conventions or online voting. I have a number of reasons for opposing those – theological, ecclesiological, pneumatological, and such. One reason is very personal and selfish. I love to come to the SBC and hang out with friends, people I communicate with online on an only daily basis but generally only see the second week of June. That is fellowship time I couldn’t get glued to a screen in my office.

So, what is going to happen in Baltiimore 2014? Some things are predictable while often the most controversial items seem to just arise. So, here are a few projections from Dave’s mind.

1) The presidential election should be interesting.

Ronnie Floyd is the establishment candidate and a strong favorite according to most prognosticators. He is speaking at the Pastors’ Conference (that is a shocker, isn’t it?), is being nominated by the good Dr. Mohler, and is the only true megachurch, megastar pastor in the field of three.

Maryland pastor Dr. Dennis Manpoong Kim joins Jared Moore in the category of other candidates. Dr. Kim is a dark horse in this race but there seems to be quite a buzz about him in wide circles. I am not a prognosticator of SBC presidential elections, but I suspect Ronnie Floyd will walk away with the office, but I think that Dr. Kim could make a surprising showing. Can he win? Perhaps. Not to put pressure on my good friend Dwight McKissic, but if his nominating speech is as good as I think it will be, that could turn things in Dr. Kim’s direction!

I think it would be great and healthy if we elected not only another minority candidate but a qualified, SBC-committed, outside-the-power structure candidate. It is my plan to vote for Dr. Kim as president of the SBC. I think his election presents the best path forward for the SBC.

For information, the presidential vote this year is Tuesday morning (10:35 AM) instead of Tuesday afternoon as has usually been true. This is likely a change due to the fact that such low numbers were present last year for the 2nd VP election on Wednesday morning. All the other elections will take place Tuesday afternoon, which should be generally a good thing.

2) The Q&A sessions should be lively. 

There was a time when entity Q&A sessions were perfunctory and kinda boring. Probably not this year. Unless there are the kind of silly shenanigans from a couple of years back, where supporters blocked the mics to lob softball questions and prevent the entity head from having to face any real questions, these sessions could be among the most tense of the convention.

  • Questions about the Muslim and Mormon SWBTS students will likely be raised.
  • Dr. Russell Moore will likely be grilled about some of stands he has taken, especially about immigration and the presumed “retreat” from cultural engagement he has (falsely, in my view) been accused of advocating.
  • Dr. Rainer always gets some interesting questions (NIV2011 and the Shack, anyone?) and this year will likely be no different.

I think this is an important time. Our leaders have to face tough questions from messengers and that is a good thing. One man’s opinion – let those with tough questions to ask have their time in the sun. The organized effort to avoid tough questions being asked of our leaders is wrong. Peter Lumpkins has the right to challenge Dr. Mohler, and Mohler can then answer. Those who don’t like editorial or trustee decisions at LifeWay have their time to speak to the man in charge. It is a good thing and the NOBTS shenanigans of a couple years ago should never be repeated.

3) The Executive Committee’s report on Article III is still a question mark. 

We had a preview of some possible changes on the qualifications of messengers a couple of months ago – which led to a strong debate online. The EC was transparent, putting out their proposals and advertising an email to hear from those who wanted to weigh in. They may still be deciding if they are going to offer the original proposal, an altered proposal, or nothing at all.

If they do put that forward, it will be an item of great discussion.

4) The Resolutions Committee will leave exhausted.

Most of the resolutions offered will never see the light of day at the convention, or will folded into other resolutions. The resolution by Denny Burk and Andrew Walker will probably go to the floor (and it should). Most of the others will either die in committee, or be blended into amalgamated resolutions based on several offered on similar topics. You have to read the SBC bulletins to see what is coming forward.

My hope is that our words on social issues will be both uncompromising and measured. Does anyone not know what we think about homosexuality and gay marriage? We ought to speak to issues as needed, but avoid giving the media fodder to paint us as angry extremists (they will anyway, but we ought not make it easy).

5) If any messengers arrive from New Heart in Lamirada, CA, they will not be seated. 

My guess is that Danny Cortez will stay home and the New Heart issue will not come up (it happened after the resolutions deadline). Again, the SBC has spoken repeatedly and clearly on the topic. It is already in Article III – on the qualifications of messengers. This will not be a big issue unless  the church sends messengers.

If they do, it will be a publicity stunt and will likely be the big news in the media reporting of the convention.

6) Motions will be offered and referred, and messengers will get upset!

Folks, that is the way it works. Most motions are referred to the appropriate Board of Trustees. They will bring a report back to the next convention as to what action they took. They reject most of them, but they do go through them.

Dear messenger, it is a rare occurrence when your motion actually gets acted on by the convention the year you offer it. Don’t get offended that your motion has been referred – that is standard protocol. Normal. They way things are. And it doesn’t mean you have been rejected or disrespected. Motions get referred.

Since I don’t know what motions will be offered, I cannot currently opine on the merits of any of them.

I considered offering a motion to remove the words of the BF&M that encode close communion, but I am planning to wait until after the EC makes their article III report and see what happens. Maybe next year.

7) SBC 2014 should be the most desegregated SBC Annual Meeting ever.

The SBC Annual Meeting is no longer a lily white enclave and that is good. May that trend continue. So-called ethnic churches are, as I understand, the fastest growing segment of SBC life. The numerical decline we decry is mostly in white churches. So, we should cherish ethnic diversity and seek to make the SBC look a little more like heaven, where people of every tribe and tongue on earth will gather in worship.

That is not meant as a campaign add for Dr. Kim, but while I’m at it….

Well, I have to go. Food. Hanging around the convention center. All that stuff. I might think of some more stuff and add it later. I’m @davemiller7 on twitter. If you are here, let’s connect.

Tonight’s pastor’s conference features Ronnie Floyd, HB Charles and David Platt. Should be a good night. Hope the chairs are comfy.

 

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dave Miller June 8, 2014 at 2:50 pm

I’m wearing tan pants and a darker shirt (tan/black polo) tonight. I’m 6’4″ and I’m over 300 pounds. Big guy.

I don’t share this as a fashion tip, but because most of you don’t know what I look like.

Hope to meet you.

No, I did not bring the lime green suit, so that will not work.

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2 Louis June 8, 2014 at 2:56 pm

I won’t get there until about 12:00 tomorrow. Looking forward to it.

I hope that the church that has endorsed same sex relationships just won’t come up at all. They won’t be granted credentials because they are not entitled according to the constitution. That should be the end of it. If they want to sit in the crowd and listen to speeches, that’s fine by me. But we should not have to take one minute of our time dealing with something that has already been dealt with.

Hope to see you.

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3 Dave Miller June 8, 2014 at 7:20 pm

I’ll be looking for you.

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4 Bob June 8, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I won’t be able to attend, but if I could, Jared Moore would be my first choice for President, then Dr. Kim. Praying the convention goes well.

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5 Tom Stowe June 8, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Dr. Kim is my first choice, then Ronnie Floyd. No way Jared Moore could represent the SBC appropriately, in my sincere opinion.

Also, Dave, what were the NOBTS shenanigans of which you speak?

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6 Dean Stewart June 8, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Tom, I don’t want to pretend to be able to speak for Dave. However, seeing I have read everything online over the last three hours waiting for my flight to Baltimore I might be more attuned to voices than Dave is today. I will jump at the chance to correspond with anyone. Having said that, I assume he is making reference to 2004 when NOBTS was attempting to modify its “sole membership” standing with the SBC. The messengers voted overwhelmingly that NOBTS have sole membership as the other SBC entities. The trustees voted in accordance to the convention’s wishes at the next trustee meeting by a vote of 35-1.

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7 Stuart June 8, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Tom,
The Cliff Notes version, said as objectively as possible, is that Dr. Kelley was asked 3 “softball” questions (which he hit out of the park, incidentally) that used up all of the time available for questions as a part of his report in 2012. Thus, no time remained for any more difficult or challenging questions.

As I recall, NOBTS had let go 3 faculty as a part of several austerity measures the year before. I don’t recall it being all that controversial, but later there was some chatter about floor questions about the circumstances of at least 1 of those.

More than a few observers opined that the 3 questions might have been planted for the purpose of using up all the time and precluding the other questions.

Without wanting to opine about anyone’s motives, especially on the part of my friend Dr. Kelley, I’ll just say that if they weren’t planted, it was indeed a strange scene.

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8 Dave Miller June 8, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Tom and others, feel free to promote a candidate you think will do well. Speaking negatively of other candidates is unnecessary. Okay?

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9 Tom Stowe June 8, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Dave, if you think my statement about Jared was negative, you should hear the depth of what I really think. I thought I was being charitable and honest, not insulting. Nonetheless, I will respect your wishes. But let me ask: you’ve allowed open dialogue about many personalities, so why the sudden exclusion of forthright opinions?

If you can’t take thus kind of honesty, you’re a hypocrite, Dave, for advocating honest dialogue at the SBC.

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10 Dave Miller June 8, 2014 at 8:56 pm

You are not the first to call me a hypocrite. You won’t be the last.

Please let your words honor God.

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11 Tom Stowe June 8, 2014 at 9:15 pm

I agreed to honor your wishes, brother, and I will certainly do that. Don’t want to dishonor anyone, especially The Lord.

12 Christiane June 8, 2014 at 6:04 pm

prayers that everyone has a safe trip and a Christ-honoring peaceful gathering . . . oh I know there are differences, but may they be handled a manner so that the Peace of Christ will be preserved among the gathering

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13 Stuart June 8, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Dean,

That particular floor discussion occurred as a part of the Executive Committee’s report in 2005. That could be what Davis referring to, though.

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14 Dean Stewart June 8, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Stuart, I forgot about those questions asked of Dr Kelley. I bet you are correct. Blessings, Dean

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15 Lee June 8, 2014 at 7:15 pm

The proposal to chance the financial aspects of messenger seating is not really going to change very much. On the other hand, pushing the seating requirement closer to adherence to the BFM 2000 is a paradigm shift in the way the SBC has operated to this point. The BFM is a statement that defines doctrinal positions required for the SBC’s agencies, mission boards and seminaries. But adoption of it, or adherence to it, is not a requirement for cooperation when it comes to local, independent, autonomous churches which, when they send messengers, make up the SBC. The way this particular proposal is written leans strongly in the direction of a creed, and it could certainly be used as a means of excluding churches on doctrinal grounds that move far away from the extreme positions that have been previously defined.

Messenger seating requires a vote of those who are gathered, however, the way this proposal is written, it does have the potential to allow churches to be excluded on grounds of interpretation of scripture, without any prior definition, except an interpretation of the BFM by the credentials committee. Do Southern Baptists want to put that decision, and power, in the hands of a committee to determine a church’s eligibility for participation in the convention?

It may take a while to feel the impact of the change across the board. Fewer than 5% of SBC churches now send messengers in any given year, and since the proposal only affects the election and seating of messengers, most churches won’t notice the difference right away. The BFM 2000 is a pretty general statement, and most SBC churches are probably quite comfortable with what it does define. The question is whether the proposal could introduce and discuss areas that are really not covered by the BFM 2000, but that perhaps a stacked credentials committee could use to eliminate a church that was, say, more distinctively Calvinist, or perhaps Charismatic. The definitions aren’t in writing, they would rest with the committee.

Ultimately, the convention can go whatever direction it chooses. I will be interested in the discussion that results from this particular proposal.

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16 Dave Miller June 8, 2014 at 7:22 pm

I suspect that if anything comes forward it will be very different than what was floated a couple of months ago

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17 D. L. Payton June 8, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Dave
Yes, I think you are correct. As Lee framed his argument, it makes this proposal somewhat academic. Personally I think he framed it correctly. This proposal if adopted in any form will definitely make a statement. However, all ramifications considered it lacks any real pragmatic value IMO. The statement that will be made is that we are moving in a direction of tightening requirements for participation. That of course is obvious. the real question is, “will that be a signal of things to come?” If so, then not so academic in the days ahead.

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18 Max June 8, 2014 at 9:34 pm

I was hoping to see “Solemn Assembly” on the list. But, I suppose things haven’t got desperate enough yet in SBC ranks for soul-searching, self-examination, humility, agonizing prayer, genuine repentance, and seeking God for the days ahead.

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19 D. L. Payton June 8, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Max

I assume I see tongue in cheek.

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20 Max June 8, 2014 at 10:06 pm

No tongue in cheek on this D.L. These are serious times in both church and nation. We ain’t scaring the devil much in our current condition. An outbreak of solemn assemblies in SBC churches just might correct our course. The Holy Spirit must initiate this for it to be genuine … if Southern Baptists ever get past grieving and quenching the Spirit with all our wrangling.

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21 D. L. Payton June 8, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Max
I was referring to the statement “things haven’t gotten desperate enough”. It is my understanding that that would be tongue in cheek, because thing are extremely desperate. I think we are on the same page.

It is my judgment that only a spirit driven revival will put us back on course. Solemn assemblies are needed much more that another business meeting.

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22 Max June 8, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Understood and in agreement with you Brother. And yes, things are desperate enough that church (and convention) leadership should realize what time it is. “IF” My People … “THEN” Will I. Will we?

23 Dave Miller June 9, 2014 at 1:06 am

I don’t know specifically about solemn assemblies, but the mood and the preaching at the pastors’ conference tonight was definitely one of seeking God and his grace.

I’m not sure the SBC is as callous as you make us out to be.

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24 D. L. Payton June 9, 2014 at 8:10 am

Dave
I agree we are not callous. However, callous is not the issue. The issue is one of decline. That decline will not be stopped by another program etc. We simply need a moving of God’s Spirit.

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25 Max June 9, 2014 at 11:03 am

“We simply need a moving of God’s Spirit.”

Brother Patton – you know that because it’s in your knower. Once you see it, you can’t un-see it. What has been deposited in your spirit in this regard cannot be removed. May God move on individual churches with pastors who sense the urgency of this hour, whether or not we see a convention-wide movement toward revival of His people and spiritual awakening in the land. I suppose I have become callous – hardened and thickened with a burden to see see a genuine moving of God’s Spirit.

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26 Joseph Spurgeon June 9, 2014 at 9:12 am

Do you think the Convention will respond to the california group calling themselves an SBC church? Can we not remove our fellowship from them?

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27 Doug Hibbard June 9, 2014 at 9:20 am

Most likely: recommendation for the EC to investigate whether or not the church is definitely in violation of SBC By-laws and then recommend action at next Annual Meeting.

Next most likely: if said church has messengers present, challenge to the Credentials Committee to their seating this year and action this year.

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28 Dave Miller June 9, 2014 at 9:53 am

The Bylaws actually exclude them. It will only be an issue if they try to seat messengers. They probably won’t.

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29 andy June 9, 2014 at 10:22 am

Could you perhaps explain this more…are you saying that by their actions, the church has excluded themselves from the SBC with no further action needed? …and that this means the SBC will no longer accept their contributions, and that their seminary students won’t get the discount? …or just that they can’t seat mesengers?

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30 Dave Miller June 9, 2014 at 11:32 am

Not sure exactly how it works but Article III makes it clear that “affirming” churches are not in friendly cooperation

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31 Dave Miller June 9, 2014 at 11:32 am

Definitely messengers will not be seated.

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32 Joseph Spurgeon June 9, 2014 at 1:49 pm

I think we need to make a statement on this. Doing nothing because they do not send messengers will be the wrong course of action. The media will jump on that and start spinning tales of how the SBC has accepted a homosexual church. We need to be clear and decisive that this church is not a southern baptist church and cannot consider themselves one.

33 Dave Miller June 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Does anyone not already know where we stand.

34 Joseph Spurgeon June 9, 2014 at 6:39 pm

We have made it know where we stand but we have also not had a southern baptist church begin to affirm homosexuality atleast as far I know. I think clear action should be taken.

(A question regarding this site. There are sometimes that I can not find a reply button for some posts. Is there a limit to posting replies? )

35 Dave Miller June 9, 2014 at 9:11 pm

There are only 5 levels of threading (replying to comments). If you are replying to a reply to a reply to a reply to a comment, you can’t

36 Doug Hibbard June 9, 2014 at 2:47 pm

The last time the SBC voted to exclude a church from fellowship, they stopped accepting contributions.

Technically speaking, a church that is not permitted to send messengers is therefore not an SBC church. Could we still accept money? yes. But I don’t think we usually do. Since church is not an “SBC church” then people from church could go to an SBC seminary under the same conditions as any other non-SBC student.

The question comes to this: the church has obviously chosen to go a different direction. If they leave of their own, then there’s really nothing for us to say. If they say “we want to remain SBC,” then there will need to be a vote from the SBC in Annual Meeting to exclude them. Then we have this issue: has the church, structurally, chosen to violate Article 3? If so, then there’s nothing left to say. If there is some uncertainty, then expect the EC to investigate the situation and act next year. Probably escrow any contributions until next year, pending decision.

It’s a done deal apart from the church changing course–it’s just a question of checking all the boxes in the process.

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37 Robert Vaughn June 9, 2014 at 10:09 am

“Don’t not get offended that your motion has been referred…”

Dave, I think you typed and edited the way I do a lot of times — and said the opposite of what you mean. (Feel free to delete this post; just wanted to point this out quickly.)

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38 Dave Miller June 9, 2014 at 11:37 am

Edited. Thanks.

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