An odd thing happened last Saturday.
I am headed to Taiwan in a month for a two-week mission trip. I was sweating it out at the church, running a yard sale to raise funds to buy the plane tickets (purchased Tuesday – a miracle of provision). While I was trying to encourage customers to purchase the junk I was peddling, I got a text message.
“Dave, some of us have been talking and we think you should be nominated for 2nd VP of the Convention.”
You don’t get a text like that every day. My initial response was, “okay.” But after I talked to a few friends about it I began to have second thoughts. Since the Traditionalist document came out a couple of weeks ago, there has been a politically charged environment in the SBC. I didn’t really want to get into the middle of that.
Wednesday morning I took a walk and spent the entire hour praying and thinking about this. Why would I do this? I didn’t want to do it just to run against someone or something. But as I walked, two convictions grew in me, reasons I decided to say “yes” to my friends who asked me to run.
I realize that there is almost no power or authority conferred on this office. But it is an opportunity to say some things to the SBC that I believe need to be said.
I’d like to tell you why I made the decision to allow my name to be placed in nomination for 2nd Vice President of the SBC.
1) I want to promote Baptist work outside the mainline states. I have been a Florida Baptist and a Virginia Baptist and I can tell you it is a very different thing being a Southern Baptist in Iowa, or in Minnesota, or Wisconsin, or the Dakotas, or Montana, or Wyoming. We work in areas where people think of us as on the religious fringe.
Iowa has 3 million people, and there are about 110 SBC churches throughout the state of Iowa. The vast majority of those have fewer than 50 on a Sunday morning. The total membership of Baptist Convention of Iowa churches is less than 13,000. Many of you come from churches larger than our convention and most of your associations are probably significantly bigger than our convention.
Baptist Work in Iowa and the surrounding states is different than in Alabama or Texas or Mississippi. My church leads our state convention in Cooperative Program giving (12%), in Lottie Moon giving, and in overall Great Commission giving. But I read an article in Baptist Press today that detailed the statistical reports of the churches of Fred Luter, Nathan Lino and Eric Hankins. They dwarf ours in every way. A church that averages 100 on Sunday morning is basically an Iowa Baptist megachurch.
Because of our size, we do not get representation on boards of trustees for SBC entities. Iowa. Minnesota/Wisconsin. The Dakotas. Montana. Wyoming. Maybe a few others. We are not represented in the decision-making bodies of the SBC. We are affected by those decisions, but do not participate in them. I’m not complaining – that is just the reality of participating in small church conventions outside the Baptist mainstream.
But there are some good churches up here and some good people and some good ideas. There are people who are serving the Lord and doing a good job in a tough place. I want to run as a representative of the Baptists who labor in the frozen North, the new work states where churches are small and struggles are great.
2) I want to use whatever forum I can find to promote unity in the SBC. Maybe my thinking has been skewed by the extreme nature of blogging, but I see a deeply divided, splintering convention and that may be leading to some of our statistical issues. We need to raise up a new majority of Baptists who focus on our unity in Christ, our commitment to the Great Commission, the BF&M and the Cooperative Program. Beyond that, we need unity and grace.
We need to stop aiming our weapons at one another and take up the weapons of warfare that God has given us to battle against the forces of darkness and bring Christ to this sinful world.
It is for these reasons that I decided to agree to have my name placed in nomination. Win or lose, I intend to use whatever opportunities I get to represent the states like the one I serve and to call the Southern Baptist Convention to a greater Christ-centered unity greater than what we have seen in recent years.
That’s my story.