Dr. Rainer likes to devote a podcast episode or two at the end of the year to predicting current trends and their impact on churches in the coming year. He’s usually correct, and those episodes are some of my favorites.
I’d like to take a page out of Dr. Rainer’s book and offer ten predictions for the SBC Annual meeting in Birmingham.
1. The Bailey amendment—I thought about calling this the Osceola amendment, but that’s unfair to the good people of Osceola Arkansas, so it shall henceforth be known as the Bailey amendment. My prediction is that Steve Bailey of Calvary Baptist Church in Osceola Arkansas will move that SBC bylaw 10c be amended to include the percentage giving of candidates for office.
2. Wiley Drake returns—Noticeably absent from this year’s convention proceedings was Mr. Wiley Drake. Did you know he was a candidate for Vice President in 2008? That’s beside the point. I predict Mr. Drake will make a return to the annual meeting in Birmingham.
3. Pastors’ Conference—I predict there will be talk of another small church run for the Pastors conference. We all had so much fun in Phoenix and the conference was well received. Maybe it’s time to gear up for another round.
4. Four new entity heads—We all expect the IMB, Executive Committee, and SWBTS to have new leadership by the time Birmingham 2019 rolls around, but I predict there will be another Southern Baptist entity with new leadership; one we do not expect. In all seriousness, I pray this prediction comes true because one entity head moved on to lead one of the three openings we know of right now, and not because of a scandal.
5. Better time slot for IMB Commissioning—I think the outcry this year was loud enough for the committee on the order of business to consider giving the IMB commissioning service a time slot before 9:30 pm on Tuesday night.
6. Dr. Paige Patterson returns—Yes, he will be back, and he’s probably not finished fighting for his legacy. He will be back and he will have something to say at the annual meeting. I pray for God’s wisdom and guidance as J.D. Greear navigates what is sure to be a contentious few minutes in one of the business sessions.
7. Social Media Hype—Twitter and the blogosphere will once again be set ablaze with talks of controversial motions and resolutions, leading some of us to believe that the annual meeting will be one of the most divisive in history. Oh wait, that was last year, and what happened? The controversial motions were defeated by overwhelming majorities (think Reagan beating Carter). It will happen again this year and Southern Baptist will prove, once again, that we are generally united.
8. 8,000 messengers—There will be over 8,000 messengers at the 2019 annual meeting. It’s an off election year, but Birmingham is still relatively easy to reach for most Southern Baptists. There will be fewer messengers than there were at Dallas, but still more than we would have in some other cities.
9. Something unexpected—I don’t think any of us expected the events that occurred in the run-up to this year’s meeting. There will be other events this year that, as we sit here today, none of us expect to have to deal with. I pray this unexpected event is not as high profile as Dr. Patterson’s saga, but I predict something will happen that will rock our convention.
10. William Thornton’s autograph—I would have gotten the venerable William Thornton to sign my Bible in Dallas, but I did not bring it to dinner. I won’t be making that mistake again. In Birmingham, I predict I will get William Thornton to sign my Bible.
There they are; my predictions for Birmingham 2019. I’m probably wrong on almost all of them. I’m looking forward to being in Birmingham at our annual meeting. Which predictions do you think I am right or wrong about? Do you have any you’d like to add to my list?