I am excited about what might happen at this month’s Executive Committee meeting. I’ve been advocating for a name change for some time, so your decision to name this task force and study the issue, thought it has been controversial, was welcome to me.
I have no doubt that you will have dealt with these issues thoughtfully and honorably as a task force. Some of the best minds (and strongest personalities) we have in the SBC are in that group. You chose well!
I’m not going to try to tell you what name you should recommend. That is the part of this whole thing I’ve never been able to figure out. But I trust that the brilliant minds in your task force will be able to come up with something great (or tell us that there isn’t anything that improves on what we have).
But as the report comes out and as you promote this among us (assuming you and your task force recommend a change), I have some suggestions or how to manage the process. Maybe its a little presumptuous of me, but we are Baptist and everyone gets to have an opinion, right?
So, here is mine.
1) Please honor God’s people as you present your proposal
I was a big supporter of the GCR, but I was disgusted at the way it was presented at the Orlando convention. Honestly, I wanted to vote against it just because the process was so manipulative. Please don’t tell us that this is God’s will. Tell us what you think it is God’s will and then let us decide if we agree. Present your proposal and let us pray and seek wisdom. Trust God’s people to decide.
Don’t use pressure tactics to bully people into voting yes. One GCR proponent used the image of Israel lacking the faith to enter into the promise land. I’m not too limber so making that hermeneutical stretch just isn’t possible for me. Please rise above that kind of thing.
Don’t insinuate that if we love Jesus and love missions, we will go along with the proposal. People can love Jesus and love missions and want to keep Southern in our convention’s name. I disagree with them, but they are not evil!
All that to say, trust God’s people! Tell us what you propose, why you propose it, why you think we should support it and trust the Spirit of God to promote it if it is the right thing. Trust God to move God’s people!
2) Be as transparent as possible.
Tell us how you came to this decision and for the love of all that is holy do not ask for the records of the task force to be sealed. Pretty please? With sugar on it?
If you ask us to support something that has sealed records attached, well, that will go over like David Worley in skinny jeans. You may not know David, but trust me, it would be a monumentally bad idea!
3) Honor your opponents.
I’d say, “Kill them with kindness” but I’m hoping for a minimum of bloodshed. There is going to be a lot of hostility attached to this. Let your love shine.
I have no doubt you would do that anyway, but I couldn’t have a post with two points – three points is a minimum!
I have a secret to share. I did not vote for you when you ran for president the first time in Orlando. I voted for my friend Leo Endel the first time around, then voted for Ted Traylor in the runoff. I’ve never been as happy to lose an election in my life. Of course, I think Leo would do a great job, and Ted Traylor as well, but you have been a wonderful leader for the SBC. I though Phoenix was a great convention and you handled things well.
Of course, you will be facing a little more challenging convention this year. But I think if you and the name-change task force will be transparent and will eschew manipulation and pressure tactics, I think it will go a long way.
You have been a great president for the Southern Baptist Convention.
Or whatever it might be called in the future.