For the record: I’m solidly, consistently, permanently SBC with zero interest in departing our beloved convention of churches nor being a part of any church that is not SBC. I’d make an exception if I lived in some remote place in Nebraska, Maine, or Nevada that didn’t have an SBC church (I’d have a house church but my wonderful wife might get tired of hearing my sermons). I’ll be “SBC dead” in 14 years and 5 months although I recognize that the Almighty doesn’t consult actuarial tables.
In September of 2022 I like some things about the SBC:
- IMB, our true crown jewel and flagship entity, is not just stable but thriving. Thank God, the folks in the pews, and relatively new leadership for that.
- NAMB is doing well, has plenty of funding, expects record offerings and church planting is thriving, critics notwithstanding. Thank God for that!
- Five of the six seminaries are doing OK.
- The Cooperative Program, even in a steadily reduced state, still funnels hundreds of millions of dollars to our entities.
- No comment on the state of state conventions in a list of things I like.
- Lifeway? Never mind.
Have a short memory? You are the kind of SBCer our oligarchy loves, but here’s a reminder of national entity issues:
- SWBTS used to be the world’s largest seminary and is a shell of its former self. There have been four, count ’em, CEOS who either failed or were forced out. Sounds like the coaching carousel at Arkansas (is it six since the turn of the new millennium? I like their current coach, though, UGA guy.) or somewhere.
- ERLC may be the impossible job in the SBC. Is the last CEO still an SBCer?
- NAMB had two disasters before the current CEO came.
- IMB was in disarray and turmoil prior to the current CEO. How could anyone let that organization run aground to the point where over 1000 missionaries had to take early retirement before the ship was safely afloat again.
- MBTS was a mess prior to the current CEO. No excuse for that.
- The EC lost a leader to immorality, another a casualty of the current sex abuse turmoil. The new and improved, sanitized if you will, EC staff and trustees have yet to demonstrate that they can manage the churches’ business. All the self-congratulatory words and selfies of last week do not make for a turnaround.
- My state convention, well, never mind.
I’m a non-insider, opinionated, retired old codger pastor who is here for the duration. But, every SBC mess is a blow against the CP. Are we moving, logically, towards pastors and churches seeing more sense in designating money rather than throwing it in the CP basket?
The data show that we are. I see nothing that will change that, not even all the “I love the CP” feelgood stories.
But, let me wax optimistic. Bart Barber isn’t a megapastor and is our first Twitter SBC president, for better or worse. Tweets about the Weinermobile and cows are much more welcome than indignant pronouncements about the SBC outrage-du-jour. He has my wholehearted support, aside from matters of MLB and CFB.
The two entities that count the most, IMB and NAMB, are well led and doing well. In a sense, the SBC is strong if these two are strong. The SBC can survive without having six seminaries (and one day we will probably reduce that number) and without most of the state conventions.
But, to answer the question in the title above: Yes, we are destined for repeated disasters. It’s our history. It’s in our DNA.
In a first for the SBC, Yesterday, I heard a pastor say, “I hate building buildings” and something with the sense of, “I’ve done canned capital fundraising campaigns and I hate them and we’re not going go down that road.” Refreshing.