I’m at SEND for the first time.
I’ve heard about it – you can hardly not hear about it. There are well over twice the number of people here in the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville than there were as registered messengers at the SBC Annual Meeting in Columbus. Nearly three times as many. As I understand it, registration topped out at over 13,000 and would have been more but the arena sold out.
It took a shooting war for the SBC to get that many people to gather for an annual meeting and it’s been a long time since it’s happened. This is a gathering of (mostly) younger Southern Baptists being called to lay down their lives for the mission to which God has called us. I’m here to enjoy the two days, but I’m also here with the blogger’s eyes and ears – to watch and learn and critique, and to write my impressions.
I have to tell you, I absolutely HATED the first half hour of this meeting. I felt like a fish out of water. This is not my cup of tea – I’m an old guy after all and the bells and whistles, more specifically the light shows and loud music leave me a little cold.
- The meeting started with a skit thing introducing several ministries. I guess it was well done but that kind of thing doesn’t appeal to me. I think I was the minority. I get the impression that a lot of people enjoyed it.
- The music, by the Passion Band, was the kind of loud that my son loves and tells me I only hate because I’m old. But light shows and loud music just are not what move me to worship. I don’t like it. Sorry.
- It is a tightly-directed, carefully rehearsed production.
But here’s the thing: I’ve preached to my people for years that the question is not, “What do you like?” but “What is effective?”. So that is the question I’ve going to be asking in the next 36 hours. They do not need to motivate me. I’m not the future of the SBC. The question is whether this conference is an effective way to shape the future of this denomination and the work of the Great Commission.
- Is SEND a big deal? Of course it is. 13,000? That is impressive.
- Is it the biggest thing we are doing as Southern Baptists? Hard to argue against that.
- Is it encouraging to see younger Southern Baptists engaged in something like this? It is to me!
But again, this is the question. Is it effective? Is this conference making a difference? Is it going to change lives and help us to penetrate the lostness?
We had a time of prayer and Scripture that deeply moving, calling people to seek God and trust. Scripture was read and we broke down into prayer groups across the arena. That is always powerful. There is a sense of expectation here, no doubt.
I’m watching and trying to figure this thing out.
- Why do they have to close registration here and beg people to come to the annual meeting?
- Is this an effective thing or just a tempest in a teapot?
I came with questions and I’m looking for answers.