Randy Adams is the second person to be a declared candidate for SBC president. Baptist Press had a story on him on January 15th. I’m pleased there is more than one candidate (Al Mohler) and there are some things Adams has written that I like. The idea of remote voting for the SBC Annual Meeting bubbles up every year and is one that I don’t like. It’s a bad idea.
For a little background on the idea of remote voting take a look at
Randy Adams, manifestly, isn’t impressed with the opinion of your humble hacker and plodder blogger on the concept. He writes in My Commitment to Southern Baptists. In it he says that
…every cooperating SBC church should be valued, and strategies to increase engagement of all churches in SBC life must be employed, including the use of technology to enable remote access voting at the Annual Meeting of the SBC. We should not be satisfied with how few of our churches participate in the Annual SBC Meeting. Cooperating SBC churches must not be disenfranchised from participation in the decision-making process because they cannot afford to travel to annual meeting locations.
Adams is a state convention CEO whose constituent churches are in Oregon, Washington, and northern Idaho, a long distance from sultry Orlando where the annual meeting will be held this June. Adams office is about 3,035 miles from the convention center. In a way, I don’t blame him for making this populist but bad idea about using technology to make votes at the SBCAM from, well, anywhere. A few observations and questions:
I take issue with his assertion that cooperating churches that cannot afford to send their pastor (and/other messengers) to the SBCAM have been “disenfranchised” unless you mean that every SBC church who couldn’t send messengers to the AM for the past 173 years has been deprived of what should have been their right, that is, to vote on SBC matters brought before the AM.
The SBCAM is a corporate meeting and since we do not allow proxy voting, messengers have to be present. The Executive Committee reported that “there [is] no known model for web-based constituent participation in any similarly-sized, deliberative body, nor even in any state Baptist convention…” The idea (always comes up, though Adams didn’t specify it) that all of the 1,126 SBC Associations could be voting points is silly. Even the idea that 41 state conventions could be polling locations is not workable. Now that we’re all connected with smart phones, the idea that tens of thousands of SBC messengers could conduct a meeting by phone, or even take votes by phone, is absurd. Maybe he has some actual proposal in mind. Let’s hear it.
But I get that this is an idea that always gets some traction with segments of SBC life. Two-thirds of our churches are small. It does cost to get to the annual meeting.
I suspect that those who favor the idea think it would be a route to changing a convention that they see needing change. Hey, we already did that through the Conservative Resurgence. It took time, effort, and money. Paige Patterson might be beleaguered for some things but tackling the strategy that required tens of thousands of mostly small church pastors and laypeople to get to ten or twelve consecutive annual meetings was daunting. But, it was done and here we are.
But why don’t we start here: The state convention Adams leads is quite large geographically. May I presume that he has already led his state convention to implement remote voting at his own meetings? Yes? No?
I’m quite pleased that we have more than one candidate for SBC president and, I like some of the things Randy Adams has written. This one I don’t.
More on Adams’ candidacy later. He’s put a lot out there to think about.