It is February 20 and over the next two days the Executive Committee of the SBC is meeting in Nashville. One item of business at that meeting will be the report of the Task Force appointed by SBC President Bryant Wright to examine the potential name change. I don’t know when in the agenda of the meeting the name change will be dealt with, but sometime today or tomorrow we should finally know what we have been arguing about for the last five months.
My guess is we will be talking name-change a lot over the next couple of days. There are several issues that we will be examining.
- What name (or names) is the Task Force going to recommend?
- Will the Executive Committee pass the recommendation? You might remember that there were some members of the EC that were not thrilled with the process. However, with the firepower on the Task Force it might be hard to muster a majority at the EC to stop the process. My guess now is that the president’s recommendation will pass.
- Will two SBC Annual Meetings pass the recommendation?
I am not a prophet and my attempts at prognostication about convention business would leave me in grave danger if the Old Testament penalties for false prophecy were enforced. So, what I would like to address is not what I think will happen, but what I hope will happen.
Here’s what I would like to see happen over the next couple of days as the Task Force reveals its recommendations.
1) I hope that the Task Force brings forward a compelling alternative to SBC.
I’ve been an advocate of a name-change for a long time. But the problem I’ve had is coming up with a name that is compelling, that isn’t already taken and that would be an improvement on the current name.
If they follow the pattern set by the BGC (which is now known as “Converge”) or go the LifeWay or GuideStone route, my support may dwindle.
The recommended name needs to be a doozy – one that people will look at and say, “Yeah, that is what I want my denomination to be named!”
2) I hope it passes the Executive Committee.
One of the common themes of the anti-name-change forces is the “been there/done that” argument. Certainly, the SBC has voted not to study the issue in the past. But as far as I know, we have never had an actual name to compare to SBC. Our votes have been theoretical.
But now, we will have a specific alternative (or alternatives) to examine. I hope it goes to the SBC and gets voted on. I’d like to see the convention act on the issue – one way or the other.
3) I hope that people receive it prayerfully and consider it openly.
Consider this, if you will. As I write this (late Sunday night) no facts are known. There has been some speculation, but it is really nothing more that gossip and rumor. Tomorrow, we will know the facts. But it bothers me that a large percentage of people are already opposed to the name change before it has even been recommended.
Some were offended at the process the president used. Others are just tied to the traditional name and don’t see the need to change it. But I would hope people would rise above that and at least listen to what the Task Force brings forward. There are some pretty bright people in that group. If the kind of unanimity that has been claimed to exist is a fact, then the recommendation might be worth our consideration. Maybe it won’t be.
But we won’t know until tomorrow. Why don’t we wait until the facts are out before we make up our minds? It is folly to judge without the facts.
4) I hope we can have a reasoned and cordial debate.
I’m not real optimistic here, but I’m hoping we can talk about whatever recommendation is brought forward without rancor, sarcasm, innuendo or accusation.
5) I hope that the “Powers that be” eschew pressure tactics and manipulation in promoting their recommendations.
I hope and pray we will not see a repeat of the full-court press put on by the GCR Task Force. As a supporter of the GCR, I was embarrassed by the pressure-tactics used.
This is clearly an issue on which reasonable, spiritual and biblical people can disagree. It would be wrong for the Task Force to lay claim to the will of God or act as if those who disagree with their recommendation don’t care about the future of the SBC.
6) Let’s keep the whole thing in perspective.
Folks, we need to realize something. Changing the name of the convention will not bring balance to the force, make the lame walk and the blind see, or usher in the millennial reign of Christ. It’s just a name change. Maybe it is a good idea. Maybe not. But its just a name-change.
On the other hand, please don’t try to convince us that the name-change will ruin the convention. Please. If removing Southern from our title will bring everything crashing down around us, we are obviously focused on the wrong things.
Can changing our name help? That’s what we need to discuss. But it will not solve all our problems nor will it ruin everything.
Changing the name of the SBC is not going to usher in the millennium, bring balance to the force or heal cancer. Don’t act like it is the solution to the problem. And, those who oppose the name change are not trying to destroy our denomination.
I really have no idea what is going to happen, but this is what I hope happens. How about you?