Well, we all kicked around writing reflections on the SBC’s 2018 Annual Meeting (#sbc18 #sbcam18 #southernbaptistconventionalannualmeetingannodominitwothousandeighteen), but that horse has been ridden, ridden to death, revived, ridden again, and then shot. I appreciate everyone’s look back and what they found as highlights and lowlights. I do wish we could be a bit more gracious in victory, which might help us also be more gracious in defeat. I know you want to celebrate the good that happened, and I understand applauding some results, but defeating someone’s heartfelt motion is enough. You don’t have to give a near-standing ovation to your side winning (or our side winning). Assume that your fellow messenger did exactly what you claim to have done: followed the leadership of the Spirit and the Word of God, rather than cheering as if he (or she) was a fool that needed to be beaten at the polls.
If we can move our hearts away from the “I win/you LOSE!” mindset, we might just not need task forces on loving one another. I digress.
On topic, I’d like to take a look at the Post-Convention Hangover. The SBC Annual Meeting is, after all, more than just 2 days of preaching, business, and politics. Using Bart Barber’s phrasing, a good old “family reunion.” (Sonny Tucker, ABSC Executive Director described it as an old-fashion ice-cream social, and he’s right, too…we’ve got a smattering of nuts amongst us.) We get the opportunity to see people we haven’t seen since the last convention, to engage with ministry ideas and possible partners, and to fill the trunk of the car with free stuff from NAMB, IMB, Lifeway (wait, those Spurgeon Bobbleheads weren’t free?), and so on. I took five messengers, counting myself, and we came back with 6 Lifeway shopping bags, 5 NAMB backpacks, 47 OS Hawkins books, and some 3 Circles Fidget Spinners.
Plus promo cards for church planters in six states, business cards for A/V consultants that I know we can’t afford, and four different folks promising that they could solve our evangelism problems.
And now, I’ve brought it all home. We’ve sorted through the laundry pile from the trip (the whole family goes, so we have to catch up as a team). The yard desperately needs to be mowed (or I need to borrow a goat from someone), and the oil needs to be changed in the car. With all of that sitting around, I sit here in my study with a stack of “DO THIS NEXT!” ideas from the Convention.
Without anyone to go back re-process it with, and without the benefit of planned meetings like SBCVoices gatherings or serendipitous run-ins with old professors and friends. It leads to a challenge, and one that we need to overcome: The Post Convention Hangover.
Now, most of you are good Baptists, so you’re not familiar with “hangovers.” A hangover, traditionally, is the body’s response to having its hydration and electrolyte balance thrown out-of-balance by alcohol. It also comes from various medical ailments and medicines which can have the same effect. If you do not prevent such a problem, you have to solve it the next day by restoring that balance.
So, knowing none of you are hungover from alcohol at the SBC, let’s apply the idea to how you may be feeling (if you’re like me, that is. Some of you are rational people, and I’ve got nothing for you normal folks). We’ve had an intense batch of business with immediate results, we’ve heard how great mission trips have gone, we’ve gotten overfilled on seeing fellow ministers, and been around folks that care enough about our cooperative work to deal with Dallas traffic. Then, like the easy breeze of the HOV lane coming out of Arlington fades back into I-30 East, all that has faded into the thump of daily life. A few tips may help you recover:
First, remember that friend you saw and said “We should talk more often than every June?” Call him, email her. Make contact. I remember having to wait for the weekend for the long distance rates to go down, a concept my children do not grasp. It’s not a problem: grab your cell, make a call. Send an email, write a postcard. Something. Why? Unlock a liquor hangover, what you just had was like water for the perpetually thirsty. You had community and relationships with some of God’s people that you need. Grab hold of that, make it part of your plans. Look them up, make the connection.
Second, take that stack of stuff that you think you’ll do, and throw it away. Or at least most of it. If you’re in one of the 33,000 churches that run fewer than 250 in church, you probably lack the resources to partner with every church plant everywhere. Put all the cards on the prayer wall, and then pick one and pursue it as a partnership. Don’t let what you cannot do, in the face of the needs and possibilities, hamstring you from doing something.
Third, no, you don’t need duplicates of a dozen books you’ll never read. Pick one you’ll read, distribute (as loan-outs) the rest of them into your church, and give others away to pastors and church leaders who couldn’t go. Back when I could not make the SBC, one thing I was always jealous of was the book stack I kept seeing friends post on social media. And they had doubles! Give stuff away to encourage others. (Especially CSBs. Honestly, how many free CSBs do you need? How many is Lifeway going to give out?)
Fourth, find as many as three people in your church to communicate a portion of what you are feeling guided by the Spirit of God through the Word of God to do, and ask for their help. Don’t sit on the ideas until you sort it out perfectly, but start the ball rolling by involving your congregation. That may be a challenge, but there are opportunities inherent in it.
In all, the post-convention hangover is the result of going from ideas, fellowship, relationship, and chaos back to the normalcy of life. Unlike a liquor hangover, the cure is not to avoid those items in the future, but to find ways to work them into your weekly engagement.