William Thornton is the inimitable, insightful, sometimes curmudgeonly, rarely acerbic or irascible, always interesting, SBC Plodder.
I do think that we’re going to see a winnowing. We’re going to see a clarification of who we are and I do believe in twenty years we’re going to be a smaller denomination, maybe less number of churches but I think that we’re going to be more focused. I think we’re going to be more serious about joining together and reaching the world for Christ.
Frank Page, CEO, SBC Executive Committee, Fault Lines Within the SBC Panel, June, 2014 (go to the 24 minute mark at the end).
If we look down the road at what the SBC will be like two decades hence, what do we see?
Frank Page sees a smaller denomination but one more focused on reaching the world for Christ.
I don’t think any of us can see clearly what we will look like, what we will be like twenty years down the road, but it is somewhat remarkable that Frank Page, our day-to-day SBC leader is honest and forthright enough to state candidly that we are going to be smaller. Give a tip of the hat to demographics, cultural and religious trends, and old fashioned realism.
As for being more focused on reaching the world for Christ…perhaps. The jury is out on that but I see churches less interested in denominational structures, less interested in creating and maintaining the denominational infrastructure, particularly buildings, staff, and budgets than in placing and supporting church planters here in North America, and enhancing authentic Christian witness overseas.
It is noteworthy in this regard that in his address to trustees last month Tom Elliff, lame duck CEO of our International Mission Board, signaled his belief in “new avenues” for sending and supporting missionaries. More on this later, but if there is a vision for the SBC future, it likely will be led with something in this form. Make note here that our grand denominational funding program, The Cooperative Program, which is responsible as much as any factor for the SBC that we have today is singularly uncaptivating to a new generation of ministers. Our goal with the CP at this stage is to find an acceptable floor for giving; hence, Elliff’s exploratory remarks about “new avenues.”
Any optimists among us who see a larger denomination?