…would be the Southern Baptist Convention in those two days that the convention is actually in existence between gavels at the annual meeting. I use the word “deliberative” ministerially, brethren and, in spite of goofballs, circus acts, and impenetrable machinations and motions at the meeting, I rather like the idea that one duly registered SBC messenger from the tiniest Southern Baptist church can make a motion, offer to amend a committee report, nominate himself for president or other action. We are congregational even when thousands meet. I like that.
My first church had under 100 people on a given Sunday morning in attendance and for church conferences maybe 60-70 voting members. The church was a mix of old time community families, several generations of such, some transfers from nearby churches that didn’t have enough children’s programs and the like, and some new people in the rural community.
Some of the old families thought having new, stained glass windows would be a nice addition to the church building so we had a proposal to raise the money and do it. At the church conference one crotchety middle aged guy, retired military and new to the church and community, didn’t think it was a good idea. He spoke up against it. There was mild discussion and then the church voted overwhelmingly to proceed. The Colonel voted agin’ it.
Immediately after the vote, a proposal was made to put together a committee to work on it. The deacon chairman nominated the sweet older lady who wanted the windows. The system the church had for committees like this was that each nominee would in turn nominate the next person, who would nominate the next one, repeating until the committee was complete. This was all done in the conference in front of everyone attending.
I can still see the sweet old lady standing up and nominating the curmudgeonly Colonel to be on the committee. No explanation was given but the thinking was “You are a part of this church. Would you please take a part in this project help us work together to do it?”
He accepted, was made chair of the committee and later gave a generous gift toward the windows.
That is congregationalism at its best. Small group, diverse crowd, insiders and outsiders, old and young, with an unwritten methodology to work together for the Lord.
With 5,000 up to 45,000 in the ‘congregation’ the SBC in session cannot be run from the floor. Chaos would ensue. Most folks have no clue what is transpiring with motions, amendments, calls for the question, and parliamentary maneuvers. The SBC cannot fare well with precipitous replacements of trustees.
Like it or not, we don’t have much of a choice in putting together reports that put hundreds of nominees on the floor to be approved (or disapproved) by messengers. It is not a perfect system but is preferable to floor nominations whenever an individual messenger has some reason, compelling to him and a couple of others, to boot a trustee nominee. It should be the rare, rare occasion that the convention kicks the nominating committee and any individual nominee in the teeth by replacing them. Thankfully, this is almost never done. If our grand Convention gets to the place where we cannot trust committees to nominate good people, then we can also trust that enough decent messengers will recognize this and make whatever changes are necessary.
When we end up with bad trustees and we do occasionally, I trust that there are solutions available off the convention floor. God and we all know that any Southern Baptist who can type can put his complaint out there for all to see.
But your church, your group of believers who assemble to worship and serve the Lord, might have better ideas than those found in Robert’s Rules, as amended.
My church did.
It was a beautiful thing.
Since this is obviously about Brent Hobbs and his replacement motion, one that he chose to explain and then engage with me and others here, I would add that I have no problem with his being able to do what he did. That’s our system. I like that one guy can make it more interesting and trigger some discussion of it.