I just read an article where one of the loudest voices in the Southern Baptist Convention in recent years complained about having no voice. He said that his church gave over $200k last year to the SBC, but they feel like they do not have a voice in convention affairs. His comments caused me to ask, “What does it mean to have a voice in the SBC?”
My first SBC annual meeting was in Houston in 2013. I have attended every year since. In the time since my first annual meeting, I’ve become deeply immersed in the work of our Southern Baptist Convention. I don’t serve on any boards or committees at the national level, but I follow it all as closely as a small church pastor from Virginia can. I watch the livestream of EC meetings when possible. I read Baptist Press. I discuss SBC happenings with friends. I even write about convention affairs here at SBC Voices from time to time. I care deeply about the work of our SBC.
This year’s annual meeting was unlike any that I’ve experienced so far. It was the largest number of messengers we’ve had since 1995. It was our first annual meeting in two years. And the messengers came ready to speak their minds. There was hardly anything proposed from the platform that wasn’t at least questioned by the messengers. The new Business and Finance Plan was shot down. The EC was given a task force to oversee their investigation. A resolution was resurrected from the floor. Even Ronnie Floyd’s Vision 2025 was amended. The messengers had their say unlike any SBC annual meeting I’ve ever attended. I remember conventions where we hardly used our ballots. That wasn’t the case this year. Lots of ballots were used in Nashville. Thank you, tellers!
One thing is sure when we come together for our annual meeting. We will not all always get our way. While I am generally pleased with the outcome of the convention, not every vote went my way. My nomination speech for recording secretary was given to a small fraction of the messengers who ultimately voted to re-elect John Yeats. I believe the election may have had a different outcome if more of the messengers had heard Dave’s speech on my behalf. We’ll never know for certain. But the Southern Baptist Convention isn’t about me. It’s about our cooperative work together. No time for sour grapes. We have a Great Commission to advance.
But what does it mean to have a voice in the SBC? Do I only have a voice when everything goes my way? Of course not. We all have the opportunity to voice our opinions on the matters before the convention. We may do that at the microphone. We all do it with our ballots. And sometimes we have to accept that our voice is in the minority on a particular issue. Some of us have bigger platforms for our voice than others. Huge twitter followings. A blog with lots of hits. A popular podcast. Or even an elected or employee position within the convention. But when it comes down to it, we all have only one voice. We gather each year to steward that voice on behalf of the convention.
It can be frustrating when our fellows messengers don’t agree with us. Sometimes we may even feel like the deck was stacked against us. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a voice. It can’t mean we take our ball and go home. We all have a voice in the SBC. But when it comes down to it, each of us represents just one voice in a sea of voices. Let’s commit to stewarding our voices well for the sake of the gospel and the advancement of the Great Commission.