Leading up to the SBC annual meeting every year, much is made of the resolutions that are being submitted. Many of these resolutions are posted online for all to see even as they are being submitted to the resolutions committee. With this comes the inevitable pontificators stating how resolutions really do not mean anything at all. So what’s the point?
On one hand, it is true that SBC resolutions are non-binding. As you surely know, resolutions are considerably different than motions offered on the floor during the meeting itself. SBC churches are not bound in any way by the resolutions that make it to the floor and pass the messengers’ vote.
However, resolutions are not meaningless, and they do matter. I would like to offer just three main reasons why they are so important.
They Cause Us to Consider
Neither this point nor the next two points are quantifiable, and perhaps that is why the insistence on the meaninglessness of resolutions is so prevalent every year. Speaking from my own experience, I have seen resolutions cause people in the SBC to consider things they otherwise have not, or would not.
This year I submitted a resolution on the plight of Arab Christians titled, “On Prayer and Support of Arab Christians.” I was greatly encouraged to see this resolution go through the committee and make it to the floor where it was adopted with the other 15. Thanks to social media and the resolution being graciously posted on SBC Voices, I have had several people inside and outside the SBC reach out to me and tell me that they had read the resolution online and were considering the plight of their Arab brothers and sisters for the first time.
What about those who did not reach out to me? What of those who read the resolution in its entirety in the published bulletin or online now on the SBC official website or who will read it in the future? There’s no way of knowing, but if the resolution caused untold amounts of people to begin to pray and consider their Arab family in Christ and their plight for the first time, that is a victory.
Same goes with the other resolutions passed this year, which were all excellent. Perhaps many rethought their position on immigration or racism or their own words and actions on social media or women’s roles in the convention, or even in their own church, and will act differently on these issues going forward.
I can say with certainty that this is true and, if this is true, then resolutions do have a positive effect on the hearts and minds, which will lead to actions, of many Southern Baptists.
Allow me to speak again of my own experience briefly. Leading up to the annual meeting and even in the last few days, I have had several people reach out to me who were encouraged by the resolution I submitted. I have even had brothers serving in the midst of Arab Christians inside and outside the U.S. who have told me how encouraged they were that the resolution was written and passed.
Again, who is to say how many others have been, or will be, encouraged to see that the largest Protestant denomination in America has passed a resolution voicing support for Arab Christians? Especially in the midst of a feeling of abandonment or thoughts that they were resented by American brothers and sisters?
How many SBC women were encouraged to see resolution 1? How many SBCers have had family or friends harmed by opioid abuse encouraged by the SBC recognition of the epidemic? How many SBCers who are sons or daughters of immigrants were encouraged by resolution 5?
There are doubtless many, making the encouragement these resolutions give, well worth the effort.
The Watching World
Finally, it must be noted that the resolutions the SBC passes every year receive considerable attention from those outside of the convention. Perhaps our passing of some of these resolutions communicates to the world that not all evangelicals fit into a neat little box of stereotypical politically conservative Christians.
If those outside of the SBC thought that we were anti-immigrant, this year they must reconsider their views. If those outside thought we were anti-women or that we are ok with turning a blind eye to abuse, they must think again. On and on we can go.
Of course, as mentioned from the beginning, these resolutions won’t necessarily cause those in the SBC to actually adhere to the resolutions. However, getting a resolution passed is no small thing. They not only had to be submitted properly and on time, they had to make it through the resolutions committee and then to the floor of the annual meeting and voted on by the thousands of messengers in attendance. Further, messengers could have come to the microphone and voiced displeasure or offer amendments.
Even through all of that, these resolutions passed overwhelmingly with only two amendments. That’s a big deal. That says to the world that we might not be who they thought we were and that we are committed to strive towards reform on issues we may have been painfully weak on.
Every year in perpetuity you will hear and read how SBC resolutions aren’t worth the paper they are printed on or worth the effort or attention given them. For the reasons listed above, I encourage you to gently push back against such assertions. These reasons may not be quantifiable, but that does not mean they are any less real or valid.
We consider, we are encouraged, and the world is watching. Taken together, these resolutions are well worth the time, attention, and effort we give them, and perhaps, even more.
What about you? What benefits would you add? I would love to read them in the comments below.