More than 8,000 Southern Baptist messengers met in Birmingham a few weeks ago for our annual meeting, and I had the privilege to be there. It is a privilege to be a Southern Baptist, but with that privilege comes the responsibility to participate. The SBC is only as strong as its cooperating churches. So, I went. In fact, this was my fifth convention. I’ve been to Baltimore (2014), St. Louis (2016), Phoenix (2017), Dallas (2018), and now in 2019, Birmingham.
Why do I go? I realize that many pastors are not able to attend. I think about all of my bi-vocational brothers that are not able to take time off from their secular vocation. I think about all of my church planting brothers that are struggling to make ends meet, and don’t want to spend their support money traveling across the country to a big business meeting. I don’t blame those brothers one bit. They trust those of us who are able to go though, those of us whose churches fund our travel. They trust we will take seriously our responsibility to not only attend, but to participate, to pay attention, to be in the room when votes take place, to stay for the duration of all the reports and the votes. And yet, of the 8,183 registered messengers the hall looked nearly empty when the resolutions were presented, debated, and voted on. I know, it was the end of the convention, we were tired and hungry, ready to get on the road headed back home, but it’s why we traveled all the way to Birmingham. I have a responsibility to participate as I am able to, and when my congregation sends me as a messenger, I have an obligation to take it seriously and engage in the business. If I don’t participate, I am hardly better than the church member that doesn’t engage in the business of his church.
What makes me proud? There were a few moments that were emotionally overwhelming for me this year. The best moment every year is always the IMB commissioning service. We commissioned 26 missionaries to nations all across planet earth. We see our Cooperative Program dollars at work. We see our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering taking feet and carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth. I stand there for nearly 45 minutes w