Updated: Jun 10, 2019
This week, the Southern Baptist Convention will meet for the 162nd time. The SBC is not like other denominations. There is no hierarchy, nor is there a governing structure dictating to the churches what they can and cannot do. Rather, the SBC is a convention of autonomous churches that voluntarily cooperate with one another for the purpose of spreading the gospel to the world. Every church is allowed a certain number of messengers to the convention, the number varying based on contributions to the Cooperative Program.
The Cooperative Program is essentially a budget that is approved at the convention. It’s a budget, a common unified plan, for how Southern Baptists will spend their undesignated receipts for the purpose of reaching the nations. Through the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists support thousands of international missionaries, North American missionaries and church planters, six seminaries, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Some 47,000 churches cooperate together to form what is known as the SBC. Messengers from many of those churches will gather this week in Birmingham, AL to convene for two days to conduct business. Messengers will hear reports from all of the entities: the mission boards, the ERLC, and each seminary. Messengers will also review and approve the new CP budget. Messengers will have opportunity to make, to hear, and to entertain various motions made. Any messenger can have their voice heard when the floor opens for new business. Messengers will also hear, and vote to approve, resolutions. Resolutions are statements that each convention makes to the public every year. All of this will happen this week in Birmingham.
West Canton Baptist Church happily cooperates with the other 47,000 churches, and as such, we send messengers to the SBC every year. Seth and I are in Birmingham this week and we will raise our ballots as messengers of WCBC. Please tune in and watch the convention as you are able this week, all day Tuesday and Wednesday. If you have questions about what you observe, please ask!
A few things that you should be on the look out for are the SBC’s response to the Houston Chronicle’s series of reports of sexual abuse in the within the SBC. The ERLC released a report late last week that I’m sure will come up this week. Another hot topic lately has been the biblical instruction concerning women in the pulpit. I fully expect to hear conversation regarding this subject. One highlight of the convention is always the IMB sending ceremony, in which we commission new missionaries. Definitely be on the lookout for the sending ceremony! It is always a time in which the convention is reminded why we actually cooperate together.
A portion of your tithes and offering is given through our church to the Cooperative Program, and thus, you should care! You should care about the decisions made at each and every annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. Please be praying for the convention as we gather and pray that our convention will continue to glorify God!