Published June 8, 2006
As a 35-year-old Southern Baptist, I would not consider myself an “emerging convention leader,” I am simply one person who is where God has called and doing what God has directed.
God has graciously allowed me to receive a wonderful education at SEBTS and to now be moving into the dissertation phase of the PhD program. I have been blessed to preach in Southern Baptist churches before congregations of 30 and congregations of 9,000, but have never considered myself a candidate aspiring to SBC leadership. I have served a new church start where our high attendance goals were 100 in Sunday School as well as churches where Friend Days saw hundreds saved and thousands in attendance. I have simply tried to be faithful wherever God placed me.
I was deeply concerned as I watched the SBC via Internet last year. I did not attend because a dear saint of God was near death and my presence as his pastor was more important than making contacts at the convention. Along with key convention leaders were several men that apparently were supposed to represent my generation, particularly preachers in my generation. I did not really see anyone who I felt comfortable identifying with as a representative.
First, I would not have been on a platform stating that I believe those who are currently in SBC leadership have somehow slighted my generation. I do not believe this assessment is the case at all. It is because of many of the current leaders that I, as a North Carolina Baptist, am preaching in conservative churches and studying and serving in a conservative seminary.
Perhaps those who feel they have been slighted failed to examine the heart of our heritage while memorizing Baptist History for their final exam.
Second, I cannot imagine Vines, Rogers, Patterson, Criswell, or Bush in a round table discussion over their exclusion from leadership. These and other valiant warriors of the faith were too consumed with fighting for the cause of Christ to worry if their names appeared on the list of committee member recommendations at the annual meeting.
My generation would be well served to repent of the passion to be recognized in their labor. We must realize the call on our lives is for our voice to be heard among the nations, not among the convention. A desire for affirmation is better addressed in the counselor’s chair, not in the work of the Gospel. I do not know what these men are doing, but I am too busy preaching, serving and reaching my community to allow the absence of a request for my presence to distract me.
Third, with all due respect (and much is due), what table are “we” being invited to and who feels that they are worthy to invite us to such a table? There are few things more offensive to my generation than the appearance of an invitation to perpetuate the good old boy philosophy of our convention.
Those not dealing with acceptance issues are quite content to be where God has called and just preach the Word. Without pointing an accusing finger at those who paid a great price for me to do what I am doing, let me ask that my generation not be viewed as a needy band of orphans searching for a seat at some table of perceived honor.? Fourth, to truly have a representative of at least those preachers I know in my generation, a man possessing the following characteristics (not necessarily in order of value) should have been on the platform.
1. A passion for making a significant global difference for the cause of Christ.
2. Content with making Christ known through the pulpit to which he has been called and not aspiring to anything more than where God puts him.
3. Interest in Southern Baptist life to the point that he values, promotes, and supports?through his local church our Cooperative Program and is willing to serve in associational, state and convention entities for the cause of Christ and future of our work.
4. Concern that the organization of state and particularly some associational level Baptist work is often hindering rather than helping local church efforts, by continually seeking to receive from rather than support the local church.
5. Concern that trends in preaching and ministry models are acquiescing to a pragmatic foundation rather than being rooted in sound, biblical exposition.
6. Concern that the bureaucracy and institutionalization of many SBC agencies and boards have slowly penetrated our churches and is a root cause of stagnation in our efforts to reach America and the world for Christ.
7. An urgency to equip the local church in a manner that prepares and mobilizes them to reach and train people.
8. A strong work ethic that is uncharacteristic among many in my generation (not all of us are looking for logo golf shirts and country club memberships to determine the will of God for our lives).
9. A commitment to leading his family and church, above joining a convention committee that may be detrimental to such a commitment.
10. Less concern over style of worship and more concern over substance in worship.
May the events of this year’s convention not perpetuate the false personae of an entire generation seeking affirmation. I hope more ministers of the gospel 40 and under attend this year’s convention than ever before, not with an agenda for a mighty man march on Nashville, but with an intent to celebrate the work of our warriors, invest in the mission of our convention, and serve in the places to which God calls for His recognition alone and for His glory alone.
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