I just got home from Phoenix, Arizona where I attended the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention. In a lot of ways Southern Baptists get a bad rap. We’re criticized for fighting with each other about tertiary issues. Many people consider us behind the times on issues such as racial reconciliation and the role of women in ministry among other things.
Some of these criticisms are valid. But sometimes the SBC is just misunderstood.
But despite the legitimate criticisms and the misunderstandings, I still love the SBC. And I’m glad to be a part of it.
Here are four reasons why.
1. High View of Scripture
I didn’t grow up Southern Baptist. And the denomination I grew up in did not have a high view of Scripture. At least if they did, they didn’t make a big deal about it.
So, it wasn’t until college when I started attending a Southern Baptist church that I began to catch a glimpse of the true beauty of the Scriptures.
When I say high view of Scripture, I’m talking primarily about four things:
Innerancy of Scripture
Put simply this is the teaching that everything the Bible affirms to be true is true in all that it affirms or denies. In other words, the Bible is 100% reliable and true. Like Jesus said, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17).
Authority of Scripture
Because the Scriptures are the word of God, they bear the authority of God Himself. I believe it was Wayne Grudem who defined authority something like “the Bible is the word of God so that to disbelieve or disobey it is to disbelieve or disobey God Himself.”
Sufficiency of Scripture
The Bible is God’s word and in it He has communicated to us everything we need to know for salvation and godly living. It’s comforting to know that we don’t have to wonder what God’s will is. We don’t have to wait for the stars to align or find some sort of guru to show us the way. Everything God desires us to know He has revealed to us in His word.
Clarity of Scripture
This means the Bible is understandable. Might not sound groundbreaking to you, but when I first came to a Southern Baptist church, it was news to me. Honestly, at the time I didn’t read the Bible very much because I didn’t think I had a chance in the world at understanding what it said!
But God gave us the Bible so that we could both understand it and be transformed by it.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable (2 Timothy 3:16).
This high view of Scripture changed my life. It changed the way I read the Scriptures. The way I viewed God. Even how I lived my life. It changed everything about me.
Southern Baptists gave me that.
#2 Primacy of Church Planting and Missions
Another reason I love the SBC is that despite all our differences–and there are many–there is really one thing that unites us together: our desire to see the gospel go to the ends of the earth.
And at the end of the day, there isn’t anything else in this whole world I’d rather unite around than the good news of Jesus.
North American Mission Board
This organization is completely devoted to empowering pastors to plant churches in places all over North America. Last year Southern Baptists started more than 700 new churches. That’s incredible!
International Mission Board
This organization funds over 3,500 missionaries who are serving in countries all over the world. Under the leadership of David Platt, the IMB is now encouraging North American Christ followers to leverage their careers for the gospel by moving to other countries and partnering with missionaries on the field.
Being a part of the SBC means I get to play a part in bringing the hope of Jesus to peoples all over the world.
#3 Cooperative Program
Every Southern Baptist Church is an autonomous body. But every Southern Baptist Church cooperates with every other.
One way we work together is by giving financially to the Cooperative Program, which helps fund the international and global missions efforts mentioned above. But the Cooperative Program also funds many other entities that accomplish great work.
Each of our six theological seminaries receive funds from the CP, allowing students to prepare for ministry at an extremely affordable rate. Life Way Christian Resources receives funding from the CP, enabling them to put great resources into the hands of people everywhere. The Ethics and Religious liberty Commission resources pastors and churches with the information they need to navigate the ethical and political challenges of our day. It too is funded by the CP. Even Mission Dignity, which assists retired pastors and widowed pastors wives who are in financial need, receives funds through the CP.
Being a Southern Baptist means being a part of something bigger than yourself.
#4 I See A Bright Future Ahead
Some people criticize the SBC. They say we’re behind the times. We fight too much. We’re deeply divided.
But I don’t see it that way at all.
I’m not saying that the SBC is perfect. Far from it. But do you know what I see?
I see an organization that recognizes it has many flaws. But I also see an organization that is actively taking steps to fix those flaws. I also see an organization committed to the gospel. Committed to the nations. I see an organization full of high-capacity young leaders that will continue to make forward progress in the gospel–for the glory of God and the good of the nations. And I see an organization that is going to do that for decades to come.
I see a bright future ahead. And I’m glad to be a part of it.