Is the Southern Baptist Convention worth changing? Can young "emerging" leaders not only feel welcome, but also start to influence this denomination? Should we?
I'm a Southern Baptist. I heard the gospel for the first time in a Southern Baptist church in Southern Illinois and was converted as a 21 year old college student. I've been a member of Southern Baptist churches in Colorado, Texas, and Kentucky. Now I pastor one in Northern Illinois. (It was nice not to say "Southern" one more time.) I'm excited about our mission focus, our historical doctrinal understanding, and our cooperational goals.
I'm also engaged in the conversation called "emergent" or the "emerging church." While emergent is not monolithic, and though I'm still learning myself, I have found all kinds of people taking part and working to reach emerging generations with the good news. I'm excited about shedding some modern barriers to understanding the Bible and Jesus, dropping my judgmental attitudes toward culture, and embracing a biblical call to social justice that has been missing in my life.
The thing is I would guess that many SBC'rs would read the above and think that any tie to emergent is a silly postmodern sellout. (Or they would say, "What's emergent?") And many in emergent would probably read the above and think that anyone who is thinking emergent thoughts is crazy to stay in the SBC fundamentalism morass. (Or they would say, "SBC'rs don't dance, right?")
I think it's time for young Southern Baptist pastors and church leaders to start a conversation of our own. I know Lifeway has facilitated that on their own discussion board and through some meetings hosted by Jimmy Draper. But after perusing the board, I'm not sure that conversation is really going to be helpful. Young SBC leaders, in my opinion, need a place outside the denominational web pages to find each other and get our own conversation going.
If the Southern Baptist Convention is going to be relevant in the future, some pretty dramatic changes are going to have to take place. That doesn't mean abandoning truth, becoming postmodernists, and producing The Deconstructed Holman Christian Standard Bible. It means realizing that reaching emerging generations will mean much smaller and very different organizational structures, talking differently to the culture (boycotting boycotts, etc.), and getting leadership from emerging leaders among other things.
I've already found some helpful thoughts from Adam. I know Joe is game. If you are a young SBC leader and realize some of these changes need to happen, I invite you to leave a note, spread the word to others, and let's start building a conversation of our own. Share your ideas about how we can encourage more conversation. And if you aren't in the SBC but you know SBC'rs who need to be in this conversation, please encourage them to come here.