SBC Annual - 2005
I feel like I need to say this.
I want to personally thank Jimmy Draper for working so hard for guys like me. On arriving in Nashville he had a signed copy of his autobiography waiting for me. The guys around him speak very highly of him, and even when not "on the record." They believe he is utterly sincere, and so do I.
Dr. Draper is doing all he can to understand my world when he has only known his world for so long. I can only hope I will spend my whole life striving as hard as he has, and being willing to take the lumps he has taken (within the SBC), in order to understand before speaking. He isn't the future of the SBC, but the future may be much better because of Jimmy Draper.
This is the point where I would blow the shofar. :)
The difference between the Younger Leaders Summit and the rest of the convention was remarkable. The YLS was worshipful, thoughtful, thought-provoking, challenging, even shockingly offensive at times (in a good way). What I saw of the pastor's conference was a lesson in how to scold the culture rather than speak redemptively about it. The rest of the convention was business as usual, cheesy videos, predictable motions and resolutions, and so on. This is a generalization, so I want to reflect a minute on exceptions, some I've noted before.
Though some of the same rhetoric was leveled toward homosexuality that is common from SBC'rs, there were some better things said this year. This is especially true of the video shown during Richard Land's speech. Loving, hopeful, and redemptive without scolding. Former homosexuals basically said that we need to not point the finger at homosexuals but to take their hand and walk toward Jesus with them. Fantastic. Incarnational. Missional. The SBC has a lot of problems, but if we can do more stuff like this younger leaders are going to stick around.
I had a lengthy discussion with Erich Bridges on Tuesday, senior writer with the IMB. Erich is thinking of beginning a blog and wanted to ask some questions. Chris Turner at Lifeway got us connected. I don't want to divulge the conversation content, but this is a guy I liked from "hello." You could see in his eyes the desire to reach the nations and he wants to transfer that passion through blogging to others. I'll let you know if/when he gets a blog going. For now you can read him regularly through articles on Baptist Press. Also, take note of his article yesterday which opens with a comment about a young pastor he met at the SBC. He is a very generous guy and I'm thankful to know him.
What if we could make multiple connections like this based on a desire to be missional? That's all our meeting was, two guys discussing missional faith in the context of blogging. I told Erich that if it were not for the IMB that many emerging leaders would have left the SBC long ago. For all the problems the SBC has, the IMB is doing much good. They are making connections with other missional agencies from other groups and denominations and working together. They are about incarnational ministry in other cultures. The whole convention needs to hear from the IMB, and I hope Erich will work to not only lead people to leave home and go overseas, but also to see the need to help all SBC'rs understand was missional-incarnational living really is.
I believe a major missing element of the SBC is vision. It doesn't matter how many times the shofar blows, I'm not going with the vision of a million baptisms. It's an arbitrary number. I want real vision. Jeff Harris talked about it at the Younger Leaders Summit. Maybe the thing that could really unify younger and older SBC'rs, or traditional and "emerging" SBC'rs, or institutional and incarnational SBC'rs (or however you want to describe the divide) is if we have a vision of redeeming culture together. We need a vision of incarnational compassion and beautiful truth.
I think the future of the SBC is going to come down to whether or not those of us who realize buildings and programs aren't enough will offer with gentleness and patience the biblical vision for dwelling among the culture and loving them to Christ. We need to set an example for the SBC (1 Tim 4:12) so that they will finally realize we aren't in this for power, but for the mission. That way we not only can work to redeem the culture, but also the SBC.
One more post of pictures, and convention blogging is officially over.
I'm home safe and sound, and I want to detail a few things from Wednesday at the SBC. Honestly, I'm getting my days mixed up a bit since the whole week was a blur. So I'm making every effort to be sure that what happened on Wednesday was actually Wednesday. :)
Marty left us on Tuesday night, so Joe and I had to go it alone.
The day started with our hotel giving us a receipt under the door and needing to tell them that we weren't leaving until Thursday. No prob. The Sheraton was a fine place to stay but for the overpriced and undercooked food, the overpriced and underpowered Wi-fi, the strange propensity to leave us daily with too few of a certain size of towel, and the bar-coded piece of paper that rarely worked when trying to get in or out of the parking garage. I do have to say the king size bed was the most comfortable hotel bed ever, the view was pretty cool, the elevators were lighting fast which led Joe and I to try base jumping from inside the elevator on the way down, and the lady on the phone, who always addressed me as "Mr. McCoy" whenever we called to ask for more towels, was kind and quick to fix things.
We went to the convention to raise our ballots on a number of ho-hum issues. Then we spent some time in the exhibit hall talking with some folks and checking our email. We stopped by the Southern Seminary booth and talked with Dr. Kenneth Magnuson (ethics) and old friends and neighbors Clark and Helen Logan. Great to catch up.
We saw Chris Turner again, Lifeway guy, and we all decided to meet and eat at P.F. Chang's. Doug Walker graciously invited us to the Southern Seminary luncheon at no cost to us, but we just couldn't make it because of our lunch meeting with Chris. Joe got the orange peel chicken, Chris got the sweet and sour pork, and I got the orange peel shrimp (which is what I always get there because it's so honkin' good). Of course we also got lettuce wraps which are always phenomenal. If you haven't been to P.F. Chang's, stop reading and go eat. One of my favorite places.
We were able to hang out and meet up with so many folks from Lifeway, IMB, local pastors, state associations. Really great week of new friendships. It's hard to describe the connections and "networks" that are being built through a couple of days in Nashville.
We spent a little time in our hotel writing and working on pictures and videos. Then we left for Broadway to take pictures and videos of places we have been. We also went shopping for our kiddos. I got all four of my kids Nashville harmonicas, the boys got Sheriff badges, my daughter got some stationary and stickers with her name, and I also got them some candy and a toy wooden snake. They really love all the toys. I love my kids so much.
We spent a little time at the convention after shopping, but the business was done and we were exhausted. So we dropped by the exhibit hall one more time. We found out Craig Gross, of xxxchurch.com fame and author of The Gutter, was in town and came to the Lifeway exhibit. We missed him, but one of our new buddies at Lifeway passed on our website info and told him to check us out. Craig, shoot me an email if you stop by.
We went back to the hotel and ordered Papa John's (for the second time) and enjoyed some sausage and onion pizza. We spent a lot of time writing and working on videos and packing to go home. We also watched the live streaming video of the SBC and Bobby Welch, and were glad not to get trampled by all the "soccer fans." If that doesn't make sense to you, just move along.
We woke up Thursday, somewhat rested, and made the long drive home. We ate McDonald's for breakfast and only snacks the rest of the way because we were in a hurry. The friendships at the SBC were great, but there's nothing like coming home to our families.
Next post I'll reflect a bit and look forward a bit.
Interesting articles on the SBC...
Draper briefly addressed the SBC's endeavor of reaching a million baptisms, calling the goal a "sign of healthy churches; a measure of how effectively we are relating to the lost and sharing the difference Christ makes." He added that if the SBC's aim is to reach a million baptized to say it hit its goal, "it reveals we were focused on the wrong thing and baptisms then become an end."
Unless I'm mistaken, Baptist Press has yet to write anything on the Younger Leaders Summit. It was one of the first, most interesting, and maybe most important events of the entire week, but no response. I think this is inexcusable.
I also hope to reflect a bit Friday and Saturday on SBC events, but on Sunday I am leaving for vacation and don't expect to be anywhere near internet service for several days. It's a much needed break with my family and I'm looking forward to it. I'm glad so many of you have enjoyed the SBC blogging. I have too.
Bob Reccord: clip
Chris Seay: clip 1, clip 2
Ed Stetzer: clip 1, clip 2
Jeff Harris: clip 1, clip 2
Check out this article in the North Carolina Biblical Recorder. I was interviewed along with Joe and Marty.
I saw Al and Mary Mohler on Sunday night walking back to their hotel. We greeted each other and Mary asked about our kids. My wife, Molly, and Mary had some good conversations while I was in seminary. Since then she has never failed to ask for updates on Molly and our kids, and that means a lot to us.
Ken Hemphill wears cowboy boots even on steep city streets. I'm going to send him some size 13 sneakers.
At the Younger Leaders Summit they gave everyone a DVD that included the video clips we saw at the summit as well as video interviews of various denominational agencies and seminaries. There was no clip of anyone from Southern Seminary, but one from every other seminary. I wonder if there is anything intentional there??? I'm going to email some folks and try to figure it out.
Wiley Drake is "Mr. Resolution" at the SBC. If a resolution is missing a semi-colon, he will amend it. He says more about Disney than Disney's CEO. He was nominated for 2nd VP of the convention and the almost 80 year old guy who nominated him said that if elected Wiley would offer far fewer motions and resolutions. Seriously funny and the crowd loved it. I know of at least one person who voted for Wiley simply because the 3 minute nomination was so funny (Hint: the guy who voted for him is hard to spot in a wooded area).
I didn't see any SBC evangelists wearing canary colored suits, but they were probably there.
I tried really hard to find Russ Moore (SBTS and Henry Institute) since I know he keeps up on my blog where I talk about things he's said good and bad. He disappeared.
Southern Baptists are famous for our lemurs. Near the Southeastern Seminary booth there was a gathered crowd for this little guy. Really neat.
I had a great discussion with an IMB worker who is already a writer about starting and sustaining a blog.
Lifeway's book store was boring except for the sale tables where you could buy really great stuff for $4-7. I bought several great books.
I miss my wife and four kiddos so much. Being away is painful, but coming home is sweet.
Man, the annual meeting of the SBC is so boring. I mean, I know there are some important things we do for our convention, but please.
I don't really want to try to report much on today's meetings. I wasn't even that involved in the normal meetings since we had some other good things to do. Let me give you a rundown of the day.
This morning as the annual kicked off, Ricky Skaggs was singing some song and then blowing a shofar (ram's horn). Next, SBC President Bobby Welch started getting the crowd involved. He said "Who is going to witness, win and baptize one million people in the next year?" Then the crowd would respond "Everyone can!" Ugh. The next step was sadly funny. Bobby would lead the chant, the crowd would respond, and then Ricky would blow the shofar (whooo WHOOOOOO whoooo WHOOOOOO!). I almost popped a hernia laughing. Sheesh. I just don't get this big pep rally mentality. And can I just say that the SBC choir shouldn't wear anything brighter than angel's clothing? Get up and sing and leave the prom dresses at home.
Marty, Joe and I met some Lifeway guys for a coffee in the late morning. Really good guys with vision for the future. They have been very encouraging about our websites and desire to see change in the SBC.
For lunch we met with David Price who we first met on the websites, and who is a recent SBTS grad. We ate at Big River Brewery again. Fantastic chicken Dijon sandwich. While there we noticed we were sitting next to Tim Sweatman, uber-poster at the Lifeway Younger Leaders discussion board. David put a pic of us on his site while we were checking our sites at Lifeway's Wi-fi area. The guy with the blue shirt in the pic on the left is Craig. He works with Lifeway at MyBibleStudy.com. He is a fan of my site and willing to be helpful to an extreme. Thanks for everything Craig!
A writer for the NC Biblical Recorder sent me, Joe, and Marty a list of questions for some article. It took some time to answer, but I think it will be helpful. They've written this, this and this about things we are doing and saying.
The third article took a statement I made about Jerry Vines a bit out of context, but there are some good things there (Steve DeVane corrected it. Thanks Steve).
In the afternoon I heard this from Bobby Welch, a paraphrase: If every church in this convention would have TWO revivals this year it would change everything. When the symbolic leader of the convention says that, you know you are in trouble. If he actually meant real revivals, we would only need one. If he means revival meetings, I've been at enough to know this is nothing close to what our convention needs. We need a missional revolution Bobby.
Dinner was at the Wildhorse Saloon with Marty and Joe. A famous, fun place for good food, line-dancing, and live music. That's a hot pretzel sandwich with ham, cheese, and some sort of mustard sauce. Highly recommended from our server, Lindsay, who is moving back home to California next month. Man, that sandwich was really good. The potato salad was fantastic. Don't miss this place in Nashville. You may even meet the pink cowgirl.
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission report was something I could have predicted, but the video presentation which was much better than I hoped. It's the most compassionate thing I've seen on homosexuality from the convention. In the video a former homosexual said that homosexuals don't need a finger pointing at them, but a hand to hold. Another said that homosexuals need someone to say "I will walk toward Jesus with you." Great line, and the heart of incarnational, missional living.
A few last comments. The convention is the "sole member" of the NOBTS corporation. I have never felt competent to decide on a position. Ultimately I trust those who have said it wouldn't be good for the seminary because of how laws in the state work, but I have to go on the word of others and the literature I've seen. Doesn't matter much now. (see Dee's take, thanks for the link Alex)
It was a good but exhausting day. As many good conversationalists have left (Chris Seay, Darrin Patrick, Daniel Montgomery, and now Marty Duren), we are left with boring business. Let's hope Joe and I can think of some way to shake things up tomorrow.
Today was a packed day. We put aside the pastor's conference schedule (gladly) and began setting up meetings with a number of different guys. We left this morning for the exhibition center which is full of SBC booths for Baptist colleges, seminaries, agencies, ministries, and of course a Lifeway bookstore.
We met up with Marty Duren (the third musketeer), picked up a few books from the discount table, and made a round through the dozens of booths. They put out mints and candy to attract the SBC wildlife and Marty wolfed on every "Bit-O-Honey" he could get his hands on. We spent a few minutes talking with Mark Overstreet, and old friend from seminary who is the Assistant VP of Development at Criswell College in Dallas. Good guy, and it sounds like Criswell is heading in a good direction.
At 11am the three of us had lunch with Chris Turner, a media relations guy at Lifeway. Chris has become a good friend to us and has helped out in immeasurable ways. He took us to a very "Nashvillian" place, Granite Falls, and the food was great. They are famous for "Rattlesnake Chicken."
We took a break at our hotel for a bit and then met up with Marty again at the convention center. We wanted to spend some serious time talking about the future of and a vision for the Emerging SBC Leaders site. Our talk was good. We thought through some important issues.
We also caught a few moments of Dr. Jerry Vines' preaching. It was a few moments too many. I quote: "If I had one toe and it wiggled toward liquor, I'd cut it off." Are we unable to stick to what the Bible actually says? Frustrating.
Our meeting was cut short by the opportunity to talk with Darrin Patrick of The Journey in Clayton, MO and Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper of Sojourn in Louisville, KY. We talked for a little over an hour about the SBC and the Younger Leaders Summit, as well as about our local churches and missional ministry. Great stuff. We were all very encouraged.
Then we ate dinner at Big River Grille and Brewing Works. Great food, nice place, good conversation with Joe and Marty. The cheesy spinach jalapeno dip was fantastic. On the way out I saw my buddy Clay Layfield and his wife Amy.
Marty left to go watch a movie (a chick-flick to be sure). Joe and I went back to the Gaylord Center to waste some time. We went to the laptop section (where you can use their laptops to browse the web) and checked for comments on our sites. As we browsed a guy who works with Lifeway came up and said something like, "Are you THE Steve McCoy?" Weird. I froze at a weird question from a stranger. "Uh..Yes." The guy has found the blog and been reading for some time. His name is Craig. He offered to set up a table for us tomorrow to blog at now that they have Wi-fi hooked up. Really good guy, very helpful and generous.
Then I called Chris Seay and Joe and I went to meet him at the Marriott at Vanderbilt. Spent a little under an hour talking about incarnational ministry, hearing stories about church planting, discussing emerging leaders issues and the future of the SBC. Chris is a laid back guy who really encouraged us, but was real with us. I'm glad we were able to get to know him over the past two days.
On the outside it looks like today was really about networking, making connections. In many ways it was about that. But all the conversations and questions worked in my heart some other things. Some of them are too personal to share, but if there is one thing I learned today it's that life is too short to sit back and get a paycheck for preaching. We need to be people incarnated in our culture and our local communities.
Bunch of new stuff online from the Younger Leaders Summit.
Audio Clips and Slide Show: Should be more online in a few days, but here's what they've put up. I'm very frustrated that none of Chris Seay is up. He said some really good things. Arrgh. UPDATE: Lifeway's site now indicates there are technical glitches with Seay's talk that will be fixed soon.
Younger Leaders Meet in Nashville
Draper Calls for "Revolution" at Younger Leaders Summit (by my buddy Chris Turner)
Younger Leader's Summit was this afternoon. This post is longer than most (I have 7 pages of notes). But I feel it's necessary to communicate what happened. The audio should be online tomorrow and I will link to that when it's up. Also check out Joe and Marty for their take on today's meeting.
Jimmy Draper realizes the SBC needs revolution. Not minor changes. Not mere stylistic acceptance of younger leaders in younger churches with candles and goatees. He sees it's much bigger. He said the conservative resurgence was good and necessary, but today he called for a revolution. New changes need to happen. Does Draper fully get what that means? I don't think so. But he's understood all he needed to so that younger leaders would have a voice now.
The meeting began with some worship music by Russ Lee. Great stuff. Draper told us that Lifeway now has three trustees 30 years old or younger and that 33% of Lifeway employees are under 40. Obviously he wanted to show the hard work they are doing to get younger generations involved and making decisions and influencing directions.
O.S. Hawkins, president of Guidestone, popped in for a quick selling point...er...encouraging anecdote. Kidding! C'mon, that was funny. Then Robbie Partain, of SBCT, spoke. He was okay. Basically he said that younger leaders are about missions. Our "it" isn't doctrinal changes or loyalty issues or wanting positions in the SBC. "It" is Acts 1:8 missions. We want to penetrate lostness through transformational, missional ministry.
Bob Reccord, president of NAMB, decided to hop on stage. He said he wanted to "add value" to us. I hope he means he wants to show our true value, not add value. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He pointed to changes at NAMB in the areas of mission strategy and evangelism focus. He expressed his desire to downplay programs and emphasize relational evangelism. Definitely something I've been desiring to see in NAMB's focus.
Adam Greenway of The Church at Andover in Lexington, KY spoke about biblical diversity and inclusiveness. He didn't really say anything. He kind of pointed to biblical basis for diversity (which we already get), but didn't really go anywhere. He said we need to "pay the price" and "commit to being involved." Nothing really practical or visionary here.
Kevin Shrum, pastor of Inglewood Baptist Nashville, talked about healthy relationships. He said in a somewhat helpful way that younger leaders need to "quit complaining." That we want to be the kite but not hold the string. Uh, not really impressed with this idea. I agree that we get nowhere with complaining without vision and movement, but the string is not the SBC. The string is Christ (or the gospel or whatever). But the problem is the SBC is actually the tall building blocking the wind and keeping the string limp. The speakers in general realized this problem, and I'll bet Kevin does too.
Chris Seay of Ecclesia Houston talked about creative, innovative approaches. Great talk. Make sure you listen closely to this one when the audio comes out. Chris said that we (SBC) are known as people of dogma, not beauty. We have lost our sense of beauty in truth by making it merely propositions. We were also able to hang out with Chris afterwards for a bit, and he really has a good grip on the problems at hand and the need for incarnational ministry.
Ed Stetzer of NAMB talked about convention renewal. He had the place rolling, and is a very compelling speaker. Ed really laid out the practicals that drove home what Seay was saying. Great stuff and a must listen. He mentioned the need for us not to talk with "smarmy comments" about each others churches, but that we should be missionaries (missional) in our cultural contexts. He really drove that point home, the need to be biblically faithful and missional. We've had a conservative resurgence and now we need a missional one.
Jeff Harris of Grace Point Church in San Antonio closed the meeting with a passionate plea that instead of having a convention that is known for what we don't do, that we should be able to say what we are about. What is the SBC known for? He also said that he's afraid someone will stand up at the convention and say something that will marginalize them even more. Very missional/incarnational stuff from Jeff. He then said two practical things: 1. The 2 year part-time president in the SBC is a stupid idea. We need a visionary leader. 2. We need the SBC to reorganize behind visionary leadership.
FYI: I'm not blogging tonight at the pastor's conference and neither is Joe. I'm not sure what I will be attending tomorrow, but I do know that I hope to meet with Chris Seay and Darrin Patrick. I hope that works out.
Joe and I attended First Baptist Church of Nashville this morning, a nice downhill walk from the Sheraton. The service was an hour long with only three congregational songs. Wish there was a greater emphasis on congregational singing. The choir was big and blue (robes).
The pastor's preaching wasn't too shabby. Preaching from Matthew 10 he was talking about discipleship and how disciples should expect to be treated like Jesus. His sermon was short, but he hit the point of the passage and so it was encouraging. We also heard they are really striving for outreach downtown, including a jazz festival where they handed out 1,000 box lunches. Also they had youth going through some experience that showed them what it's like to be homeless. Good stuff.
We checked out the Gaylord Center and it's really a beautiful place. We'll be heading over there in about 30 minutes to register for the convention (we hope) and will be at the Global Cafe soon after that for the Younger Leaders Summit.
Dinner tonight at Rippy's Smokin' Bar and Grill. The ribs were mediocre at best, baked beans were great, coleslaw was peppery and good, and the atmosphere was awesome. Good ol' country music. We heard Rocky Top, Smokey and the Bandit theme song, Dixieland Delight. Two really phenomenal guitarists and singers played for about 45 minutes or so.
Great first night in NashVegas. And I mean NashVegas. A strip of bars were hoppin' with live music and packed with people.
We also located the Gaylord Entertainment Center, and it's a site to see, especially at night. Should make for a comfortable place for thousands of Southern Baptists to meet.
Joe has a great post tonight that's less newsy and more reflective.
Loaded up this morning in our rental car, a brand new Grand Prix. Sweet. The speedometer goes to 140, but I don't think we'll get there. I was out of the house by 7:15am and on the way to Joe's house.
We didn't have any problems along the way. It was mostly sunny, beautiful weather the whole way. Pit stops at a Mickey D's for a bacon, egg and cheese bagel and Arby's for a chicken, bacon and swiss (wow, two meals with bacon, didn't realize that, but mmmm good).
We arrived in Nashville at the Sheraton downtown by about 6:30pm. Very nice. Only one king bed, so Joe is gonna have to pull out the couch. Oh well. We immediately checked for wifi, a must, and it cost like $10 a day. Sheesh. I ordered it only to find out that it is $10 per computer per day. Wowwy. Not good. We were pretty upset at the high cost, but a friendly call to the manager (Robin) was helpful. She generously let Joe get his lappy up and online for free. Thanks to Sheraton and Robin who have made the day of two poor pastors.
Tonight we are out and about for a stroll around downtown Nashville. First real SBC event is Sunday afternoon from 2-4pm. I don't know what time I will post on it, but as soon as I can.