Our church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention for the sake of fulfilling the Great Commission. With increasing conflicts within the denomination, we must clarify our church’s roles and responsibilities due to this connection.
And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.(2 Cor. 11:28)
- The early Church was loosely organized but uniquely focused.
- Since the Church’s inception 2,000 years ago, people have formed denominations to deal with differing levels of disagreement regarding belief and behavior.
- In 1517, Protestants were “protesting” the troublesome practices of the Roman Catholic Church and reforming it to biblical models.
- In the 16th and 17th centuries, Baptists were those focused on a conversion experience followed by a believer’s baptism.
- The Southern Baptist Convention was organized in Augusta, GA, in 1845 due to disagreements with antislavery attitudes of Baptists in the North.
- In 1990, 1900 churches left the convention to form the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship due to a conservative resurgence.
- In 2012, the title “Great Commission Baptists” was adopted as an acceptable alternative name.
- In recent years, volatile cultural disagreements have infiltrated the denomination and created numerous factions desiring very different changes.
- There are currently more than fifty thousand Southern Baptist cooperating churches and church-type missions.
- Though as many as two hundred could be counted as “mega-churches,” the vast majority run less than two hundred in weekly worship.
- The Cooperative Program is the financial fuel that churches collect to do more together.
- The Convention assigns and conducts its work through eleven ministry entities:
- The International Mission Board (IMB) and the North American Mission Board (NAMB)
- Gateway, Midwestern, New Orleans, Southeastern, Southern, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminaries
- The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
- LifeWay Christian Resources
- GuideStone Financial Resources
- The Women’s Missionary Union
- The SBC Executive Committee
- All churches are affiliated but autonomous (self-governing) bodies of local believers.
- Churches align at different levels for ministry cooperation (Rocky Creek, Greenville Baptist Association, South Carolina Baptist Convention, Southern Baptist Convention).
- The Baptist Faith and Message contain essential doctrines for what it means to be biblically Baptist.
- Due to the allowance of significant variation from church to church, inevitable disagreement is bound to happen.
- Much of the conflict is driven by secondary issues distracting us from primary causes.
- Baptists have taken the cultural cue to stereotype anyone who disagrees with a set belief as an exaggerated variance.
- Salvation – You can believe that God is sovereign and man is responsible.
- Politics – You can love your country and carefully align with political parties.
- Racism – You can be compassionate to other ethnicities without accepting dangerous idealogies.
- Gender – You can have complimentarian theology and reject misogyny.
- Abuse – You can care for a victim and do what’s best for a convention at the same time.
- The Conservative Resurgence was a battle for biblical inerrancy; we are now fighting for ministry integrity.
- In 2019, an article in the Houston Chronicle published an article with 700 sexual abuse victims within Southern Baptist churches and organizations over the last 20 years.
- Pastor J.D. Greear was president of the SBC and began to pressure those in leadership who had covered up for these crimes.
- Certain leaders from the EC of the SBC encouraged caution in pressuring these churches and organizations.
- Key departures from people within the SBC in 2021 raised the awareness of growing conflict.
- At the 2021 annual meeting, the messengers voted to waive third-party privilege and have an independent investigation to the matters.
- After the conclusion of the meeting, the EC voted not to follow the will of the messengers due to financial concerns over the loss of insurance to handle claims.
- A grassroots movement of concerned leaders pressured the EC to do the right thing.
- The SBC is trending in the right direction regarding the critical Kingdom issues.
- A great majority of the convention agrees on a great majority of the issues.
- No faction within the SBC wants to give up claims to all the good that has been done or could do.
- I believe in what RC can do with the SBC more than ever.
- I am also committed to biblical and ministry integrity and will not stand for anything that threatens that for our church.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.