We walked into the Nashville Music City Center to register for the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention and were met at one intersection by a group all wearing yellow t-shirts and handing out newspaper style reports. At first, I thought they were trolls, present and looking for a fight. After reading their material, I realized that they are concerned about the SBC and promoting one person to be the new president of the SBC: Randy Adams. As I read through the newspaperesque reports, I wondered who might be here in Nashville to pray and who might be here to prey. There is a big difference, you know. Some ministry is interested in building up. Some only feeds on the broken systems of people. The world is full of leeches.
On the front page is an article by Randy Adams: Buzzards Over Nashville, But Not Dead Yet. Adams lists five wrong turns taken by the SBC a decade ago that led to what he perceives as the “F” on the SBCs report card. All of the wrong turns he lists have to do with what he perceives as the new financial and operational top-down organization of the SBC. According to Adams, lacking financial accountability and transparency, weakened local mission partners, increased national budgets, failure to turn from failing ways, and Christians filing lawsuits against Christians, are the problems. A read through the remainder of the report reveals that there must be nothing positive about the SBC. Complete and utter reform is the only option. Mega-church pastors are living it up in large houses provided by the North American Mission Board. The North American Mission Board is mishandling finances. SBC entity executives, including Thom Rainer, were earning large salaries on the backs of Southern Baptists. Nothing good. How do we fix the SBC according to Adams? (1) Transparency, (2) accountability, and (3) participation. Make people tell us how they are spending money. Provide accountability for financial spending. Get the local churches involved instead of trying to run top-down missions that are not working.
The irony, Adams diagnosis differs little from the self-diagnosis of the SBC–whose entity executives agree that adding more missionaries, planting more local churches, preparing those in local churches who have been called to serve, reaching more teenagers with the gospel, and increasing financial giving will help the SBC. Adams will give the SBC more of the same diagnoses and types of solutions that have failed the SBC, according to his own standard, over the past ten years. This is usually evidence that someone is preying upon current problems in order to advance him or herself politically. Adams might very well be the circling vulture he spotted above Nashville.
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All things considered, the 2021 SBC annual meeting is sure to be an interesting one. I hope we are praying rather than preying. I hope we are praying for revival and reformation. No, not the kind of reformation Adams wants to see but, instead, a return to the source of our faith–the teachings of Jesus in both the Old and New Testaments, a return to meekness and humility and unconditional servitude. I desire to see a return to Scripture rather than this “whatever it takes to get people in church” even when it is questionable attitude. God is good, my friends. I can guarantee He loves the lost more than we do.
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