BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The 162nd Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) met in the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, June 11-12, and registered 8,183 messengers with more than 150 messengers representing Oklahoma.
The SBC Annual Meeting addressed numerous issues the convention is facing today, featured many reports from entities and panel discussions and allowed messengers to submit motions and resolutions for the wellbeing of the SBC.
Greear says Gospel is priority above preferences
SBC President J.D. Greear spoke on Southern Baptists being at a crossroads, not regarding doctrine or mission but “what kind of Gospel witnesses we will be in an age like ours.”
Greear, who pastors in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C. area, delivered his presidential address on Tuesday morning, June 11, emphasizing three defining values he believes should shape the future of the SBC. Those values are: prioritize the Gospel above all; be willing to do whatever it takes to reach all people; commit to sending every member.
“The power to ‘do’ in the Christian life comes only from being soaked in the fuel of what has been done,” Greear said. “That’s why (the Gospel) has to be above all,” he said, referencing the annual meeting’s theme, “Gospel Above All.” “A church without the Gospel at the center is a church without power.”
Greear said Christians must show restraint when it comes to their political fervor. “Political affiliations have a way of obscuring the Gospel. In our political climate, if we are known as the stooge for one party, we lose all audience with the other,” he said.
With support from the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board, Greear challenged students to give the first two years of their career, working in a place where they can assist with a new church plant.
“If we encourage all our college students and young professionals to put the Kingdom of God first in where they pursue their careers and give these first two years to the mission, we would experience a mission revolution in our world like we’ve never seen,” he said.
Rummage delivers SBC Annual Sermon
Stephen Rummage, pastor of Oklahoma City, Quail Springs, proclaimed the power and promises Christians have in Jesus Christ “because of the cross,” during the annual sermon at the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) 2019 Annual Meeting, June 12.
Preaching out of Colossians chapter 2, Rummage emphasized that “every person is on one side of the cross or the other—the lost side or the saved side.”
He said, “If you are on the lost side, God loves you and wants to save you. If you are on the saved side, God has given you a sacred trust and message to proclaim.”
Underscoring the Apostle Paul’s teaching in Colossians, Rummage highlighted what God accomplished through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
“Because of the cross, God has forgiven our trespasses. Because of the cross, God has cancelled our sin debt. Because of the cross, God has conquered our adversary,” he said.
Rummage recalled a story from a Billy Graham Crusade, in which one night relatively few responded to the invitation. A businessman and friend of Graham pointed out that the evangelist had failed to preach the cross. The next night, heeding the advice from his friend, Graham preached on the blood of Jesus and His cross, and scores of people were saved.
“When we preach Christ crucified and risen, there’s a built-in power to it,” Rummage said. “Southern Baptists are always in progress. There are areas in which we have failed that we need to make right. If we fail in reaching this generation with the message of the cross, wherever else we might succeed, we fail. If we will simply preach the cross, we can’t lose.”
Rummage emphasized standing for the matters of highest importance.
“For Jesus, Calvary was a hill worth dying on. For us, it is a hill worth living on. It is a hill worth proclaiming,” he added.
Rummage became the 10th Oklahoma pastor to preach at the SBC Annual Meeting. He joined S.J. Porter (1922), T.L. Holcomb (1934), W.R. White (1940), J.W. Storer (1946), Herschel Hobbs (1957), Grady Cothen (1970), Warren Hultgren (1976), Tom Elliff (1991) and Bobby Boyles (1994) as convention preachers who hailed from Oklahoma.
He was named Quail Springs’ pastor in January, after serving more than nine years as pastor at Brandon, Fla., Bell Shoals. He also has served as president of the Florida Baptist State Convention from 2016-18 and chairman of the SBC Executive Committee in 2017-18.
Floyd speaks as new SBC EC leader
“What do you see,” Ronnie Floyd asked, “for the future of the Southern Baptist Convention?”
As the new president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, Floyd asked the question during the Tuesday morning, June 11, SBC Annual Meeting session.
In his first convention message in leading the EC, Floyd said he refuses “to accept doom, gloom and despair. I refuse to believe that division, strife and disengagement is the will of God.”
Rather, God wants to set Southern Baptists “on a course with a future that He has for us,” Floyd said, noting, “One of our greatest needs is to create a new culture within our convention family”—one that is “healthy, life-giving and Christ-honoring in every way, the kind of culture that will help us flourish and be fruitful… (in) our work cooperatively to reach the world for Jesus Christ.”
Floyd’s address focused on five points that described what he believes should be the vision for Southern Baptists, which include: “living and breathing with Gospel urgency;” “empowering all churches, all generations, all ethnicities, all languages;” “telling and celebrating what God is doing;” “loving others like Jesus loves;” and “prioritizing, elevating and accelerating generosity.”
Southern Baptists must band together, Floyd said, because: “We need more full-time missionaries all across the United States and into the entire world. We need to see greater church planting in our nation and across the entire world to where it’s a phenomenon that occurs to the glory of God. We need to advance the Gospel across the university campuses and college campuses of our nation. We need to do all we can to prepare and equip more God-called Christian men and women into the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“We need to understand that the partnerships with our churches, our state conventions and national entities to take the Gospel across every state and the nation and world is what the Cooperative Program is all about.”
Pastors’ Conference focuses on ‘Kingdom Character’
The 2019 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference met June 9-10, in Birmingham with speakers focusing their messages on the Beatitudes, found in Matt. 5:1-12, and challenging church leaders to live out the conference’s theme “Kingdom Character.”
The Sunday, June 9, sessions of the Pastors’ Conference featured Robert Smith, the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School; evangelists Jay and Katherine Wolf of Hope Heals; Ed Litton, pastor of Mobile, Ala., Redemption; David Platt, pastor of Vienna, Va., McLain Bible; Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and Martin Young, senior minister of Staffordshire, England, Rising Brook Community.
The Monday, June 10, sessions featured Ben Mandrell, pastor of Denver, Colo, Storyline Fellowship; Dhati Lewis, lead pastor of Atlanta, Ga., Blue Print; Andrew Brunson, a missionary who was recently released after being imprisoned in Turkey for two years; and Jimmy Scroggins, lead pastor of West Palm Beach, Fla., Family.
David Uth, senior pastor of Orlando, Fla., First, was elected president of the 2020 SBC Pastors’ Conference during the Monday afternoon session.
Orlando to host 2020 SBC Annual Meeting
The next SBC Annual Meeting will be in Orlando, Fla., June 9-10, 2020. For more information on the SBC Annual Meeting visit sbcannualmeeting.net.