It was great to see so many North Carolina Baptists in Dallas, Texas, for this year’s Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting. Based on the unofficial registration figures as of June 14, a total of 540 messengers from North Carolina were in attendance, which ranked fourth among all states. Thank you to all N.C. Baptists who attended this year’s meeting. I also appreciate those N.C. Baptists who were not in Dallas, but who prayed for our meetings and some also watched the sessions via livestream through the internet.
This year’s meeting saw a North Carolina Baptist elected as SBC president with the selection of J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham. Going into this year’s meeting, I said repeatedly that I believed we had two strong candidates for SBC president and that either J.D. or Ken Hemphill would make a fine president of our convention. J.D. echoed those same sentiments during his press conference following his election. He also offered praise for Ken and how he has reached out to younger leaders in our convention through the years.
With J.D.’s election, my hope and prayer is that Southern Baptists will come together in a spirit of unity and commit to pray for J.D. and support him as he begins his tenure as president. I hope we can rally behind the things that unite us as Southern Baptists, namely evangelism, discipleship and missions. Pastor J.D. is leading his own congregation in these areas, and I believe he will serve our convention well.
The emphasis on evangelism, discipleship and missions was among the highlights of this year’s SBC meeting. What a joy it was to see our International Mission Board commission and send out 79 new missionaries who will take the gospel to the nations that desperately need to hear God’s message of redemption. Messengers also heard reports from a task force on evangelism and a task force on discipleship, which made recommendations on what we can do as Southern Baptists to help reverse the downward trend of baptisms within our convention. I plan to address these reports and recommendations in more detail in a future column.
In general, it is so important for each of us to remember that evangelism is a calling that’s given to every follower of Christ. My hope and prayer is that you will embrace that calling to share the gospel with individuals, offer them the opportunity to trust in Christ and then help those who come to faith in Christ grow in their relationship with Him. That’s what disciple-making is all about.
Although there were a number of business items and resolutions debated and adopted during this year’s meeting, I would be remiss if I did not mention the resolutions that were passed which addressed the value and dignity of women. Hopefully, the spotlight that has been placed on these issues will help all of us to be more alert if abuse or related improprieties are occurring. Doing so will help us show a greater sense of respect and Christian love for all women, including our sisters in Christ.
Because there is a growing epidemic of domestic violence within homes in our communities, local churches need to plan how they can become increasingly effective in ministering to those who are the victims of abuse.
Overall, I left Dallas encouraged about our convention and its future. Yes, there are issues and challenges facing us, but above all, I believe we are a convention that is committed to Jesus Christ and His gospel.