DULUTH, Ga. — Baptist state convention presidents were called together March 19 to discuss the health of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) with the president of the SBC.
The meeting, held at the Georgia Baptist Missions and Ministry Center in Duluth, Ga., drew 26 of the state convention presidents, including Rick Speas, president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
The convocation was the brainchild of Georgia Baptist Convention president Bucky Kennedy as a forum to determine how the national convention could position itself for revival and a “Great Commission resurgence” in the days ahead.
“I want us to build stronger relationship within our denomination and bring the younger generation along as we work and witness together,” said SBC president Johnny Hunt.
Speas, pastor of Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, said the convention presidents want to see a fresh movement of God’s Spirit in the SBC and the nation.
“The desire in our hearts was pretty much the same — praying that God will move among His people again,” Speas said.
The presidents discussed how to maintain biblical Christianity in a secular world, Speas said.
“There was good conversation around the table about where we are as Southern Baptists,” he said.
Kennedy said state convention presidents would love to see a new enthusiasm for the gospel mission across the SBC.
“Those presidents of the various state conventions are very much aware of where we are as a denomination,” Kennedy said. “They long to see a spiritual awakening in our convention and nation. They also have a desire to see us engage in an aggressive church planting movement.”
The state presidents were “in one accord,” Hunt said.
“I did not hear any kind of disagreement expressed. The presidents from both of the Texas conventions were present and sat together,” he said. “To me that was symbolic of the kind of harmony and togetherness we can experience as a denomination.”
The Cooperative Program, the SBC’s unified budget, also became a part of the discussion. While a strong commitment to the Cooperative Program was apparent among the men at the Duluth gathering, they also agreed the Cooperative Program should not be a requirement of fellowship or a litmus test for serving in the denomination.
Hunt asked: “How do we measure faithfulness to the Convention? Is giving 10 percent to the CP worthy of a badge of honor? Is giving less than 10 percent to the CP deserving of a badge of dishonor? I think we need to celebrate those churches that are growing and headed in the right direction.
“A church that is declining in numbers and giving, but committed to giving 10 percent of its undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program, is headed in the wrong direction and will be giving less even though their percentage of giving is strong,” Hunt said. “But a church that gives only 3 percent, but is growing in numbers and giving — buying land, constructing buildings and adding staff — will consistently be increasing their dollar amount to the CP.”
At the same time, giving 10 percent of all undesignated gifts to the Cooperative Program “should not necessarily be the ceiling,” Kennedy said.