This coming June 16-17, thousands of Southern Baptists will gather in Columbus, Ohio, for our annual meeting. In light of the approaching convention, I want to share seven reasons why I believe pastors should join us in Columbus.
1. Gospel Legacy. This will be the 158th session of our 170-year history. That’s right … 170 years and 158 meetings. It’s important for us to understand the faithful gospel legacy that has been passed down from generation to generation since 1845. We have not been a perfect denomination. In fact, we have a tainted past when it comes to subjects like racism and abortion. But we have sought to repent of our past and chart a biblical way forward.
When faced with a liberal trajectory, faithful men and women fought to bring our convention back to understanding the biblical inerrancy of the holy scriptures through what is known as the Conservative Resurgence. Over the last 170 years, many under the banner of The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), have contended for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. The task of continuing this great gospel legacy now rests with us.
2. A National Call For Prayer to All Southern Baptists. One of the highlights of this year’s meeting is a prayer gathering. On Tuesday night, June 16, Ronnie Floyd and other SBC pastors will lead our convention attendees in a time of intentional prayer over many different matters concerning our denomination and country. Thousands will unite under one roof, asking God to bring about a great awakening across the world and accomplish the Great Commission in our lifetime. This extraordinary gathering of men seeking God through prayer and petition is one not to be missed.
3. Church and Mission Sending Celebration. The SBC was formed on the belief that churches could do more for missions together than they could apart. The North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board are two key entities that work with our churches to identify, equip and launch missionaries and church planters around the world. In effect, they help churches plant churches.
On Wednesday morning of our annual meeting, we will witness the commissioning of a hundred missionaries around the world. We will see their faces, hear their stories and pray for them as they take the next step toward landing on the field for the name of Christ. Kevin Ezell and David Platt will lead this service along with Ronnie Floyd. This sending service will be a powerful moment for our pastors and is sure to be a ceremony unlike any other of our time.
4. The President’s Panel: The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage. The Supreme Court is set to take up the issue of same-sex marriage with a decision this summer, most likely late June. As new realities approach concerning same-sex marriage, a panel will convene at this year’s SBC intended to help prepare churches for what will follow the court’s decision. The decision will have an impact on every local church in our denomination, and as pastors, we must be informed on how to best lead through these days, gaining ground on the forefront of the culture wars.
5. Events Surrounding the Annual Meeting. When pastors attend a SBC annual meeting, they don’t just go for the meeting. The meeting consists of three and a half days of jam-packed, edifying events. Here are a few of the events you do not want to miss:
The SBC Pastor’s Conference – The Pastor’s Conference begins on Sunday evening before the SBC and continues throughout all of Monday. The dates for this year’s pastor’s conference are June 14-15. The conference consists of a full day and a half of preaching from various pastors and leaders from around the country. This year, speakers include David Platt, James McDonald, J.D. Greear, Paul David Tripp, Ronnie Floyd and many others. You can view the full line-up at sbcpc.net.
The Baptist21 Panel. Columbus will mark seven years of the SBC hosting the B21 Panel at the annual meeting. The panel takes place during the Tuesday lunch of the annual meeting, immediately following the closing of the morning session. Each year brings new panelists and new questions for discussion. Though the full list of panelists have yet to be announced, some names include, Albert Mohler (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President), David Platt (International Mission Board President), and Russell Moore (Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President). We truly hope you won’t miss this exciting panel as key leaders in the SBC discuss the most pressing issues facing the church and what these matters mean for our mission.
9 Marks at 9. Each year 9 Mark holds a two-night event at 9:00 p.m. on both Monday and Tuesday of the SBC. Each night’s activity is led by Mark Dever and includes guest panelists in a question and answer format. The events are always incredibly helpful for pastors and leaders. While this year’s events have not been formally announced, you can keep watch on the announcement at org.
SBC Ministers’ Wives Luncheon. While you as pastors are attending the Baptist21 Panel on Tuesday, June 16th, LifeWay hosts a luncheon specifically to minister to your wife. Speaker and writer Angie Smith will be headlining the event, and it is sure to be a tremendous time of encouragement and fellowship. One minister’s wife will be awarded The Willie Turner Dawson Award, an honor given annually since 1958. Information about the event, as well as nomination forms for the award, are available on the website.
6. Network and Fellowship with other Pastors. Seeing old friends and meeting new ones is always a personal highlight of my time at the SBC. The opportunity to network beyond one meeting a year is one of the great realities of social media. But no amount of social media can replace the time you are afforded with someone face-to-face. Brothers need brothers, and the SBC meeting is a time to eat together, laugh together and talk ministry together. For this, I’m thankful.
7. A Time to Refocus. Each year, thousands of SBC pastors and laypersons, representing thousands of churches throughout our country, gather together to worship our King Jesus. For two days, we subject our hearts and minds to our mission as a denomination to train pastors, equip churches, and launch missionaries. These are our priorities. This is what we do. It’s our DNA. Though oftentimes we drift into our own small kingdoms, forgetting our priorities, the annual meeting helps us reengage in our calling with renewed passion. We go back home to our churches and get after it in the name of Jesus.
So I invite you to Columbus. Come, join us as we gather together for a few days to worship our risen King Jesus, launch missionaries, hear about the training of a new generation of pastors and pray for God to move and work like never before.
I hope to meet you there!
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ronnie Parrott is special assistant to SBC President Ronnie Floyd and, at Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, he is pastor of North American Church Planting and the Cross Church Network. This post originally appeared at baptisttwentyone.com)