My Ideas on how the Southern Baptist Convention can survive

I have been a Southern Baptist (SBC) my whole life, all 42 years. Born and raised in a Southern Baptist church (baptized at age 7). I attended a Southern Baptist university for 4 years (BS degree), attended a Southern Baptist seminary 4 years (MDiv degree), full-time pastored Southern Baptist churches for 5 years, and bivocational pastor for a Southern Baptist church for the past 3 years. I am knee deep in SBC. I have attended endless meetings and have read the latest statistics (all the numbers are DOWN). I LOVE the SBC and have a deep care and concern for many of the wonderful employees of the SBC entities.  No one asked me but this is what I would do if asked to help the Southern Baptist Convention survive for another generation.

My Ideas for Southern Baptist Convention to survive

  • Streamline convention. Focus on 4-5 organizations—Lifeway, IMB, Seminaries, Ethics & Religious Life Committee, Disaster Relief.
  • Make the SBC Annual Meeting an every two year meeting.  No need to rally only 5,000 people once a year. Just imagine what could be done for those in need with the amount of Cooperate Program, NAMB, IMB, etc. promotional money which is spent on the annual meeting.
  • Outsource and create Mission partnerships with Operation Mobilization, Campus Crusade, Samaritan’s Purse, Awana, Celebrate Recovery, DivorceCare. Why recreate the wheel & duplicate?
  • More webinars & cancel a lot of very costly (due to travel) Committee meetings & conferences. Switch to Webinars, GoToMeeting, Skype, etc.
  • Ask who is doing the best continuing education conferences? If the SBC is not (like the Orange Conferences), support those conferences.  Is spending CP money on 2nd rate conferences just so we can say we put one on being good stewards of our resources? How many poorly attended conferences should be replaced by online training? A lot!
  • Focus like a laser on church planting and relaunching dying churches. Have as many church plants strategically aligned with a sending church as possible.
  • Have the key metric for Director of Mission positions as coaching and church planting. Otherwise, eliminate the DOM position.
  • Make Lifeway a for-profit entity but provide for discounts and support for SBC literature.
  • Recognize we are speaking to a dying, lost, sinful world with depraved minds. Putting out proclamations and boycotting Disney is idiotic.
  • Network less on region, more on interests and do so by online resource centers. Put a big emphasis on online resource centers. Skype, You Tube Live, Cisco Webex, Facebook Live
  • Sell administration buildings. Rent office space from churches & rest work from home.  Honestly, the church member who is paying for the Cooperative Program (CP) does not care one bit about the office space of convention administrative staff. It crushes their argument for churches to give more to the CP when they working out of fancy, plush office space. Follow Golden Gate Seminary and Lifeway’s lead and sell valuable properties and pour the income back into growth of the ministry.  Less focus on fancy buildings, beautiful campuses and more focus on effective, streamlined ministry.
  • Partner with groups and orgs that are working…Catalyst, Passion Conferences, Youth Specialties–humbly join what is working. Cut what is dead.  Save money on full time staff and outsource training.
  • Actively connect seminary graduates with a mentor. Aggressively connect retired pastors to pass the baton. Don’t just leave it to seminaries.
    –Facebook Live–answering quick questions
    –Support what is already organically working. Think beyond territory.
  • Seminaries expand existing partnerships in OVERDRIVE with other universities for bivocational degrees—MBA, JD, Teaching certificate, Engineer. Share campus space and realistically prepare grads for bivocational work. 80% bivocational. Prepare that way and EMPHASIZE it!
  • To reduce conflict, make for smooth transitions, and empower the younger generation, have a 70 yr old mandatory retirement for seminary presidents and top executives.  Openly plan for transitions and begin the mentor process.

What are your thoughts???


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Jane Entrekin says:

    You have your fingers on the pulse of today’s church (the people) not the buildings and those holding that real estate. I am so weary of church programs and the niggling to join in or feel “judged”. The ministries you named are reaching the Lost & impacting the world for Christ. But many churches of the SBC want to form their own programs seemingly competing with sister churches in their own area. I have yet to find this methodology in Scripture. If we don’t all get on the same page named Jesus Christ the SBC will be extinct. I love my church but it is exhausting as membership slips away out the back door, weekly we are hammered about giving and those who try to be faithful to that body of Believers are stretched to the breaking point. Henry Blackaby said to see where God is working and join Him there. Forgive my ranting but many seem to have joined God after slipping out the back door. I love God & I love you, John Roland!

  2. Vivian says:

    Speaking from a ministry wife perspective, the church atmosphere of today and the recent past has produced a “No Win Scenerio”,to quote Star Trek! It seems that only a few of the pastors in the SBC today get to wear that gold shirt of “Captain”, however the majority wear the red shirts. These red shirt pastors are shot down, emotionally and spiritually abused, and are replaced frequently by churches that will not accept their own accountability. The red shirts don’t have the monies available to go to conferences, they are afraid to let anyone know about their church situation, or they don’t bother to go because the gold shirts don’t bother to network with them. I am in agreement with both your and ms Entrekin’s views. I want to add that the Exclusiveness of Baptists that made our convention stand out years ago, has influenced generations of SBC church people to become intolerant of those not Southern Baptist! We should be partnering up and working the “mission fields” together! I hope that the use of technology as a way to communicate ideas doesn’t make us more isolated! Although I love your idea of streamlining everything in the SBC. Think about it, if churches won’t tolerate a pastor with new ideas, then it makes a lot of sense that they don’t want new people either! The gold shirts pastors just want to keep their status in the community! Why be cooperative when they need to maintain their position of authority.
    I have literally been involved in the church since I was 3 days old; moma took me to church service after she came out of the hospital! I was blessed to be involved in or to be a witness of, a lot of SBC life! But there seems to be a lot of unnecessary redundancies in programs, seminaries, organizations etc….Seminaries need to prepare pastoral students for the reality of ministry and the SBC needs to encourage and promote the idea of spiritual mentors for their current pastors! That would be another way to bridge the gap between the gold shirts and the red shirts. What can I say? The people are more important than the institution!

  3. Linda Maynard Black says:

    Great insightful post John Roland–you always spoke from your heart, honest and true! Bless you!

  4. Jeff Maples says:

    The Haggai Institute? Samaritan’s Purse? Maybe we should just join up with Roman Catholics and Mormons too, and only focus on what we have in common… which is practically nothing.

    1. johnaroland says:

      Dr Johnny Hunt has attended a number of Haggai Conferences and supported it

    2. johnaroland says:

      SBC churches across the U.S. are very involved in Samaritan’s Purse’s operation Christmas child. So you would put Franklin Graham on the category of Mormons & RCC?

      1. Steven Davis says:

        I don’t support any minister who is raking in money for himself like Franklin Graham.

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