I have been a Southern Baptist (SBC) my whole life, all 43 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 churches for the past 5 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, NAMB.
- Want to appeal to Millennials? Be financially transparent as an organization. Have no secrets. Require SBC entities to submit a 990 report listing their CEO or President’s salary. Follow Charity Navigator‘s guidelines in financial transparency and be an open book. Charity Navigator is the largest and most-utilized charity evaluator in America. The organization helps guide intelligent giving by evaluating the Financial Health, Accountability and Transparency of over 9,000 charities and provides basic data on the rest of the 1.8 million U.S. nonprofits.
- 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.
- Unless you entity is dealing with sensitive HR issues, do not have your trustees go into secret executive session. Flood your SBC entity with a spotlight of openness and transparency. NO more secrets or backroom politics. Let the chips fall where they may.
- Train pastors and highlight pastors in how to serve and be servant leaders in their communities. Less on pastoral authority and more on loving our neighbors. We are salt and light and carry the hope of the world with us. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless are not just things we send money to NAMB to do. Our churches need to be known for how we live out the Gospel in our communities in addition to us boldly proclaiming it from our pulpits and in our evangelism.
- No one person is bigger than the whole. When the issue is protecting the leader at the expense of the organization, reputation of the convention and the witness to the world, there are major red flags. It is all about Jesus and His Kingdom, nobody is bigger than that. If preserving one person’s “legacy” is more important than the future growth and health of a seminary or SBC entity, your org is on a downward path.
- Leaders must be accessible and even open to criticism. Let it be known you check one social media platform over another. You are a brief steward of the position and you report to the churches and individuals of the SBC. These are your bosses. Listen and engage with us.
- To reduce conflict, make for smooth transitions, reduce power fiefdoms and empower the younger generation, have a 70 yr old mandatory retirement for seminary presidents and top executives. No one person is bigger than the whole. Seniority is tough to overcome even if the leader has lost their edge. Sadly, too many Biblical leaders (Saul, David, Solomon, etc) did not finish strong. Too many leaders late in life become ineffective because they stayed on the “stage” too long. Openly plan for transitions and begin the mentor process.
- Outsource and create Mission partnerships with Operation Mobilization, Campus Crusade, Samaritan’s Purse, Awana, Celebrate Recovery, DivorceCare. Why recreate the wheel & duplicate?
- Russell Moore says it well, “There would be no Southern Baptist Convention without Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong. We desperately need a resurgence of women’s voices and women’s leadership and women’s empowerment, again. It is way past time.”
- 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 metrics for Director of Mission positions as relaunching dying churches, mentoring younger pastors, and church planting. Otherwise, eliminate the DOM position.
- Recognize we are speaking to a dying, lost, sinful world with depraved minds. Putting out teeth-less proclamations and boycotting Disney is idiotic.
- Hold denominational leaders accountable on the growth and management of their entity. If a seminary (see SWBTS) or entity is dramatically declining, then hold the leadership accountable. No one is exempt. Our CP funds are too valuable and too needed otherwise.
- 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 the SBC’s argument for churches to give more to the CP when they are 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, nursing degrees, Engineering. Share campus space and realistically prepare grads for bivocational work. 80% of ministers are bivocational. Prepare that way and EMPHASIZE it!
What are your thoughts???