I’ve been Southern Baptist all my life. There, I’ve said it. I grew up in the home of a Southern Baptist preacher (then started one just like it). I’ve served in Southern Baptist churches my whole adult life. I’ve been a music director, a youth minister, a “minister of youth/music”, an associate pastor (with responsibilities for youth and education with the possibility of music), a bi-vocational pastor, an interim minister of missions, a career missionary, and am now serving as the pastor of a nice rural/village-type church (which is Southern Baptist even though we’re not in the South). These churches have been located in a variety of states–Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois (with a few years overseas). I’ve preached in churches from all those states mentioned, plus Wyoming and Arkansas thrown in–and they’ve all been Southern Baptist churches.

In all this Southern Baptist experience, I’ve learned something about our convention–we can do some pretty stupid things. There, I’ve said that, too! Over the past year we have been locked in a knock-down, drag-out fight over whether or not we should change the name. (I’ve even tossed in my two-cents’ worth–which is probably an inflated price. You can read it here.) Most of our church members don’t really care one way or another, “it doesn’t affect us” is the prevailing thought. For a number of months a special task force (the Baptist word is Committee) has been studying whether it would be a positive thing for our convention to re-dub herself with some name less regional or baptist sounding than our traditional “Southern Baptist Convention” (which is, btw, a denomination that has been working to build itself a good name after a rocky start over 150 years ago, and I think we’ve done pretty good as cases go) or leave well enough alone. The preliminary soundings of what the committee will suggest at the SBC annual meeting this summer gets us to a new high (or is it low?) in stupidity. All the time, effort, and resources have been spent with the following conclusion–The official name will remain Southern Baptist Convention, but churches will have permission (if the vote goes right) to call themselves “Great Commission Baptists” if they are afraid they will be offensive to their geographical region by being a part of something that is Southern. (Reminds me of when Kentucky Fried Chicken tried to re-invent itself by going by its initials-KFC-and everybody knew that they were still eating FRIED CHICKEN–which may or may not have originated in the Bluegrass State.)

If you missed it, we’ve spent all this energy to do nothing–and we’re allowing ourselves to vote on it!

That said, with apologies to the Bard, I’d like to present a few altered lines from a famous speech in a play:

(New Church Start somewhere outside of the deep South):

O SBC, SBC! wherefore art thou Southern?
Deny thy region and refuse thy roots;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my CP dollars,
And I’ll no longer be a Community Church.

‘Tis but thy region that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Baptist.
What’s Baptist? it is nor FMB*, nor HMB,
Nor Sunday School Board, nor Annuity Board, nor any other part
Belonging to a church. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a denomination
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So SBC would, were he not SBC call’d,
Retain that dear doctrine which he owes
Without that title. SBC, doff thy Southern Baptism,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Have a great day–whoever you are!

[*All name changes have been ignored for the purpose of this post.]

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