Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Sure, I’ll weigh in on the name change now being studied by the blue ribbon, select, committee of SBC men and a couple of wives of men .

“Baptist” is the third rail in SBC denominational life. Touch it and you die. If there is any thought, any hint of a thought, any whisper of a hint of a thought to jettison the term “Baptist” from Southern Baptist Convention the thing is stone blasted cold - dead on arrival. That’s spelled SBC-DOA.

We’ve gone down this road before. Baptist Press reports 1965, 1974, 1983, 1989, 1990, 1998, 1999, and 2004. That’s about once ever five years. We are overdue by that measure. Problem for those who are indignant that the matter has even been brought up again is that no vote of any SBC in session precludes the matter being raised in future years. Call it unwise. Say it shouldn’t be done. But don’t say that Bryant Wright cannot raise the question again.

Money is an issue. This committee has no funding, thank God, and they will serve at their own expense. But the matter of the cost of a name change is a serious one. In a time of budget and personnel cuts and of the steady erosion of Cooperative Program giving, how much funding can we devote to this? What brash, optimistic SBCer would speculate that we are talking less than millions of dollars for the legal work plus a media campaign that is well nigh indispensable to the effort. And if better public relations is driving this possible name change is better PR a slippery and elusive goal? How long will national media note that the new XYZ Convention is the former SBC? A long, long time.

"Southern" seems to be the main culprit. We are heavily Southern and we are Baptist. We could call it the Aspirational National Baptist Convention since being non-southern is more an aspiration than a reality. While we like to remind folks that the Southern Baptist Convention is no longer Southern but rather has churches in every state, fact is that 82% of SBC churches and 86% of SBC members are in fifteen southern states: AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, MO, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV (astute students will count in that list all of the states of the Confederacy, two border states, one breakaway state, and one territory. A witty friend has suggested CBF: Confederate Baptist Fellowship. Now that would be cooperation with our moderate friends.).

It keeps coming back and I share some sympathy with my friends who are indignant that the matter has to be dredged up every few years but I see no solution to it. It’s like fighting a liquor referendum: Opponents have to vote it down repeatedly, forever, while proponents just have to win once. Sorry about that.

Perhaps the most compelling reason not to change the name of the good old SBC mother ship is because a very prominent blogger would then have to change the name of his blog: SBCPlodder.

Alas and alack! What sleepless nights await Plodder who must now try to cope with the possibility that his name might become obsolete. OTOH, I am becoming obsolete...


Jonathan said...

Reading your first paragraph reminded me (as if there were a need) why you're the dean of conservative SBC bloggers. The "wives of men" comment is gold.

My first take on the latest discussion of an SBC name change was somewhere between "really?" and "Zzzzzzzz". My second take is closer to "this is a serious issue, but not in the way that its being discussed by SBC leadership".

I lead a small but growing group of men in a bible study/discipleship/accountability/redemptive relationships context. Most of the guys are dealing with one or more life "stains" (divorce, recent incarcerations, recovering from substance abuse, serious financial setbacks, major health concerns (see "serious financial setbacks"), misc. family tearups, etc...). What they all have in common is the need for the Gospel, not as in a mantra but as in redemption and the promise of restoration and resurrection.

Neither church nor denominational politics would move the needle with this group. Oddly enough, they are intensely interested in the unreached around the globe.

Since our city probably has 10s of thousands of men who would fit our profile, I can safely assume that the name on the door has almost no bearing on their interest.

As an aside, in our area of the country, there are these ice cream shoppes named "Graeters". They could be called "Root Canal Central" and the lines would still run out the door and around the block.

Imagine what would happen if the SBC actually focused on the task at hand instead of focusing on the next focus in order to talk about how we should focus on an organizational resurgence of focus on the task at hand?

Anonymous said...

If we have to have a convention why not let the under 30's name it. They are the ones who are going to have to live with it since we will all be gone pretty soon.

Anonymous said...


I mentioned your blog on another and basically said this about the name change.

1. I'm for the name change.
2. I don't think it will pass a floor vote.
3. There's a work around, but it could be disastrous.

You can read what I said here:


Jonathan S. Jenkins said...

My question is why are there no traditional small church pastors on any of these task forces? Seeing as a majority of SBC are small (less than 300) churches surely there should be some representation from that demographic on such weighty issues but there isnt. Do our elected officials not know any small church pastors?

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that this particular task force doesn't have any funding. So, whoever is on it gets to foot their own bill. As a small church pastor, I'm broke! I couldn't afford to be on anything like that.


Tom Rich said...

No matter what the name change, it will be followed with (formerly SBC) for at least a generation.

So you can change your Blog name to :

(formerly SBC) Plodder

Anonymous said...

As far as this former IMB missionary, now a tent maker missionary, is concerned the SBC has been DOA for some time now. Baptist churches are now what they were 20-25 years ago. They have changed, and NOT for the better.

It will take more than a name change to help the SBC. It will take a humbling of leadership and serious apologies from those who think they know what is best and right for the SBC. Without those things happening the SBC will dry up and blow away.

But then, the SBC is not the only church group in town. There are real people who love the Lord and who want to make a difference in people's lives. (See the first response from Jonathan.) Those are the people I want to worship and work with. There is life after IMB and the SBC. As one who is experiencing it, it is good!!

RP in Japan

Anonymous said...

Baptist churches are now what they were 20-25 years ago. They have changed, and NOT for the better.

Sorry for the typo, should read:
Baptist churches are NOT what they were 20-25 years ago. They have changed, and NOT for the better.

RP in Japan