I was born into a Southern Baptist home. While I did not fully realize what that meant until much later in life, I am grateful for the legacy of being a Southern Baptist. Though not a perfect denomination in the past or even the present, I excited about the current and future state of our denomination. I believe the days to come are some of the brightest for Southern Baptists. Not in any particular order, here some reasons why I am excited about being a Southern Baptist.
- The gospel is central to all that we do. Whether in providing disaster relief, planting churches, reaching the unreached, engaging the culture, or training disciples to make disciples, the SBC is uncompromising in its focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Reconciliation of all peoples is a priority. Though our past is marked by the darkness of slavery, we recognize that all people are created in the image of God and worthy of dignity and respect. Even though we still have a long way to go in regards to racial reconciliation, we are moving forward, by God’s grace, in tearing down the wall of hostility (Eph 2).
- We still stand upon the inerrancy of Scripture. We believe in an ancient book that brings about new change. As Southern Baptists, we affirm that the Scriptures are completely true from Genesis to Revelation. If we can’t trust all of the Bible, then we can’t trust any of the Bible.
- We are a big tent convention. As our KBC state executive director, Dr. Paul Chitwood says, “Every tent is held down by (four) pegs.” As we affirm together the BF&M 2000, inerrancy of Scripture, Cooperative Program, and the Great Commission, there is room for our diversity. Some would bemoan the largeness of our tent, but there is beauty in our diversity, particularly for a watching world. As long as we all can embrace these tent pegs, there is room under the tent.
- We have the greatest means of global impact—the Cooperative Program. No other denomination has such a mechanism in place to cooperate together for gospel impact among the nations. The driving force for such gospel advancement is not found on the national nor state level, but the local church. Regardless of the size, every church matters in this collective aim to make much of Jesus across the street, throughout the country, and around the world. Pulling our resources together to extend the gospel through the Cooperative Program has no equal.
- Our dollars are not the only means of gospel advancement. While our collective giving makes a world of difference, Southern Baptists, by and large, realize that we need “boots on the ground.” As I heard one state executive director say a couple of years ago, “Money alone is not the answer. We need boots on the ground.” Perhaps like never before, Southern Baptists recognize the dire need for more boots on the ground in our neighborhoods and among the nations. There is no substitution for incarnational ministry.
- We are a sending people. Yes, we brought home 1,100 from the IMB, but not because we wanted to. Sometimes hard decisions must be made in order to have long-term impact. Overall, Southern Baptists are distinguished as a people who send their people not away from the fire or devastation, but into it. Our churches are sending their people into the streets and across the seas in order to engage people with the gospel of Jesus.
These are but a few reasons why I am encouraged to be a Southern Baptist. What reasons would you add to this list?