The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is taking place this week in Orlando, Florida. The SBC is taking full advantage of technology by streaming live the actual convention proceedings on Tuesday and Wednesday. The same is true of the main pre-convention event – The Pastors Conference (PC). I was able to follow much of the PC through the on-line stream and interact with participants and other observers via Twitter. This article will present my take on what I thought was the SBC at it’s best. I also will present some of my concerns. I will offer a section of memorable quotes from speakers and the responses of twitterers.
The PC was not without a spirited debate about one of the speakers on Monday night. You will be able to read some of the comments about that speaker’s presentation. Finally, Baptists have some funny folks. Several satirical twitter accounts offered some ways for Baptists to laugh at themselves. The final section will present some of the comedy.
We will sum all of this up under four headings: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Funny.
1. The Good
Most of this conference could be noted in this section as being good. I will limit my comments to four items that stood out to me.
A. Matt Chandler’s Sermon
Matt Chandler is a preacher that you should listen to whenever you get the opportunity. He is a pastor in Dallas, Texas. This past year has been some kind of year for him. On Thanksgiving morning, he had a seizure resulting from a brain tumor. He had surgery and then went through both chemotherapy and radiation. All the while he has lived a powerful testimony to the person and work of God. He fearlessly proclaims the gospel with clarity and power.
One quote from his sermon was tweeted repeatedly, and should be drilled into our hearts and minds:
Don’t simply try to control your sin, but seek to murder it.
B. The Emphasis on and Example of Adoption
Dr. Russell Moore (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Highview Baptist Church in Louisville) preached a sermon on adoption. He made biblical application to both the gospel (we have been adopted by God) and of caring for orphans. He spoke of the adoption of his own children. Later Kevin Ezell (also from Highview and President of the PC) introduced his family with both birthed and adopted children. Finally, a pastor and his wife were aided by the PC in the adoption of a small baby, Jedediah.
C. Francis Chan’s Sermon
Francis Chan has been until recently a pastor in California. He is not a Southern Baptist, but Southern Baptists’ were enriched by hearing him. While I watched and listened, I was captivated by his message calling us to have a compelling desire to intimately know Jesus. Seldom have I seen such authenticity and spiritual power in the pulpit. Here are a couple of quotes, but you really need to find a this sermon and watch it for yourself to get the full effect.
Would anyone say, “the day I spent with <you>, felt like I was walking with Jesus?
When people meet you, do they think, “Wow, I can see that he/she REALLY loves Jesus more than anything”?
D. David Platt’s Sermon
David Platt closed out the PC with a sermon version of his book Radical. I have attended years of PC’s, but not sure I have heard a more challenging and gospel strong sermon preached in all of those years. Even Matt Chandler chirped in with this tweet:
MattChandler74: @plattdavid preaches like he’s in pain and I’m grateful to God for him.
Here are some quotes from Platt:
(Proclaiming the gospel) This is not the reason we have a convention. This is the reason we have breath
Jesus Christ drank every last drop of the wrath of God turned the cup over & said ‘It is finished’ & that’s good news.
1.6 billion people have a knowledge of God only enough to send them to hell. We must do something. We must tell them.
God help us if we cannot sacrifice plans and percentages when He has called us to sacrifice our lives.
2. The Bad
A. GCR Promotion
Let me begin by saying that I am in favor of the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) report which will be presented to the convention on Tuesday. I just don’t like feeling that I’m being sold by high-pressure salesmen. Having worked in sales, I would not sell furniture or hotel rooms with these tactics -much less a spiritual thrust.
Ronnie Floyd made an impassioned plea for acceptance of the GCR report. I’m fine with that. However, I am sure that godly and wise men are differing and will differ on the best way to move Southern Baptists ahead. The rhetoric comes dangerously close to suggesting that if you don’t buy the entire report, you are somehow less spiritual and almost not spiritual at all.
I believe a greater day is coming. Tomorrow is about the gospel of Jesus Christ! – Ronnie Floyd
Tomorrow must be a day of change. Will you rise up? – Ronnie Floyd
Again, I favor the GCR recommendations. But is it really a vote on the gospel? When put in these terms, those who disagree are presented as being anti-gospel. I would much rather see a thoughtful rational for the recommendations rather than this type of force feeding.
3. The Ugly
Andy Stanley, son of Charles Stanley and a pastor in Atlanta, spoke in the evening session. To say that he spoke to mixed reviews would be an understatement. Stanley gave a leadership presentation. He did not preach a biblical sermon. That is the point of contention. He brought a Bible and laid it on a table behind him (he didn’t use the podium/pulpit that others used). Near the end of the sermon, he quoted one passage. Here is a sampling of the tweets:
steveweaver: Thinks Andy Stanley should have contextualized and preached the Bible tonight.
steveweaver: Oops, just corrected by one of my church members watching online. He did bring out his Bible and lay it on the table.
DrJoelB: Andy Stanley is great on leadership but let’s b careful what we call preaching, when the Bible is barely mentioned
bradbrisco_kc: A Stanley is a gr8 leader & communicator but is any1 else troubled by his talk @#sbc2010? It is all abt vendor of religious goods & servce
sjcamp: Listening 2 Andy Stanley. So Weak. His axiom so far is: church should b better, better, better. How about: holy, holy, holy?
sjcamp: Andy Stanley. All pragmatics – no Scripture! Here we go again: the biblical command is to “preach the Word!”
chadwickivester: Is #AndyStanley the #RobertShueller of the SBC?
timmybrister: I don’t think there will be a more stark contrast in content & delivery than Andy Stanley & @plattdavid back to bac
timmybrister: We are about to go from customer service Christianity (goods & services) to biblical Christianity (Jesus & taking up your cross).
CurtTreece: Wish Andy Stanley would just “walk our the door and come back in again” and preach an actual sermon from the actual word of God.
DChrisGarner: Andy Stanley is the worst preacher I’ve ever heard at a conference I’ve attended.
scottsull7: Andy Stanley just managed to tell us how to make church “better” without once using Scripture as a reference. Just sayin’.
bradthayer1: ”Last point comes from the Bible. I know that’s a relief.” wow!
These comments were met head-on by those who were enjoying Stanley’s presentation.
It wasn’t the prettiest example of Baptist life.
4. The Funny
XIANITY: BREAKING NEWS: @ErgunCaner won’t be speaking at#SBC2010, the cost of fitting him w/ both a mic & polygraph was prohibitive.
PuljolsBio: Sitting in Busch Stadium, hoping both @albertmohler and Albert Pujols hit homers tonight.
cliffmathis: Kneeling at Mac Brunson’s urging, size-challenged SBCers struggle to get up. Lend a helping hand, please.
cliffmathis: Thinks this prayer would be a bit shorter if Brother Brunson had to kneel as well.
SBCmessenger: Andy Stanley is going to be preaching expositionally from a John Maxwell book tonight.
SBCmessenger: Mediating on 2 Bible verses b/f bed: 1. Apart from me you can do nothing, & 2. God helps those who help themselves.
fakebp: BREAKING: Embarrassment ensues when @drmoore attempts to adopt @francischan following Chan’s #SBC2010 pastor’s conference sermon.