Baptists always seem to need a bogeyman, and changing the name won't change that. This infighting, name-calling, and dishonest "watchblogging" must stop if the convention as a whole is to progress. We must speak up and call for unity, honesty and cooperation among leaders and their blogging proxies. Tolerate nothing less.
Secondly, we must work together to promote cooperation. We are a convention that needs to work in a unified manner toward a unified goal: that the world might know Christ, and God be glorified through that. We must act like a convention, not a bunch of small constituencies that want to get their own way. Only after we understand that the goal is bigger than us, our groups, and our views will we be able to unify for Great Commission work.
The promise of the SBC's conservative resurgence was that we would eventually agree on enough to cooperate for global missions. Well, when will that day come? We will never be Great Commission anything if we can't say, "We agree on enough in our Baptist Faith and Message. Let's get busy doing missions and evangelism." It is an odd day indeed when it's controversial to say we favor cooperation around the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. We must stop pushing for narrower and narrower parameters. Let's move on -- and into mission.
Finally, we need to keep the goal in sight. The new moniker, "Great Commission Baptists," does that. If nothing else, every time we think of our additional name, we will be reminded of what we should be doing. Clinging solely to our legal name, "Southern Baptist Convention," would have worked functionally, but GCB speaks to our DNA. We don't need to be primarily "Southern" or "conventional," but a group of churches on mission. Our goal is to be about the task for which Jesus called us.
I say it often, but it's worth repeating: God is a sending God, and we are a sent people. The most profound instruction we ever have received as it relates to our mission is the Great Commission. I've written about it in almost a dozen books on evangelism, missions and outreach -- it's my life's ministry agenda. And, it is why I stay SBC. If we keep the Great Commission as our focus we can succeed as a convention no matter the name.
So, Southern Baptists, let us act like Great Commission Baptists -- that will both help fix the reputation of the old name and build a good reputation for the new "nickname."
Ed Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research.
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