Last Sunday, we had a conversation with Pastor Bob Johnson about the Southern Baptist Convention. The audio from this event is below:
Here is Pastor Jeff’s letter to the congregation about the SBC.
Brothers & Sisters,
The Elders have continued thinking and praying about whether the Southern Baptist Convention might be a good fit for ULBC. Last September we had Pastor Don Magee and Tom Nestor from Lakes Bible Church come talk with us about why it was a good fit for them. Here is a summary of answers to the most frequently asked questions about the SBC:
- It is not a denomination, but rather a loose association of churches.
- It has no real authority over its churches. They continue to operate as independent churches.
- SBC churches do not have to participate in everything that is offered, but can pick and choose.
- To join, a church must agree to the SBC’s statement of faith, but need not adopt it as its own.
- To join, a church does not have to contribute a minimum amount of money.
- Just as a church can decide to join the SBC, a church can decide to leave the SBC at any time.
While we had done some significant investigation on the SBC prior to talking with them, Don & Tom provided us with even more helpful information. Since that time, we have grown more serious about the possibility of ULBC joining the SBC. While no decisions have been made, we wanted to share our current thinking with you. Some of the benefits of the SBC that could help us achieve our mission “To Know Jesus and Make Him Known,” include these:
- Church-planting – An opportunity to mentor SBC church-planters in Michigan. The SBC typically appoints existing SBC church leaders as mentors to church-planters in their area. This could provide us with influence over the health and success of making Jesus known through new church-plants in our region.
- Church-revitalization – An opportunity to revitalize a struggling church in Michigan. Many churches in our area are in need of reformation and often struggling to keep their doors open. SBC churches in our area that are in this level of need would likely welcome help from another SBC church in the area.
- Legal & cultural resources – The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (led by Russell Moore) provides analysis and resources regarding court rulings and legal defenses for churches (e.g., we used their recommended language on marriage and sexual orientation for our church constitution to protect against gay-lesbian-transsexual lawsuits).
- Education – Its members can attend SBC colleges and seminaries at 50% discounted tuition. Boyce College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary are preeminent schools in the Mid-West. We regularly seek guest preachers and conference speakers from SBC schools. I am personally interested in taking some online classes from SBTS and would benefit from the discount.
- Disaster Relief – The SBC is large enough and has churches in so many areas of the country, that it provides a great network through which to contribute work trips or resources when natural disasters and calamity strikes. Pierre Maceno will tell you that simply sending money to a charity to aid disaster relief in Haiti is very inefficient. Partnering with a local church in an area would give us a level of trust that our resources will reach those in need.
- Missions – The SBC has two missions arms: (1) The North American Mission Board (NAMB) & the International Missions Board (IMB). Missionaries from SBC churches can often receive full support without needing to spend 3-5 years on deputation before going on the field. However, SBC churches would continue to decide what missionaries to support (i.e., they do not have to be SBC missionaries)
- Kingdom Influence – The SBC is not a perfect association. There are SBC churches that your elders would not recommend people attend. And there are SBC local associations that have weak leadership. By joining the SBC, we would have an opportunity to mentor and influence churches and local associations to mature in their thinking and their theology. Our desire to have this kind of sanctifying influence on the churches in our region is exactly why we host Fellowship in the Gospel Conferences and why we will begin to host Simeon Trust Preaching Workshops beginning this November.
There are other benefits, but the above are some of the most significant that could serve ULBC well. To help us get some more answers and discover a bit more about the SBC and why a church would decide to join it, we are scheduling another Question & Answer night. This time, we have asked Pastor Bob Johnson of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Roseville to come talk with us. Bob will be with us on Sunday, April 22nd at 6pm. Please plan on attending and be part of the conversation on this important issue.
In the meantime, do not hesitate to reach out with thoughts or questions.