Registration for the B21 Lunch Panel at this year’s SBC is now open.
When: June 14th, during the SBC lunch break (roughly 12pm-1pm)
Where: Phoenix Convention Center (PCC), West Building in Room 301A
What: A lunch panel discussion on Mission, the SBC, and more…
- General Registration (April 26th – June 10th) – $15
Note: This $15 will include a lunch. We understand that $15 may seem high, but it is an average price at convention centers. We are not doing this to make money. In fact, we are attempting to raise money with sponsors to keep the cost at $15. Lunch in Phoenix downtown area will be costly, why not spend the time at a lunch listening to men like John Piper and David Platt talk about critical issues for the church. Thanks for considering this and we hope to see you there!!
Baptist21 is excited to announce that we will once again host a panel at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention to be held in Phoenix, AZ.
Topic: A discussion on issues in the SBC, particularly “Mission”
When: During the Tuesday Lunch break of the SBC (June 14th)
There are still many details to be determined, such as: location, cost, etc… stay tuned for more information in the days ahead
Guest Blog by Steven A. McKinion
He is the Associate Professor of Theology and Patristic Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has taught Theology, Church History, Hermeneutics, and Historcial Theology classes at Southeastern Seminary. Dr. McKinion’s area of specialization is Patristic Theology. He holds the following degrees: B.A., Mississippi College; M.A., University of Mobile; Ph.D., King’s College, University of Aberdeen.
Second generation conservatives who have been addressing the trend of many 3gens to question the value of the bureaucracy of the SBC recognize that these 3gens are not asking for a seat at the SBC table, they are instead just leaving the room when they hear those around the table disrespect them, belittle them, or, even worse, talk about their own positions, power, or prominence. These 3gens think they have too much to do in their own churches to spend their time trying to earn some “right to have their voice heard” in the SBC.
Seeing the many current 2gen leaders are interested in keeping 3gen Southern Baptists within the SBC, I would like to identify four misconceptions about these 3gen Conservatives:
3gens want to run the SBC. It is a myth that 3gens simply want to run the convention. Such a misconception is the result of not only a misreading of what 3gens are saying, but a complete misunderstanding of the importance, or lack thereof, of the SBC in the weekly ministries of these leaders. While many younger SB pastors want to have titles in their state conventions or be invited to speak in revival meetings at other churches, the 3gens that I have been writing about could not care less about having a role in the SBC. Obviously, there are exceptions, but the 3gens I teach and hear from are not looking for positions or influence within the convention. In fact, the reason why so many 2gens have begun to take notice is because these younger pastors do NOT want a place at the SBC table. They don’t want to be trustees, revival speakers, or have meaningless titles in the state conventions. Instead, they are wondering what in the world their state conventions do that is of Great Commission value. The reason they are partnering with church planting groups like Acts 29, is because its networked churches actually succeed. The model of church planting, including on-going cooperation and partnership, works better to start biblical and Baptist churches than other models, including many of those within the SBC. Because many 3gens think the SBC bureaucracy is bloated, it is foolish to think they would want to run it. I think one cause for this misconception is that those who either already have power in the convention or the 3gens who want one day to have “earned” that power, fail to realize that not every one thinks SBC power is valuable. Such myopic thinking about the value of what one possesses often can lead one to project ones own ambitions to others.
3gens want their voice heard by SBC leaders. It is believed by some that younger SBs want a seat around the SB table where they can have input. This is a misconception, much like the former myth, that is based in the false belief that 3gens want their voice to be heard. They not only are not looking for a seat at the table, they are not even interested in being in the boardroom. Again, there are obvious exceptions, but the younger SBs who are the interest of 2gen leaders are not looking for a hearing. In their minds, the discussions in the SBC boardroom are about how to rearrange the chairs on the Titanic, quite useless. They do not have an interest of determining who the next president of the SBC will be, or what friends can be appointed to trustee positions, or how they can be invited to speak at another church. In the minds of 3gens, they want to be busy in their own churches rather than trying to control other churches. Now, whether their assessment of what 1gen leaders are doing is itself a misconception is another topic, and an important one. But to think that under 40 SBs are simply looking to have influence in the convention is a grave misunderstanding of what these 3gens are saying. Such a misunderstanding is often rooted in an arrogance regarding the positions one already possesses rather than any evidence that someone else is aspiring to that position.
3gens don’t love the SBC. What is the SBC? Technically, it is a brief business meeting once a year. Churches who pool their financial resources to support agencies, boards, and commissions (the IMB, NAMB, six seminaries, the ERLC, etc.) are allowed to send messengers (not delegates) to this business meeting for the purpose of appointing trustees to operate those agencies on behalf of the churches. But the SBC is more broadly the associative relationship of those churches that goes beyond fiduciary cooperation to a share set of beliefs, values, and distinctives. The SBC is a massive network of missional churches.
In my experience, the younger generation loves the mission of the SBC. The beliefs, values, and distinctives of the network of churches are shared among the various generations, including the 3gens. But at the same time, they question whether the bureaucracy of the convention is accomplishing its intended objective, which is to be a cooperative missionary effort. The 3gens I have observed love the seminary where they were educated and love the IMB and perhaps NAMB, but outside of those agencies they appear ambivalent. They may be mistaken to be ambivalent, but their love for the work of the convention should not be hidden by their lack support for all of the boards.
3gens don’t respect the CR or 1gen leaders. From observation it is more accurate to say that many 3gens do not know the leaders of the Conservative Resurgence. There may be practical reasons for this (e.g. Danny Akin and Johnny Hunt are on iTunes for free, while other sermons must be purchased), but it is also the case that many 3gens believe, perhaps mistakenly, that 1gen leaders do not value them as partners in the work of the convention. 3gens do not think their “forefathers” are not wise, they simply do not know them.
What complicates the matter vis-à-vis the relationship between some increasingly prominent 3gens and the SBC is the lack of direct influence by 1st generation leaders on 3gens. In part two of the series, I enumerated some ways I think the CR continues to influence younger SBs, but that influence has been indirect, mediated through leaders such as Johnny Hunt, Danny Akin, and James Merritt. There are exceptions; for example J.D. Greear’s PhD work was supervised by Paige Patterson. By and large, though, 3gens have sermons from Platt, Akin, Hunt, and Driscoll on their iPods, and not sermons from Vines, Patterson, and Rogers.
I don’t know all the reasons for this lack of exposure. Perhaps the second-generation influencers have been quicker to take advantage of newer media such as podcasting and social media. Many younger SBs, and their pastors, do not subscribe to tape ministries, but to podcasts. They rarely listen to over-the-air radio, and almost never to Christian radio. If they hear a John MacArthur sermon, it is because they downloaded it. John Piper was one of the first of their influencers to leave the expensive medium of radio for the relatively inexpensive one of the internet.
Perhaps 3gens have deliberately rejected the direct influence of 1st generation leaders for cultural reasons. They reject suits and ties as mandatory dress, and think the first generation places too much emphasis on certain apparel (fairly or not). They don’t think mandatory abstinence from beverage alcohol is fundamental to cooperation, and think the prior generation makes too much of this. From my experience, these leaders do not imbibe, but they also don’t think prohibition of such beverages is necessary. But cultural differences seem, in the end, to be of little consequence to the lack of direct influence of 1gens on 3gens. Culture seems to be a red-herring.
Regardless of the lack of direct interaction, in the end, the third generation is very much like the first generation. Theologically they are conservative inerrantists. They are committed to practicing Baptist distinctives, both broadly and more narrowly conceived. They preach the Gospel with fervor. They call sinners to repentance and faith in Jesus. They hate sin, but love sinners. They preach and practice missions at home and abroad. In all these ways, and more, they are the legitimate heirs of resurgence leaders.
So have the third generation conservatives who are enthusiastically supportive of the Great Commission Resurgence leaders such as Hunt and Akin rejected the leaders of the Conservative Resurgence, either consciously or unconsciously? I think they have not. Rather, they are the fruit of the CR. While 3gens may be a generation that knows not Patterson and Pressler, they are nonetheless the legacy of those great leaders. Some under 40′s will attend conferences where the speakers are predominately 1gen leaders. Other under 40′s will prefer conferences where 2gen leaders are the speakers. But both groups of younger SBs are the fruit of the CR.
Henry Chapin (for one generation) and Ugly Kid Joe (for another) recorded a popular song entitled, Cat’s in the Cradle, about a man whose busy-ness keeps him from time with his son. The failure of this man to be a good father comes back to haunt him later when his grown son is not interested in time with his elderly father.
An assessment of the breakdown in the relationship between 1gen and 3gen SBs would be fascinating, and is, I think, important, though beyond my scope here. But the lack of knowledge of 1gen leaders should not be read as a rejection of these men or the resurgence for which they fought. My paternal grandmother died a few years before my birth. I have no knowledge of her, obviously. But my lack of familiarity with her does not mean I disdain her. I do not invoke her name in conversation, but the older I get the more I become aware of her influence in my own life through my father. He doesn’t tell me to exhibit the positive characteristics from my grandmother’s life, I simply do so because he has influenced me. I never knew my grandmother, but her influence persists. Many 3gens have never met or even heard some 1gen leaders, but the influence of the CR persists in and through the ministries of 2gen leaders like Johnny Hunt, Danny Akin, and Thom Rainer (and many others). Although the legacies of certain men may not remain, the legacy of the CR certainly does.
Within the current call for a Great Commission Resurgence lives the legacy of the Conservative Resurgence. Young Southern Baptists who desire to see men, women, and young people around the world hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, become disciples of Jesus, and then grow to be disciple-making disciples are acting consistently with the ultimate aims of the CR. Even more importantly, the call of the GCR to organize the ministries of the SBC and her cooperating state conventions around the mission of the Gospel is at the heart of the call of conservative SBs who desired a renewal of the Convention for the sake of the Convention’s mission, not the Convention’s structure.
Recently, I had the privilege of writing an article for “Outlook,” The magazine of Southeastern Seminary. The topic given to me was “what Young Leaders were doing well and not so well in pursuing a Great Commission Resurgence?” That magazine is now available, check it out here, with articles about Muslims in Amsterdam, technology and Great Commission work, Convergent Church, and 20/20 conference that featured Mahaney, Driscoll, Akin, and Brown.
So with permission from the editor I make available my article here.
“Youth,” the adage goes, “is wasted on the young.” Perhaps this aphorism is true – it is at least partly true, in that young people tend to be long on energy and creativity and short on wisdom and patience. It might even be possible, in a general way, to apply this sort of thinking to young leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention.
To be sure, young leaders bring both positive and negatives to the table. Even a term like “young leader” often carries a great deal of baggage. The definitions of “young” and “leader” are certainly debatable. However, it is necessary to think through what younger evangelical and SBC leaders are doing right and what they may be doing wrong in the pursuit of a Missional Revolution. There are a number of strengths younger leaders can bring to a Great Commission Resurgence. I do not mean to insinuate that older leaders do not possess these traits as well. I am convinced we learned most of them from our Fathers in the Faith. This list also is in no way exhaustive, but I believe it gets to the heart of positive aspects younger leaders can bring to the table.
I. Energy and Creativity- It is hard to deny that many of the younger strain are very passionate and driven. The vitality of the young is certainly a strength. Younger leaders bring a fresh perspective and usually newer methods and ideas on how to reach the culture. They can certainly challenge an established crowd think through new and exciting methods, while helping to steer them from traditionalism (in the negative sense).
II. Theological Renewal- In many of the younger leaders I perceive a hunger for theological thinking and training. This seems to be spurred by the writings of men like John Piper, John MacArthur, and Mark Dever. Many younger leaders yearn to think deeply and think well. Many also want to discern what cultural traditions may have been handed down to us that are not biblical mandates. They seek to ask the question, “What does the Bible teach?” For most, a love for thinking and theology is attached to a passion for being faithful to the authority of Scripture.
III. A Missionaries’ Mindset- Many of the younger leaders employ what can be called a missionary mindset, in that they display great concern for the souls of the lost and use their energy to share the gospel. These young leaders are prepared to go to the tough places and initiate new ministries. Although, the word “missional” is not popular in some circles, many of the young leaders believe it simply means that you should possess a missionary mentality, regardless of the context in which you find yourself. There is much to be commended in this outlook. This mentality has captivated younger men; it is driving them to be church planters nationally in difficult places and it will lead them to be church planters internationally in unreached places. It is also exciting to see that there is no dichotomy for many of them between theology and mission. They are concerned both with mission and with theological/practical preparation for that mission. In my judgment, this flows right out of the Conservative Resurgence. Programs like the “2+2 program” display this, where those who hope to be in a cross-cultural mission setting see the need to be prepared for that context. This mentality is completely consonant with a Great Commission Resurgence and makes me excited to be on a seminary campus, like Southeastern.
IV. Expectancy- At times I and others have written and lamented the decline of younger men getting involved in SBC life; I think for good reason. However, it is difficult to understand that trend when you live on the Southeastern Campus. I am surrounded by men who are passionate to be church planters nationally and internationally, and many are committed, at least for now, to being part of the Southern Baptist Convention. If the SBC is infused over the next decade with hundreds of seminarians possessing a missional attitude and serving the tough places of America and the unreached places overseas, then it will be hard to be pessimistic about the future. The younger generation is driven by this expectancy of a Great Commission Resurgence and the spreading fame of Christ. In many ways, it casts a shadow over the negatives and declining membership in SBC life. Many in this generation carry a mindset similar to William Carey, a Baptist in a previous generation, “Expect great things, attempt great things.” I, for one, think great days lie ahead because of the brothers I meet on this campus every day.
However, there is also the possibility of a downside. Some major dangers for younger leaders cast doubts as to the effectiveness they will enjoy in the future. If these pitfalls are not overcome, the above positives will serve little benefit to the young leaders.
1. Pride and Ageism (The following section is borrowed heavily from Scott Wilson’s article at Baptist21entitled “Is there Ageism in the SBC?“) - Pride and Ageism go hand in hand. All men struggle with pride, but especially younger men. There is a tendency to buck authority and accountability, and thus the danger of being driven by fame. There is a temptation to view your new and fresh ideas as the only ways to “do” ministry, while casting a negative glance at the work of older pastors, men who have been serving faithfully for decades. I am afraid that we are in danger of being myopic, something some young leaders accuse of the older generation of. If we see our “way” of ministry as “the” way, then we risk placing our preferences and ministries on equal footing with scriptural authority, much like we sometimes claim of the traditional methods. We carry the danger of being “ageists”, seeing older ministers as irrelevant and bothersome. We must avoid our culture’s tendency to cast a negative eye on our elders; this is a place for us to be counter-cultural. I think Scott Wilson said it best when he said, “has our generation become so arrogant that we think we have nothing to learn from those who have been in ministry for forty years, while we have been in ministry for two? We have only just begun to suffer for Christ; they have much to teach us, if only we would humble ourselves long enough to listen. Young believers and young pastors need to seek out older mentors, realizing their need to learn and grow. ”
2. Follow through- A danger accompanying younger energy and creativity is a lack of reliability or work ethic. Once the freshness “wears” off, will the younger generation have “stick-to-itiveness” in their ministries, or will they walk away and fade away into obscurity?
3. Capitulation to Culture- In an attempt to be missional, the danger is that we will take on the irredeemable qualities of the ambient culture. In an attempt to be relevant to culture, there is a danger for the young leaders to surrender those biblical truths and spiritual formation that separate us as followers of Christ. Some sectors of the Emerging Church already evidence this capitulation. Some men who are labeled as “culturally relevant” and in touch with the postmodern ethos have abandoned orthodoxy. We also see this in some so-called “Younger Evangelical Leaders.” At times, because of pride, they play to an audience that they should not “play to” when it comes to social issues that have never been consonant with Scripture. Either that, or they seek to be so culturally relevant that they let precious truths of the faith slide. If we do capitulate to culture, we will not be “relevant” to culture. A Great Commission Resurgence is relevant because it gets to the deepest need of mankind. We must not become driven by cultural relevance. Instead, we must be compelled by the authority of Scripture and a hope to see the glory of Christ invade this world. Otherwise, we will cease to be “relevant”.
4. Isolationist Attitude- In some sectors of younger leaders there also seems to be an isolationist mentality that says, “I will go plant my own church and do my own thing.” They are suspicious of accountability, do not like the methods of others in a convention, and are unhappy with some other (often minor) aspects in a convention. This results in a number of them leaving. The exodus of young leaders from the convention is potentially damaging to a Great Commission Resurgence, and these younger leaders will not be as effective in pursuing a Great Commission Resurgence on their own as they thought. The younger generation needs to step up and be men; we do not need to abandon cooperation because some in a convention criticize us, do not invite us to speak, or because the convention has imperfections. Instead, we must realize that we will be stronger together and more effective through cooperation. A Great Commission Resurgence is not to be undertaken alone. We do not need to “stick our noses up” toward the very convention that paid for our education, in many cases delivered to us the gospel, and taught us to trust the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. Instead, we should be prepared to do the hard work of being involved and then let our voice be heard. This will not happen overnight. However, as a band of brothers who are like-minded, let’s stay, serve, and then speak. Instead of leaving, younger leaders should pursue the benefit of cooperation toward the end of a Great Commission Resurgence.
5. Neglect of the Spiritual Disciplines- Finally, I think many of these failures occur because we neglect spiritual formation. We are so indoctrinated with being on mission that we forget the immense importance of “the character” of the man on mission. It is not enough to be on mission and relevant to the culture if we are not grounded enough to recognize what is redeemable and what is irredeemable in the ambient culture. This takes a man of great discernment, and sadly, many of my younger generation cannot be categorized as possessing this discernment. We are younger and that simply means we still lack much of the wisdom and maturity of older brothers in Christ. If we are so concerned with culture that we neglect protecting our own souls, we will not be the missionaries we are called to be.
In the end, a Great Commission Resurgence, a Missional Revolution, whatever you want to label it, is the goal. It is the natural outgrowth of the Conservative Resurgence launched in 1979. The goal is the fame of Christ spread to the peoples of all nations. Younger leaders must seek to avoid the pitfalls that come from being young; we need to immerse ourselves in Scripture, its disciplines, and the counsel of older, godly brothers. We must continue to pursue a missionary mentality, understand the danger of a life lived apart from Christ, and we must not back down from being passionate about sharing the glories of Christ for the fame of Christ. What I am hoping for, especially among our Southern Baptist brethren, is a multitude of foot soldiers in a Great Commission Resurgence, an army set to war for the fame of Christ, even as we pray the prayer of the saints throughout the ages, “Come quickly Lord Jesus.”
A topic of great love to b21 is the Primacy of the Local Church. We will write much about this in our vision series (“SBC21“) that is ongoing. A conference that will highlight this topic and feature world-renown speakers will be held in Durham, NC. We at b21 encourage you to attend and think this conference will be of great benefit to those who love the local church. We believe that we will learn much about a resurgence of the local church from this conference and these men.
What: Advance ’09 (Resurgence of the Local Church)
When: June 4-6th
Where: Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St. Durham, NC 27701
Who: John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Danny Akin, Ed Stetzer, Bryan Chapell, Eric Mason, J.D. Greear, and Tyler Jones
Purpose: from the advance ’09 website
“Sadly, churches in America are in steady decline, with over 4000 closing their doors and 500,000 members leaving each year–never to return. This is not what the Lord desires…The local church is called to make known the Gospel and to be the vehicle of redemption for the world. Led by local churches, Advance09 is a conference committed to the resurgence of the local church for the glory of God. Our aim is to equip attendees with the Gospel so that the local church might become all that Jesus calls it to be.”
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