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Boring but important

January 25th, 2021 / By: Gary Ledbetter | Editor / comments

Remember church business meetings? 

I know that many churches still do them, but I sense a certain apologetic attitude on the part of even those who plan the agenda, as if we’re embarrassed to take the time of the Wednesday night gang that shows up for financial reports and consideration of major actions. Business meetings are tedious sometimes, mundane often and only occasionally contentious, but it’s the process whereby most churches convert that opening in music ministry into a person who actually helps with the music ministry. That roof leak that makes the high school boys’ class musty and floods the ladies’ bathroom downstairs? The solution was likely considered by a committee that sweats the details as part of their voluntary service to the church and then submits a proposed action to the faithful few at a church business conference. Boring maybe, too boring for most church members, but things spin out of control if no one cares about church business until Sunday morning (when the downstairs ladies’ room is flooded). 

The Southern Baptist Convention has an analogous gathering, in addition to our annual convention in June (2020 excepted). The Southern Baptist Executive Committee is the Southern Baptist Convention during the 11 months and 28 days each year when the actual convention is not in session. The EC does their work subject to the convention’s constitution and bylaws, its statement of faith, and the instructions and actions of the messengers during the annual meeting. But three times a year, this committee does important things on behalf of the rest of us. During times of extraordinary tension or opportunity within our fellowship, the work of the EC becomes more important. Pay attention, even if you never do, to the meeting this Feb. 22 and 23. 

The headlines of challenges to our nation’s wellbeing always give us a clue as to the challenges Southern Baptist Americans will face in their Great Commission work. Here are a few things likely to be discussed in February, and because of this, be directed to the messengers during our June convention in Nashville. 

2021-2022 Budget Because the convention did not meet last year, the SBC has been operating on the 2019-2020 budget for an additional year. Our entities have faced budget and staff cuts because fundraising and ministry implementation has been hampered by the pandemic. Even though CP giving has been encouraging, the financial problems of our institutions are real and likely ongoing—as they are for most other organizations.

Black-White Relations As I said, what happens in U.S. communities comes to church with us on Sunday. The report from a recent meeting between African American leaders in the SBC and several of our institutional presidents was encouraging, though no one believes this conversation is finished. Southern Baptists are looking for action on the national level to say that the white majority understands what our Black brothers and sisters are saying to us. 

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Right before the quarantine began last March, the EC began an investigation of how concerns about the work of the SBC’s moral issues agency have affected Cooperative Program giving in several states. The EC began this process; it was deferred by the cancellation of the 2020 SBC annual meeting; and this matter has remained on low simmer for a year. It should be on the agenda this month, I’d think.

Vision 2025 Last February, Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd shared “Vision 2025,” a challenge to share Christ with every household in the U.S. by 2025, among other things. The plan would have been fleshed out in greater detail during our 2020 annual meeting. Of course, that didn’t happen. I don’t believe the vision just faded away though. I expect Floyd to continue his plan to lead the convention in that direction. I’d expect this to be an important update at this upcoming Executive Committee meeting, and then of course at the SBC meeting in June. It’s also a positive way for us to point our noses in the same direction and put the challenges of 2020 behind us. 

Look at baptistpress.com Feb. 22-23 and you’ll find stories that describe how those who sweat the details are recommending that we proceed. We’ll also post these stories on texanonline.net. These deliberations directly and indirectly affect the worldwide mission that joins Southern Baptists in voluntary partnership. As your church gives and supports in other ways the seminaries and mission boards of our convention, you should be interested in how the business of our convention empowers that Great Commission work. 

For some of us, it will always be tedious, the way a budget and a plan can be in the details. But thankfully, there are some who see how these mundane things can have a kingdom impact. You, a Southern Baptist church member, should look in on them from time to time. It’s really not so boring as you’ve heard.