The Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Dallas is just days away from kicking off at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
This year’s meeting is expected to draw more than 14,000 messengers, invited guests, exhibitors and others. Attendance has not hit those numbers since the 2010 meeting in Orlando when the official final count was 11,075, according to Baptist Press.
The theme of this year’s meeting is “Testify! Go. Stand. Speak.”
SBC President Steve Gaines said “fulfilling the Great Commission has always been at the heart of who Southern Baptists are. However, as research from [New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President] Chuck Kelley has shown, our baptisms are the lowest we have seen in 70 years. If we want to see that trend turn around, we must refocus our efforts on evangelism, telling a lost world about the hope that is found only in Jesus Christ,” he told Baptist Press.
In addition to conducting business and hearing from the entities that make up the SBC at the meeting, Gaines said there will be an emphasis on prayer. Southern Baptists have several challenges ahead, like filling the IMB president and SBC executive committee CEO roles about which Gaines said we “…must have Godly, Spirit-filled leaders in those positions. “We all know that everything rises and falls on leadership. We need to pray that the Lord will place the exact people He wants in these two vital positions.”
While those leadership roles will not be filled during the meeting in Dallas, messengers will vote on a new SBC president as Gaines will complete his second and final one-year term. The nominees for that role are Ken Hemphill and J.D. Greear.
Hemphill is an administrator at North Greenville University and former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president. He has pastored churches in Kentucky and Virginia and led the North American Mission Board’s Southern Baptist Center for Church Growth in the early 1990s. Hemphill would like to see Southern Baptists reclaim our heritage of cooperative partnerships.
“I think there has been an erosion of how local churches, associations, state conventions and the national convention really function together in every dimension of the Great Commission,” Hemphill told Baptist Press.
Greear is pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. During his 16 years as pastor of The Summit, worship service attendance has increased from 610 to almost 10,000. In 2016 and 2017 the church was the top Cooperative Program contributing church in North Carolina giving a combined $1 million through CP, reported Baptist Press.
In a statement released to BP, Greear said, “I am again allowing my name to be placed in nomination” after “a lot of prayer, encouragement and counsel, with the consent of our [Summit] leadership team and Veronica my wife.”
One of the resolutions messengers will be considering is a resolution on “affirming the dignity of women and holiness of ministers” submitted by Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Another resolution focused on racial unity within our denomination was submitted by Danny Akin of Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina; Mike Turner of Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas and Florida’s own Cameron Triggs of Grace Alive Church in Orlando.
Keynote speakers at this year’s meeting include Dave Ramsey, personal finance expert and CEO of Ramsey Solutions; Ravi Zacharias, president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries; Jonathan Evans, chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys and Paige Patterson, former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Before the SBC’s annual meeting pastors will gather for encouragement and refreshment during the SBC Pastors’ Conference. The theme of this year’s conference is “Fulfill Your Ministry” and it is based on 2 Timothy 4:5. H.B. Charles Jr., lead pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, is the Pastors’ Conference President. “We are living in critical times,” he wrote in a statement about the this year’s conference. “The world at its worst needs the church at its best. To reach this culture and generation for Christ, we must live faithful lives, preach faithful messages, and lead faithful congregations. Each message will be a call to faithfulness.”
The two-day Pastors’ Conference kicks off the SBC Convention this year on June 10th. Speakers include:
• Cam Triggs of Grace Alive Church in Orlando
• Charlie Dates of Progressive Church in Chicago
• Daven Watkins of FBC Pelham in Alabama
• J.D. Greear of The Summit Church in North Carolina
• Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Texas
• Juan Sanchez of High Pointe Baptist Church in Texas
• Ray Pritchard of Keep Believing Ministries
• Bryan Carter of Concord Church in Dallas
• Robert Smith preacher and teacher at several schools
• Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas
• James Merritt of Cross Pointe Church in Georgia and
• Frank Pomeroy of FBC Sutherland Springs
On the days preceding the annual meeting, Southern Baptists from Texas and outside the state will spread out through the city of Dallas to share the Gospel and serve those who don’t know Christ as part of Crossover 2018. NAMB is once again partnering with Harvest America for a one-night evangelistic crusade to take place on Sunday, June 10 at the AT&T stadium. Greg Laurie will preach and worship will include music by Christ Tomlin, Switchfoot, Crowder and Phil Wickham. The event will start at 5:30 pm. CDT and with a simulcast beginning at 6:00 pm CDT.
For a complete SBC 2018 program click here.
To Register as a messenger, click here.
By Keila Diaz, Florida Baptist Convention, June 4, 2018