The exposure of the sin of sexual abuse in our churches created the greatest crisis in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Here are four facts about where our convention truly stands as we head into New Orleans.
1. Southern Baptists Want Sexual Abuse Reform
The exposure of sexual abuse jolted the SBC to the core. One case of sexual abuse would have been overwhelmingly too many. Hundreds of victims are as horrifying as they are heartbreaking. This terrible problem, however, is not where the trouble ends. Sadly, two opposite kinds of people refuse to tell the truth about this crisis. Some have a vested interest in the status quo, have downplayed the problem, and have resisted any good faith efforts at reform. Others have amplified the problem to the point of caricature. They...
Conviction has always been the foundation of our convention.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has declared those convictions in The Baptist Faith and Message (BFM), which we worked so hard to create and take so seriously.
It’s been a long time since Southern Baptists have had a debate about the BFM, but we’re having a big one now. When this debate is over, we will either be a stronger convention or a weaker one. I’m encouraged that the SBC is going to get in the right spot on this issue, but we have to work to make that true.
The debate started a year ago when the credentials committee recommended further study into the word pastor before removing churches who employed female pastors. As the convention debated that recommendation, the suggestion came that it was unfair to remove churches...
One of the kindest gifts of God to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has been the leadership we have enjoyed from some of the finest preachers in America. Those leaders have never been perfect but have always been characterized by faithfulness to the Word of God.
These days Southern Baptists are witnessing a display of faithlessness from one of our most influential leaders, America’s pastor, Rick Warren. In recent years Pastor Rick has led his church in calling women to the pastoral office. Because this practice is a clear violation of Scripture and The Baptist Faith and Message (BFM), the SBC has taken steps to remove his church from the convention. Pastor Rick’s church has the freedom to hire anyone they like. The SBC has similar freedom to affiliate with anyone they like.
In the weeks ahead, I’m going to engage the big problems everyone is discussing in advance of New Orleans. Before that, I want to engage a problem at the root of these difficulties that many are missing.
The Nature of Disagreements
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is disagreeing on a lot right now. It is not the end of the world to disagree, especially when those disagreements are important. Most disagreements become a problem, however, when you mistreat each other in the disagreement.
Southern Baptists are mistreating each other in our disagreements. I am regularly shocked by how toxic our discourse is. We take swipes at each other on Twitter, question integrity, judge motives, talk badly about one another in our committee meetings, publicly demean when we should privately discuss,...
A Southern Baptist Meltdown
Right now, Southern Baptists are in the midst of a veritable smorgasbord of near chaos. Whether the issue is the rejection by the executive committee of the search team’s candidate to lead that entity, the highly unusual development that our incumbent president will face an opponent for reelection, the opposition of an influential pastor to The Baptist Faith and Message (BFM), or our lack of clarity on how to proceed on sexual abuse, the convention is facing all manner of serious problems.
We are in the gyrations of a full Southern Baptist meltdown.
What Is Really Going on
The conservative resurgence has defined Southern Baptist life for over thirty years. That powerful force created leadership and stability in convention life for a generation. During that resurgent...
Dear First Baptist Family,
I am writing to give you an important update on my health and ministry.
I’ll start with my health.
After surgery number five, there are a lot of reasons to be encouraged. I have not experienced any nerve pain since awakening from surgery, and my spasms have improved every day. These are the best signs available that the surgery was successful. It will take time to determine whether new scar tissue will replace what they removed, but prayer is the only thing we can do about that, and that is the very best thing.
I have been feeling really good for about the last week. I only needed to meet with my surgeon to get my staples and stitches removed, to be taken off antibiotics, and to be cleared to return to normal life. That all happened this morning. My surgeon is...
Dear First Baptist Family,
Today is the very first day I have actually felt like much and have been clear-headed and medication-free enough to feel I could communicate reliably.
Even though the intense nature of the surgery makes progress hard to judge in the early days and weeks, I am encouraged about where I am. To update you, I’ll first share the most encouraging pieces of information and then pass along some areas where I would love your continued prayers.
I am encouraged that, in the grand scheme of things, I am healing rather quickly. Though my neurosurgeon warned that I should prepare for a longer time in the hospital to recover, I actually experienced a relatively short hospitalization. I am experiencing none of the nerve pain that I was before surgery and hardly any surgery pain....
On Sunday, I announced my need for a fifth brain surgery and thought the operation was weeks away. On Tuesday, my doctor said he wanted to do the surgery today—Friday.
That surprise is a reminder that so much of life is found in all we do not know.
The I-Don’t-Knows of Life
Life happens in a flash of the immediate present. Once that flash is complete, it instantly becomes the past. Our knowledge of those past moments comes only after the fact. Our future moments are everything beyond the present flash of lived experience. We never know what those moments will bring.
Sometimes we have good guesses about what the future holds. But guesses are not facts, and likelihoods are not certainties. There are never guarantees about what is coming. When we try to look ahead beyond the immediate flash...
This morning I shared some hard and frustrating news with First Baptist.
In the last week, I learned I will require another surgery for ongoing neurological problems in my brain. It is painfully ironic that I was learning about my need for this fifth brain surgery during the week of the release of my new book, which had its origin in my very first surgery.
The release of that book seemed, in my mind, to be commemorating the end of this season of struggle.
Let me explain this unanticipated setback.
How I Got Here
In 2018 I was diagnosed with what doctors called a vascular compression of cranial nerves in my brain. That means a cluster of blood vessels was applying pressure to a crucial nerve in my brain that controls movement on the right sight of my body. That pressure was creating serious...
This week, we’re going to talk about one of the often most painful but also very necessary and practical topic of when to leave your church. It is painful because, listen, anybody who has ever left a church that they love, that they were invested in, you know, it is painful. There have been times when Lauren and I have left a church. And one of the things that we’ve said is that it is the closest thing to a divorce we’ve ever experienced. There is a ripping and a tearing. That is painful. But this also is a necessary and a practical topic. Because most of you listening are not going to attend the same church for all of your life. We have a member at First Baptist Church who was born into a family that attended First Baptist Church; he has attended First Baptist Church all...