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First Thoughts

The President, the Amendment, and the Silhouettes: What Happened at SBC 2024

The 2024 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is in the books. Messengers approved many resolutions, elected a number of officers, listened to sermons, made countless motions, and referred the work of the Abuse Reform and Implementation Task Force (ARITF) to the executive committee.

A lot happened, but I want to summarize the 2024 convention with three developments of tremendous significance.

The President

One of the most significant actions of the convention was to elect Clint Pressley as our new president. Pressley is a wonderfully faithful pastor and theological conservative who is committed to expository preaching and wants the SBC to refocus on our theological convictions and missional cooperation.

This choice is so significant because the appointments that Pressley makes to our convention boards and entities will shape convention life for years to come. It is significant that among an impressive list of six candidates, Southern Baptists chose to trust him with this important work. We all need to pray as he engages in this work on all of our behalf.

The Amendment

Much is being made about the failure of the—so-called—Law Amendment which would have amended the SBC constitution to require churches in cooperation with the SBC to have only qualified men serving as pastors. It is true that the failure of the amendment to pass is discouraging to those of us who advocated for it. But several factors mitigate the disappointment.

First, a majority of messengers approved the amendment. It is true that the vote fell a few points shy of the required supermajority required for passage. It is also true that, at over 61% of the vote, the bulk of messengers are in favor of the amendment.

Second, the results of the SBC presidential election confirm that Southern Baptists are in favor of a male-only pastorate. Our convention ultimately chose Pressley—an outspoken proponent of the amendment and member of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW).

If all that were not enough, messengers voted 92% to remove a church from friendly cooperation because of its commitment to appoint women to the office of pastor.

Media reports have already trumpeted that Southern Baptists have rejected a requirement for pastors to be qualified men. This is simply not true. What is true is that the SBC affirmed its confessional statement on this issue, and only failed to reach the required super-majority by a few points. Even opponents of the Law Amendment have been at pains to make clear that their procedural opposition to the amendment had nothing to do with their commitments restricting the office of pastor to qualified men.

The failure of the Law Amendment notwithstanding, the SBC remains conservative on the issue of gender roles in ministry.

The Silhouettes

The most powerful moment of the 2024 convention was the missionary commissioning service on Tuesday morning. At this wonderful ceremony scores of new missionaries were sent out by our convention to share the good news of Jesus Christ all over the world. Many of these missionaries appeared in silhouette on a screen unable to reveal their identities because they are going to countries closed to the gospel. It was—as it is every year—a dramatic, powerful, and emotional time.

These men and women are now part of the largest mission-sending effort in the history of Christianity. They are going overseas holding an inerrant Bible, preaching an exclusive Christ, and defending the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Countless throngs of men, women, boys, and girls will receive eternal life and join the Kingdom of Heaven because of their work launched this week.

In the business sessions of the convention there may have been wins and losses. But the sending forth of these men and women is an incredible win for the Kingdom of Christ. It is why we gather. It is why we cooperate. And it is why we must not forsake the work, but must redouble our investment in the SBC.

Dr. Heath Lambert is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. He is the author of several books, including The Great Love of God: Encountering God’s Heart for a Hostile World. 

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