The SBC Executive Committee convened in Nashville this week and I was fortunate to be in attendance with two colleagues from the Kentucky Baptist Convention. This was my first full SBC Executive Committee meeting and being present to observe allowed me to gain a greater understanding of how our convention handles business, interact with convention and entity leaders, and receive information to share with Kentucky Baptist churches.
Here are five takeaways from my experience with the SBC Executive Committee:
Southern Baptist Representation
The 86 members of the Executive Committee are a representative group of Southern Baptists. Nominated by the Committee on Nominations and elected by messengers at the annual meeting, this group is diversified geographically to represent all areas of our country. Since the SBC is not just a convention of pastors, at least one-third of the Executive Committee members must be non-ministers. This means approximately 30 of the members are teachers, bankers, nurses, lawyers, and homemakers. This unique setup ensures that people in our local church pews have significant leadership within our national convention. The size of the churches they represent varies and some may be surprised to learn that neither the current SBC President nor the EC Chairperson are mega-church pastors. Additionally, 26 of the current Executive Committee members are women or minorities. The SBC has grown in its diversity over the past several years and the makeup of the Executive Committee helps represent those trends. While there are some very talented and professional people on the SBC EC, it is not a committee of “elites” but rather a collection of people to which most Southern Baptists can relate.
It is a New Day for the Executive Committee
This group has been at the epicenter of some of the most difficult days in the history of the SBC. Much of the criticism was warranted but positive steps are being made. The comments this week were certainly sensitive to the issues Southern Baptists face as they are taking their job of sexual abuse response and financial stewardship seriously. The Abuse Response Implementation Task Force has begun its work and a new Caring Well Sunday was added to the annual SBC calendar to keep sexual abuse response forever on our minds. The meeting contained an appropriate level of remorse and resolve to keep children safe.
From all accounts I heard, the Executive Committee meeting felt different this time. There are certainly challenges before the committee, but the room contained a spirit of cooperation and hope for the future. I have been impressed with Interim President/CEO Willie McLaurin’s transparent and unifying leadership. I am thankful to have faithful Kentucky Baptists Nick Sandefur, John Lucas, Charles Frazier, and Marcella Crenshaw representing our state as important decisions are being made.
Cooperative Program Giving is Growing
Despite the painful past two years in Southern Baptist life, giving to the financial fuel for our mission work continues to grow. Nationwide SBC Cooperative Program giving for the fiscal year ending this month is projected to eclipse $200 million. This is the largest amount since 2008.
Additionally, special gifts of over $1 million were presented at the meeting. Lifeway delivered over $513,000 in mission offerings from their summer camps to support IMB and NAMB missionaries. The Southern Baptist Convention of Ohio presented the Executive Committee with a check for $500,000 for CP as proceeds from the sale of their Seneca Lake Baptist Camp.
The SBC is Becoming More Diverse
EC staff shared that 22.3% of our convention churches and 62% of churches planted during the pandemic are racially and ethnically diverse. There are presently over 3,200 Hispanic churches and 2,000 Asian churches representing 30 nationalities. Almost 1/3 of the members of the recently appointed Committee on Committees are minorities. There is hope this will strengthen diversity within our SBC leadership.
The SBC Executive Committee Needs Our Prayers
Major issues are at hand such as the search for a new SBC EC President/CEO and helping to make the SBC a place where no sex abuser can ever hide again. Making sound financial decisions, carrying out the desires of the messengers, and communicating well to churches are paramount during this time of transition.
Will you please join me in prayer for all 86 of our Executive Committee members and the 30 Executive Committee employees?