ChurchETHOS

Giving the SBC a New Name

Posted in church reform, cultural relevance by Nathan Creitz on June 19, 2009

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[New Post: I’ve written a newer post entitled 32 Reasons (and counting) Why Southern Baptists Must Change Their Name! It builds on this post so once you’ve read this post, I encourage you to check it out.]

I usually don’t say much about the Southern Baptist Convention since I am not in the South. The name means little if anything to New Englanders.

If SBC means anything to anybody here, it usually means “fundamentalist” or “anti-something” (anti-gay, anti-Disney, anti-abortion, anti-fun, anti-reasonable, anti-interesting…emphasis on the “anti-“)

For years now I’ve heard of people wanting to change the name of the SBC, but many in our denomination who are primarily located in the South refuse to think progressively towards the future. Many think that if we lost the brand “SBC” we’d never get back our influence and name recognition (what about the costs of remaining the same?). In their view, people wouldn’t know who we are anymore. There might even be some who decide to split off from the new movement and remain “Southern Baptists” as if that were a hill on which to die.

Would it be so bad if some people got confused as to who we were? We haven’t exactly had a stellar, “reputation with outsiders” over the years.  Wouldn’t this give us a chance to push the reset button on a denomination that can’t seem to keep up with the growth of the society around us?

Would it be so bad if some extreme “Southern Baptist Only” pastors left the newly named convention? Yes, it actually would, but maybe our 16 million member denomination needs some pruning. Get too big and you lose your pioneering edge. The trouble is, our denomination is “mainline” only in the South. Everywhere else it’s emerging. We may lose some people but we need to do the right thing and encourage people to join us rather than do the irrelevant and non-innovative thing and try to please people.

Newsflash: Probably more people are leaving the SBC thanks to our lack of innovation and relevance in a postmodern, post-Christian culture than there ever will be thanks to a simple but necessary name change.

What would a name change do for the SBC?

– A name change would remove a Civil War era title that means nothing to a post-Christian society.

Population %– A name change would remove a regional brand that means nothing to those of us in emerging regions in North America or those planting churches internationally. After all, we are in the South AND the North, South America AND North America, Southern hemisphere AND Northern hemisphere. “Southern” is irrelevant. It means nothing. There are 3.79 million square miles in the US and 306 million people. Those states that could most easily identify with being called Southern only account for 905,322 square miles and 105 million people.

Land Area %– On a related note, currently, only Southern Baptists IN THE SOUTH are proud to be called Southern Baptists. Most people in other areas go by their association name or leave it out altogether. A name change would actually improve our brand, not destroy it.

– A name change gives us a chance to choose a name that focuses on what we stand for rather than what we were once against hundreds of years ago. (We were on the wrong side of the debate when we were anti-abolitionists, and even though we are on the right side of the debate when it comes to abortion and homosexuality, does it improve our chances of being heard to constantly be the “anti-” denomination?)

– A name change would maintain our Biblical convictions and Baptist distinctives but would move us to a new era in Great Commission endeavors.

What Do We Call It?

Building on the momentum that has come (especially among younger Southern Baptists) from Dr. Danny Aiken’s call to a Great Commission Resurgence, I want to propose that we name our convention the Great Commission Baptist Convention (GCBC). Should we be known as Southern Baptists? Or Great Commission Baptists? You decide! I think “the GCBC” has a nice ring to it.

– This name would brand us as the Great Commission denomination (if you care about branding which I don’t).

– This name would give our denomination the ability to get out of the way of the local church and become the supporting structure that it was always meant to be.

– This name places the focus on making disciples of every nation. In other words, it focuses on the positive, not the negative.

– This name gives us a fresh start and a new vision for the future.

Will the denomination split as a result of a name change? If it does then it simply feeds the perception in many people’s minds that SBC churches would split over any issue (how many times have I heard people say they wouldn’t be SBC because they heard of one that split over the color of the carpet). The fact that that’s the perception in many people’s minds should be reason enough to change our identity in the first place. The SBC needs to be stronger than that. We need a new name and we need our churches to come together on this issue – NOW! The SBC is already declining in influence among younger generations and I believe the name and the baggage it carries with it is part of the problem.

A Final Plea

Most people know the SBC based on what they’ve heard publicly (usually from the conventions when we’ve voted on controversial issues). As a result, people will rarely give Southern Baptists a chance on a local, more personal level. Our denomination has a proud history, but our name has nothing to do with that. We aren’t the largest Protestant denomination in the US because our name has Southern in it. We aren’t the largest missions sending agency in North America thanks to someone’s genius idea of calling us Southern in 1845.

When the people who are most involved in the Great Commission in the SBC are serving internationally and in emerging, pioneering regions, why are we stuck with a name that doesn’t reflect our identity? Those of us who are trying to pioneer works in difficult areas feel like the most effective way to be a Southern Baptist is NEVER to let anyone know what denomination you are aligned with. Doesn’t the denomination exist to support the local church? Or just the ones in the South?

We know what we WANT “Southern Baptist” to mean, but no one else does. Instead, “Southern Baptist” means anti-abortion and anti-homosexuality and nothing else. As a local church leader I want to deal with issues like abortion and homosexuality on a local level in a personal and loving and Biblical way. Making resolutions and statements about what we are against is not going to change our culture. If we really believe in the local church, then we need to let the local church lead. Our name hinders us from doing that effectively in MOST areas of the world.

According to the American Religious Identification Survey, the “Nones” (those who have no religious affiliation) have grown from 8.2% in 1990 to 15% in 2008. They are the only group to have seen growth in all 50 states, most other groups are declining. In fact, people identifying themselves as “Christians” shrunk from 86% to 76% in less than 20 years. Massachusetts has seen a 21% increase in “Nones” and Vermont has seen the largest increase with 34% MORE people claiming no religious affiliation. If people in New England had a hard time identifying with “Southern” Baptists before, does anyone seriously think that things are going to improve until we change our name? I have a friend in Chicago who told me that the radio talk show hosts STILL make fun of “the day the Southern Baptists came to town” (referring to our strategic focus city initiative that tanked in Chicago though they have been more successful elsewhere).

What are the arguments against changing our name? I can’t think of a good one so please respond in the comments section if you’ve got one. Our denominations refusal to change our name is one more indication of how we are a denomination that is against and not for. I think “Great Commission Baptist Convention” is a great start to removing this perception. But I’ll let others make the innovative decisions necessary for our future because.

I strongly encourage our convention this year to draft, propose, and vote in favor of a resolution to submit a new name to the convention delegates at next years convention.

Oh, and we need a new logo anyway. Living in a macbook, iPhone, Google sort of world, we don’t need something that looks like it came from Word ’97 … just sayin’.

Next Post in Series: 32 Reasons (and Counting) Why Southern Baptists Must Change Their Name!

Related Post: Are You A Public Christian? Please Say No! ::  Subscribe

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29 Responses

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  1. Mark | hereiblog said, on June 19, 2009 at 1.56 pm

    Why just the Great Commission Convention (GCC)?

    I met some folks last night who were actually turned off by the name “baptist” until I had a chance to explain theologically what it meant.

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 19, 2009 at 5.12 pm

      It wouldn’t bother me but if you think it would be hard to change from Southern, just imagine removing Baptist. I think we can change but I’m also trying to be realistic 🙂 Seriously, though, I like your idea and at least we are sharing our discontent with the status quo. Let’s keep talking about it.

  2. Matthew Svoboda said, on June 19, 2009 at 2.03 pm

    Yes! Give us a name change! I wrote about this a few months ago at SBC Voices.

    What about “Local Church Baptist Assembly?” Or Local Church Baptist Convention?

    This puts the emphasis where it belongs, the local church.

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 19, 2009 at 5.17 pm

      Hey Matthew, thanks for the enthusiasm. I know this issue has been talked about for a long time but I believe it will be our generation that does something about it. We could despair and say if WA Criswell and Jack Graham can’t get the name change what hope do we have. On the other hand, the people arguing against a name change won’t be in leadership much longer, those of us who are longer understand the culture and the changes need in order to make a difference, and many of us aren’t living in the South so we have a better perspective about what the future should look like.

      Personally, I like where the SBC is going with this emphasis on the Great Commission so I’m biased to having that in the name. I’m not sure that having local church in there would brand very well, but that’s just my opinion. Let’s keep thinking and imagining.

  3. Philip Mitchell said, on June 19, 2009 at 2.21 pm

    Of course, the bigger question is whether a regional denomination needs to evangelize in other regions anyway. Some would argue that we should be empowering those that are already there–albeit when they are biblical and orthdox in their central doctrines. Here’s a crazy thought experiment: what if we send SBC (GCC) missionaries to revitalize conservative Anglical, Presbyterian, Luthern, Methodist churches? Impossible? Does too much else stand in the way?

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 19, 2009 at 5.21 pm

      I totally agree. In New England, denomination hardly plays a role in the first place. I’ve even thought about sending my resume around to some mainline denominations that are willing to have a conservative pastor and revitalizing a dying church from within. So I’m not opposed to it. We aren’t going to make it if we are so loyal to the denomination that we aren’t loyal to the church that was established by Jesus.

      I think my post only begins to talk about a lot of other things I’m passionate about that you allude to in your comment. I talked about how the SBC is known about what we are against rather than what we are for and that’s often what denominations do. We rally around a few select doctrines and distinctives when we should rally around following Jesus together and letting the world observe our love and unity. Anyway, all this is a post for another day. Thanks for making your point here.

  4. Joe Kennedy said, on June 19, 2009 at 2.22 pm

    I’ve sent you a FB message, but I will add this publicly.

    I agree that the SBC could use a name/brand change. I’m not so much in favor of your go-to name (it sounds hokey and has the potential to make a mockery of the Great Commission)… I’d be in favor of renaming the SBC the “International Baptist Convention.”

    I studied Advertising and Marketing at our alma mater, Nathan. I think we both know that the SBC needs more than a name and logo change. A rebranding on the exterior is all but useless if the interior, the heart, doesn’t change. I love new logos and rebranding just like the next guy (maybe more, I subscribe to a blog all about that stuff).

    In the end, unless the Convention itself decides to stop its “anti-everything” ways, unless the Convention chooses to follow Christ and not AmeriChristianity, and unless the Convention makes a concerted effort to change who it is from the inside out, no rebranding effort will matter.

    Blackwater, the “private security company” recently rebranded to Xe (“Zee”). No matter what you call them, they’re still mercenaries. The same is true for the SBC. We can be the GCRC, the IBC, or any host of other names. But unless we change who we are and what we’re about, it doesn’t mean squat.

    (http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/the_xe_marks_the_spot.php)

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 19, 2009 at 5.28 pm

      Thanks Joe. I’m not offended that you don’t want to take up this banner. Like I said, this isn’t as important an issue to people in Southern states. I think I made it clear in the post that a name change won’t solve all of our problems. But I don’t suggest a name change to solve all our problems. I’m suggesting it so that those of us not in the South don’t have to avoid the issue of who we are affiliated with. The problem is that no one thinks this is a problem except for those of us who know it’s a problem.

      As far as all the other things that need to change, if we don’t change our name then we will lose a flood of younger leaders who are being raised in a postmodern culture who could bring about that kind of change. Instead, most of the younger crowd don’t care enough about the SBC to pay attention or be influential.

      I think the SBC is a great organization. I’m proud of the Biblical convictions and I’m glad to be a follower of Jesus but I’m certainly not proud to be ‘Southern Baptist’. It just doesn’t make any sense here.

      So, having said all that, it’s not surprising that there will be people who think this is a non-issue. Obviously, that’s why a name change has been voted down every year for the past 30 years. This isn’t a marketing issue, this is an identity issue. The SBC has had an identity crisis through years of boycotts and bureaucracy and it’s time to change. If not, there won’t be an SBC to change in 20 years.

  5. Tim said, on June 19, 2009 at 2.50 pm

    Joe the IBC already exists. They are a fellowship of English-language churches and missions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America which voluntarily cooperate with each other for the purpose of carrying out the Great Commission. I had the pleasure of working at their youth camp in Grindelwald, Switzerland one summer.

  6. Tony Kummer said, on June 19, 2009 at 3.57 pm

    Good blog post. This is a conversation we really need to have – the phrase gets in the way of the Gospel. Our own attitude toward the lost does also, but a fresh start could help.

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 19, 2009 at 5.30 pm

      I’m glad you think so Tony. That’s why I like the idea of a fresh start with a new name that identifies what we are FOR rather than a name that has the perception that we are against everything. We definitely need to keep the Great Commandment and the Great Commission at the forefront of our mission.

  7. Joe Kennedy said, on June 19, 2009 at 4.55 pm

    Tim, sign me up to hang with those guys. I hear the IBC makes a great root beer.

  8. Kevin Bussey said, on June 19, 2009 at 7.45 pm

    I don’t talk about the SBC anymore because of the negative stuff that has been out there & even got caught in. But I had to comment because this is a positive post. Great job!

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 20, 2009 at 8.26 am

      Thanks Kevin. As far as I can tell, this is the first time I’ve blogged about the SBC specifically though I may have mentioned the denomination a few times. However, I agree, we do need to have a positive discussion and I appreciate your comment. Feel free to share this post with others and let’s see what we can do to change the SBC from the inside out!

  9. Silouan Thompson said, on June 19, 2009 at 11.44 pm

    Nathan, are there many people who identify themselves as “Southern Baptists”?

    I live in the inland Northwest, and my sample may be atypical, but my experience is that bluehaired folks look for a brand name, but most professionals and young people look for either good child care, good preaching, or a good band. If they’re non-charismatic (or not very charismatic) they’ll gravitate toward Baptist and independent nondenom congregations, but the brand name won’t be much of a factor at all. (In fact most of the SC and Conservative Baptist churches I know of have dropped the word “Baptist” altogether; e.g. Bethel Church, Community Church, etc.)

    By the same token, evangelical ecumenism has made most evangelicals under 40 [in my experience] unlikely to identify themselves by a denominational brand name; they’ll say “I go to Downtown Church.” (The hyper-Calvinists, Adventists, and Nazarenes are exceptions, since their fringe dogmas kind of require them to go to special churches.)

    Is that just a regional fluke around here? If not, then maybe the SBC doesn’t need a name change, because its target audience won’t care.

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 20, 2009 at 8.34 am

      Hey Silouan,

      I recognize you from reddit. Great discussions over there. You ask a great question and I realized in writing this post that I’m not trying to address ALL of the problems (I also believe the SBC has much to offer otherwise I would be in a different denomination). You are absolutely right. When it comes time to find a church, people are looking for a lot of other things besides denominations. However, denominations do help us narrow down the field. For example, I’m protestant not catholic so I look for protestant denominations. There are charismatic and non-charismatic denominations. So, a person may be looking for great preaching, child care, etc. but they may have narrowed things down to Baptist, Methodist, and Evangelical Covenant, etc. In other words, people go with what they know something about (as far as I can tell). As a result, if people have a bad perception of what it means to be Southern Baptist, they might skip over a church that may have great preaching, child care, and a place for them to serve and be serve simply because they heard something on the news about the SBC.

      That’s why it’s so important first of all, for the denomination to stop being the bully pulpit and the lobbyist for all 16 million of its members and simply shut up! Let the local church be relational and fulfill the Great Commission without any interference from the national denomination. The denomination should be a silent partner in the work of the local church and the missionaries, not a mouthpiece. Let us do the work of the kingdom and let the denomination back us up and let that do it.

      Secondly, a name change wouldn’t just help to change our identity (desperately needed) but it would remove the regional, Civil War era title that I talked about in the post. The main reason I’m suggesting a name change is to remove the “Southern” part. If that helps us improve our identity and reputation with others that’s simply bonus.

  10. n0t_5hure said, on June 20, 2009 at 9.44 am

    how about “Rednecks 4 Jeezus”?

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 21, 2009 at 7.47 am

      Well, we are trying to have a constructive debate here about some changes that could be made to the Southern Baptist Convention. Your view is valid however, in the sense that if that is truly what you think the SBC and aren’t just trying to intentionally be rude then we need to hear how we are perceived by others. So, thanks for the comment but I would love to hear your thoughts on a constructive solution.

  11. Jason said, on June 20, 2009 at 10.10 am

    I hate to be a stick-in-the-mud here, but I personally don’t think “denominationalism” (or maybe it’s “demon-ationalism) is what Christ wants His body to be about in this age. I think this is one of the tools of Satan to get our minds off of Christ and “the world” just looks at us and laughs.

    I understand Nathan’s point and I agree with his take on the “baggage” that is associated with the SBC; but this is the problem that denominationalism will always run into–are we defined by the Gospel or are we defined by a particular man-made “confession”? I get so tired of talking with people from some denominational persuasion who always refers to their “confession” when advancing some theological point; and as good as I think the Westminster and London Confessions are, they are not the Bible. And when we begin to identify ourselves as SBC, Presbyterian, Anglican, Reformed Baptist, etc., we have associated our group with Biblical Christianity while implying that the other groups are not. I understand that distinctions between beliefs need to be made, but when “organizations” are what defines us as Christians rather than the presence of the indwelling Spirit, then we’ve just sent a subtle message to the “world” that it is in belonging to “my” group that one becomes a Christian rather than belonging to Christ. The issue is union with Christ, not an organization.

    Having once been a “Southern Baptist”, I have grave concern with any form of denominationalism. If the “local church” were to be the “Biblical local church”, then the work of the Spirit would show the world the unity of the Body of Christ. Denominationalism simply proves to the world that Christ’s Body is broken…why would they want to have anything to do with Christ?

    In Christ (not a demon-ation),

    Jason

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 21, 2009 at 1.24 pm

      Hey Jason,

      Great point. The SBC does truly desire to be a people of the book. We are not a creedal people. We sincerely want to follow Jesus and trust the Bible. On the other hand, we do have some Baptist distinctives.

      Most confessions or creeds or statements of faith are not intended to supplant the rightful place of Scripture as the authority. Instead, denominations form around certain interpretations of the Scripture. I may disagree with someone in another denomination but that doesn’t give me the right to ignore them or reject them. Our disagreements usually just mean we want to do things differently.

      I think denominations are actually more often a proof of unity than they are of disunity. Imagine if you had a business idea for a pizza place. You wanted to make the best calzones in the business and you have come up with a prize winning recipe. The pizza shop around the corner has a different kind of calzone and they are very proud of it. You are also different from other pizza restaurants because of your management and business philosophy. When you open your doors, you are in competition with the other pizza places. You want them to eat at your place and not that other place.

      Some denominations believe strongly that their creed or their statement of faith has really determined the truth about what the Bible is saying. But most denominations recognize the limitations and are much more cooperative with other denominations. Not too many pizza places would recommend customers to the other pizza place if they weren’t satisfied with them. Most denominations are more cooperative than most businesses would be given the fact that they have different organizational styles and purpose statements and core values, etc.

      We have to remember that there are some core convictions that all followers of Jesus should have but some of the other doctrines aren’t meant to be black and white. We can disagree on some things and organize ourselves around some of those distinctives (elder or congregational rule / infant baptism or believers baptistm / etc.) but we are never given permission in Scripture to be disunified. In spite of our different interpretations, most of us hold the Scripture in the highest regard and don’t believe we are holding our statement of faith as higher than Scripture. The Bible allows for a lot of diversity within the Body.

      Anyway, I say all that to say that I don’t think denominationalism “proves to the world that Christ’s Body is broken”. I think that it does prove that His Bride is filled with humans. As humans, we are prone to error. And, again, I don’t think we recognize enough the diversity of denominations and see that there are positive aspects that should be celebrated.

  12. Steve said, on June 20, 2009 at 10.18 am

    If you were wrong about being anti-abolitionist, how can we automatically think we’re right about being anti-abortionist or anti-homosexual? Will we, in a hundred years, realize that we were wrong yet again?

    When choosing a name, perhaps we should try to rethink not who we are today, but who the future will think we were today.

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 21, 2009 at 1.45 pm

      I wasn’t wrong about abolition. I am an abolitionist!

      Sure, I see your point that if people have made mistakes in the past, maybe we’re making mistakes now but we just can’t see it yet from our vantage point in history. That’s a valid point. I’m sure I make lots of mistakes.

      However, the same basic moral and philosophical idea underlies both anti-slavery and anti-abortion. I’ve written elsewhere about this issue and we are getting off topic but I will say briefly here that both movements are committed to the same thing. Everything should be done to ensure that all people have the right to life and that they should be free. If you are on the side of anti-slavery, you should be on the side of anti-abortion. God created humans in His likeness and He gave us a special status among the rest of creation. That should not be cast aside just because someone wants cheap slave labor or they don’t want to be inconvenienced by an unwanted child. People matter to God. Someone can be stupid and irresponsible but that unborn child wasn’t stupid and irresponsible. Is that enough reason to cast it aside like it has no worth? Isn’t that the same attitude many slave owners had about their slaves? That they were worthless?

      The Bible speaks to all these issues and I didn’t even mention homosexuality because the Bible is way too clear against homosexuality to be misunderstood.

      Now, more to the point of what I said in my post. Having said all of that, my point was that I don’t appreciate the SBC making us into a two-issue denomination. Abortion and homosexuality are not the only issues the Bible addresses and I’m tired of that being our subtitle. “The Southern Baptist Convention: Anti-abortion, Anti-homosexuality, Pro-Baptism”. In fact, I shouldn’t have even responded to you when you raise these two issues because I want to move beyond these two issues. We do need to look to the future but we also need to consider our past. Slavery is still a huge evil in the world today and we need to continue to fight against it. Maybe in 1845 the SBC was slow to confront the problem but that doesn’t mean we have to be slow today.

      The bottom line is, we do all make mistakes, but you almost sound like we can’t ever know what’s right. We do know what’s right and we can be convinced about some things. The SBC has some problems but we have some deeply held Biblical convictions that will always be worth fighting for. If you can argue from Scripture that homosexuality, abortion, drunkenness, paganism, or anything else our culture dabbles in is right, then I will certainly be willing to hear you out.

      Meanwhile, I want to stay on track with this post and talk about what could be done to make our convention stronger and more relevant to our culture. The South is only one small part of the culture that we serve and minister to so it’s important to have a name that reflects our broader diversity. That’s what I’m advocating for here.

  13. ebroussard said, on June 20, 2009 at 6.15 pm

    I grew up “hell fire and brimstone” SBC in the South. I have be reprograming ever since. I hope you move folks (SBC term) to consider the world we live in…but yall are still focuse on the inside!

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 21, 2009 at 1.49 pm

      Thanks for your response. Again, I hope you will realize this is not a post where I bash the SBC. The whole point of the post is that I want us to be better at engaging our culture and I think a new name is necessary to reflect our broader identity AND reflect our commitment to the world around us. That’s where most Southern Baptists are and I know in every denomination there are some who give the rest a bad name. I’m glad that you have been reprogramming but I hope you don’t think that’s what everyone is like. That would be a very narrow and naive position to take. We do need to do better about considering the world we live in and that’s the purpose of my post. I hope you can see that.

  14. Greg Byman said, on June 20, 2009 at 10.30 pm

    I remember the last time we voted on this. The debate was pathetic.

    I rarely mention that we are SBC. We cart it out in the membership class and among our leaders, but that’s about it. I await a name change before I change my routine. I’m too convinced of the cp strategy to stray, but I don’t have to refer to our southern heritage or “anti” origins to participate. I refer mostly to IMB, NAMB and our state convention when talking about our partner churches.

    You’ve hit it on the head, Nathan. Keep up the good work.

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 21, 2009 at 1.54 pm

      Thanks Greg,

      You’ve described our situation and the situation of probably every other SBC church not in the South. I do think the cooperative program, the IMB, NAMB and the state conventions have a better sense of how to engage the culture. Maybe you’ve helped me be more specific. It’s really our annual convention that spreads everything we are against and not the partner organizations. We really need a new approach. What are we accomplishing at those annual meetings anyway? There are some things but we need a major overhaul to make our way into the 21st century and become a more missional denomination.

      Like you, I think the CP is one of the main things that keeps me in the denomination. But even the CP is spending less and less on actual missions and more and more on bureaucracy and an organizational structure formed in the modern era.

  15. Helen Fuller said, on June 21, 2009 at 10.35 am

    You asked what people’s views are of the SBC from outside the denomination so I thought I would give you a transatlantic view: if I think about the SBC at all it is usually in connection with a film or American TV show so the perception I have is of portly gentlemen in white suits, ladies in floaty, flowery frocks, fire and brimstone preaching and an all white congregation. Would I consider visiting such a church? I have to say probably not! What do I look for in a church? I am not generally swayed by the denomination, I have worshipped God and found fellowship in Congregational, Baptist, Catholic, Anglican, Free Church and ‘house’ churches at various times over the years. What I do look for is a commitment to the Word, the presence of the Spirit and a vision to expand the kingdom of God. The labels are not important, the people are since it is the people who are the church.

    A question for you Nathan, what is it that keeps you in the SBC? You mention their commitment to the Great Commission but there are other churches who share that commitment. There are other conservative denominations out there too so why stay with SBC?

    • Nathan Creitz said, on June 21, 2009 at 2.08 pm

      Thanks Helen,

      I think I’ve sort of answered this in several of my other comments. I definitely think we can find fellowship in and with other denominations and I’m not so loyal to the SBC that I wouldn’t serve in any other church.

      As I said to Greg in a comment before yours, I think the Cooperative Program is one of the reasons I am SBC. Also, I find that my beliefs about the Bible, baptism, and other theological concerns most closely resemble those of the SBC.

      It’s ironic, but I’ve spent more time writing about the SBC for this post and in response to all the comments to this post than I have talking about it in my past 6 years here in Boston. I don’t want you to get an unrealistic characterization of my passion for all things SBC. I really don’t talk about it much and it doesn’t really come up that much. I am committed to the Great Commission. I am committed to making disciples and being a faithful follower of Jesus. I’m just not that committed to a denomination. That shouldn’t be a focus. So, we’ve had a great conversation here about the SBC but that doesn’t mean I’m a spokesperson for the denomination.

      Based on certain beliefs, convictions, and a belief in the cooperative model of the SBC, I remain SBC today and don’t really have any active thoughts about changing to something else. I wrote this post simply to suggest that there are some major improvements that could be made. I know this blog has a much wider audience than SBC so it was sort of like an insider post that not everyone would care much about, but I felt like it was one that needed to be written since the SBC annual meeting starts tomorrow.

      Thanks for the question though. It helped me think it through again for the first time in years. It’s always good to reevaluate and since I give denominations so very little thought it was nice to refresh my own thoughts on the issue.

  16. eddierbroussard said, on June 21, 2009 at 3.25 pm

    Thanks for stepping out and into what is and will be a highly charged discussion…decision. Continue to stand humble and strong…I love your heart!


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