The 2011 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is history. Attendance was the lowest since World War II. Reports, resolutions, messages and music resonated in the convention center.
Fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ and renewing friendships are high priorities at any Baptist meeting. Yet in the midst of that I found myself in a quandary in responding to fellow Baptists over miscommunication and motives which were viewed as "suspect."
I had so many questions asked of me, I felt like a public information officer. I encouraged my fellow messengers to pray, attend the sessions and participate in the process.
A friend asked me, "Why did you and other convention leaders sign a document saying you would trust one another and work together?"
In SBC life today, trust is muddled, but I do not believe it is lost. Many times the accuracy of information disseminated by local, state and national Baptist leaders is challenged. Many times doubt is created and a defense must be mounted to counter the challenge. So much time seems to be spent on defending issues that there is little or no time for intentionally living out the gospel of Christ.
At the SBC I heard reports and information that were inaccurate, but I prayed for the situation. I believe Christians - Southern Baptists in particular - need to be kinder and gentler, instead of being quick to judge.
Every organization makes mistakes. I believe a Christian's actions and reactions need to be those of prayerfully seeking to correct while celebrating victories along the way. I'm reminded of our Lord and the parable of the lost sheep where there is rejoicing and celebration over the one that was found. However, the verse that touches me most deeply is Luke 15:7 where the Lord declares "there will be more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance."
We should not compete to see who, which ministry or which organization is most effective, but we should rejoice and celebrate those who find Jesus as their Savior. That is what it's all about.
Every day on this journey I'm reminded of James who warned the brethren to be "quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger." I've come to believe we also must be slow to judge.
California Southern Baptists, let's rejoice and celebrate what God has done in building His Kingdom here in the Golden State.