It's me again from next door to the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. (Which is being torn down as we speak to be replaced with a spankin' new complex.) I asked you at my last entry to please pray for the election for president of the SBC. More specifically, I asked you to pray for Johnny Hunt.
After voting Tuesday afternoon, Marilyn and I waited to hear the results. Pastor Hunt, as you may recall was one of six candidates for the position. SBC constitution and bylaws states the winner must get a majority vote to win the election outright. My wife and I were entering the convention center for the evening session when we saw Johnny and his wife Janet with their children and grandchildren having their picture made in the hallway. We recognized, Star, the pastor's ministry assistant at the back of the crowd. Marilyn asked her if Johnny had won and she gave Marilyn a hug and said yes! and on the first ballot. What an answer to prayer. No one, including myself, expected anyone to come out on top after just one ballot. Thanks to all of you for praying, and if you didn't you should have. Here are the results: Johnny Hunt 3,100 votes (52.94%), Frank Cox 1,286 votes (21.96%), Avery Willis 962 votes (16.43%), Bill Wagner 255 votes (4.35 %), Les Puryear 188 votes (3.21%) and Wiley Darke 45 votes. (.77%) Johnny will make and excellent president and will represent all of us well.
Pastor Hunt has his work cut out. This year is the smallest crowd since I have been coming. I have missed only 3 times since 1990. There are only 7,196 messengers registered here in Indianapolis. The number of participating churches has been in steady decline, as well as most other statistics for the SBC, over the last several years. One incident this morning is a reason why. I have stated before that since the SBC has become predominantly conservate in its make-up that a storm is brewing. We once had those "stinkin' thinkin' liberals" to oppose. When they had faced enough opposition several years ago they broke away and formed their own convention. Now who do we fight? The answer became obvious to me after only a couple of conventions. We fight among ourselves. Now the battle cry is "Be as fundamental and judgmental as I am or be gone!" That became perfectly clear during a debate over a resolution today.
There was a resolution from the Resolutions Committee that I completely endorsed. It was basically a call to accountability and standardization between SBC churches to enroll only regenerated believers. In other words, only living and born again people should be counted when the numbers are asked for in our churches. This came about because many churches have inflated rolls due to a failure to take peole off if they move their memberships or promote to that roll that's called up yonder. OK by me. Unnecessary, but OK. Then someone stood to amend the resolution. That's everyones perogative at this kind of meeting. This person wanted to add church discipline as a test of a churches good standing in the same sentence referring to the Lord's Supper and Baptism. What? I asked. What has this got to do with anything and when did discipline achieve the status of an ordinance? The person presenting the argument said that discipline was not listed as an ordinance, but that it was just as important as one. What??? I voted against the amemndment, but lost. Then another kind hearted Baptist wanted to amend the resolution again to make the language even stronger in favor of discipline. I voted against this admendment and lost again. The amended and amended again resolution passed overwhelmingly while I held my ballot aloft in opposition.
It is no wonder we are declining. When people applaud the addition of church discipline in a resolution and claim it is on par with the ordinances of the church, we are on a slippery slope to becoming guilty of the sin of the Pharisees. Why not add soul winning, or feeding the poor, or helping the helpless. or defending the downtrodden to a resolution on what it means to be a church in good standing? Are we now going to judge within the ranks of the conservatives how conservative we truly are? Are we going to condemn those who are unwilling to condemn their brother? Are we becoming a denomination who sees the speck in our brother's eye and does not recognize the 2' x 4' in our own? Young pastors and growing churches are not so much concerned with condemning their fellow Christian as they are devoted to serving God and engaging the enemy. The enemy is not those who do not think or act just like us. Nor is the enemy our fallen brother. Our enemy is the one who came to kill, steal and destroy. God help us and may God help Johnny Hunt as he tries to turn the ship around.
Your brother inn Christ,