What do you think when you hear “Southern Baptist”? This was the question from Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, that came across Twitter last week. My answer in Twitter fashion was:
@ThomRainer ‘Southern Baptist’? 1-my church.Then sad-easy believism, weak Gospel overshadowed by “conservative” politics but much potential.
Dr. Rainer weighed in on his son Sam’s blog breaking down the Twitter replies at When You Hear Southern Baptist, You Think… and Tony Kummer also gathered some additional replies at Southern Baptist Branding. Below are the replies Wordled by Thom Rainer.
Apparently, my answers weren’t as popular as they don’t really stand out on the Worlded pic above. Good or bad? I don’t know, but Timmy Brister goes on to ask the better question at Southern Baptists Labeled (and Wordled) which is “What do [you] want people to think when they hear ‘Southern Baptist?’” So I will attempt to answer Tim’s question after I explain my Twitter reply.
Heard On Twitter
I’ll just give a short explanation of my Twitter answer. I didn’t have much time so I thought quickly. First, I think about my church because it’s a Southern Baptist church. Then, I get sad thinking about the easy believism that seems somewhat driven by the quest for baptism numbers. This can, of course, be seen in weak Gospel presentations. Both of which seem to lead to the state of affairs we have today with lack of accountability and commitment to local church membership which helped the recent membership resolution last year. Lastly, I think about just how much more well informed the average SBCer is on “conservative” republican politics than on biblical/theological understanding. It’s that republican equals Christian association that seems to over shadow the Gospel, i.e. moralism. Again, this is what came to mind and it doesn’t mean I’m 100 percent correct.
What I Want People To Think
My summary answer is that as people hear “SBC” their thought is:
Those people are Jesus freaks whom I dislike. Yet, I can’t seem to stay mad at them.
What do I mean? Well, here is my rough draft. Remember, I’m not answering how we get here, but just what I’d like people to think when hearing Southern Baptist.
It can be tough to put in words what I want others to think when they hear Southern Baptist. Especially, if they aren’t Christians so they are going to have different worldview and vocabulary. So what I would like them to think is that all we are about is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Sounds pat, I know, but it’s a biblical position for Christians.
All we have to do is constantly point to Jesus as the answer. The reason for wanting to teach our kids a certain way or promote certain political agendas is not for morality’s sake or for a certain party. It’s for the sake of the Gospel and we need to do better at pointing that out.
We have to be better at living out the Gospel which means actually loving one another. So when we fall short we simply point back to Jesus’ Gospel. As we live out the Gospel we will also love the non-Christians and our hearts will break for them.
This could then be seen in our communities working through our local churches. People will then see the stumbling block that is the Gospel and dislike it. However, they will also see how much we care for them so they cannot hold their grudges against us. It’s like turning and squinting because the sun is so bright while at the same time enjoying its warmth. I am looking at this in a general sense not in an absolute one.
Then there is the other side which is rejection. And? Well, If we actually are going to be disliked or hated for something atleast let the reason be Jesus and His Gospel. We already know we are going to be rejected by the world. So let’s keep pointing to Jesus as not only the relevant answer, but the only answer. Even so, Jesus sake we should love those who are against us just as Jesus loved us when we didn’t deserve it.
For what it’s worth…