The Convention in Greensboro, June 2006, could be the most important Convention in 30 years. There is a possibility five different issues will be addressed.
(1). The establishment of a framework for the free exercise of principled dissent.
The Southern Baptist Convention has been built around the principle of people being allowed to dissent. Cooperation does not mean conformity. Cooperation by its very definition implies diversity. We must get out of this mindset that every Southern Baptist must look the same, act the same, talk the same to be considered a Southern Baptist. We need to examine carefully whether or not we are fostering an environment in our agencies, churches, mission fields, and convention as a whole where God's people feel free to express their concerns without intimidation or fear of reprisal. Abusive authority silences dissent. Since the authority within the convention is the local church, every convention leader ought to be a gracious listener. As a trustee with the International Mission Board, I also believe our field missionaries should be allowed a voice in the process, without fear of retribution, and I will do what I can to establish an avenue for their voices to be heard.
(2). The institution of safeguards to prevent the manipulation of the nominating process of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Conservatives complained in the 60's and 70's that the Southern Baptist Convention was dominated by the "good old boy" system. We need to be really careful that the good old boy system just didn't move its headquarters to across the street. Any close inspection by the Nominating Committee of sitting trustees might reveal problems of a tight knit, controlled process of selection. The Nominating Committee was designed so that diverse, godly people from across the convention could serve. It is unconscionable for a Nominating Committee member to ever be threatened for not following the desired course of actions by the powers that be.
(3). The forbidding of undue influence of agencies and institutions of the SBC by other agency heads.
For an agency head of one of our Southern Baptist institutions to seek to control, influence, or undermine the President of another SBC agency through influencing that agencies trustees is parallel to a pastor writing letters to the deacons of another church telling those deacons what is wrong with their pastor. This should not be allowed, and if there is alleged evidence that it is taking place, an official investigation ought to be launched. Southern Baptists do not need a doctrinal watchdog. We do quite well as a convention on our own.
(4). The resolution that trustees are servants of the Convention, not directors of the convention.
Trustees are accountable to their respective institutions and to the Convention as a whole. Trusteeship is not a privilege or a reward, but a serious duty and obligation.
Trustees don't tell the convention what we should believe, the convention tells trustees the doctrinal foundations of our convention.
(5). The expression of belief that Southern Baptist Convention works best with a broad front door of cooperation.
There are dozens of heartbreaking stories of wonderful Southern Baptist men and women have have felt called to the mission field, and would have been able to serve in decades past through the SBC, but due to the narrowing of the parameters of cooperation, are no longer qualified. Hopefully, in the next few months these stories will be able to be spread around the convention. Look for some on this blog in the very near future.
See You In Greensboro,