Tonight thirty Southern Baptists from around the nation gathered in a Memphis hotel to dialogue about the future direction of the Southern Baptist Convention. The room was full of people from diverse backgrounds --- pastors, missions directors, businessmen, laymen, and missionaries, both men and women, from various SBC churches around the country. Everyone spoke from the heart in an atmosphere of openness and acceptance with a desire to see God glorified in all we do as Southern Baptists. The meeting involved prayer, questions and a few answers, excellent discussion, and it ended up by all focusing primarily on corporate repentance and accountability as God's people.
An independent representative from the media was present and though he did not participate in the dialogue, he will be issuing a report on the meeting sometime today or tomorrow. Lord willing, a Memphis Declaration will be forthcoming from the group later today that will focus on the important issues within the Southern Baptist Convention and a vision for the future. Many profound things were said, but due to the lateness of the hour, I will focus on just on a couple of statements. The first is by a pastor present at the meeting who said . . .
"I wish every Southern Baptist could be a part of this discussion. The humility in the room, the respectful spirit toward those with differing opinions, the love for Christ and His Word, and the sincere desire to advance the kingdom is evident in all."
It was suggested by some that in the future, if there are additional meetings like this one, that Southern Baptists be allowed to participate via a live internet telecast so that every Southern Baptist can experience the healthy grassroots interaction between Christians that we experienced tonight.
This group has no authority. The people who have gathered in Memphis share in common a love for Jesus Christ and the advancement of the gospel. Another one of those present in the meeting reminded us all of the words of the late Adrian Rogers:
"I do not have to be a Baptist, and I do not have to be even a Southern Baptist, but I must be a Christian evangelist."
It is to be remembered that the Cooperative Program began in 1925 by a group of people who gathered in Memphis to devise a plan and begin implementing a vision to see the world reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just maybe this grassroots effort is the beginning of spreading resolve to be more cooperative in our Southern Baptist mission of reaching the 21st century world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Memphis Summit will conclude today at 12:00 noon. I expect to be able to say much more about this meeting tomorrow.
Today I am extremely grateful to be a follower of Jesus Christ who also happens to be a Southern Baptist.
In His Grace,