Fourteen years is a good Biblical number. Biblical numerology is an often neglected study, but those who have written on the subject, including theologian Dr. Henry Bullinger, tell us that the number fourteen "being a multiple of seven, partakes of its significance; and, being double that number, implies a double measure of spiritual perfection."
In 2020, just fourteen years from now, the Southern Baptist Convention will be celebrating her 175th Anniversary.
I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I would like to offer a 2020 Vision for the SBC with the desire that it be actual 20/20 vision. These points are only offered for discussion, and do not represent the official position of an agency or board.
In 2020 . . .
(1). The Southern Baptist Convention is now called the World Baptist Convention. The name change is solely for the purpose of reflecting the true identity of the convention. No longer are we mainly a group of churches in the American south, but rather we have planted churches around the world that wish to be identified with our convention.
(2). The first World Baptist Faith and Message, approved overwhelmingly by each WBC state convention and other WBC national conventions, focuses on the essentials of the faith. These essentials include all the fundamentals of the faith, but third tier doctrines which have divided Baptists in different cultures are left out of the WBFM in order to promote unity within our diversity.
(3). There are no split individual state conventions connected with the WBC. Reconciliation and restoration among split state conventions has occurred through a genuine revival in the hearts of pastors, denominational leaders, and people of the WBC in states that were once split. Our love for Jesus Christ and His people is evident to the world because newspapers are reporting on what we are doing together to change the world rather than reporting on our fighting and bickering with each other.
(4). The International Mission Board of the WBC has 10,000 missionaries appointed in countries that are in great need of an evangelical witness. Other countries that have been evangelized have churches that now identify with, and support, the work of the IMB of the WBC in unreached people groups.
(5). The World Baptist Convention has grown from 44,000 churches in 2006 in the Southern United States to 115,000 churches around the world. The autonomy of the local church continues to be respected, and the World Baptist Convention takes her orders from messengers who meet once a year, and has resisted the temptation that usually plagues large mainline denominations to operate from the top down. The local church remains the highest authority in the WBC.
(6). Trustee appointments are made by the Nominating Committee from a list of people offered to the WBC by the individual state and national convention officers. The vast size of the WBC necessitates more involvment of state and national leadership in the appointment process and broadens the appointment process.
(7). Theological training expands with the creation and support of an additional six seminaries --- all overseas. These seminaries are run by national trustees, but willingly identify with the WBC and affirm the WBFM.
(8). Leadership within the WBC, including trustees, convention officers, and other leadership comes from churches that give a minumum of 7% of undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program. Churches could identify themselves as a WBC church by simply giving to the Cooperative Program, but members or pastors of those churches could not serve in leadership positions of the WBC without giving the minimum 7% to the CP.
(9). The World Baptist Convention is known by the world more for her emphasis on the gospel of Jesus Christ than for any political, social, or cultural stand. Since the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, the WBC has determined to focus on obtaining God's power rather than an attempt at political or social power.
(10). The World Baptist Convention is held each June at multiple sites around the world, with each site connected to the main site in the United States via the world wide web. The convention is known for the worship, preaching testimonies, and business conducted by the messengers and not for her politics.
I am reminded that the angel told Mary, "With God nothing is impossible." For the above to happen the SBC will have to be led by people who are not satisfied with the status quo, do not desire any personal power or fame, and truly wish to see the gospel of Jesus Christ impact the world through our beloved convention.
My wife says I am naive. :)
I may be, but surely there is nothing wrong with dreaming. :)
In His Grace,