Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Reason the Southern Baptist Convention Should Move Toward Internet Participation

I have watched every single minute of the Southern Baptist Convention this Tuesday morning. I have probably paid more attention to what is being said, and to what is being done, than at any other time in my twenty five years of participating in Southern Baptist Conventions. That's the convenience of being able to follow the proceedings on the Internet. There were only 8,541 registered messengers at 8:00 eastern, and probably only 4,000 in the hall. There might very well be double that number watching the proceedings on the Internet. If those watching were allowed to vote as duly elected messengers, the numbers would quadruple.

One of these days the SBC will allow voting by duly elected messengers via the Internet. We already register electronically, we already have the means by which we watch the Convention electronically, all that is missing is the will to allow messengers to vote electronically. It's not a matter of if, but when.

What is stopping the Executive Committee from allowing national participation via electronic participation?


Let me illustrate. One of the interesting moments in the morning session was the Nominating Committee report. To avoid making this personal, and to focus only on the issue of control, I will not use names.

A messenger who spoke at a microphone, visibly upset, made a motion to overule the Nominating Committee report for the election of board members for the North American Mission Board by substituting a woman from Alaska in the place of a pastor from Alaska. The messenger was allowed to speak to his motion and explained the following:

(1). The woman he was nominating had ALREADY served a four year term on the North American Mission Board.
(2). It is customary for the Nominating Committee to recommend Southern Baptist board members for REELECTION to an automatic second term unless there are extraordinary circumstances that would prohibit the expected nomination for a second term.
(3). The messenger who was recommending the woman to given her second term to the North American Mission Board was himself a TRUSTEE of the North American Mission board and he testified that the woman he was Nominating had served with distinction. We were told that she had major surgery, but dutifully made every trip from Alaska for the board meetings. She had NEVER missed a board meeting, served conscientiously, and had given the committee NO REASON NOT TO REELECT her.

After the messenger spoke, the Chairman of the Nominating Committee spoke against the messenger's substitute motion by stating:

(1). This is not about personalities.
(2). The two members of the Nominating Committee from Alaska "prayed" about their nomination and felt God wanted them to appoint the pastor and remove the woman (i.e. that's church speak for the two Nominating Commitee members from Alaska had a buddy they wanted to serve, and this woman stood in the way).
(3). Trust the Nominatee Committee's work, and follow their leadership, and "sustain the report."

The messenger's substitute motion failed and the woman who had served with distinction was removed from board service.

All because of the whims of two people: Two people from Alaska who serve on the 2010 Nominating Committee. One of these days Southern Baptists will realize it is much better to have decisions in the hands of many rather than in the hands of two. The Southern Baptist Convention is being choked by political control by a few who wish to direct the entire work and ministry that is being done.

Again, it's not a matter of IF the SBC will change through electronic participation, but WHEN it will change. I will continue to push that it changes soon.

In His Grace,



William said...

I watched the challenge to the Nominating Committee report where the lady from AK was bumped from NAMB.

The NC chm said the committee had "the mind of God." I sure hate to see God blamed for all of our nonsense down here.

If they do have the mind of God maybe they could loan it to the NAMB trustees who manifestly haven't had it.

Joe Blackmon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Could you give us the url so we may watch the conventio in action.

Anonymous said...

Did I just hear Johnny Hunt say that we should sell our homes and downsize in order to give more to the cooperative program?

Anonymous said...

First, didn't the whole convention vote on the motion? So it was hardly the descision of 2 people. Would the result be different if 8000 voted as opposed to just 4000? Maybe, maybe not.

Second, I would bet the SBC doesn't do internet voting for the same reason that NO institution does online voting. Because they know that the internet is a very poor way to transmit binding information.
The internet can be hacked very easily. Votes can be changed by a third party with a keystroke. Beyond that, even a 6th grader can pull off a very effective denial of service attack.

Its not a control issue, it is a technology issue. The internet is easily hacked. Shoot, if the SBC goes to internet voting, I'd be half tempted to throw a monkey wrench in it just to say that I did.

Ramesh said...

Could you give us the url so we may watch the conventio in action.

Watch Live Here.

wadeburleson.org said...

Thanks Thy Peace.

Anonymous said...

If Johny Hunt did say that we need to downsize our homes, then he needs to lead by example!!!

Ramesh said...


The above link was for the Pastor's Conference. This link, is for the SBC Annual Meeting.

John Alexander said...

To the poster who listed reasons why the SBC shouldn't use online voting:

I'm a bi-vocational minister who works at a community college in server administration and networking to support the ministry of the church I serve. I cannot attend the Convention because it falls during the summer term.

You've mentioned nothing in your reasons that technology has not overcome. We offer online courses in a secure environment, and we've never experienced a hacking event.

If you use a technology company worth half its salt, the technicians can construct a secure environment where "attendees" can log into the system securely and register their votes.

You can't believe that votes are 100% secure in an in-person, paper-ballot setting. Haven't you ever heard of "stuffing the ballot box"?

I doubt I ever have the opportunity to attend the Convention in person; most of us won't. Online participation is well within the existing technology. Unfortunately, the Powers-That-Be understand the consequences of expanding access to those who can't attend because of other commitments.

rocky said...

How can you can find out if a particular church has registered messengers there? Is there a list online somewhere?

kenbart said...

I'm in Orlando and the number of messengers registered as of 8 am Tuesday morning was 8541.

Scott said...

How did a woman even survive to get nominated, let alone elected in the first place?

I thought we were on a crusade to eliminate the evil of those who can bear children.

Joe, you must have a poster of Ergun Caner hanging over your bed.

Oh, and Joe, you seem to have no problem for speaking into the motives and hearts of people who disagree with you while you're calling out others FOR DOING THE SAME THING!!!!

Bravo there buddy, you must be a proud supporter of the Democratic party since you pattern your behavior in line with your secular hero, Nancy Pelosi.

Scott said...

John Alexander,

You're absolutely right, the Southern Baptist Convention could absolutely set up a secure network with satellite locations and voting booths.

However, it costs money and we can't have that expense, especially when we're paying for the GCRTF to meet in lavish hotels and resorts to discuss the business of our convention where they probably should have been meeting in the small churches that they claim to be serving.

wadeburleson.org said...


Typo on my part. Thanks for the correction.

wadeburleson.org said...

You know, what if we had an electronic convention and asked churches to donate the cost savings to mission work?

wadeburleson.org said...


There is no way right now to find out if particular messengers are registered. The list of registered messengers appears in the next year's annual.

Ron said...

Even more important is that each state should be allowed to name their own members of the nominating committee. In most cases that would stop this type of heavy handed action. I doubt if the these two political appointees would have been selected by the Baptists of Alaska and if they were they would be more sensitive to the wishes of the Baptist from Alaska instead of the CR kingmakers who will reward them for their service

rocky said...


Do you know if a church body has to vote on the messengers they send or can the messengers just be appointed by the pastor or governing board without a vote of the members?

Anonymous said...

I think the internet voting is a good idea. I think they should charge a registration fee- it would probably be enough to offset SOME of the cost. Do you know how much it costs the average church just to send their pastor and any staff members? And I am not even talking about the guys who fly and stay in nice hotels. Most pastors drive to the convention, stay in dumpy little hotels, and eat at the cheapest places possible to try to save their church money. Even then it is a large expense. They could charge $150 to register for online voting and it will STILL be a major savings for most churches!

There might be some technical/legal issues- as mentioned there are reasons other organizations don't do online voting. But nothing that couldn't be overcome.

wadeburleson.org said...


The SBC Constitution requires a messenger be "duly elected" by his home church, which means a congregational vote on the member being a messenger to the SBC.

Dienekes said...


It's been over a year since I've posted here, but I would like to say two things:

1. I'd like to say that at the core, all of these issues are heart issues. And the Lord is the only One who is going to change hearts as need be, to bring revival, to bring a Great Commission Resurgence that goes beyond the moniker to the reality of heart and life of His people. And I believe that the best way out of politicization, bloated budgeting, and all the other ills that I acknowledge and do not deny, is through asking the Lord to do a work in the hearts of men and women. These are our brothers and sisters. They are subject to the corruption of the flesh, the deceitfulness of power/influence, and they need our prayers. They need our prayers. I, for one, am praying for this convention and the hearts of those in "power" that God will grip their hearts and have His way.

2. Wade et al:
I wonder your thoughts on Francis Chan's message yesterday afternoon (which I did not see) and David Platt's message last evening (of which I saw the last half).

The Lord bless y'all.

Bob Cleveland said...


Buried in the middle of Johnny Hunt's address, with obvious reference to the GCRTF Report, was the statement that "the world is watching".

REALLY? I don't many Southern Baptists that are watching, or even know what GCRTF means. Or, for that matter, what the Baptist Faith and MEssage says.

wadeburleson.org said...


Chan's and Platt's messages were excellent.

Scotty said...

Joe Blackmon,

Why do you not take your graceless and blasphemous comments and go where they will be appreciated. Why not pollute your own blog with such things rather than inflict them on others? I would never have believed that the one who blogs there comments here. I don't always agree with Wade, but I will say that his blog and his comments reflect the same character. Why don't yours?


Tom Kelley said...

Wade Burleson said...

The SBC Constitution requires a messenger be "duly elected" by his home church, which means a congregational vote on the member being a messenger to the SBC.

The SBC Constitution, Article III, includes this:

3. The messengers shall be appointed and certified by the churches to the Convention, but no church may appoint more than ten (10).

I would assume that "appointed and certified by the churches" could take whatever form fit with the polity practiced by each (autonomous) congregation. Though election by vote would most likely be the norm, as most SB churches are congregationally governed, I don't think the SBC Constitution demands it, nor does is exclude appointment by other means (such as by a governing board of "elders" acting on behalf of the congregation, in SB churches that do not follow a congregational form of government).


Word verification: menesa. (An organization for geniuses who spell poorly.)

wadeburleson.org said...


You would be correct. I assume most churches are constructed constitutionally as congregational, but if an SBC church is elder ruled (by constitution), then the elders could presumably appoint messengers without congregational vote.

Scott said...

At our church, it's basically whoever wants to go, which is usually no one, and then the deacons approve no one, and then the congregation approves no one, and then no one goes to the convention.

So then, in order to maintain that someone went, our pastor usually goes with his wife and they have a nice two week vacation in the middle of the summer. The youth pastor usually preaches and there's a marked decline in attendance those two Sundays.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, We see at this moment why we can't have on-line voting. Just moments before what some consider the most important vote of our convention the servers have gone down. Hundreds or thousands of viewers are not able to see the vote or to observe the remaining proceedings. The servers will continue to be unreliable as those kicked off attempt to reload.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, We see at this moment why we can't have on-line voting. Just moments before what some consider the most important vote of our convention the servers have gone down. Hundreds or thousands of viewers are not able to see the vote or to observe the remaining proceedings. The servers will continue to be unreliable as those kicked off attempt to reload.

Tue Jun 15, 06:19:00 PM 2010

No, this just shows they have not put a lot of resources into this sort of technology.

What would happen if the amp system failed at the convention center? They would fix it in a few minutes. They have constantly monitoring such things and know how to fix it in case. Same with internet technology.