Bringing Baptist Back

February 15, 2016

Dr. Rick Patrick | Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, AL

Imagine Coca-Cola replacing their red and white cans with blue and yellow ones or McDonald’s replacing their golden arches with silver pyramids. Organizations invest huge sums of money over many decades to project a very specific image before the culture. For years, Southern Baptists have been running away from our image at lightning speed, rejecting our brand at every single structural level. We are becoming less Southern, less Baptist and less of a Convention. Perhaps not so coincidentally, matters of late have not been going particularly well.

Historically, what is this brand? Southern Baptists are a Bible believing, gospel sharing, values voting, alcohol abstaining, cantata learning, offering plate passing, fried chicken eating people. We are predominantly rural and suburban. We are not cool or chic or avant-garde. We reject overly complex interpretations of Scripture. We love God, country, church and family. We look with suspicion upon those who claim we don’t understand our doctrine, our faith or our culture. We are simple without being simplistic. We are honest without being rude. In a society that views us as old-fashioned, moralistic and overly conservative, we simply believe that the Bible is right, the culture is wrong and everybody needs Jesus.

While the above description applies to most of the SBC, we do branch out with some type of variety as to location, language, ethnicity, worship style, doctrinal viewpoints and so on. But the trick is to branch out while still retaining a faithful connection to the brand. Today, Coca-Cola offers Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Coke Zero and other products, but each one remains tethered to the overall brand. The company learned its lesson years ago after introducing the poorly named soft drink Tab, which is no longer popular. In part, the SBC is reeling today because so many of our churches are like Tab. People don’t even know who we are. Whether the world loves us or hates us—and Jesus said they will hate us because they hate Him—we are better off if they know who we are than if they don’t.

Over the past several decades we have taken measures to deemphasize our label at every major structural level—our new church plants, our established churches, our convention agencies and our denomination itself. At a micro level, keeping our denominational identity a guarded secret may have helped the cause of evangelism in certain church settings—although this hypothesis is difficult to prove and may be greatly exaggerated. However, at the macro level, such an approach of running from our brand rather than sticking up for it and promoting it has clearly hurt the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole. Oddly enough, organizations apparently ashamed of themselves and everything they stand for have been known to face practically insurmountable obstacles in getting their message across. Who knew?

Church Plant Level
Nearly all the new churches Southern Baptists are starting today have names like Sojourn Community Church, Mosaic Church, Horizon Church, Powerhouse Church, Reservoir Church, Garden of Grace, The Vineyard, The Gathering or The Church at Some Place or Other. Generally speaking, a newcomer at one of these churches would be terribly hard pressed to find out it is a Southern Baptist Church. In some important respects, it may not be very Southern Baptist at all.

Few of these churches are 100% sponsored by Southern Baptists. Many of them possess loyalties divided among a number of co-sponsoring partners, including evangelical organizations like Acts 29 or the Leadership Network and even other denominations—a popular arrangement among ethnic church plants. In other words, our Southern Baptist dollars are pouring into these churches and providing funds that mutually benefit Christian organizations outside SBC life. It is quite impossible to discern whether these Hybrid Church Plants are more loyal to the Southern Baptist brand or to the other co-sponsoring networks and denominations.

From the standpoint of brand promotion, the Southern Baptist Convention is rolling out our newest and most exciting products without any brand identification whatsoever. While Apple is introducing their next iSomething, Southern Baptists are introducing our next iHaveNoIdeaWhatKindOfChurchThisIs. Our church plant branding has so watered down the soup that people who taste it cannot identify any Southern Baptist flavor at all. We may be marketing ourselves into oblivion.

Established Church Level
Perhaps the easiest way to document the profound rejection of our denominational brand among the established churches of the Southern Baptist Convention is to consider a simple table comparing two lists of church names. The first column shows the list of churches whose Pastors were invited to preach at the SBC Pastors Conference in 2000. The second column shows the corresponding list from 2014.

The contrast is as striking as the conclusion is self-explanatory. In 2000, only 8% of the churches represented at the SBC Pastors Conference did not include the word “Baptist” in their name. In 2014, that percentage was 78%. Without either affirming or denying a causative relationship, history is bound to record that in the early years of the Twenty-First Century, the evangelistic and financial decline of the Southern Baptist Convention directly correlated with a clear repudiation of its denominational label among many of the leading churches in the convention.

2000 SBC PASTORS CONFERENCE 2014 SBC PASTORS CONFERENCE
First Baptist Church, Orlando, FL First Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA
First Baptist Church, Naples, FL Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL
First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, AL
Idlewild Baptist Church, Tampa, FL Cross Church, Northwest, AR
Hoffmantown Church, Albuquerque, NM Epiphany Fellowship, Philadelphia, PA
First Baptist Church, Snellville, GA The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, NC
Second Baptist Church, Hot Springs, AR Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Dallas, TX
First Baptist Church, Merritt Island, FL Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA
First Baptist Church, Gardendale, AL Harvest Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows, IL
Wedgwood Baptist Church, Fort Worth, TX  
Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, TN  
First Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA  


Convention Agency Level
Of the four structural levels, the convention agencies are the easiest organizations to give a free pass for rebranding themselves. Frankly, if Guidestone can sell more insurance and retirement policies than the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and if LifeWay can sell more books than the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, relatively little is lost in the process. A greater concern lies within the various partnerships embraced by these agencies, which appear to belong increasingly less to Southern Baptists and more to others.

Unsettling connections exist today between some of our SBC agencies and outside groups. Southern Seminary is very cozy with Sovereign Grace churches—formerly considered an outside denomination but now part of the SBC. As a result of this alliance, the reformed charismatic students from Sovereign Grace’s Pastors College are now eligible for the same Cooperative Program discounted seminary rates that students from traditionally Southern Baptist churches receive.

This is a bit like Coca-Cola offering their benefits package to Pepsi employees. Outside denominations and networks alike have learned that if they will only annex themselves—in name only and with a token gift to the SBC—they too can line up at the trough and enjoy a Cooperative Program provided buffet, courtesy of faithful Southern Baptists who have paid into this system for years, and whose brand of Christianity differs markedly from many of these formerly outside groups.

We appear to be less Baptist at the ERLC, as evidenced by the hiring, on day one of Russell Moore’s tenure, of five individuals—only two of whom were Southern Baptists at the time, while all five were Gospel Coalitionists. NAMB has also employed an officer who was not Southern Baptist, albeit terminating him later and offering him an outside consulting role. LifeWay not only publishes many books not written by Southern Baptist authors, but they also employ conference speakers at camps from outside our convention. Several of our entities support evangelical conferences such as Exponential, which promote various non-Southern Baptist speakers, leaders and ministries. Our IMB even trains many non-Southern Baptists. It is harder for a Southern Baptist politician to get invited to an ERLC forum than it is for liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, possibly treasonous Hillary Clinton. These entities feel increasingly less Southern Baptist with each passing day.

Denominational Level
By 2012, Southern Baptists had become obsessed with this notion of distancing ourselves from our brand. With all the fuss, one would think that hundreds if not thousands of churches and agencies were ready to change their denominational affiliation to Great Commission Baptist. At the convention in New Orleans, 53% of voting Southern Baptists favored allowing the option while 46% opposed it. Only a handful of churches actually adopted the descriptor. I did hear that one young lady changed her Facebook religious affiliation to Great Commission Baptist, so at least some good came from this very time consuming effort.

Essentially, the new name was defeated without being defeated. Technically, it passed. Practically, no one is using it. Perhaps the tide is turning. We have at least decided we are going to be Southern Baptists. We can admit our brand exists. Now is a great time for us to invest significant resources in helping people understand that our brand is a good thing and not a bad thing. It is worth the trouble to do so.

Conclusion
When my wife married me, she was unashamed to take my name and identify with me. It was and is an act of loyalty and love. I pray the day will soon come when all Southern Baptists are proudly identifying with our name as well. In fact, we should encourage the faithful use of our name not only at the denominational level, but also among our agencies, established churches and new church plants. If there is work to be done, in the culture at large, to explain to all our secular prospects that Southern Baptists are not the evil miscreants portrayed on CNN, then let us roll up our sleeves and take the time to do this work, explaining all that is good within the SBC rather than abandoning this task by taking shortcuts.

If Southern Baptists will only stop running from our brand, instead embracing it joyfully, we will discover that it is far easier for all of us to move forward in a positive direction together. Perhaps then we will more effectively spread, in a distinctively Southern Baptist manner, the life-changing message of the gospel. Once we are all on board with the notion that Southern Baptists are the real thing, we can bring Baptist back, restoring the good name of our denominational brand. Then, by God’s grace, we can finally teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

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Greg Gilbreath

I could not agree more! The SBC is the most blessed, most used of God group of Christians thus far and we are in danger of wrecking on the shores of a worldly mindset. Thank you for this article.

William Thornton

I suggest a new title for your article: “Rick’s lengthy laundry list of SBC laments”. I know you admire Adrian Rogers and the alliteration is my humble offering in recognition of the same. I share a few of your concerns and I’d love to see you provide support for your complaints.

1. “Few of these [church plants] are 100% sponsored by Southern Baptists.” OK, show me. How few? How do you know? Someone has actually looked at each church and listed sponsors? You may be right but I think you are asserting your unverified opinion. Your association and state convention lists newly affiliated churches. Maybe you could start at one of these, a short list, and find out.

2. “Our Southern Baptist dollars are pouring into these churches”. I assume you mean our Cooperative Program, Annie Armstrong, and perhaps some associational dollars, since any individual or direct SBC church dollars would be free from your concern. Could you prove your statement? How many dollars? Some of these networks that offend you are small enough to easily cross check. You have a verified list of such churches? Publish it.

3. I don’t object to your raising these questions but I would like to see something other than your unsupported speculation. You fashion a label, “Hybrid Church Plants”, then declare that it is “impossible to discern if these…are more loyal” to the SBC or some other entity. It’s possible. Are you worried that facts will interfere with your opinion? Are you reluctant to define exactly what constitutes a sufficient level of SBC loyalty?

4. The churches pastured by Ronnie Floyd, Rick Warren, David Platt, and J. D. Greear are in the list of churches that provided speakers for the 2014 Pastor’s Conference. None of these include the term “Baptist,” which gave you room to make the only valid, data-supported point concerning churches in your entire article. Are you implying that these four churches are somehow insufficiently SBC? If your answer is “no” then you lose the one data-verified point you make. If “yes’ then please define what makes a church sufficiently SBC.

I value your opinions. You are a solid, loyal SBC colleague and I have appreciated out online friendship and exchanges over the past few years.

    Rick Patrick

    Hi William,
    Thanks for engaging here. We’ve gone round and round before on what I consider the unreasonable level of “proof” you demand from opinion pieces. Of course, I have requested the kind of summary reports from our entities that would irrefutably establish these truths to your satisfaction, but they have apparently all graduated from the Hillary Clinton School of Document Disclosure. This is how they play the game. First, they claim we cannot prove our assertions without having all the facts. And next, they refuse to provide us with the very facts that could establish our assertions in a court of law. Friend, this is simply not a court of law. This is the court of public opinion. The standard of proof is for an informed, interested observer to say: “Yes, I think this might really be going on here. This seems to be happening. This fits with the information that I observe from my corner of the world.”

    Frankly, bloggers like yours truly simply do not have the resources to launch blue ribbon investigations, survey new churches, trace church plant sponsoring money trails, and so on. I think you are underestimating the time, money and energy it would take to support these assertions at anything approaching a “standard of courtroom legal proof.” Very few editorials offer opinions supported by “trial ready” documentation.

    As to the established Southern Baptist Churches who have dropped their public identification with Baptists entirely, you are missing my point when you ask me if they are insufficiently SBC. Coke would still be Coke even if it was served in a Pepsi can. My concern is not that they are insufficiently SBC, but that their branding is insufficiently SBC, in a way that hurts the convention. More is being lost than is being gained by running away from our brand.

      William Thornton

      At some point, maybe the point where words need to be translated into actions, someone needs to show something other than opinion.

      ACTS29 shows 7 churches in Alabama. Are any of these SBC church plants? Small number, shouldn’t be hard to cross check.

        Lydia

        Do they include former Acts 29 church plants that erased that history when it became embarrassing? A lot of people are not aware Sojourn were originally Acts 29 church plants. Have Driscoll DNA all over them. Now they say, “Driscoll who”?

        It is the same principle of not being allowed to mention SGM and child molestation cover ups around certain SBC groups in power, verboten.

        Lydia

        “At some point, maybe the point where words need to be translated into actions, someone needs to show something other than opinion.

        Aren’t we paying people to be transparent in reporting in our entities? oj, dumb question. :o) I have heard a lot about budget items that are not so specific and I can imagine that now it would be embarrassing to report how much went to subsidize, for example, Acts 29 “reformed only” church plants whether it be a pastors salary or for other items. Some of them no longer exist or were absorbed by other new and improved (shh…reformed only) church planting networks. How many subsidized church plants did Setzer, our church planting guru, have? Was the last count three? Because the first two failed?. Didn’t he proclaim he only preaches? No hospital visits, etc? Maybe the hailed gurus are the problem. Perhaps our new strategy lacks the very basics: Love for people.

    Scott Shaver

    “I’d love to see you provide support for your complaints”. “You have a verified list …..publish it”.

    Not very demanding for someone who spins and throws his own biased statistics like RAIN.

    The “proof” is is as plain as the nose one’s face, should Will ever venture to look in a mirror.

    Lydia

    “2. “Our Southern Baptist dollars are pouring into these churches”. I assume you mean our Cooperative Program, Annie Armstrong, and perhaps some associational dollars, since any individual or direct SBC church dollars would be free from your concern. Could you prove your statement? How many dollars? Some of these networks that offend you are small enough to easily cross check. You have a verified list of such churches? Publish it.”

    Nothing can be “proved”. Only inferred by patterns and the fact that several I am familiar with are not surviving on tithe intake with such large staffs and the audience make up. Those Mars Hill hires did not move across country to work for free. So, nothing can be proved. That was the intention. It is the perfect set up. Smoke and mirrors instead of sunlight. One would need institutional history and truth from not only the SBC entities but Acts 29, Mars Hill, Sojourn, Baptist 21, etc, etc. Not going to happen. Sort of like the lockbox the leadership thought an ethical position.

    Just like I cannot prove SGM lackeys who fled to Louisville to be near the seminary are not profiting from Mohlers favor at SBTS with internships, jobs, etc. it is called: spin

Dennis Lee Dabney

And all the “Southern Baptist”, and all “Baptist” said Amen! We are not ashame of the gospel nor of being Baptist. Excellent article, timely written.

Preach!

Ben Stratton

Excellent article Rick! I wish every Southern Baptist pastor and church member would read it. I particularly like your quote: “the SBC is reeling today because so many of our churches are like Tab. People don’t even know who we are.”

By the way, your points are spot on. Every Southern Baptist state convention is pouring money and time into starting new churches. And 95%+ of these new church plants do not carry the name Baptist. What I have found about these new churches without the Baptist label is they tend to: Not practice congregational church government; Not believe in or receive church letters from other Southern Baptist churches,they are soft on homosexuality and weak as dish water on Baptist distinctives. They are wide open on the ordinances and ordination. One such church in Kentucky receives and recognizes deacons and elders from Methodist and Presbyterian churches as officers into their own congregation!

Don Redden

For years I’ve promoted that the best name for a church is “The Lake.” Why? Because even the lost will accept an invitation to the lake on Sunday. Imagine their surprise…

Just as one cannot call hell “a warm place down South,” naming the church something other than what it really is, regardless of the denomination, is seemingly a futile attempt to pull the proverbial wool over the eyes of the lost or spiritually naïve. “Elevation” is a great song by U2, not a great name for a church. But I’m sure that playing a great song like “Elevation” to open a Sunday service would make the church really, really cool and instantly relevant in today’s “looking for the next big thing” world of churches. Easter Sunday, 2008: The hipster church I visited opened with a Bon Jovi song, “You Can’t Go Home.” It was definitely a “Shock to the heart!” and I can’t go back.

Todd Starnes

Thank you for writing this! I once visited a church with a denominationally-neutral name and inquired about its religious affiliation. The pastor told me, “We’re Baptist but we just don’t tell anyone.” Sure enough – the two Catholics leading the church’s Sunday School class had no idea they were attending a Southern Baptist church.

    Well, most of us who are not ashamed to be called Southern Baptist Christians stand for the Truth. I can't change my original name because someone in the neighborhood thinks of me as a firm conservative Jesus freak person. I am very proud to called a Sou

    We truly need to stand together. I would rather keep our Original Brand of being Southern Baptist Christian Conservative man than to appeal to people to affiliate with me. The Truth of who we are as a SBC Denomination should be known from the first minute we are sharing the gospel of Truth. All over the World , we are proud to introduce our newly plant Churches as SBC Churches period. We are loved, respected and welcome. I am a product of the great work of SBC Missionaries who never dumped the original name brand Southern Baptist. Whether this article has touched a swarm of bees or not. We need to be United as one to win the lost World with the truth of God’s Holy Word! I am in prayer and looking forward for us to dialogue more in this issue without fear or hurting feelings. We all need to know that it’s not about us, But Jesus Christ. God bless you all. Dr. Nicholas Muteti

      Jon Estes

      ” We need to be United as one to win the lost World with the truth of God’s Holy Word!”

      Do you think we can be more productive in reaching the world because we have a specific denominational tag in our name?

      I think it is possible that in some areas in the US, people will not even come to a church with such a distinction or even give a person the time of day if a witnessing opportunity became available because of the denominational name link. I do not think we need to hide the fact we are Southern Baptists but I do not find any aagreement in your statement – “The Truth of who we are as a SBC Denomination should be known from the first minute we are sharing the gospel of Truth”.

      I would rather us deny ourselves (Southern Baptists) and pick up the cross and follow Him.

Page Brooks

Brother Patrick, thank you for your article. However I believe that you failed to make your argument because your list of what defines a church only deals with externalities. For example, your list include such things as having Baptist in the title of the church, singing cantatas, passing the offering plate, etc. Other items you mention are deeply embedded cultural preferences.

The marks of a true church, and a Baptist church at that, are such distinctives as congregational decision making, a regenerate church membership, the necessity of new birth in Christ, believers baptism, the Bible as the ultimate authority, etc. Some of these distinctives you mention. But most you mention are personal preferences that are culturally grounded.

My point? Externalities may change, but core distinctives are what will carry the mission of the convention forward. Most new church plants that I know of carefully cling to these distinctives, though the externalities may take different forms.

So long as people in the convention cling to externalities and do not focus on distinctices to carry the mission forward then the convention is indeed doomed.

    Rick Patrick

    Page,
    Thanks so much for engaging here. I agree with your comments about our internal Baptist distinctives mattering a great deal. I did not address such internal issues, not because they do not matter to me, but because these internal issues are simply outside of my topic in this post. I am not questioning the level of commitment to our Baptist distinctives being displayed by churches and organizations abandoning our brand. Rather, I am questioning the wisdom of a strategy concerning externalities that minimizes the importance of the public brand we communicate to the watching world as the Southern Baptist Convention.

    If by “clinging to externalities” you mean clearly announcing to the world the affiliation of our churches and organizations with our brand—namely, the Southern Baptist Convention—then we may simply disagree on the merits of an organization hiding its true identity from the public. As long as maintaining the good name of our denomination and establishing the identity of our brand is considered a trivial and dispensable waste of time, we are destined to travel down a road that will eventually leave all the Horizons and Mosaics and Sojourns without the financial support of a denomination. If the SBC continues to be viewed as an externality, in a generation or two, it is quite possible that our externality will vanish like a vapor, following our brand name right out of existence.

norm

Thank you, Rick, for your engaging, inportant and interesting observations — whiners notwithstanding.

Barna said many years ago that SBC churches do themselves a disservice by removing the “Baptist” name from churches. Basically, it’s bad marketing practice was Barna’s point. If you don’t want people to know you are Southern Baptist, then is that not deceitful — unless you really don’t want to be an SBC church, anyway? I consider it doctrinal dishonesty. Who would trust church leadership that would hide its denomination/doctrine?

For those who don’t really want to be identified as Southern Baptist, then maybe they should leave the SBC altogether. Well, they won’t do that b/c they couldn’t survive w/o Cooperative Program money. If the money dried up then the ticks would fall off.

Clearly, homogenization — even in name only — is loss of identity.

Max

“If Southern Baptists will only stop running from our brand …”

There is an SBC church plant near me with a cool name. When it was planted, there was no obvious indication of SBC affiliation. After repeated inquiries about the underlying nature of the church in belief and practice, the young pastor painted the following under the church name on the sign out front “A Reformed Southern Baptist Church.” He then posted what being “reformed” means on the church website. Now current members know exactly what they have joined themselves to and prospective members know more about the theological leaning of the pastor and his elder team. I may not agree with his theology, but I appreciate the young man’s integrity to tell it like it is.

Kevin

Brother Rick,
You are exactly right! Every time I receive the 4″X6″ cards sent out by NAMB indicating the new works that are being started around the nation, I do like to peruse the information and the personalities,,,every now and then I recognize some of the church planters. I am not sure of the frequency of which these prayer cards/bio cards are mailed out…usually about 50 or so at the time…but I would say that less than 10% of all the cards that I have viewed in the last 2 or 3 mailings have indicated “Baptist” in the new work church.
I know that the Baptist moniker isn’t required to be a cooperating church, but it sure seems to suggest a reluctance to be associated with Southern Baptists on some level.

    Rick Patrick

    I have felt the same thing looking at those cards, Kevin. It feels like I’m praying for a bunch of non-denominational church plants. I just don’t feel much of a denominational connection. Sure, I can pray for the Kingdom generally, but in that case the Methodists and Presbyterians may need to start sending me their cards as well.

    I wonder what would happen if we incentivized denominational loyalty in church planting name selection? If you plant a Southern Baptist Church with the word “Baptist” in the title, NAMB will give you X dollars, but if you remove the word “Baptist” you will only receive 50% of X. Perhaps we would start seeing the word “Baptist” a bit more on our new church signs—a trend I believe would eventually improve matters BOTH for the church plants AND for the convention.

    It only stands to reason that it is in the best interests of a Baptist denomination to have churches identifying publicly as Baptist.

Bart Barber

I wouldn’t want to be a crypto-Baptist. I still prefer them to pseudo-Baptists, but I wouldn’t want to be a crypto-Baptist.

Stephen Ammons

I agree with you whole heartedly. A church I once served at as youth pastor printed a shirt recently with the name very large but the word baptist less than half the size. Then later printed another one with it gone completely. When I asked about it they said we emphasized the name calvary over the name baptist. (Calvary baptist church). To me we are deceiving people when we do not list the affiliation in our name. What are we trying to hide? I am proud to be southern baptist. I grew up in dependant baptist and since going to college haveducation become a southern baptist because of their heart for missions and their emphasis on the Bible. I am proud to be southern baptist and proud and honored to lead a southern baptist church.

    Cris Powell

    Interesting read – LOL. Keep on preaching Brother Stephen.

Andy

Rick, I suppose I feel like you are conflating two different ideas here in a way that ignores SBC history and structure. As such, I agree quite a bit with one side of your argument, but dissagree with the other.

The SBC formed as a voluntary association of independent pre-existing Baptist Churches and associations, for the common support of mutually beneficial ministries. This was, and is, a uniqueness that made us different from our Methodist and Presbyterian brothers. The SBC cooperatively has since planted MANY new Baptist Churches, but the structural relationship to the whole remains the same.

So for example, I have, for nearly 9 years, served at a “CALVARY BAPTIST CHURCH.” The church is nearly 65 years old, so not one of the 150 yr-old originals, but no spring chicken either. Our church was started by SBC people, has supported the SBC for it’s entire existence, however, we have also, going back at least to the 80’s as far as I know, supported other missionaries and organizations as well. So while in one sense we are “A Southern Baptist Church.” we could have also been called at various times a “Campus Crusade for Christ” Church, or a “Choices for women” church, or a “World Hunger” church. We support all those ministries, but none of them dictate our church policies.

So, while I am glad that we have “Baptist” in our name, and agree that it is a good and helpful thing to keep, as it provides easy opportunity to explain what makes us different from the Methodists, Nazarene, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc…It doesn’t bother me at all that we don’t have “a southern baptist church” on our sign. For, me, and I think I can say for much of our church leadership and membership, “southern baptist” is not as integral of an identifier as “Baptist.” I realize this is something that might sadden you if it were your church, and there are likely many factors in play here (we’re in Indiana, not Alabama, for one)…but when we read news about things that the ERLC, or NAMB, or IMB, or Executive Committee is doing…our reaction is not “what in the world are WE doing.”….it is more like, “what in the world are THEY doing.”

Ken

Dr. Rick

The matters you highlight, with the ultimate insult being the almost total acceptance of the Satanic inspired Calvinism in the SBC, are exactly what led me to denounce my 68 year affiliation with the SBC.

Let me summarize for you a conversation I had a couple years ago with a staff member of our state convention who was bragging to me about the adding of several inner city churches to the denomination list while at the same time lamenting to me that the effort had not yet resulted in any consequential effort on their part to really integrate into and support the convention – including never granting a single dollar to convention programs.

I pointed out to him that it was evident that these churches were merely hoodwinking officials like himself into believing that they would associate with and support the convention in order to receive monetary grants and had no intention to really become SB churches or even SB sympathizers. I think this partially explains your point and contend that that this is the main reason so many churches are now expressing a phony SBC affiliation and why you will never find the word “Baptist” in their names and who definitely have no intention of adopting the “Southern Baptist” identifier.

Eric

Thanks for the Article. I am a Bible Believing Southern Baptist.

Lydia

What happened to the big campaign for “Great Commission Baptists”? Much ado about nothing?

volfan007

Rick,

You sure do know how to stir up a hornet’s nest! :)

David

    Rick Patrick

    Yes, David, this is pretty radical stuff. Can you imagine W. B. Johnson back in 1845 entertaining the notion that the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention should prefer the use of the denominational label “Baptist” so as to clearly and publicly identify our theological positions and associations? What a rabble rousing and contrarian thought!

      Pastorbillm

      You mean WB Johnson the SBC pastor who was a Calvinist?

        Rick Patrick

        What other W.B. Johnson could I possibly mean? He also married a woman named Henrietta and had eight kids. Thankfully, we do not have to follow every single detail of his life as normative. However, the point of the post is that one matter has been historically normative for Southern Baptists, and that is that we at least refer to our churches with the label Baptist in the name. We did so for about 140 years and then slowly began dropping it.

Scott H

I think the Coke analogy breaks down because Coke also manufactures Sprite, Pibb Extra, Mello Yellow, Fanta Orange, and even Dasani bottled water and no one gets mad about them not calling these drinks Clear Coke, Pepper Coke, Yellow Coke, Orange Coke, or Coke Water.

Also I would note that people who get upset about churches they aren’t members of not having Baptist in their name usually go to churches that don’t put a “Southern ” in front of “Baptist” in their name. How do I know that “First Baptist Church” is Southern or Independent or National or Free Will or Reformed or American or CBF, etc.?

    Rick Patrick

    Fair enough. All analogies break down eventually. The point remains—it is helpful when getting a message across to a mass market to maintain and promote one’s primary brand, even if subsidiaries and modified versions exist.

    And you are right that most SBC churches have historically not included the S in our branding. I’m okay with that. But we have historically included the B. Bringing it back would be a step in the right direction.

    Dennis Lee Dabney

    There was a time when Baptist stood for something which distinguished us from all other denominations.We currently live in a culture which is in the process of taking down the old landmarks which remind them of the ‘way’ it was. Our society is loosening the bands of anything which cause them to consider the “old time” religion. The local New Testament Church hardly even resemble our grandparents Church from the Pulpits to the door. There are those with great influence in high places, I might add, who want to make all of us fit their cookie cutter mold in a new culture including the Church in order to remain relevant in their New World.

    I’m not one to gloss the label for obvious reasons. However I wear the label and wear it well. We have a great history as a denomination from persecution to perseverance. We are known for our preachers and their preaching, and we have had some great ones who have proclaimed the message of the kingdom of God. We have some great ones in our midst today.Don’t start me naming names. Flat foot preaching with great passion and tremendous exposition of the Holy Scriptures.

    There are aspects of all history in which we are not proud of. The Bible is full of examples of God’s people and their sins against Him and their faults against their own brethren. Those unfortunate events should teach us some great spiritual truths, after that, we should “just keep it moving”.

    I’m a Baptist boy and thats just the way it is!

    Preach!

Jon Estes

We do know there is NOT a Southern Baptist heaven… Don’t we?

I doubt very seriously that God is as concerned about our name and branding as this article thinks we should be.

I had a deacon once who stated clearly that a church is not a church if it does not have a steeple. He was having a bad day because of the new store front SBC churches popping up and attracting the younger members away from our traditional “Baptist World” church.

I guess as we get older the things like this become more important to some. I’m glad as Baptists we stand firm on local church autonomy, even when it comes to giving our church a name. We do support, as Baptists, other Baptists churches to be autonomous in nameing themselves, don’t we?

    Rick Patrick

    Jon,
    Of course, each church is autonomous and can name their church however they feel led. I am challenging the conventional wisdom of the last thirty years that suggests doing so will help your church grow because the lost will get hung up on the term Southern Baptist and never come to Jesus. Deep down, I just really don’t believe that. If we love them and share the gospel, they will join our church regardless of the name.

    My post, however, was written from a denominational perspective. I called it a “macro” perspective. What some individual churches seem to think is great for them individually cannot be all that good for the denomination as a whole. The words “Southern Baptist” gradually fade from view and enter the realm of irrelevance.

    Here’s the thought process for why this even matters: (a) strong name brand recognition helps our denomination remain cohesive and healthy, (b) a cohesive and healthy denomination will inspire strong levels of faithful financial support and prayerful participation, and (c) we are best able to fulfill the Great Commission and share our faith as Southern Baptists when we have strong levels of financial support and prayerful participation.

    Lydia

    Sheesh Jon, you forgot to mention the carpet and music. :o) Every convo like this deteriorates into the absurd.

    When I think of Baptist , I think of “No kings but Jesus”, the priesthood of believer (no added ” s” by Mohler) and a strong sense of responsibility and accountability for living as a new creation in Christ. Not a doormat for some insecure YRR to micromanage.

    I was always taught it was harder for us. We had to diligently abide in Christ, be guided by the Holy Spirit and grow in wisdom. That takes effort.. Other denoms had plenty of structure to follow and humans to obey rather than Jesus Christ. And a lot of people are attracted to that these days. Frankly, it is easier to make someone else accountable for your sanctification. Especially the young who were raised like that.

    Nowadays Baptists recite creeds to prove their bonafides rather than living as the real thing.

      Jon Estes

      I like your comment…

      “When I think of Baptist , I think of “No kings but Jesus”, the priesthood of believer…”

      As Baptists we understand these terms and should.

      What do you think the unchurched, unsaved world thinks of when they think of Baptists (if they even do)?

      Is your answer to that something that makes you proud? If it does – great. If it doesn’t, what needs to be done? For me, fussing about the name Baptist in our name will not help us reach those who don’t like the name Baptist already. It will probably cause them to dislike us more and believe their reason for dislikingus is legitimate.

      I think there are many people who think we as Baptits believe there is no king but Baptists – and we have probably given them reason. This article makes it seem that our name Baptist is a more worthy discussion than how we can reach the masses for Christ.

      If you thought we could reach more people for Christ without the brand name showing, would you support those who keep it out?

        Rick Patrick

        “This article makes it seem that our name Baptist is a more worthy discussion than how we can reach the masses for Christ.”

        Well, Jon, you are just reading it that way. As the author, I promise you my heart is to reach MORE people, not fewer. We disagree on the strategy, not the aim. The two topics you reference above are not to be set against each other—EITHER talk about Baptist branding OR reaching the lost. What you have to understand is that I believe we can BETTER reach the lost by KEEPING Baptist in our name EVEN IF it means we have to change their minds about what the term Baptist really means.

        You may say, “Why even bother? There are so many other things to teach them.” But when you come to the conviction that Baptists collectively are be better off reaching the masses with a good name that we are happy to promote rather than an embarrassing name we are ashamed to admit in public, then bringing Baptist back simply makes sense—NOT that it is more important than being a Christian and fulfilling the Great Commission. Precisely the opposite. It is the means by which Baptists can be more effective at reaching the masses.

        The answer to your second question is, “Yes, of course, if I thought the strategy worked I would support it.” But that’s just the point. It doesn’t. Like socialism, it sounds good but doesn’t work. We’ve tried it for almost forty years and the results are terrible. Even our individual churches, for the most part, whatever the name, are not growing. Meanwhile, our denominational loyalty has been obliterated, and the name Baptist is practically invisible. This is not working.

          Jon Estes

          Thanks Rick…

          To agree with your point on keeping the name Baptists in our churches name to keep the brand name alive is not a bad thing. Let me ask this question…

          Using your position, shouldnt we push to use the name Southern Baptist and not just Baptist? I think you know where I am going. So many whacko Baptist of varying stripes are out there and if we want to make sure our brand is being noticed for our destinctives, wouldn’t that almost demand we use the whole and not the part.

          I do not want to get lumped with Westboro (nor do I think you do) – who proudly keeps the name Baptist on their sign.

          jle

            Rick Patrick

            Jon,
            Good question. I know of many churches that do indeed have “Southern Baptist” in their name. I think that would be especially necessary in areas where there are plenty of Independent Baptists or National Baptists or any of the other 16 plus categories of Baptists.

            Perhaps this is a question of just how far we want to go with the identification process. But historically, Southern Baptist churches have not generally included the “Southern” part. Once somebody knows they are in a “Baptist” church, if they are conversant enough to inquire, they can always ask which type of Baptist church it is.

            Frankly, I’ve never encountered anyone who really thought we were the same as the Westboro people—primarily because we don’t act like they do.

            Thus, on the overall scale, I do want to bring “Baptist” back, because it was there before and it helps to identify us. I’m ambivalent about bringing “Southern” back, because it was not really there before, and I think “Baptist” is sufficient to do the job, while also sounding a bit more natural and less wordy to the ear.

              Andy

              “I think “Baptist” is sufficient to do the job, while also sounding a bit more natural and less wordy to the ear.”

              So you don’t think we should call ourselves: “The Calvary Great Commission Southern Non-Westboro Non-National Baptist Church.”? :-)

              Near where I live there is actually “The Faith, Hope, and Love Church of God in Christ.” I think that’s the longest I’ve seen in the wild.

Peter Vadala

Mosaic of Los Angeles is a neo-Pagan cult whose pastor Dave Auda and drama teacher lied to me in regard to its apparent current affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention for fear of accountability, as they lie to all seekers. Furthermore, its SBC overseer in California, Randy McWhorter, sees himself as not a spritual leader but as a complaint department whose job is primarily to dismiss spiritual concerns without too much of a stir under the guise of being a “Healthy Church” guru.

Pastor Lawrence Fudge summed the titilating, rock-concert, neopagan cult heresy based on a clear “theology” of earth, wind, water, fire, and wood best before kicking me and apparently many other of God’s saints seeking a spiritual home in Hollywood for so much as questioning the light garnish of Bible verses used as window dressing to distract everyone from the satanic neopagan display of heresy of Mosaic:
“Neither myself nor our staff have a desire or need to justify how we lead the church.” – Lawrence Fudge for Public Figure Erwin McManus and Mosaic

There is zero regard for Biblical church discipline. Moreover, educated saints of a more learned Hollywood generation have warned us of Mosaic’s dangerous methodology in ubiquitous Web blogs like the Mosaic of Pain Continues. Wikipedia editors have attempted to call Mosaic out, but like he Mormon cult, Mosaic has dedicated editors at the ready to suppress truth. And don’t try to engage in any kind of logical explanation with staff. The structure, predicated upon instilling a false sense of pride and privilege in new, immature, volunteers I equipped to lead anyone is practically a prescription for organizational abuse, and in practice, it is a well-oiled machine categorically ousting legitimate Bible believers.

Somebody must hold Erwin McManus accountable for his theological and effectual, highly harmful betrayal of Jesus Christ, lest more legitimate Bible believers be seeking a home in a town given over to Satan.

Mosaic is a neopagan cult that betrays does not represent Jesus Christ of the Bible and in fact draws not seekers predominantly but those with a passing history in the faith, and it draws them farther away from Christian theology into an esoteric Greek mythology with some nice-sounding, warped Biblical text-based platitudes to help them on their way to being handed over to Satan.

Perhaps its worst violation of Southern Baptist Faith and Message standards is that repurposed pagan theology, not the Bible, comprises the core of its belief. So much so that Mosaic scrubbed said core belief system from its Web site out of fear Christians would discover the truth that it has zero adherence or relevance to anything relevant to Christ or the 2000 Southern Baptist Faith and Message.

It’s made me rethink my membership in the Southern Baptist Convention, to say the least, wondering as a millennial if the Puritan faith of our founders in the likes of the Puritan Evangelical Church of San Diego of suffering saints is a more accurate representation of God.

Mosaic’s heartbreaking departure from basic Christian tenets- forget the old rugged anything, in favor of scantily gyrating “musicians”- is a stumbling block for any mature or new believer alike, with zero accountability, and which trades the supremacy of Christ for the whimsy of Erwin McManus’s imagination. It’s a very simple lack of Biblical integrity, pandering to society’s most liberal elements rather than staying the course of Biblical fidelity rooted in rather overt rebellion against the SBC. It’s major selling point is, as Erwin acknowledges on stage, that there are young, attractive people in attendance. But the way he recruits us is based on a system that instills fear not of God but of Lawrence Fudge, Jamar, and others among Erwin’s antiChristian henchmen. It personifies, it’s very existence parodies everything that is wrong with the seeker-friendly Sunday morning rock-music cult.

Good men of conscience within SBC will investigate.

Peter Vadala
Traveling Member, FBC Dunwoody, GA

    Rick Patrick

    Disclaimer: the specific church plant names used in this article were drawn from a brief and cursory review of just one of the Send North America cities. I just used the first handful of names that popped up. They were intended to support the idea that our new church plants were not generally using “Baptist” in the name. There was no intent to reference or disparage any particular congregation that might also use that same name.

    Peter, thank you for sharing your concerns about that particular Mosaic Church. It sounds like there may be issues to explore there. The reason I wrote the disclaimer above is that comments referencing two different Mosaic Churches have appeared in the comment stream, and I simply want everyone to know that I am not so much addressing individual churches, but merely asking if “all of our churches in general” might be better off sticking with our brand.

    Lydia

    I”t’s made me rethink my membership in the Southern Baptist Convention, to say the least, wondering as a millennial if the Puritan faith of our founders in the likes of the Puritan Evangelical Church of San Diego of suffering saints is a more accurate representation of God.”

    That would be just trading one Neo Pagan cult for another.

      Andy

      I didn’t think the Southern Baptist Convention had any members….Isn’t it the churches that have members?

        Scott Shaver

        Andy:

        Understand and appreciate your point of divergence (philosphical) on whether or not Southern Baptist Convention had any members as opposed to constituent/participating churches.

        What cannot be historically denied (even though presently vanishing) is that there used to be a “Southern Baptist” culture, which for all of the ways it’s been trashed and dragged through the mud (in recent times most often by its paid leaders) did great service to the cause of Christ in the U.S. and abroad through shared/taught “baptist” distinctives and committment to the “Great Commission” I for one, am not ashamed of the uniquely “Southern” culture which once represented the heart of this enterprise.

          Scott Shaver

          Correction: Perhaps the word “face” is a better choice in last sentence of previous comment than “heart”. I think it’s “heart” at one point was evangelism, baptism and training/discipleship.

          Understand and appreciate your point of divergence (philosphical) on whether or not Southern Baptist Convention had any members as opposed to constituent/participating churches.

          What cannot be historically denied (even though presently vanishing) is that there used to be a “Southern Baptist” culture, which for all of the ways it’s been trashed and dragged through the mud (in recent times most often by its paid leaders) did great service to the cause of Christ in the U.S. and abroad through shared/taught “baptist” distinctives and committment to the “Great Commission” I for one, am not ashamed of the uniquely “Southern” culture which once represented the face of this enterprise.

Jon Estes

” Deep down, I just really don’t believe that. If we love them and share the gospel, they will join our church regardless of the name.”

Are you saying… Deep down you do believe that if we love them and share the gospel, they will join our church because of the name?

I understadn you are wrting from a denominational perspective and that you are going all “macro” but I am responding from a biblical perspective and think, as great as the SBC was, is and ever will be is ot because of a name but our obedience to the Word. The place where we find our stand on church autonomy. It seems that we like being baptist more than being Christian. Please don’t get me wrong. I love the name Baptist and am glad my church has that term in the name but if it did not, iot would not change the doctrinal position we hold.

To show some support for the article, not for the sake of the gospel but name recognation specifically, we have people come to our church because we have the term “Baptist” in our name. Then again, we are sitting in the Middle East and part of our hope is to reach the expat Baptists who move to the city. I have not seen our name draw people who do not know Christ to us because of the name. Two of the strongest evangelical churches here in Dubai do not use the term but their leadership is of Southern Baptist heritage. One of the pastors has traveled to the states to speak at one of our great seminaries.

    Rick Patrick

    Jon,
    The word “regardless” does not mean “because of” but rather, “irrespective of.” I do not believe and did not say that people would join a church because of the name—but no matter what that name might be, regardless of the name, irrespective of the name. The name is unimportant evangelistically as long as we love them and tell them about Jesus.

    However, the name is important to the long term health of a denomination, to which the financial support of the Great Commission is linked.

    Perhaps the clearest way I can summarize my point is this: “I believe when it comes to fulfilling the Great Commission, that which we stand to gain at the macro level (denominationally) by including the label Baptist MAY BE FAR GREATER than that which we stand to lose at the micro level (evangelistically) within each local church.”

    By the way, as to your later point, I disaffirm that the name Baptist is more important than being a Christian. I can do that and STILL believe that including the name Baptist is the wisest strategy for building a strong, healthy and cohesive denomination, which in turn is the wisest strategy for providing financial and prayerful support for Great Commission fulfillment.

    Scott Shaver

    We should all be so fortunate to be a stealth baptist church in Dubai. This is not encouraging.

    Rick, if this is the kind of “Southern Baptist” affinity left in the collective consciousness of your target audience, I’d say the chicken has too long flown the coup and you’re dealing with a completely different mindset devoid of the particular sympathies and loyalties to which you’re appealing.

    little too little a little too late?

      Rick Patrick

      Chickens fly neither far nor fast. They may yet be gathered and returned.

        Andrew Barker

        Rick: If my memory serves me correctly, the world record for a chicken flight is some 13 seconds. However, I suspect that ‘analogous’ chickens may have the capacity to fly a bit longer and further, but don’t quote me on it! :-)

          Scott Shaver

          Correct Andrew: Just far enough to escape the coup. :)

            Andrew Barker

            Scott: I had to do a double take on that. Read it as coop, what with all those chickens flying around! ;-)

              Scott Shaver

              Sorry Andrew for my obscurity :)

              See the term “coup d’etat” for clarification.

                Andrew Barker

                Scott: I should have finished with a coup d’oeil instead of a ;-)

      Scott Shaver

      Makes me wonder where, in last couple of decades, SBC affiliated schools (undergraduate) and seminaries lost touch with the historical WHYS of the need to promote pure “baptist” distinctives. I hypothesize maybe such has helped create the kind of frustration that Rick and others are describing here.

        Scott Shaver

        And my comments in no way should be construed to convey a lack of very healthy respect for the efforts of Rick and others to promote, discuss and strive for “baptist” distinctives in their local and denominational church spheres of influence. Disclaimer.

      Jon Estes

      “We should all be so fortunate to be a stealth baptist church in Dubai. This is not encouraging.”

      Where do you get the idea we are stealth?

      What mindset do you accuse me of having and how so?

      One thing, in reading your posts and mine, I do love the SBC, it seems you don’t. So whose mindset is deviod?

        Scott Shaver

        “It seems we like being Baptist more than Christian……” Jon Estes

        “I have not seen people drawn to Christ because of our name” Jon Estes

        “Two of the strongest evangelical churches in Dubai do not use the term” Jon Estes.

        I apologize Jon. Don’t know where in the world I got the idea that denominational affinity is a “third-tier” concern with you. My only excuse is that words have meaning.

        If using the term “stealth” with regard to baptists who don’t like to fly their own flag offends or sounds “accusatory” from your perspective, I would maintain that you might as well go ahead and jettison the title because you have no idea of the spiritual and historical heritage associated with the term/label. Either that or get out of ministerial leadership altogether until you’ve grown a little thicker skin.

        Now you have a sufficient explanation for my “mind-set”.

          Jon Estes

          Scott –

          So, since I pastor Emirates Baptist Church International (EBCI), in Jumewirah 1, Dubai, UAE and that name is on all of our documents and is how the government knows of our existance… we are stealth to you.

          The comments you quoted me on, in context have nothing to do with being stealth but the fact that the name Baptist is not a game changer in the call to reach our world for Christ. I’m nopt knocking any church who uses the name but I do not agree that the name should be used for such a reason as keeping the brand alive.

          Your “mindset” is limited when it comes to knowing my history in and of SB life. It is not my skin which is thin, I simply asked a question where you made an accusation.

          And I agree with you, what you shared is suffecient with what you know concerning me. Knowing more may cause you to come to appreciate what you presently do not understand.

          Not all who disagree with you are an enemy and for me, I do not mind te exchange. If I were thin skinned, I wouldn’t post anything on this blog as a Calvinist or in disagreement with some of the traditionalis stuff stated here.

            Scott Shaver

            Let me be candid Jon Estes.

            I don’t care if you pastor Belview Baptist Church in Memphis TN, First Baptist Church of Dallas or Mt Pisgah # 38 located behind a sheep gate in Mozambique.

            The fact that you keep penning these “I’m not thin-skinned” comments as a ploy to engage me in further dialogue about your “history” is pretty solid evidence that you’re running “paper-thin” IMO.

            Honestly, I don’t care to KNOW about folks that I “don’t know” who want to engage me under the egotistical premise of “let me help you with your ignorance”. That goes double for thin-skinned hyper-calvinists. Got more of those for “friends” now than anybody has any earthly need for.

            As for my use of the term “stealth”. If you can take or leave the label “baptist” from your baptist congregation while under the impression that the label is of little or secondary importance, then you fall under the category of a “stealth baptist” (i.e.Calvinist) in my PERSONAL dictionary of terms and denominational dynamics.

            You may not like my perspective but if you truly want to engage me in dialogue you’ll have to learn to live with it.

            By the way, your position still seems to be one of “taking” or “leaving” the “baptist” label with no emotion either way….save for the fact that you don’t like people calling you names. I think you’ll live and survive this disappointment :)

    Lydia

    “…..s great as the SBC was, is and ever will be is not because of a name but our obedience to the Word”

    Would that be the determinatist God “Word” or the free will/you are able and responsible, “Word”?

      Scott Shaver

      Can’t help but chuckle, Lydia.

      Your question (which “Word”) obviously reflects one of at least the top three issues being decided within the SBC “brand” now. Along with what international missions is going to look like and how it’s going to done, funded, perpetuated.

Allison

I find this article very interesting. On one hand it reminds me of why so many of my friends are now parts of other denominations. From lack of support from the convention to years of , controversial to say the least, stances on current issues, many of the people I have known who have flat out left the denomination have done so because they have lost faith in the focus of the convention. These people don’t want to bicker about a pop stars song lyrics and boycott Disney once a decade. They want to love God and love others regardless of their place in life. They want to focus on the message of Christ and his redeeming love not politics and which organization should be punished next.

However, having said that , I do agree that Southern Baptist churches should do more to be up front about their denominational affiliation and the tenets there of. And perhaps the greater call from this article is for the denominational membership to rise up and be more active in determining who is leading this denomination.

Sir, I put to you that maybe it is time for an old time tent revival of the SBC across the nation. Maybe it is time for the members of the SBC to stop running and roll up their sleeves and return the denomination to what it was established for. Maybe it is time that the SBC do some soul searching and walk away from the direction it has been headed in for so long. Maybe it is time for a call of action amoung the body of the denomination to make known what our expectaions are of our leadership are and guide them back to being loving and the light from being contentious and generally a real Debbie Downer if may say.

Anyhow, I find this article interesting for those reasons. I wish all who read it and this comment nothing but God’s love and grace and peace .

Richly blessed,
Alli

Bill Mac

Becoming less Baptist, if that’s happening, is a problem. I think it is helpful to communicate that a church is baptist, if not in the name, then perhaps underneath it on the sign or website. I think it matters more for Christians seeking a church than for non-Christians. I think becoming less Southern is a positive however.

    Scott Shaver

    Bill Mac: “I think becoming less Southern is a positive however”.

    To each his own Bill Mac. If we’re going to go regional cultural affinities as positives/negatives in our assessments, New York and northern religion is the problem with the SBC now. :) You’re welcome to it.

Lydia

. “I think becoming less Southern is a positive however”

Is that even a thing anymore? In the late 70’s and early 80’s, the Northerners descended on the sunbelt in hordes because it was growing so fast. They assimilated and eventually suburbs far the from big cities, sprang up. Now we have second generation “Southerners” running companies and running for elections. “Southern” is more of an historical cliche than a reality. But it makes for good fodder.

    Bill Mac

    “Southern” is more of an historical cliche than a reality
    Interesting perspective. I’m not sure real southerners would agree with you. Although it seems that a lot of southerners lose the accent these days.

      Scott Shaver

      Bill Mac: “I’m not sure real southerners would agree with you.”

      He pens this while he’s got at least 2 “Southerners” telling him that they would.

      Hence, I’m not sure that Bill Mac is “sure” about any of these declarations he makes.

    Scott Shaver

    Lydia:

    Bill Mac along with Alan Cross, Russell Moore and others feel the need to characterize our contemporary American society as still “Antebellum” and stuck in the mindset of chattel slavery. Reality on the ground be hanged. They embody what I like to refer to as “New York” religion.

    It’s lunacy. Not to mention the destructive and divisive effect this effort is having on both Christian and racial relationships across the nation. This superimposing of 200 year-old mindsets is despicable and egocentric. Absolutely nothing about this “spin” is either socially or spiritually constructive.

    Scott Shaver

    Bill Mac is among those “northerners” with both a ,misguided superior attitude as well as a healthy ignorance about how the South has been pulling their northern “dead weight” both economically and academically SINCE the Civil War.

    The reason “southerners” are losing their accents is due to being infiltrated by all these northerners who run flocking to the “ignorant and racist” south.

    You will NOT hear him discussing these realities, however, in his jabs against those who don’t eat peanut butter and celery.

Robert Blackburn

Dear Bro. Rick,
Thank you for your words concerning this timely and important subject in our denominational life. I understand if you were planting a church in the north or west coast that name “The First Southern Baptist Church of ??” might not ring a bell to area of the country in which the church is being planted and sponsored by the NAMB. Let us keep pressing the message of your blog. Thank you!

Robert Blackburn

Bill Payne

Excellent! You couldn’t have said it better. I hope Southern Baptists read it and get on board.

Bob Bauman

I think the problem now is that the SBC is perceived to be all about money. I personally believe that, since we are willing to offer the Reform/Calvinist gospel right along with the true gospel, that we are a prime example of Laodicea — physically rich and spiritually poor. I believe that many of our church plants want to get away from the stigma.

Then, too, I can remember when (Dr. Rogers, of course) the SBC would preach the gospel in one way or another on Sunday morning so that you could invite someone to come hear it and be saved. Now, often times, the call is for decisions of all kinds by members of the church. It has almost gotten to where those numbers are more important.

Recently, leading up to the annual convention, the pastor had a series of these “decision” calls every Sunday seeming to want to “bump up” his numbers in preparation for going to the convention. There seemed to be little doubt that he would compare his tally with others there.

Edward Dingess

Really Pastor? You are going to employ modern, corporate, marketing vernacular in a call for Baptists to return to some of their traditions even though some of those traditions are clear departures from the sacred text. Rather than calling the SBC to return to their traditions, why not call them back to the source…the original source? After all, isn’t that what renaissance is all about?

    Rick Patrick

    Edward,

    You could be a bit more charitable. If using the name “Baptist” or “Southern Baptist” is likened to some kind of “modern, corporate, marketing vernacular” then we have been doing it since 1845.

    Many other denominations are not running from their identity, their name, their roots, and their history. The Presbyterians typically don’t call their churches “The Church at Shopping Mall” or “The Gathering.” The Methodists don’t. The Lutherans don’t. Sure, maybe a few, here and there, but for the most part, Baptists are the ones who have made a habit of hiding who we are. I really don’t view it as a return to traditions. I view it as a return to the honorable claiming of our actual name. There is value in not being ashamed of who you are.

    You want to call us back to the original source? The original source of Christianity is recorded in the Bible. If we call ourselves back to that, I suppose we must all call ourselves The Church at Antioch, because that is where we were first called Christians. But that is not really what I am talking about here. I am talking about what we call ourselves *relative to the names of other real life churches in existence today.*

    The purpose behind getting our name and identity back is that we seem to be losing our way. It is not simply a desire for stoic and stubborn resistance to all things new. It is rather a desire to correct our wayward course—one in which we have insufficient safeguards to keep the culture of our denomination from a steep and and painful takeover.

Dr. Tim Norris

Thank you, Dr. Rick Patrick! Your article is spot on! Just know that there are many of us that believe the same way as you do about the condition and direction of our convention.

    Rick Patrick

    Thank you, Tim. I needed to hear that this morning. God bless you. Have a great Lord’s Day!

David Rogers

I notice there is no Scripture reference in this article, nor (that I can tell) any reference to any biblical principle. From my understanding, the key element of true Baptist identity is adherence to a Scriptural justification for all we do. As far as I am concerned, I believe I can make a good Scriptural case for Baptist doctrinal distinctives, and even (though the argument is a bit more convoluted) for denominations and loyal denominational participation. What would be much difficult to do is to make a biblical case for denominational branding as you describe it here. The underlying purpose of denominations (and the SBC), as I understand it, is to enable us to more faithfully carry out the task given to the entire Body of Christ and to facilitate spiritual unity with those with whom certain secondary practical and doctrinal matters keep us from cooperating more closely on certain ministry projects. In other words, as long as doing so does not require us to compromise on key doctrinal and biblical principles, we should look for every opportunity possible to visibly express our unity with fellow Christians, not our distinctiveness from them.

Bo Bankston

Amen and amen

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