NASHVILLE (BP) – As the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting (June 12-13 in New Orleans) approaches, many Southern Baptist pastors and leaders are sharing the reasons they are glad to be part of the Convention using the hashtag #WhySBC.
Matt Capps, senior pastor at Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, N.C., made the first video, where he pointed to thousands of churches plants, fully funded missionaries and seminary students as reasons to be encouraged about the Convention.
“All of these are ways that we work together to reach every person for Jesus Christ in every town, every city, every state and every nation,” Capps said. “That is why I’m a Southern Baptist.”
Capps told Baptist Press about his decision to spark the hashtag.
“I was talking with some pastors in North Carolina and all of us lamented that the tone and rhetoric of the conversation online trends towards division and hatefulness as we get closer to the annual meeting,” Capps said in a statement to Baptist Press.
SBC President Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, made his own video under the hashtag.
“At the opening session this year for annual meeting in New Orleans, is going to consist of a commissioning service for the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board,” Barber said in the twitter video released May 22.
“We’re going to have the opportunity to celebrate the appointment of 92 new missionaries who are going to be commissioned at that service, and we’re going to be celebrating 10,000 church plants that the North American mission board has been able to achieve.
“When you are Southern Baptist, you come to the point that you sort of take that kind of thing for granted, but that is amazing and wonderful and world-changing.”
Capps told BP it can be easy to focus on the controversy in SBC life rather than the work God is doing.
“If you only knew Southern Baptists from what you read on social media, you might think the Convention is more focused on personal campaigns and philosophical conflicts rather than the Great Commission,” he said.
“However, the vast majority of Southern Baptists are encouraged by the work of the Convention and are hopeful for the future. The majority of Southern Baptists remain steadfast in stewarding this sacred effort to fulfill the mission given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s time to stop arguing on social media and start working together.
“The #WhySBC videos came out of this desire. It wasn’t an elitist campaign, I am a local church pastor. My aim was simple, do what I can to change the tone of the conversation.”
Clint Pressley, senior pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., also reflected on his personal experience of the way Southern Baptists impacted him in his early ministry.
“I loved people, I loved Jesus and I loved the Bible … I didn’t know how to get those three together,” Pressley said in a video. “I didn’t know how to get those three together. Southern Baptists taught me how to do that.”
In response to the videos posted by pastors, others in the Convention were retweeting and posting their own content supporting the sentiments of the videos.
Tristan Martin, pastor of Alameda Baptist Church, Norman, Okla., simply posted a selfie holding copies of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 and the IMB resource “Lottie Moon: a life of radical obedience.”
Barber concluded that no matter the negatives or conflict that may exist in the SBC, the collective missional heart of churches is what keeps the convention alive.
“God has chosen, in spite of whatever faults we have and no matter what our weaknesses are, He has chosen to use this family of churches to share the Gospel all around the world,” Barber said.
“That’s the heart of FBC Farmersville. That’s why we’re thrilled to be a part of the Southern Baptist Convention, partnering with you to share the God news of Jesus Christ all around the world.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Timothy Cockes is a Baptist Press staff writer.