June 8, 2018

Some SBC Leaders are Disconnected from the Average Church

Various SBC leaders have recently issued strong public statements denouncing things like the abuse of women and the moral failure of Christian leaders. I’m not taking issue with their stance on any of their chosen topics. What has me scratching my head is the disconnect that some of our denominational leaders seem to have with the average church and the average pastor. So before we start drafting resolutions in Dallas next week, let’s discuss three things: 1) the sudden trend to post the obvious, lest someone think you believe otherwise; 2) the air of shame aimed at any SBC leader or pastor who hasn’t yet made a public statement about the obvious; and 3) the broad generalizations about Southern Baptists – especially pastors.

First, do Bible-believing followers of Jesus Christ actually have to say that we are against any form of abusing women? Of course we are. Jesus set the example of respecting and elevating women, even when His culture did not. I could make the same point regarding moral failure. We understand that it’s wrong. If I, as a pastor, ever stood before my church and said, “I need to take a stand against adultery.” My congregation would have been dumbfounded. Making obvious statements isn’t leadership – it’s posturing. The battle for the Bible was fought and won by Southern Baptists a long time ago. So, can we just agree that if the Bible teaches it, then we stand behind it?

Next, the pastors in my personal acquaintance are fully aware of the world’s realities; they’re up to their eyeballs in it. They grieve over sin in the church and the surrounding community. Just because a pastor doesn’t issue a statement denouncing sexual abuse, doesn’t mean he’s not sensitive to the problem. On the contrary, he cares more about the victims and families in his community than you can imagine. While I appreciate statements that denounce abuse of all kinds, the average pastor doesn’t minister to his congregation with press releases. Can we please stop trying to guilt and shame them into taking a side on current SBC debates? There’s no time for posturing when you’re in the trenches.

Finally, it’s disappointing that some are using current hot issues to make broad generalizations about Southern Baptists. A few of these opinions paint a dark picture of the denomination as a whole. I firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of ministers in the Southern Baptist Convention appreciate and respect women. Most SBC pastors are men of integrity. I know men who want to lead anyone they can to Christ, regardless of gender, race, income, or social status. There is no need to constantly highlight and agitate our differences with generalizations.

We have problems  – I get it. No doubt, there are some among us who have ungodly views on women, as well as race, etc. But making broad generalizations doesn’t mean that the average SBC church is dealing with that every day. So, instead of listening to the voices questioning the integrity of Southern Baptist pastors as a whole, why not go to your pastor and ask, “How can I help you?”

I’m brokenhearted that the current politics of our denomination have caused a disconnect between our leadership and the average SBC church. How about putting down the chainsaw of polarization and picking up the scalpel of personal examination? Instead of writing more resolutions, why can’t we resolve to obey the one God has already written – the Bible. If I’m not convicted to obey it, then I’m surely not going to sweat a resolution full of “whereases”.