The Southern Baptist Convention is appointing a task force to study the possibility of changing the convention’s name to something less regional. For a denomination committed to fulfilling the great commission, to taking the gospel and making disciples of all nations, it makes sense to have this discussion and seriously consider a name-change.
I was in high school when I first heard of a Southern Baptist church located somewhere out west, and I thought, “But they’re not in the south.” I wondered, how there could be a Southern Baptist church anywhere but the South? Not only is the name confusing to the unfamiliar (or ignorant youth, in my case), the moniker is not an accurate reflection of our purpose.
Though funny, neither are these suggestions:
The SBC is planting new churches all over the world. Can you imagine living in a country on the other side of the world and being a member of a “Southern Baptist” church? Does that name carry any meaning in another country?
In the US, however, the name carries negative connotations. For this reason, some people think that a name change would not amount to any real change. But I disagree. A name change would signal that real change has occurred.
The SBC is changing rapidly. A new generation of leaders has been emerging. I am confident that these leaders will bring real change to the convention. The SBC is not my grandparents’ convention for long.
Late last night, Baptist Press published this press release:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright has announced the appointment of a presidential task force to study the prospect of changing the 166-year-old convention’s name.
Wright, who was re-elected to a second one-year term during the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix this past June, said he believes the study will be helpful for two main reasons.
“First, the convention’s name is so regional,” he said. “With our focus on church planting, it is challenging in many parts of the country to lead churches to want to be part of a convention with such a regional name. Second, a name change could position us to maximize our effectiveness in reaching North America for Jesus Christ in the 21st century.”
Wright announced the task force during the opening session of the SBC Executive Committee’s Sept. 19-20 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
Read the whole thing here.
I’m not too excited about the possibility for a name change. Right now, it’s just an idea for a task force to consider. It may not even be discussed during the 2012 convention. IF it is, based on the success of past name-change debates, it will go over like a lead balloon. If it does pass, and that’s a big if, then it will have to be approved again at the next year’s convention.
This is something that will take YEARS to determine.
Not only that, but can you imagine the debate over new names? Arguments over the color of the sanctuary carpet are a cliché for a reason. I’ve participated in church name-change discussions. I doubt I could stomach a convention-sized one.
Even so, with heated debate and discussion, years of wrangling and voting, I would welcome a name change for the SBC.
What do you think? What comes to mind when you hear “Southern Baptist Convention?” Will changing the name matter? What about 100 years from now? Is this something that needs to be done for the good of sharing the gospel around the world during the next century? If it will only negatively impact our ability to fulfill the Great Commission, then why spend the time and resources on it? If it will have an immediate positive impact, why argue?