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  • Writer's pictureDr. Nathan T. Morton

SBC 2024 When a Minority becomes A Protective Majority

Updated: Jun 15

The Southern Baptist Convention is the world's largest and most effective evangelical organization. Some people complain about SBC politics, but there is no such thing as an organization without politics and meetings. It is a necessary hardship and one that can be enjoyed by those of us who understand and like such things.

This was the most exhausting SBC annual meeting of which I have ever been part-profitable but demanding. [Sunday evening, Monday from 8 a.m. until 10:30, Tuesday from 8 a.m. until 10:00, and then Wednesday from 8 a.m. until 5:30.] There was little or no time to sightsee, but I did get in one meal with my son and another 15-minute visit with him during the lunch break on Wednesday.

This article is for those who did not attend and are curious regarding certain issues that made it into the news cycle. Often, news reports are skewed toward one side or the other. I’m not saying mine isn’t, but if it is, it is skewed toward hope and positive faith in the future of the SBC.

Law’s Constitutional Amendment.

For the SBC constitution to be amended, it must pass by a 2/3 approval two years in a row. It passed last year by a raised ballot vote that the moderator deemed to, at least appear, to be 2/3. This was the determining year.

What was it? The BF&M already reserves the senior pastor's role to only men. I believe this amendment was a power play. Small men do controversial things in hopes of becoming big players. (Yes, I know that is judgmental.)

Law’s Amendment sought to extend that exclusion of women to all levels and aspects of church ministry. In effect, it would have expelled any church that continued to use the title “pastor” for a woman, albeit even with children, senior adults, music, or youth. Some leaders said, “When this is approved, all you will need to do is change the title to 'minister' or something else to be in compliance." Which is ludicrous when you consider those women would still be functioning the same way as before. Here are five of my reasons for opposing this.

  • It would’ve forced pastors to return home and hold church meetings to change the nomenclature in church bylaws and constitutions. “Simply changing the word” is not the reality of most SBC churches. It would’ve artificially created unnecessary conflict and division.

  • It could’ve easily opened the door for a witch hunt. Although some have argued, “that would never happen” the evidence of history and human nature would argue otherwise.

  • From the late 80s until mid-90s, I was in a cult. Much of the arguments and attitudes of the “pros” using the “biblical truth" claim were eerily familiar to the hateful, disingenuous legalism and doublespeak of my past. “We respect women, but …. “ 

  • In the NT, with only one possibly two exceptions, the word “pastor” is a verb, a gift, not an office title. The Bible is very clear that anyone can be gifted to pastor.

  • In effect, it would have eroded the local church's autonomy.

I don’t believe the vote last year was 2/3rds. It was unquestionably a majority, but it did not look like an overwhelming one from where I sat. I am glad that this year the chair asked for a ballot vote to remove the possiblity for any conjecture and speculation.

I am delighted the amendment failed to get the needed 2/3 vote. This clearly protected our belief in doctrinal fidelity without enforcing methodological conformity. In this case, the minority (38.38%) protected the convention from a potential catastrophe.

FBC of Alexandria VA deemed “not in friendly cooperation” with the SBC.

Two years ago, or more, FBCA was reported to the Credentials Committee. (The CC is tasked with investigating reports of sexual abuse and violations of cooperation agreements.) Although the CC had not acted, Aaron Decker, a messenger from Red Village church, made a motion to unseat the FBCA messengers. (This shows you that ministers sometimes gossip and conspire.) Their supposed violation was a woman on staff who was titled as children’s “pastor.”

I intended to vote against the motion. However, when FBCA pastor Robert Stevens rose to defend himself, he basically said he disagreed with the BF&M. Regardless of my opinion of the legitimacy of FBCA’s actions, he was clearly saying that they (the church) were not in friendly cooperation.He wasn't appealing to the reality that they were not violating the BF&M. He was saying they wanted to remain in the SBC without agreeing with the SBC. If you are going to be a part of an organization, you must play by the rules.

He wanted to wear the badge of being “unseated,” so I helped pin it on him.

The executive committee stressed that we should not say these churches are “dis-fellowshipped” because that would imply we did not believe they were Christian, that is not the case at all. We are all involved in the same kingdom work. However, FBCA is no longer a voting part of the SBC organization because they are not in agreement with the convention's BF&M.

Other Issues.

We elected Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist in Charlotte, as our new convention president.

We welcomed Jeff Iorg, author, pastor, church planter, teacher, speaker, and current president of Gateway Seminary, as our new CEO. He preached a wonderful message, reminding us that political activism, social justice, convention reform, and doctrinal conformity are important issues. Still, they are not the mission—the gospel is. We cannot let these “lesser” issues distract and divide us.

We voted down a motion to remove the pledge of allegiance to the American flag from our opening ceremonies and passed a resolution reaffirming our belief in the separation of church and state.

A vote to abolish the ERLC failed ... again.

Bart Barber preached one, if not the best, convention sermon I have ever heard. I have grown to love and appreciate this man for his humility, honesty, and passion for Christ. Despite my stupid vote both times, we were blessed to have him as our president during this turbulent season.

The trend of declining baptisms and attendance was reversed in 2023.

The ATIF produced and provided an excellent free resource to help equip churches to train, screen, protect, report, and prevent abuse. In the event of an occurrence, the resource will help churches navigate in a caring and biblical way.

We commissioned 83 new missionaries, 5 (I believe) who were single women, and North Carolina was the largest sending state.

The meetings were jovial, filled with laughter and rejoicing over the successes of this past year.

We were picketed by the hateful Westboro Baptist Cult.

Finally, the singing led by Charles Billingsley in the pastor’s conference and SWBTS in the convention was phenomenal. Except for the posturing and diatribes of fringe groups, this was a blessed convention.


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