To Stay SBC or Not to Stay SBC
Reflecting on my time at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting and the troubling things I’ve seen and read for several years, I find myself in a curious position. Should I stay or should I go? Thus, I’d like to share what I believe my options are, along with the pros and cons of each.
Option #1: Stay and continue as normal. Firstly, I should make it clear that my commitment to my church supersedes my feelings of our affiliation with the SBC. Thus, if I were pastoring a church and felt we should leave but the church did not agree, I would not leave my church because of it. Not changing anything means we go on with our normal Cooperative Program giving and stay affiliated with the SBC, hoping and praying that the things I am legitimately concerned about change or that my concerns are simply misplaced or not grave enough to warrant any action. The pro of this option is that it’s easily accomplished. No effort necessary. Move on until further notice. The con is my conscience. Many questions would loom beneath the surface. Are we on a sinking ship? Is our affiliation with the SBC hurting the effectiveness of our ministry in some way? Is our money going to things antithetical to our beliefs and practices? If things are as bad as some people think they are and God is bringing judgment on the SBC, will we get wrapped up in that judgment?
Option #2: Stay but make changes. There are probably multiple changes that could be made, but the most significant is what we do with our money. We could redirect our Cooperative Program giving entirely to make sure money is not going to anything SBC related, letting our money do the talking that our blogs and votes can’t. The pro here is that it is the most significant action we could take while remaining Southern Baptist. The con is that it would also take money away from ministries we believe in, like our local association and convention, the IMB, and maybe even some of our seminaries, though I’m still not sure about that. Another option is to redirect our CP giving but keep some or all of it going toward SBC related ministries. Instead of giving to the slush fund that is the CP, we could direct it only to the entities and ministries we trust and believe are heading in the right direction. The pros and cons of this option are self-evident. Along with our money, we could be more direct with our voices, bringing up concerns at a local level, educating other pastors and churches that may be ignorant of the issues, and potentially stirring up some feathers here and there.
Option #3: Leave the SBC
This is the most drastic of all paths. The pros are that it would speak the loudest and potentially save us from future troubles and headaches. Furthermore, if the SBC is heading down a wrong path and can’t be turned around, that is a ride we don’t want to be on, nor do I want to waste my time and energy trying to save it. The con is that it would remove many benefits and opportunities we consistently rely on, like discounts to seminaries, associational and conventional meetings, retreats, and pastoral gatherings, and the ability to send missionaries through the IMB, to name a few. I’m not just speaking of pragmatism, though. This is not like a country club with benefits. Our SBC connections are real and tangible and contribute greatly to pastoring, especially in our location. Leaving the SBC would require a completely new evaluation and plan of how we network and partner with other churches to accomplish our mission. It is not easy to find Bible-believing churches where we are. This isn’t like some locations where you can just join or form another network of like-minded churches. These are things running through my mind recently. Currently, I find myself leaning most toward option #2 with redirecting our CP giving while still giving toward some SBC ministries. It is difficult to tell how bad things really are and how deep it runs. There are plenty of podcasts and YouTube videos you can watch that make you think the SBC is too far gone, but some of their reasoning lacks nuance, and they often fail to present dialogue with others who could provide needed pushback. There are definitely major issues at the top, but it is not yet clear to me if those issues are trickling down below. A professor recently decided to leave his university because of the woke takeover of higher education. He states, “I strongly suspect that mainstream U.S. higher education is morally and intellectually corrupt, beyond the possibility of self-repair, and therefore no longer a worthwhile setting in which to spend my time and effort.” I was left wondering if being in the SBC is becoming comparable. I’m just not sure.