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9Marks panel discusses ‘The State of the SBC’

(Left to right) Panelists Kevin Smith, Daniel Akin, H.B. Charles and Mark Dever discussed the state of the SBC. Photo by Karen McCutcheon

NASHVILLE (BP) – The 9Marks panel at the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting featured speakers Mark Dever, Kevin Smith, Danny Akin and H.B. Charles discussing current issues within the SBC as well as recapping Tuesday’s events.

Topics tackled during the 9 p.m. meeting on Tuesday (June 15) included the events of the day from the perspective of first-time messengers, the content of the entity reports from Tuesday and current hot topics within the convention.

Nashville First Baptist Church Pastor Frank Lewis welcomes the crowd to his church for the 9Marks at 9 panel discussion June 15. Photo by Karen McCutcheon

The event was the second 9Marks panel of the week at Nashville First Baptist Church. The first panel at the same time Monday (June 14) was titled “Why Deacons are Crucial.”

Both events were hosted by 9Marks and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Frank Lewis, senior pastor at Nashville First Baptist, welcomed and thanked the crowd for attending the panel at the church.

When Dever, pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., asked the capacity crowd of messengers packed into the sanctuary if there were any first-time messengers, nearly half of the room stood up.

Most of those messengers remained standing when asked if they thought this would not be their last Southern Baptist Convention.

Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said when leaving the annual meeting, messengers can be satisfied with the spiritual commitment displayed by the convention.

“I think we can go home once again seeing Southern Baptists have a real passion for the Great Commission and getting the Gospel to the ends of the Earth,” Akin said. “I also think the three-legged stool that Baptists can stand upon of theological education, international missions and North American church planting was clear.”

Kevin Smith, executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, praised the mostly civil behavior by messengers and SBC leadership, and said that cooperation within the convention was clear.

“We have over 45,000 churches. No other Bible-believing Christian denomination has to work cooperatively with that many people,” Smith said. “That’s also 45,000 different pastors who all have different types of opinions and experiences. I think we should not have any delusions about who we are as people still in the process of pressing on toward the high call of God.”

Akin and Smith explained some annual meeting basics, such as the difference between a motion and a resolution, to those in the crowd that might be new to the SBC.

H.B. Charles, pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist in Jacksonville, Fla., offered his thoughts on the day’s events and again praised the attitude of the majority of messengers, guests and SBC leaders.

“There were many leaders from the platform who led well today,” Charles said. “I think the way those speaking on the mic and the leaders both spoke attempted to speak the truth in love to one another. The enemy wanted to have record of a dumpster fire today, and I don’t think he got that.”

The event also included a time for messengers to ask questions to the panel related specifically to the SBC or to pastoral ministry. Question topics from messengers included the SBC’s definition of a pastor, complementarianism, how to be involved with state Baptist conventions and sexual abuse in the SBC.

Charles finalized his thoughts by explaining that it is not the business of the annual meeting that he necessarily will be discussing with his congregation, but the practical application of things presented by the entities such as Mission:Dignity from Guidestone Financial Resources and Vision 2025 from the SBC Executive Committee, two initiatives that had been discussed earlier that day in the meeting session.

“The thing I will be taking back from Vision 2025 is, ‘Is God calling someone from our church to be on mission?’” he said.

Further, Charles commended the unity of Southern Baptists around biblical doctrine and the encouragement it provides.

“Whatever we wrestle with and argue about, they are matters around truth and Scripture, and there are other places where they are arguing against biblical matters,” Charles said. “To be in the room with so many saints that care about things that matter the most, even if we don’t see them the same, is encouraging. We have a lot more in common than the things that separate us.”

The “9Marks at 9” panel happens annually during the week of the SBC’s meeting. 9Marks seeks to provide resources to churches nationally and internationally that help develop healthy, growing congregations. For more information, visit 9marks.org.