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Barber offers suggestions for a smooth annual meeting in Indianapolis

SBC President Bart Barber has released a series of videos (some recorded on his north Texas ranch) outlining ideas for running a smooth and participatory SBC meeting in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – Bart Barber wants the messengers’ voices to be heard at the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting. The second-term SBC president has been pondering ways to hold a smoother meeting and to give messengers more opportunities to speak.

“We’re trying to incorporate all of the things we learned last year into what we can do this year,” Barber said, including in the “we” annual meeting parliamentarian Al Gage.

While messengers may only think about the annual meeting a few days or weeks each summer, Barber has been thinking about it since leaving New Orleans last June.

“We just want to be ready because my job is to protect the rights of the messengers and help the messenger body,” he told Baptist Press.

Barber has been releasing videos on social media to outline some of his thoughts and suggestions as the 2024 meeting is just days aways.

Making a motion

“Our Constitution and Bylaws require that we have a time for everybody to introduce new motions,” he said, “and last year my objective was to make sure that everybody who had a motion to make had time to make it before time ran out.”

But Barber says he needs help from the messenger to make this happen.

“Part of what helps with that is if everybody will remember that the time you’re making the motion is not the time for you to make the case for your motion,” he said.

So, how can you expediate the process and be heard clearly?

“My advice to people would be step up, say your name, the church you represent, ‘I move’ …and then, something really simple,” he said.

Simplicity is key, he said.

He encouraged messengers to use “the simplest wording you can that describes what you want the Convention to do.”

“That’s a courtesy to everyone else at the meeting and it really does help your case,” he said.

Moving the previous question

When discussion tarries, messengers can grow weary. This has prompted some to come to a microphone to try to end discussion and move for a vote.

Barber says, first, messengers should understand they should actually “move the previous question,” rather than “calling the question.”

He’s also considering asking messengers to adopt a standing rule that would require a two-thirds vote on moving the question for discussion to end. In years past, a simple majority has brought the action.

Barber believes requiring a two-thirds majority would give more people the opportunity to be heard.

“All of this is really important,” he said. “Other people’s lives are affected the things that we do.”

He pointed to how the decisions made at the annual meeting affects thousands of “missionaries, seminary professors, churches and church planters.”

Such a rule would give messengers more time to hear from those who support and oppose a specific motion. And any new standing rule adopted by messengers could be suspended at any point, he said.

Amending a resolution

The 2024 resolutions are available to messengers now. In fact, they’re available earlier than they have ever been.

While Barber appreciates the grammatical acumen messengers possess, for the sake of time, he encourages them to make comments from the floor only if they believe the resolution is in desperate need of change.

“If you look and say, ‘Most of this resolution I could vote for but this one part here prevents me from being able to vote in favor of it … then move for the amendment,” he said.

He says thinking before speaking will promote the Golden Rule and give others an opportunity to speak before the allotted time expires.

Barber knows that, in the end, these are all suggestions.

“I have opinions about all sorts of things, about the way the outcomes should go on particular issues, but my purpose here is not to shape outcomes,” he said, “My purpose is to help our process work for you – the messenger body.”

    About the Author

  • Brandon Porter

    Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee

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