NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A report, titled “Pursuing God’s Plan for the Family,” including a recommendation for a two-year initiative by a Southern Baptist Convention Council on Family Life, was embraced by the SBC Executive Committee during the opening session of its Feb. 19-20 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
The SBC Committee on Family Life, created at last June’s SBC annual meeting, issued its report Feb. 19. The full text follows:
Report and Recommendations from the Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Family Life.
One of the most encouraging signs of growth in the Southern Baptist Convention is our renewed affirmation of God’s plan for the family. Acknowledging that today’s family is under severe attack, we have registered our determination to recover God’s design for the family, strengthen families within our Convention, and minister to families around the world.
In response to rising concern, our Southern Baptist Convention at its 1998 meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, adopted an historic amendment to our Baptist Faith and Message. This amendment established the biblical foundation for our understanding of the family and the roles God has ordained for each family member. Southern Baptists were encouraged by the overwhelming support for this amendment. This support was further strengthened by the endorsement of numerous evangelical denominations and ministries and announced openly through the media.
Following the adoption of our Family Life Amendment, Southern Baptists served notice that we were taking seriously the responsibility of our churches to minister to the family, providing strength and encouragement through every possible means. This notice was further amplified in the 2000 report of Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee, in which he urged Southern Baptists to “save the family” and, by executive appointment, created the Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Family Life. The following contains the report and recommendation from that committee.
America’s families are in trouble. Evidence pouring in from every sector of our society reaffirms that simple but tragic statement. Divorce is at an all-time high. Cohabitation is sky-rocketing in popularity. Over fifty percent of America’s school children now live in single parent homes. Infidelity and alternative life-styles are touted by the media as the preferred norm. At the same time, traditional, Bible-based parental roles and responsibilities are looked upon with disdain.
Interestingly, Americans seem to know that their families are in trouble. This is indicated by their desperate search for sound and effective advice. Some of the largest media audiences in our nation, audiences numbering in the multiplied millions each day, give ear to both evangelical and secular counsel addressing the needs of family life.
Southern Baptists must admit that many of our own families are also in trouble. Sadly, our rate of divorce is scarcely different from that of society at large. Churches are struggling with the break-up of families. Pastors, deluged with family counseling, are often dealing with serious difficulties in their own homes. Though Southern Baptists are properly known for our affirmation of scriptural authority, we are often not perceived by many of our own members as an important contributor to the strength of our families.
The public at large may also be uncertain as to just where Southern Baptists actually stand on crucial family issues. They are confused by the fact that in recent years some individuals with national notoriety have themselves become associated with infidelity, pro-abortion stances, and approval of alternative life-styles while noting their affiliation with churches in our Convention. The end result has been that many times Southern Baptist churches are not viewed as lighthouses for the home.
Against this backdrop, it must be noted that Southern Baptist entities, commissions, and institutions do make available a vast wealth of information, assistance, training, and other resources directed specifically to the needs of the family. Indeed, each entity has within it a specific and effective agenda for meeting family needs. LifeWay’s emphasis on “Covenant Marriage,” the incredible success of “True Love Waits,” the rising popularity of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s “For Faith and Family” broadcast — each one a marvelous example of the even greater resources available.
It is the conviction of the Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Family Life that there is a great and urgent need for the development and implementation of a cohesive and concerted strategy:
- A strategy that draws together both our resources and our people with the goal of elevating our families, and the meaning of the word “family,” to God’s standard as clearly stated in the Scripture.
- A strategy that deals with both our internal practices and the external perception of our Convention.
- A strategy that will assist in the development of strong, “Great Commission” oriented families.
- A strategy which recognizes that strong churches ultimately grow out of strong families.
- A strategy that will enable pastors and church leaders to mutually identify and affirm key biblical principles for marriage and family.
- A strategy that will identify Southern Baptist churches as “great for the community because they are great for the family.”
Because of the conviction stated above and in part fulfillment of the assignment given us, the Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Family Life brings to you the following recommendation:
That the chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee, appoint an ad hoc, or “blue ribbon” Southern Baptist Convention Council on Family Life which has as its purpose the development, recommendation, and implementation oversight of a strategy consistent with our stated convictions.
The Southern Baptist Convention Council on Family Life and/or its successor will work cooperatively with SBC entities whose ministry assignments include family emphases to support and multiply such programs. In the promotion of a wholesome family life based upon traditional Judeo-Christian values, the Council is fully intended to maintain a healthy relationship with appropriate SBC entities, believing cooperation is vital to the long-term success of the objectives herein stated.
The Southern Baptist Convention Council on Family Life would function under the auspices of the SBC Executive Committee for the next two years. Current members of the Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Family Life would become part of this council. During the next two years, the Southern Baptist Convention Council on Family Life will bring interim reports to the Great Commission Council and the Executive Committee. Upon approval of the Executive Committee, any recommendation from this committee would be brought to the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole.
The Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Family Life appreciates the opportunity to bring you our report and subsequent recommendation. It is our prayer that you will give it both your concerted attention and approval. We believe that God will be eager to attend and bless our concerns once we acknowledge our responsibility to assist in the development of families consistent with biblical principles, families which see their role in the fulfillment of the Great Commission, and families which will serve as salt and light in their communities.
We believe God would be pleased by a renewed call for servants whose lives are characterized by fidelity in the home. We applaud every effort of our seminaries and other entities to underscore this emphasis by providing the necessary standards and theological foundations commensurate with such a call.
We believe it is of Kingdom importance that we express a willingness to join hands with like-minded and theologically appropriate evangelical entities in promoting help for the family.
And, finally, we believe it is of paramount importance to provide an authentic ministry to those whose lives and families have been fractured and ravaged by the adversary, seeking to provide the kind of compassionate restoration and encouragement so typified by our Savior and made available through the grace of God.