ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Several Southern Baptist pastors and leaders highlighted the need for repentance and unity during a CP Stage panel forecasting the future of the SBC during last week’s SBC annual meeting.
The panel took place on Monday morning, June 13, and featured pastors J.D. Greear of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., and Robby Gallaty of Long Hollow Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., as well as Shane Pruitt, national Next Gen director for the North American Mission Board.
The panel was moderated by Jordan Easley, pastor of First Baptist Church, Cleveland, Tenn., who opened up by reiterating the common mission of Southern Baptists.
“What we all have in common in this room and really beyond this room, is that we all want to be part of a convention that honors the Lord, makes disciples, sees peoples saved, plants churches and sends missionaries,” Easley said.
“I think that ought to be the focus of our convention today. I don’t believe God is finished with the SBC.”
Easley then asked the panelists of what the convention needs to do to be something they want to be a part of in the future.
The themes of repentance and unity were consistent among the answers.
Greear began by saying that in order to move forward, the convention must acknowledge the problems it currently faces, particularly in the area of sexual abuse. Properly handling challenging issues like sexual abuse is a part of the cooperative mission of Southern Baptists, he said.
“I’m committed to this convention because of our focus on missions and evangelism, but I do not believe that it honors God to use that as a way to cover up for dealing with these things that are in front of us,” Greear said. “This is an application of the Great Commission. The Spirit of God is always leading us into paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. That’s my hope right now.”
Gallaty, who helped host a time of prayer before the SBC Pastors’ Conference, echoed Greear’s sentiment about the need for a united spirit of repentance in the convention.
“The Lord put two words on my heart leading up to the prayer time, repentance and unity,” Gallaty said.
“In order to win a battle, you have to be on the battlefield shoulder to shoulder fighting a common enemy. Now I feel that in the SBC that we are in the barracks friendly firing at one another. That’s not a war you can win when you are shooting your own brothers in Christ.”
Greear agreed with Gallaty’s assessment about the need for unity around the Gospel.
“One of the reasons that I cautiously say that we are still thriving, is there are things such as the Gospel, the inerrancy of Scripture and the exclusivity of Christ that we will not compromise on,” Greear said. “Then there are others issues where we might say ‘I wouldn’t do it that way, but our Gospel unity is more important than uniformity here.’”
Pruitt took these themes one step further, saying candor with the younger generation about the convention’s condition will be key for a united future.
“I’m not just thinking about what is an SBC that we all want to be a part of, because we all have kids and all of us are trying to reach college students as well,” Pruitt said.
“What is an SBC that they’ll want to be a part of? I don’t want to give 30 years to this and then it be something my kids and the next generation don’t even want to be a part of.
“We’re praying that Gen Z will become a revival generation, and sometimes what leads to revival is repentance and lamenting. I think we need to be honest with the next generation about where we are and where are we going to go, because they can handle it.”
Greear closed the panel by emphasizing the convention’s true future rests on following the Lord’s leading.
“I think that we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think God has a future and hope for us,” Greear said.
“We know that God does not need us, and we are not God’s last great hope, but we know that there is so much evidence of what God is stirring in us. I think we need to have an attitude and heart posture where the Holy Spirit can lead us. Sheep get where they need to go not because of how amazing and intelligent they are, they get there because of the leadership of the Shepherd. I hope that is what carries us.”