A story in today's Baptist Press quotes reorganization task force chairman Ronnie Floyd as saying that the recommendations of the task force will not be presented in full until the SBC's Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL, on June 15–16. Previous statements had suggested that the task force would unveil its recommendations no later than the time of the February meeting of the SBC Executive Committee.
The task force has obviously been hard at work, and for that they deserve the appreciation and admiration of Southern Baptists. They should take their time and come to good, careful conclusions. We do not need them to rush.
Then again, neither do they need us, the Southern Baptist messengers, to rush. I am hopeful that the task force will extend to Southern Baptists throughout the nation the same time for prayerful consideration that they have needed. They need to report in Orlando, and I pray that they will, but I hope that someone from the task force will move that any proposed measures unveiled in Orlando be postponed until 2011 for a vote, in order for the Southern Baptist people to have adequate time to pray about the proposals before voting.
In our own congregation, our recently adopted Constitution & Bylaws requires that our church staff publish an agenda for every church business meeting a week in advance. The membership of the congregation is encouraged to read the agenda and to devote time to pray over the items mentioned therein. Congregationalism presumes not an ultimate democracy, but "democratic processes" as a means to the lordship of Christ over the church, facilitated by the influence of the Holy Spirit upon praying believers.
Items not listed on the agenda may be proposed at the business meeting, but such motions are automatically referred to appropriate committees or are automatically postponed for consideration at a later meeting. The rationale is that we ought not to be voting about anything unless we have prayed about it first. I believe that "Pray first; then obey" is the only right way to make decisions.
Surely this concept is no less important for our national convention than it is for our local congregation. Surely if we will see a renewed pursuit of the Great Commission among Southern Baptists, it will not come as a result of prayerless and unconsidered action by our messengers! Some may say that the issues on the table are too important to move slowly. I say that they are likely to be too important to move hastily. We ought to be more careful in our Southern Baptist voting than is our United States Congress. We ought to have read these proposals and deliberated over them at length before we take any action.
This is not about factions or victories or losses or human power. This is ultimately about the ultimate mission. Our structure will not accomplish the Great Commission. Our money will not accomplish the Great Commission. Our size, large or small, will not accomplish the Great Commission.
Our obedience cannot help but accomplish the Great Commission.
And thus, if our sole emphasis is upon obedience to the commandments of Christ, then we will find few attributes of the process more important than the careful and unhurried building of Southern Baptist consensus by which we all reach a prayed-through confidence that the task force's recommendations are indeed God's will for the SBC, and together by our Holy Spirit forged unity we are able to redeem from its ignominy the sentiment and the phrase, "Deus Vult!"