Ten Observations on Day 1 of the SBC Annual Meeting

On occasion I report on developments in my own denomination. I am fully aware that nearly half of my readers are not a part of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), so I appreciate their patience as I share “family” matters.

For the uninitiated, the SBC annual meeting is a two-day gathering. My friend, Adam Greenway, described the event as “the world’s largest deliberative assembly.” Because of our congregational polity and open microphones at the convention, anything can happen. And it usually does.

We all see events through our own lens, and my article is no exception. Here are the ten observations of developments that were most meaningful to me.

  1. The tone set by Barry McCarty, convention parliamentarian, in his tweet from the platform. “May everyone at #SBC14 – messengers, officers, staff – do what God would have them do for his glory and his glory alone.” Thank you, Barry.
  2. The election of Ronnie Floyd as SBC president. Ronnie is a godly leader and brilliant strategist. He will lead the convention well. And he will think outside the box.
  3. A tone of cooperation that has not always been present in our meetings. Where two or more Southern Baptists are gathered in His name, there are at least three or more opinions. We are a lively and opinionated group. That will never change. But there seems to be a growing awareness that we must work together for the sake of the gospel. Too much is at stake.
  4. Baltimore as host city. I really appreciate this town and the environment it has provided for our annual meeting. The downtown and harbor areas are beautiful. In the past, I have just been in and out of the city. I am grateful I’ve had the opportunity to see more of this beautiful place.
  5. The number of young people attending the SBC. I am certainly among the senior members who attend this annual meeting. I am delighted to see more young people who are making an investment of time and resources to reach people with the gospel.
  6. The growing importance of ancillary meetings around the SBC. There are so many good meetings that take place around the proceedings of the SBC. I was delighted to see a packed house for LifeWay’s Gospel Project breakfast. And I was honored to be on the panel of B21 with Matt Chandler, Al Mohler, David Platt, and Danny Akin. The place was standing room only of well over 1,000 people, most of them young adults. And I am still hearing ladies rave about the luncheon with Priscilla Shirer. She rocks!
  7. The farewell presentation of Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board. Tom is a gracious and godly leader. He will be missed in this leadership position. The importance of selecting the next leader cannot be overstated. This is the largest mission-sending agency in the world.
  8. The report by Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB). He reported on 1,105 new church plants in 2013 and the emphasis of starting congregations among ethnic groups. He further noted that churches planted in 2010 have a 91 percent survival rate. Incredible.
  9. The transformational robot at the LifeWay Research booth. Hey, more people had their photo made with him (it?) than anyone else. Just sayin’ . . .
  10. The best line of the day. Again, Kevin Ezell of NAMB gets this recognition: “At this time, Mr. President, I will answer any questions. But I prefer not to.”

I will provide one more update tomorrow. And, as always, I am delighted to receive your comments.


  1. says

    #3 in your list blesses and excites me most, although the entire report is a blessing. The untamed tongue, pride and covetousness come from the flesh and are stimulated from beneath . . . praise, humility and cooperation come from the Spirit and are stimulated from above. I see the spirit of unity as a move of God and that both blesses excites me.

    Thank you for allowing us to be there with you through these updates.

  2. says

    The report about the survival rates of church plants is absolutely phenomenal! What an encouraging statistic. The increasingly unified push to reach the lost by God’s power and for God’s glory is also refreshing.

    Thanks for putting this together, Dr. Rainer. I am looking forward to your thoughts on today’s events as well.

  3. David Henderson says

    I wanted to ask question for point of clarity. Regarding the congregations that are new starts that have a 91% survival rate, did Mr Ezell share anything that NAMB is doing (different ) that has caused this figure to rise to this level? In our state it seems we have seen too many plants that did not survive. I would love know of any strategies he may have mentioned in this area. thank you Dr. Rainer for your insights.

    • Mike Ebert says

      Kevin wrote about this in his blog recently and there is more detail here:
      We have created the Send Network to support planters and create community among them as they serve in various cities. We have worked to personally connect established churches with church plants for prayer and other kinds of support. We have also greatly enhanced our assessment and evaluation process so we have a better feel up front for a planters strengths and what kind of a plant setting in which he might best be matched.

      Mike Ebert, NAMB

  4. Donna Avant says

    So thankful for LifewAy….Chris Adams, Faith Whatley for helping to facilitate Priscilla speaking at the MWL luncheon.

  5. says

    “A tone of cooperation that has not always been present in our meetings.” I pray this is so. It seems in my lifetime that there has never been peace in the SBC. However over the past couple of years I have seen more local churches cooperating, more pastors together in fellowship and more lay people asking how to help one another regardless of church name or style. Could it be that God has finally loosened our stiff necks?

  6. Gena Norris says

    As usual, I have to ask, what are the ages of the “young people” in attendance at this meeting?

  7. says

    Thanks so much for your easy-to-read post. My husband and I considered attending the convention as lay Southern Baptists, but we weren’t able to. So, your report kept us up to date in a very positive way. Blessings.

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