Ten Observations on Day 2 of the SBC Annual Meeting

As I indicated in yesterday’s post, I am taking two days to share about the annual meeting of my own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Again, thank you to all of you readers outside the SBC for being patient while I have this family conversation.

Again, my observations, for better or worse, are my own. They reflect how I saw things on this second day. So bear with me as I write from my hotel room as the midnight hour approaches,

  1. A more prayerful convention. There was more time spent in prayer during the meetings than I recall in the past. I hope this emphasis continues in the future.
  2. A more hopeful spirit. I heard more optimism about the future than I heard in the past. That optimism was not only for our denomination, but for the impact of Christianity in the United States and around the world.
  3. An emphasis on both church planting and church revitalization. I am hopeful that the SBC sees more than ever the importance of both. I heard that emphasis expressed in resolutions, in informal conversations, and in messages from the platform.
  4. The return of the reunion spirit. One important facet of our annual meeting is the opportunity for friends to reunite and enjoy fellowship. That seemed to be taking place in greater numbers with greater emphasis,
  5. The powerful statements by Russ Moore and the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission. Particularly poignant were his recognitions of the Green family, the owners of Hobby Lobby, and Saeed Abedini, an American pastor who is imprisoned for his Christian faith in Iran.
  6. The heartfelt convention sermon by John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas. His passion to reach the world for Christ is obvious and contagious.
  7. The excellent presentation of “Groups Matter” by Eric Geiger and Ed Stetzer. Of course, I am biased because this emphasis was part of LifeWay’s presentation. But these two men did an outstanding job of reminding us how critical it is for our churches to move members toward regular involvement in groups.
  8. The spirit of unity among the six seminaries. The presidents of our seminaries not only highlighted their own institutions; they commended their sister SBC seminaries as well.
  9. The concluding gavel by Fred Luter. He was certainly a historic president, because he was the SBC’s first African-American president. But he was an incredible president because of his leadership and love of people. Thank you Fred. You served us well.
  10. The next SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio. The significance of the next convention is that we return north of the Mason-Dixon Line. We are the Southern Baptist Convention in our heritage more than our present reality.

Thank you again for allowing me these two brief reports on the SBC annual meeting. I met three pastors at the SBC who specifically asked me to write about church staff meetings. I address that topic this coming Saturday.

Let me hear from you!


  1. Tom Ascol says


    I agree. The spirit of this year’s convention was super. I was also surprised and encouraged by the total number of messengers registered.

    Having been corrected by a geographically sensitive Marylander, I should encourage you to take a second look at the location of that Mason-Dixon Line. 😉

    I appreciate you!

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thanks Tom! My wording may not be clear. My intent was to say we are returning to a northern location after a few years of annual meetings in southern states, including Maryland.

  2. Mark Dance says

    I’m glad I came and I especially enjoyed the reunion w/ many old friends. I made several new friends as well – especially younger pastors.

    The future of the SBC is bright!

  3. says

    Thanks for posting.

    I was commission as a NAMB missionary (church planter) at the WMU service on Sunday but was unable to stay because we had an incoming mission team arriving on Monday.

    These two posts helped me feel connected even though I was not there…

  4. says

    Dear Thom,
    In your 2nd-Day Observation #9, I wish you hadn’t written about Fred Luter, “He was certainly a historic president, because he was the SBC’s first African-American president.” I say this with all the love and unity I can muster, not anger or anything negative. It is just that President Luter cannot help his skin color. It is not to his credit, nor is it a problem. He had no choice in that matter.
    I am sure that his skin color had nothing to do with the choices he made as President of the SBC, as well. I would think, since he is a leader who loves people, that any credit to his Presidency would not attach to his color, but to those right choices.
    Thom, I am your friend, so I can tell you this: We really need to be the color-blind society that Dr. King and so many other leaders desired that we be. As Christian leaders especially, we need to be that example.
    Thanks for your grace in listening,

  5. Ricardo Vargas says

    Mr. Rainer, I found your website today, and I have so many questions about becoming a Pastor, is there any way to contact you through email?

  6. Prentiss Yeates says

    Good morning Thom,
    I want to thank you for providing a peek into the future of our denomination . Thank you for love of the local church, the realistic approach to the church and the pointing us hope for us all. Now , more than ever, we are the church , we stand alone in this world and we will stand together in Christ. Blessings on you and your family.

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