The Southern Baptist Convention will be taking place next week, and I will be attending as a representative of our church. I’m really looking forward to hearing what God is doing across the churches of our convention and among the unreached peoples around the world. A couple weeks ago I came across an article by Trevin Wax that is an excellent breakdown of the SBC. Wax is the managing editor of The Gospel Project at Lifeway Christian Resources. What follows is most of the article, but the entire article can be foundhere.
9 Things You Should Know About Southern Baptists1
1. The Southern Baptist Convention was organized in 1845 and now includes more than 45,000 churches and 16,000,000 members, which makes it the largest Protestant denomination in North America.
2. The “Southern Baptist Convention” is shorthand for all the churches and individuals who identify as Southern Baptist. Technically, however, the Southern Baptist Convention exists for only two days a year, at the annual gathering. The rest of the year, eleven denominational entities carry out the instructions of the messengers to the Convention. Actions by the Convention are nonbinding on local churches because every church is considered autonomous.
3. An individual becomes a Southern Baptist by joining a Southern Baptist church. A church qualifies as Southern Baptist by contributing to the mission causes of the Convention.
4. Theologically, the Convention holds to a consensus statement (Baptist Faith and Message), but this confession of faith is not binding on any church or individual because every Southern Baptist church is autonomous. An individual church may choose to adopt the BF&M or may create their own statement. Faculty at SBC-owned seminaries and missionaries who apply to serve through the various SBC missionary agencies must affirm that their practices, doctrine, and preaching are consistent with the BF&M.
5. The Southern Baptist Convention employs more than 5,000 international missionaries through International Mission Board. These workers are joined by thousands of volunteers to bring the saving message of the Gospel to 1,089 different people groups around the world. Last year, workers with the International Mission Board and their Baptist partners overseas reported 506,019 baptisms and 24,650 new churches worldwide.
6. The Southern Baptist Convention also oversees the work of the North American Mission Board, which exists to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, start New Testament congregations, minister to persons in the name of Christ, and assist churches in the United States and Canada in effectively performing these functions.
7. There are six Southern Baptist seminaries (Southern, Southwestern, Southeastern, New Orleans, Golden Gate, and Midwestern) that currently serve more than 13,000 students by providing theological education.
8. Because every local church is autonomous, ministry philosophy and methodology can differ substantially from church to church. David Dockery has listed seven types of Southern Baptists: fundamentalists, revivalists, traditionalists, orthodox evangelicals, Calvinists, contemporary church practitioners, and culture warriors.
9. Since 1925, Southern Baptist have been partnering together for missions by giving to these causes through the Cooperative Program – a unified giving system that allows churches to pool resources in order to fund mission work and theological education.
1 Online at http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2013/05/21/9-things-you-should-know-about-southern-baptists. Accessed 5/31/13.