Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers
I grew up an Army chaplain's son, worshiping in a Protestant chapel, so I have a love and appreciation for other Christians, but my father was appointed as a chaplain by Southern Baptists, and I have always been a Southern Baptist. Like the old saying, "I'm Southern Baptist born, Southern Baptist bred, and when I die, I'll be Southern Baptist dead."
Recently, Bryant Wright, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, appointed a task force to study the possibility of changing the name of the denomination. (Read more here: http://www.baptistpress.org/bpnews.asp?id=36165)
Regarding the possible SBC name change, I understand the reason for the suggestion, but I think it is unwise.
As a teenager, as I was a member of an SBC church in Staten Island, New York, when my Dad was in the Army. I remember that the "Southern" name was not helpful to our outreach in New York. We now have churches in every part of the country, so "Southern" is somewhat of a misnomer. However, I think most churches outside the South can easily handle that by simply using the name "Baptist" without putting "Southern" on their sign. Many churches don't even use a denominational name anyway. Those churches can simply put "Affiliated SBC" on their sign to inform those who are looking for a Southern Baptist church.
Southern Baptist is a name we have had since 1845, and that brings with it a strong name recognition which should not be tossed aside without long and careful consideration.
Even if a name change is needed, this is not a good time to add the burden and expense of replacing signs, letterheads, logos, stationery, etc. in the middle of a recession. Our churches and agencies are hurting enough financially, and we do not need to add a new expense that would take away from evangelism and missions.
It seems to me there are many more important things that we need to change before we consider a name change. If we would allow God to change our hearts and our churches and work a revival among us, if we would change our focus from selfishly trying to meet our own felt needs to reaching a world with the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ, then I question whether we would even feel a need to change our name.