Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Should we change the name of the Southern Baptist Convention?

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.


Charles Henry said...

As I told my wife, "A rose by any other name carries just as much baggage." I don't think that name change will change how the outside world views the SBC. However, I do see the merits in not having a location-based named (southern). I'm not sure what it would cost or how feasible it event would be to do. With all that said, I agree, I believe it all starts (and ends) with our hearts. The name is essentially meaningless, the SBC history is by no means pure, but that can be made up for by following Christ.

If you're like to a take a moment out of your day for a good chuckle, head on over to my new site: http://sbctaskforce.com where I'm accepting 'name suggestions' (albeit mostly tongue-in-cheek ones). I think you might enjoy some of the great names people have submitted already.

Dr. Bob Rogers said...

Thanks, Charles. I added my own (tongue-in-cheek)idea of Holman Christian Standard Baptist.

Charles Henry said...

I got it! Will be posted tomorrow. Trying to space out all the "suggestions" :)