Giving the SBC Back



The way to turn the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and expand its global mission efforts, is to give it back to those who built it. The phrase “take back the ship” has been used by some who have attempted to change the direction of the SBC. For better or worse, some of these efforts succeeded while others failed. However, the best and only long-term solution to unite and “save the ship” of the SBC is to give it back to those who built the ship.

Common convictions, while necessary for unity, are not enough to mobilize a people to advance the Great Commission together. As a pastor, and now leader of a State Convention with hundreds of churches, I have learned that increasing participation builds unity. Pastors work with volunteers, and State Executive Directors do as well. Volunteers can choose to participate, or they can opt out. The choice is often made based on whether they’re included in the process, and whether leaders are transparent and accountable in how they go about the ministry.

Unity and vibrancy in our SBC mission efforts will grow when we give back the SBC ship to those who built it.

“And who built the ship?” you ask.

We need to give the Convention back to the churches, small, medium and large; back to churches rural, town, suburban and city who have faithfully and generously built our Convention through faithful Bible teaching and generous support of missions through the Cooperative Program. We need to give the Convention back to the pew, back to Bob and Betty Baptist, and to Britney, Alex and Briana Baptist, too. We need to give it back to the people who love their neighbor and minister to the sick and send missionaries to the nations because they take seriously the command to obey Jesus’ teaching.

We need to give the Convention back to those whose heroes are missionaries and not Christian celebrities. We need to give the Convention back to widows who tithe from their Social Security because they love Jesus, love their church, love their pastor, and they love their missionaries.

We need to give the Convention back to deacons who pray for their pastor and serve alongside him. We need to give the Convention back to Sunday school teachers and door greeters and the women of the WMU, and all the others who make our Convention of churches work. Let’s give the convention back to the shepherds who love their flock, do the marrying and burying, evangelize the lost, preach the Bible because they believe the Bible, and model a life of joy and gratitude to their community. We need to give the Convention back to those who weep over sin, including their own, and who welcome the repentant sinner.

How do we give the Convention back?

We do it by valuing every church and every person in every church. Respecters of persons cannot lead the SBC to honor God and rebuild a witness to our nation. How do we give the Convention back? We do it primarily through transparency, accountability and broadened involvement through remote access voting at the annual meeting of the SBC.

Transparency is vital if we are to give the Convention back to those who built and continue to sustain it. Entities must open their financial records and provide detailed financial reports, not summaries which fail to disclose crucial information. When tens of millions of dollars are spent to purchase property, provide grants to certain churches, pay monthly stipends to certain pastors, and the details of these expenditures are known to only to a few, it creates the conditions for dividing not unifying. Many financial details are not disclosed to the Trustees charged with oversight. They should be disclosed to every Cooperative Program supporting Southern Baptist pastor and church.

Transparency means that habitual use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) should be discontinued. NDAs are used to suppress speech and information that might be critical, or revealing, of the practices of an institution or entity. NDAs are often used to keep information from being revealed that might embarrass someone or something. Although we don’t use them in the Northwest Baptist Convention, in SBC life they are used by churches, conventions, seminaries and SBC Entities. While NDAs have limited application in Baptist life, they are too often used as part of standard-operating-procedure and this should be stopped.

Regarding transparency, the SBC made an expansive strategic change in the 2010 Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) recommendation, yet the minutes of the committee meetings, which would reveal important details and discussions, have been sealed for all of these years and won’t be unsealed for many years to come. Why should this important information be kept from Southern Baptists? Shouldn’t we operate in the light? Is there some information that should only be accessible to a select few of Baptists, but not provided to the everyday pastor or layperson? According to the numbers, the GCR has actually been a Great Commission Regression, and I think it would be helpful for Southern Baptists to know the details of the internal debate. What concerns did the committee have? Where did the ideas originate and who argued for them and against them? The GCR served to weaken State Conventions and Associations (outside the South) and strengthen the national SBC. How was this debated? It’s been ten years and we still don’t know. It’s time to open the records. And it’s time to evaluate the GCR and re-calibrate (more about that in a future article).

Accountability. We give the Convention back to the pew, back to those who sustain Southern Baptist mission efforts, by enforcing accountability. Leaders must be held accountable for how we steward the ministry of the SBC and affiliated Conventions. Trustees should be trained by someone other than the entities they are selected to hold accountable. Accountability should include the performance of the Entity or Convention, stewardship of resources, Christian character, and, of course, faithfulness to our Lord and His Word. Holding leaders accountable is the chief responsibility of Trustee Boards, but building trust, and debunking conspiracy theories and rumors, is greatly aided when leaders hold themselves accountable to those who built and sustain the Convention.

Remote Access Voting. We give the Convention back by increasing involvement in the SBC through remote access voting. The last time remote voting was investigated by the SBC Executive Committee we were using dial-up. Ninety-two percent of our churches do not participate in the SBC Annual Meeting each year. The time has come to extend involvement to messengers from tens of thousands of churches, small and large. Involvement in making Convention decisions should not be restricted to those with the money to travel across the country to the Annual Meeting. Increasing involvement will build trust and support for Cooperative Program missions.

The SBC becomes stronger when we increase inclusion and empower each autonomous group, not when we centralize power and control. Today’s technology makes this completely doable.

I am allowing my name to be submitted to serve as President of the SBC because I believe we can unite the convention and save the ship. However, we need to do more than philosophize about the problems we face as a convention. We must discuss and find practical solutions to our problems. Offering practical solutions is what I am attempting to do.

I would urge the various groups concerned about the SBC to host meetings in which conversation can occur. I am always glad to discuss the issues we face and the proposed solutions, especially with those who may disagree with me. Let’s discuss in venues open to our people, whether it is a video conference, livestream, or open forum. We can post them so that every concerned Southern Baptist can have access to the discussion.

Unity and vibrancy in accomplishing the mission will grow as we give the ship back to those who built it. My great hope and dream is that this Convention, which has been built and sustained for 175 years, can be given back to the Baptist faithful. The SBC ship was built to carry the good news of Jesus Christ to every person in every place. I believe that’s why God has blessed the SBC, and faithfulness to that great mission will bring continued blessing in the years to come.

Randy Adams
Executive Director-Treasurer
Northwest Baptist Convention

10 thoughts on “Giving the SBC Back

  1. Eugene Roy

    Thank you Randy Adam’s for your transparency and insight into the SBC. It’s interesting to me that the issues the SBC is facing mirror the issues of our own national government.

    The US government is made up of professional political leaders who have made a career of negotiation and compromise in order to keep a firm grip on their seat of power. And with each compromise they sell out the freedoms of the American people.

    In the same way many popular pastors/preachers/teachers have compromised the Word of God choosing to espouse a seeker friendly gospel. One of hyper-grace and all inclusive. You can have Jesus and live in your sin to.

    Then there are those who have ascended the ladder of leadership who have forgotten their first love and have fallen for the fame and wealth that accompanies their title and position. It’s as though they have heard the seductive songs from the mythical Sirens that was said to lure wayward sailors to their deaths, smashing their ships on the sharp rocks of the island of Anthemusa. Thus, the Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to hide their sin.

    Transparency leads to accountability. It lets the light in the darkness and gives sin no place to hide. 1 John 1: 5-10 makes clear that those who operate in darkness are lying and not practicing the truth. It goes further to say “If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” NDAs seek to quench the light of truth and thereby cuts fellowship with one another. I support and applaud you for speaking out against such practices.

    May the Lord, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob give you and the voting members of the SBC the wisdom to correct the wayward ship in which we find ourselves. The SBC may be in trouble waters, but it is not floundering, it may be tossed yet it is not broken.

    The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

    • C. Read

      Mr. Roy,

      Wow what a statement! May God raise up more men and women with your insights and convictions! God bless you and all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity!

      I am earnestly praying that God will open the eyes of His people!

      With the love of Christ,
      C. Read

  2. pastordpanter

    Amen and Amen, Brother Randy!  Thank you for speaking up for all of us out here who love the Lord Jesus, His Church, His mission and our Convention.  Praying for you, Sir.

    Dan Panter

  3. Doug & Angie Miller

    Amen! Praying for a mighty Revival as the Great Arsonist lights revival fires in our hearts! May we return to our “First Love” our Savior and Lord!

  4. Curt Loftis

    This statement is how the pew-sitter THINKS the SBC is being run. Accountability and transparency are mandatory, not an option.
    May God bless your efforts.

  5. Randy Adams, You are voicing what I have been saying for years. I voted against the Great Commission Resurgence in 2010, not because of the name or intention, but because I knew power and resources would be placed at the top and local churches, associations, and state conventions would be put under the thumb of power brokers. The Send Cities strategy is nothing more than a retooling of the old NAMB Embrace Strategy. in 2016 NAMB realized GCR was not working donthey fired a lot of staff and catalysts and replaced them. I am not sure what focus is now.
    As a director of missions for 20 years in Montgomery Baptist Association in Maryland, 15 years of that time as a church planting catalyst before NAMB cut our funding for all dom/cpc’s, the number of xmchurches has gtown from 42 to 104, including 8 mission plsnts. But even though Montgomery is in between Baltimore and DC Send Cities, we are often ignored and isolated. I would love to see Randy Adams as next SBC president and move from top down to grass roots emphasis.

  6. Jeremy Troutman

    I am relieved to read that there are more SBC brothers and sisters in Christ who have a check in their hearts from the Holy Spirit concerning the lack of transparency in our SBC leadership.
    My Pastor here in Memphis is a powerfully gifted Spirit filled preacher of the Word of God who has been used by God to lead thousands of people to Christ and he was specificly used by the Lord to lead a low down backslider like me to repentance and guide me towards Evangelism in my daily life. I believe that he has been preaching the word around 40 years or so and has twice served as the SBC president.
    I love my church and love our pastor but….
    In light of all the rumors about secret salaries that are so obnoxiously high that they would make the majority of our churches contributors uncomfortable
    ( all of our Widows on a fixed income, our truck drivers,janitors,waitresses, teachers and construction workers etc.)
    It would make the majority of these contributors uncomfortable to know if they were paying their pastor let’s guess at least $300,000.00 per year…who knows, it may be more it may be less, how much are his guest speaking fees when he’s on the road, how much is the guest speaker paid who takes his place?, who knows, that’s just none of our business ,”pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”-wizard of oz quote …. we are taught to give a minimum of 10 percent of our income to this secrative “non profit ” organization.
    Strangely it was my wife who was raised Roman Catholic who brought this to my attention. She works hard at a grocery store and she is sending ten percent of her earnings to the starving kids in Africa catholic charities…. with a clean conscience too because the SBC lack of transparency is way too shady, raising too many red flags by keeping us in the dark concerning individual pastor’s salaries.
    She said that she has no problem sending money to starving children instead of fat cats here in America. But she still drops in 20 or 30 bucks every time we go to church. Don’t want to be a free loader.

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