Thom Rainer and Mike Day were the 2nd and 3rd speakers on Thursday. Dr. Rainer spoke on evangelism and church growth and said good things about both. I especially appreciated his call for humility at the end. He demonstrated that for which he pled. He also called attention to the serious problem we have in the SBC with unregenerate church members, citing the sad fact that while we claim more than 16 million on our roles only 7 million come on Sunday morning. The repeated admission of this reality--including by more and more prominent SBC leaders--bodes well for the future. The first step to dealing with a problem is admitting that it exists and is serious enough to address. I think we are rapidly getting to that place.
Mike Day is the DOM of the Mid-South Baptist Association in Memphis. I have a confession to make. When I saw that a DOM was scheduled to speak on "The Future of Baptist Associations and State Conventions" I was, shall we say, less than excited. Boy, was I wrong. His talk was worth the whole conference. I encourage everyone who cares about the future of the SBC to order the CD from Union with his message. Dr. Day offered a very fine analysis of these two layers of Baptist organizational life, calling attention to their redundancy and need for change. He mentioned the need for a new way of thinking associationally, that takes some hints from the history of Baptist associations in America. He mentioned "affinity associations(!)," and called for them to be regionally based but not limited by strict geographical boundaries.
I was fully engaged by his words and could not believe that a DOM was actually saying them. The SBC is changing and needs to change for the better. Dr. Day gets that. This type of thinking can help move the denomination forward in very healthy directions.
Timmy Brister, Steve McKoy, Joe Thorn and Art Rogers are all blogging about the conference. Their observations are worth reading.