There are a lot of well-intentioned folks who have convinced themselves that they will fix the SBC “from the inside.” Typically, this idea is verbalized when others promote the Biblical notion of godly separation. This simple equation, however, will demonstrate why it’s impossible to bring lasting reform to the SBC from the inside.
THIS IS THE EQUATION
FACT 1: In order to have influence in the SBC, you must give to the Cooperative Program and support it financially.
The Cooperative Program is the funding mechanism that allows funds voluntarily given from local churches to be disbursed to the SBC’s autonomous entities (seminaries, LifeWay, the ERLC, etc). No Southern Baptist church or pastor can have any influence whatsoever without supporting the Cooperative Program; it is what earns you a seat at the table.
FACT 2: As long as autonomous SBC entities have your church’s money, and so long as they are well-funded, they don’t have to reform.
If these entities have their coffers full, they have independence because they are autonomous and don’t answer to SBC churches. Entity trustees are chosen and selected by the spoils system and are fueled by nepotism. Every entity is essentially a run-away entity. If they have your money, ironically, they don’t care about your opinions and they don’t have to.
ERGO, FACT 3: By purchasing “influence” through financially supporting the SBC power structure, you have purchased only a counterfeit influence.
It is imagined influence, and not real influence. Your financial support has allowed you the opportunity to be heard, but because the autonomous entities have your money already, they don’t have to listen.
As soon as your church withdraws financial support from the CP, you will lose your seat at the table to be heard at all. But if you’re still financially supporting the CP, your seat at the table won’t do any good.
LEARN THE LESSON
There are many thousands of SBC pastors and leaders who fundamentally oppose the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention and its newly-woke institutions. They oppose the push for female clergy. They oppose Critical Race Theory, Identity Politics, and Cultural Marxism. They oppose all of it, but have convinced themselves they’ll change it from the inside.
We saw some of those SBC pastors, like Tom Buck and Tom Ascol, use their seat at “the SBC table” to ask stirring questions from the mic, mildly protest, and cause a few (well-deserved) scenes. And while I’m with those men ideologically, I’m not with them strategically. They are still, with their churches, substantially supporting the Cooperative Program and SBC entities. They are financially supporting the SBC power structure that – while it allows them 60 seconds at the microphone, ensures that they’re not listened to.
No doubt, there are many more pastors all around the SBC who are convinced that they can help “from the inside.” The equation above should dispel any hopes of it. As soon as a church stops supporting the SBC financially, they are ostracized and blacklisted. Their pastors will no longer be appointed as trustees or to denominational positions.
What these well-meaning men need to understand is that being heard is not the same thing as being listened to. Should you give your thousands to the Southern Baptist convention, you will have a chance to be heard, but because these institutions don’t need you if they have your money, you will not be listened to.
NO MORAL IMPERATIVE TO SAVE THE SBC
I think many pastors think they’ve somehow a moral imperative to save the SBC. However, the denomination is not a church and it is, therefore, not the Bride of Christ. Denominations are not for whom Jesus died and they’re not for whom he is returning. There is no Biblical mandate to be a part of a denomination; there is no Scriptural requirement.
Being yoked with such ungodliness as has become the SBC is not excused by a desire to save that which God does not ask you to save. While we may remain with a local church that has the problems of Corinth, and are bound to reform and fight for her, we are not bound in any such way to a denomination.
Trying to save the denomination from the inside is not bravery. It is foolishness.
A FINAL CAVEAT
Some would take exception with the notion that this equation is lock-solid, considering the Conservative Resurgence seemed to be a successful attempt to reform the SBC from the inside. I would dare you to look at SBC entities and SBC leaders in 2019 and ask yourself, “Was it?”