Some pastors have noted parallels between the politics of the Southern Baptist Convention and the politics of the local church. One idea along these lines is that you don’t want to be that church member as you work for reform in the SBC. Yeah, you know the one. Sure, you’ll love that church member anyway, but you’ll also wonder if you’re required to like him or her. Don’t be that kind of convention member.
1. Don’t have a sense of self-importance.
The ‘difficult’ church member not only thinks he or she needs to be heard, but that everyone else is waiting to hear his or her ‘authoritative’ point. Maybe the insight of your evaluation or solution is not actually all that important? Or, to put it another way, of the 330 million people who have opinions and Twitter accounts, why do you think we should listen to you? Sure, every SBC member should be heard, but keep in mind you’re not the only member, and most people probably aren’t anxiously anticipating your next ‘take’ the way you might think.
2. Don’t stop giving.
God loves a cheerful giver. But some people aren’t cheerful, and they certainly aren’t going to keep giving when something isn’t up to snuff. During the Conservative Resurgence, those most opposed to some of the liberal goings-on in the SBC were still encouraged by the conservative faction to continue giving. Missionaries often care little for our stateside schisms and could use the money. The work of the convention must go on even as we push for change within it and carefully question where our money is going.
3. Don’t give up.
It’s one thing when church members threaten to leave because things are bad, but quite another when they threaten to leave as a means of getting their way. Even when members want to leave because things are bad, they often don’t think through the redeeming qualities and evidences of grace in the local church from which they desire to depart. More than that, they fancy themselves fighters for the truth, but don’t take any actions to help their church change. They just give up. Now apply that to your place in the SBC.
4. Don’t shirk policies.
You may not understand or like an organization’s constitution, by-laws, policies, procedures, or adoption of Robert’s Rules of Order, but they’re there for a reason. The best way to work for needed change in an organization isn’t to just ignore those rules and guidelines, but to learn them, and to use them to the best of your ability and benefit to the institution. Church members who balk at being civil and orderly in a meeting aren’t going to be the best leaders when they get their way. They show that they think they’re ‘above the law’ and willing to abuse their power. Don’t just complain about policies in the SBC, use them for good, or figure out how to have them modified where needed.
5. Don’t neglect to show up at meetings.
One of the most amusing things church members will do is complain about something that they ordinarily take no part in. For example, you can change the time of Sunday Evening Worship Service and have three people whine about it when they’ve never showed up once for the service anyway. Don’t be like that. Your online input is fine, but it’s not what matters most. What matters most is doing everything you can to make it to the meetings in order to work toward bringing about the change you want to see in line with the Bible, for the glory of God, and for the good of our Southern Baptist Convention.