Church, after spending time at the Southern Baptist Convention with five other members from Bethel, here are three things I know, three things I think I know, and ways we all can pray in the days ahead.

3 Things I know

1. I know the SBC is Gospel-focused and intent on reaching the nations for Jesus. My favorite portion of the SBC convention, without qualification, is the International Mission Board Commissioning service (You can watch the service at https://vimeo.com/839817183). Without fail, my eyes water. Tears of joy for those going, pride as we send, and sadness for the lost around the world. Bethel, this year, you sent 83 IMB missionaries, one of the largest groups, to be sent out during an SBC annual meeting. Because of your partnership as an SBC church, you currently have 3,494 missionaries worldwide. In 2022, collective efforts saw 178,177 new believers and 102,417 baptisms. I know that the SBC is intent on reaching the nations for Jesus!
Bethel, your kingdom’s resources are impacting not only the world but also North America. In 2023, 38 new churches were planted in Canada, the most in a single year. Then, 2024 opened with more than 50 church-planting candidates in the pipeline to start churches this year. In 2023, the North American Mission Board celebrated a milestone in church planting—more than 10,000 new churches started since 2010. During the week that preceded the Convention, over 1,469 volunteers engaged Indianapolis through evangelistic events; 9,211 homes were visited,5,393 people heard the Gospel, and 185 people made professions of faith! I know that the SBC is intent on reaching the nations for Jesus!

2. I know the SBC is still thoroughly biblical. We are no less conservative and no less committed to the Scriptures than we were before Indy. First, nearly 92 percent (6,750) affirmed the Credentials Committee’s recommendation to deem the historic First Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, not in friendly cooperation. The congregation, which has a female pastor on staff, does not closely identify with the SBC because of their non-biblical view on gender roles. A motion requiring every SBC church not to staff female pastors failed because it needed a stipulation in the SBC bylaws instead of the Baptist Faith and Message. This motion failed due to procedural grounds rather than theological convictions. I left the conventional meeting convinced that the SBC remains thoroughly biblical and conservative.

3. I know the SBC remains a light to the nations and a city on a hill. I witnessed over 17,000 people gathering in the name of Jesus Christ. I observed many reporters, read numerous national articles, and listened as significant news stories keenly spoke of the conventions happening. Church, national eyes are upon the SBC, which means what we do, say, and how we live matters more than ever. In a world of increasing darkness, I know that the SBC remains a light for Jesus in our country.


3 Things I Think I Know

1. I think the IVF resolution intended to uphold life in every stage rather than discourage the use of medical technology. The resolution, non-binding to SBC churches and individuals, clearly identified ethical issues with the IVF process. It made no final condemnation of IVF and never comes close to condemning parents who have conceived children through this method (Praise Christ for these new lives). The resolution raised righteous questions and reminded us that human embryos are human beings who bear God’s image at all stages of their development. I think the resolution, which has garnered much publicity, intended to uphold pro-life convictions and encourage adoption rather than discourage couples from trying to conceive.

2.I think congregational polity is beneficial and healthy. There were nearly 11,000 messengers from churches this year, and when you add guests and exhibitors, 17,000 people were involved in this year’s meeting. So, imagine this: you and 11,000 friends have two days to conduct business, consider resolutions, make motions, elect officers, and more. Now, let’s add more intrigue: any one of the 11,000 messengers can go to the microphone at any time to make a motion, resolution, or ask a question. The beautiful result of congregational polity is that every person has a voice. The dread of congregational polity is that anyone can go to the mic anytime. And yes, even the SBC has that one crazy uncle who loves the spotlight.

3.I think I know that we need more financial transparency. The leadership of the SBC rejected financial transparency yet again. This is very concerning and alarming. Some motions were made, including requiring SBC entities to disclose all financial information required by the IRS on Form 990 and one requesting a full forensic audit of the North American Mission Board. Although trustees have access to financial records, most SBC messengers are weary of the resistance of our entity heads toward greater fiscal clarity and transparency. I think I know that we need more financial transparency.


3 Ways to Pray

1. In the world, we have 7,250 unreached people groups, and 174,202 people die daily apart from Christ. We need more missionaries. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers for the Gospel. Ask the Father, “Where will I go?”

2.Clint Presley is the new president of the SBC. He is a former pastor in Alabama and a tremendous biblical teacher. Ask the Lord to grant Clint wisdom to lead, galvanize, and strengthen our partner churches.

3.Pray for unity. Our cooperation for the Gospel is the cornerstone of being a Sothern Baptist Church. Pray for biblical, missional, and Christian unity that will remain until the Lord calls us home.


Dr. Josh Burnham
Senior Pastor