That was a quote via Russell Moore on Twitter today after Fred Luter was unanimously and with extended standing ovation elected as the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention. As Dr. Moore went on to say, the descendent of slaves is now the head of a denomination that was started over the issue of slavery. It was a holy moment. Tears were flowing all over the convention hall, including down my cheeks. I thought about how much history was spoken to today, how we are now telling a better story, and how all things are being made new in Christ. It was a great day and was the primary reason that I came.
Fred Luter's election also signifies the fact that God is reconciling all things to Himself in Christ. Jim Crow, which seemed so intractable in the South 50-60 years ago, has given way to the Cross of Christ. Injustice will not stand. What is wrong will be made right. Divisions will be healed. The Lion will lay down with the lamb. We experienced an "on earth as it is in heaven" moment today and I praise God that I was there. No, it does not solve everything. There are still racial problems in the SBC - still divisions over personal preference, culture, fear, economics, and prejudice. But, it was a good step along a path that we need to be walking. It matters that the white leadership of the SBC recognized the Christlikeness of Fred Luter and submitted themselves to his leadership today. In Christ, racial distinctions go away and that was demonstrated today.
Fred Luter is completely qualified. This is not a token election just to make a racial statement. He is the right man for the job in every way. But, today, we were able to see how Christ has qualified an African American man. In the past, we missed that because we were completely blinded by fear, racism, and a desire to protect our "way of life" that stood opposed to Christ. Today, the blinders came off and we saw the beauty of the New Creation, not regarding Fred Luter from a "worldly point of view." Fred Luter has been qualified. That was never in question. But, today, the SBC became qualified by seeing, just as Dr. King said, the content of a man's character is more important than the color of his skin.
The Young SBC
Has anyone noticed how many young people are at the SBC this year? When I was last at a convention in San Antonio in 2007, it was primarily senior adults. Now, the number of people under 40, even under 30, is astounding in comparison to past years. We have a long way to go, but again, we seem to be moving in the right direction.
Ethnic Diversity in the SBC is Really Happening
A decade ago, the SBC was 95% white churches and 5% everyone else. Now, it is more like 80/20 in churches. That is a huge demographic shift in just 10 years. I think the pace of this will just increase. I hope so. But, now we need minority leadership in SBC entities, trustee boards, and positions of leadership. I hope that we will help Rev. Luter appoint qualified minority leadership from all over SBC life to better reflect where we are as a convention and where we are obviously headed.
The IMB/NAMB Seems to be Shifting
I had good conversations with guys from both NAMB and the IMB about their desire to come around local churches and help them lead out in mission and initiate. That is key and it opens the door for the ChurchAsMissionary concept that many of us have been trumpeting for years to grow. I like it.
Lifeway and the Gospel Project
I am really excited about The Gospel Project that Lifeway has put out. I had a couple of conversations with Trevin Wax, the editor of the project. The fears of it being a Calvinist only work are completely unfounded. It seems really solid. I want to look at this more closely and am thinking of using it in our Wednesday Night studies. Trevin and Ed Stetzer showed this video today to introduce the Gospel Project. You should watch it:
It has been a good convention. Tomorrow morning at 8:35am, I get to nominate my friend, Dave Miller, for 2nd VP of the SBC. Prayers appreciated.