I am a Christian first. But I am also a Southern Baptist. I have attended three Southern Baptist academic institutions (Campbellsville Univ, Southwestern Bapt. Seminary and Southern Bapt. Seminary). I have been a member of five Southern Baptist Churches (Lewisport BC, First Bapt. Euless, First Bapt. Millsap, Trinity Bapt. and Main Street Bapt.), of which I have served three of those as a staff member. My dissertation topic deals entirely with how Southern Baptist colleges function and operate. I married a Southern Baptist girl.
In short, I am highly connected to my denomination. I love my denomination. I am proud of my denomination for their commitment to God’s Word, to missions, to cultural engagement, and to their humanitarian efforts. My family and I are just back from two days at the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis, IN. This is my second SBC annual meeting.
I, unlike a lot of people, find strength in these large denominational events. A denomination is nothing more than a way to group people together. It is a way to generically organize common beliefs and convictions about spiritual matters. Are there differences? Sure. Does everyone believe the exact same thing? No way. But on the essentials, there is unity. There is just something powerful when a large gathering comes together to say “We want to win the world to Christ.”
For the record, I would be comfortable serving in several other denominations. But God has consistently placed me in Southern Baptist churches, schools, and groups. That is my history. Call it tradition if you will. I am not opposed to “tradition.” I just love my Lord Jesus and find great hope in the group of people called “Southern Baptists.”