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What People Really Think About Southern Baptists

The 2013 Southern Baptist Convention: Notes and Prayers

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  • Thom Rainer
By Thom S. Rainer, Christian Post Contributor
June 11, 2013|9:04 am

In my Saturday post, I shared with you that I would be writing about my denomination's annual meeting in Houston this week. While the primary audience is Southern Baptists, I know that a significant segment of the readership of this blog is non-SBC. To you non-SBCers: Thank you for allowing me to speak directly to my own denomination. Feel free to listen and comment at anytime.

I arrived on Saturday, so I have already had an opportunity to interact with a number of people. Most of those I have spoken with are here for the SBC. A few of them, though, work in Houston. I would like to share summary comments from two of them.

Two Voices: Some Notes

Because the crowds were relatively small, I had the opportunity to interact with two servers at a restaurant. The first server was a transplant from New Orleans, coming to Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He is, by his own statement, not a Christian. Below are direct quotes from him. I'm sure I've missed a few words, but I tried my best to write it as he said it.

"I know Southern Baptists pretty well," he began. "I've been in the restaurant business in New Orleans when you when came to town. You know, you Baptists are at your best when you're trying to do something for people. You were incredible helping us in New Orleans after Katrina. But you can be pretty obnoxious at convention time. I told my fellow employees at the restaurant to get ready for small tips, lots of gospel tracts to go with the cheap tips, and plenty of people ordering desserts."

Ouch.

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The second server is not a Christian either. In view of the SBC coming to town, I asked what she thought of Southern Baptists (As a side note, I offered anonymity and a good tip to both servers.). Below are her words as I can best recall.

"Well you fight a lot," she responded. "You are against a lot of things." I interjected to ask her what positive things she knew about Southern Baptists. An uncomfortable silence ensued. She responded this time with a bit of hesitation. "I really don't know. I guess I don't know much about you guys."

Double ouch.

My Prayers

We are guests of Houston. We are in the residents' city for a short while. May I offer a few short prayer requests as we interact with the people of Houston?

  • I pray that the words we say, particularly those that others may hear, will be pleasing to God and edifying to others.
  • I pray that we will realize that the monetary tips we leave in restaurants, with parking attendants, and others give a huge first impression on the type of people we are. I pray we will not be cheap and selfish.
  • I pray that we will engage in small acts of kindness with others, that they will see that there is something positively different about us.
  • I pray that we will begin each day in Houston with a prayer that God will use us among the people here even for just a few days.
  • I pray that we will not be demanding nor condescending to anyone.
  • I pray that the way we interact together as Southern Baptists will be a positive witness to the world. The world is indeed listening to every word we say in this hugely public setting.

Welcome to Houston

Welcome to Houston fellow Southern Baptists. I hope to see many of you. Above all, however, I hope that Houston will see Christ in us.

That is my hope. That is my prayer.

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
 

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