Is there strategy behind the decision to resurface the 2012 approval of an alternate unofficial descriptor for Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated churches to use if they choose?
Is it the first step toward a campaign for an official name change for the denomination?
We can’t say for sure about potential strategies in play, but we can confirm that the current promotion of the descriptor — Great Commission Baptists — is not, in and of itself, a name change.
It can’t be, since a name change would require significant action by convention messengers related to the 1845 charter.
That’s part of what makes Baptists Baptist — our elected and employed leaders don’t have that kind of power. They can suggest and even exert influence, but they can’t make denomination-wide changes like that on their own.
The proposal for a common moniker put before messengers in 2012 was explained at the time as a way to help new church starts outside the South and for churches whose communities might not embrace the word “Southern.”
The debate was heated, and the decision caused confusion then too.
Not sure how it works
How will it work to have both Great Commission Baptist churches and Southern Baptist churches affiliated with the SBC?
How is this different than what many churches already do, which is to simply remove “Baptist” from their name?
How many church names actually have “Southern Baptist” in the name rather than “Missionary Baptist” or “Baptist”?
Without a full denominational name change, the descriptor actually seemed to be more confusing than helpful. It never really took off, and few churches use it.
However, with SBC President J.D. Greear’s recent announcement of the 2021 SBC annual meeting theme, “We are Great Commission Baptists,” the debate has fired back up.
And with the announcement came misunderstandings and incorrect headlines, upsetting many Southern Baptists.
The debate is likely far from over, but for now, be careful to be factual in the discussion.
The SBC has not changed its name — at least not yet.
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