Published: December 3, 2009
Since our Georgia Baptist Convention meeting I have preached in another state convention, traveled to Germany and Latvia, enjoyed a family vacation in the Sunshine State with all ten grandchildren, had another birthday, and had some time to reflect on our recent GBC meeting at First Baptist Church in Woodstock.
In our annual convention gatherings I have always tried to present The Christian Index as a relevant, Georgia Baptist-centric publication that also addresses moral and cultural issues from a conservative, thoughtful, provocative perspective. Through the years the comments about my reports have been mildly complimentary and placidly approving, but rarely resulting in the sale of any newspaper subscriptions.
Nevertheless, we pressed on with our report year after year undaunted by the lackluster response to our plaintive appeal for new subscribers. We faithfully set up our Christian Index booth amidst all the other ministry displays with the bright hope that one day messengers and guests alike would find the appeal to subscribe to our state paper as compelling as Calvinists’ find grace irresistible to the elect and make a mad rush to sign up on the dotted line.
At the end of each convention we would pack up our goods, fold up our Index display board, eat the remainder of the reduced-priced post Halloween candy that we had not given out to potential subscribers, and trudge back to the Baptist Missions and Ministry Center, not necessarily clothed in laurels and victory.
When we discovered earlier this year that the ministry reports would be limited to a restricted time, placed on a video, and edited to insure that the time constraints were upheld, I knew that I could not preach my typical sermon – oh, excuse me – make my typical report within the framework of the time allotted.
So, one night after eating a pepperoni pizza just before going to bed I had a vision of three persons on our convention staff doing an interpretive dance. While I was not inspired by the interpretive dance the idea of doing a rap suddenly penetrated my skull, lodged in my brain, and struck a responsive chord.
So, I wrote the rap, contacted the Communications Department of the GBC, and the rest is history. The response to the video production has been nothing short of amazing. This whole experience has taught me a valuable lesson – Georgia Baptists are sometimes more likely to respond to the ridiculous than the sublime.
What kind of report will I give at the Convention next year? It is difficult to tell this early, but someone suggested that I come onto the convention platform on a zip line. I have also had someone suggest I do my report as an Elvis impersonator.
All I know is that the ridiculous worked this year; we had more folks sign up to subscribe to The Index than in the previous six conventions combined. I also have been inundated with invitations to do the music for multiple youth retreats and lock-ins. I am of the considered opinion that those invitations were offered in jest. If not, call my booking agent in New York at (800) 555-1234.
To be honest, we may be back to the mundane for next year’s Index report, but if your church would like to use this year’s rap video to promote The Christian Index in your church just give us a call. You can preview it on our website at www.christianindex.org and have a copy sent by calling Heidi Hager at (770) 963-5590.
Actually, the Georgia Baptist Convention annual session was marked by many non-frivolous moments and experiences. The hospitality of First Baptist Woodstock was incredible and worthy of emulation. The business sessions were harmonious and effective. The preaching of Jeff LaBorg, Dan Spencer, and Bucky Kennedy was anointed and inspiring.
Dr. J. Robert White’s state missions report was thrilling and very informative; and the ministry and salvation reports from the rain-soaked participants (almost 1,000 of them) from LoveLoud were truly heart-warming.
Barry McCarty, the parliamentarian for this year’s convention, may have summed the Woodstock meeting up about as well as could be expected of anyone. McCarty has become a fixture at Southern Baptist Convention national meetings for almost 25 years.
In 1986, SBC President Charles Stanley called the American Institute of Parliamentarians and asked them to recommend the best-certified professional parliamentarian in the country who was skilled in church polity. McCarty was the man recommended for the job. Since that time he has stood by the side of multiple SBC presidents to assist them in conducting Convention business.
When the 188th GBC Annual Session met in Woodstock, McCarty, who pastors a church in Dallas, Texas, stood by the side of Georgia Baptist Convention President Bucky Kennedy to assist him in the business sessions of the Convention.
At the conclusion of the Tuesday morning session McCarty turned to me and said, “I have a quote for you, if you are interested.”
I was interested in what he had to say so I got out my pen and paper like an alert, on-task reporter.
He said, “I have been the parliamentarian for a lot of church business meetings and for a lot of Christian denominational gatherings and after observing this convention for two days I have concluded that Georgia Baptists are a happy group of people who have confidence in their leadership.”
Without question McCarty spoke from an experienced and objective perspective; and for what it’s worth, I agree with his assessment.
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