sometimes surreal at the sbc

As you may know, I’m attending the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Indianapolis this week. It’s pretty interesting to be in the yearly convention of the largest Protestant denomination in the world – especially when I’m hunting for anything connected to college students, young adults, and/or millennials.

As a young adult myself, it’s all a little surreal.

On the one hand, I’m surrounded by lots of people twice my age. Nearly all the young adults or college students who are here appear to be “on assignment” – plugging their seminaries, getting college credit, running booths, etc. (Still, it’s nice to see those peers.)

I entered this morning to the protests outside from Westboro Baptist Church. (They’re the funeral-picketing virulently anti-homosexual group that seems to enjoy making news.) I’m not sure what exactly they’re protesting in regards to the denomination, but I think it’s my first time to see them in person.

I just walked in to this session with the Gaither Vocal Band singing something about Jesus and John Wayne. Also a little surreal.

On the other hand, one of the first things we all received was the special Indiana state convention magazine – with its cover story urging us to “Celebrate College Students.” The Indiana Baptist Monthly had one opportunity to reach a nationwide audience, and they highlighted college ministry. Big kudos. (You can download the issue here.)

Last night Jay Strack, head of Student Leadership University, closed out the Pastors’ Conference – the pre-convention gathering of SBC Pastors – with an urgent call to reach the Millennial Generation. It’s a word that’s very needed, obviously, and it was good to have it given such a prominent spot this year.

Ed Stetzer is here and all over the convention center; he and his Lifeway Research group excite me more than most things in the world. Last year, Stetzer made an excellent comment about this big family reunion requiring us younger types to love – and accept – even the “interesting” uncles. A good word.

I’ve also had the chance to catch up with several of the awesome people I have met on the road trip, as well as old Collegiate Ministry friends – as well as some neat time making new connections.

About an hour ago, I had a phenomenal conversation with my buddy Nathan Knight and Dennis Darville, Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Seminary and longtime friend of college ministry. As you know, my conversations with seminary profs and administrators have been incredibly fruitful this year, and so encouraging.

Last night, I heard a short non-debate debate centered on how we choose to vote for politicians. It brought a new “shift” to light for me: between…

  • those who feel that true convictions will always lead to voting in that direction and…
  • those who believe they can hold convictions and yet at times vote contrary, with many ideas, convictions, and preferences held in tension

So that was an interesting thing to ponder.

Inside this building, there are lots of suits. But non-suits are plentiful, too. As for me and my house, I got a lot of comments on my Marshall shirt yesterday. It helps recognition when a movie is made about your campus, but I also appreciate that they have one of the coolest mascots around: Thundering Herd.

Today, I’m wearing the Golden Gophers, which is also quite excellent.

Time to get back to the Gaithers. They’re singing a song that sounds like Hakuna Matata.

Written from the Southern Baptist Convention, Indianapolis, IN

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