I read today that the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention is going to recommend a name change for the denomination. They wish to add "Great Commission Baptists" to the name. I understand the need to make the change from a regionally sounding name to one that is more universal. However, I have some doubts about the current proposal. First of all, if you are going to change the name, change it! I understand the legal reasons to keep "Southern Baptist Convention" in the name but I can only think that the real reason to only "add" to the name is political. Our leaders are afraid that a total name change will not gain approval of the rank and file of the convention. If we want to be perceived as a national body then lets go all out and drop the "Southern" from our name.
I also understand the negative feelings some people get when they hear "Southern Baptist". Again, that is all the reason to have a total change in the name. The problem is that even the word, "Baptist" has negative connotations for many Americans. So, in changing the name, why not take out "Southern" and "Baptist"?
Better still, why don't we try and fix the reasons Southern Baptists have such a negative reputation. Perhaps we could start by letting folks know what we are for rather than what we are against!
Finally, I am concerned about the name, "Great Commission Baptists". We call ourselves, "a people of the Book" and have fought many battles to keep it that way. Yet the term, "great commission" cannot be found in the Bible. Now we have every right to call Jesus' final charge to His disciples "The Great Commission" for those are our marching orders. And there is no question that the purpose of the S.B.C. is to fulfill this commission. But I would prefer a more Biblical and all-encompassing term: "Great Commandment Baptists". If we love God and love others then we will obey the great commission. If we love God will be concerned with what He is concerned with, which includes reaching the lost and discipling them. If we love others, we want them to be saved and become followers of Christ. And if we love each other we will cooperate with each other(living up to John 17:21). But our main problem is that we don't love others. In fact, we don't even love other Baptists. In fact we don't really love everyone in our own local churches. Maybe the name change I propose would cause us to concentrate on loving people rather than fighting over doctrinal integrity and worship style.
My proposal is to have the sole name of the current S.B.C. become "The Great Commandment Convention"
Perhaps when we start living up to that name and have a better reputation we can add "Baptist".