Cooperation Group’s essays explore ways Southern Baptists work together

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – Members of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Cooperation Group want Southern Baptists to remember the Great Commission was not made for the SBC, but the Convention was created for the Great Commission.

The Great Commission, of course, is the mandate given by Jesus Christ to his followers just before he returned to Heaven directing them to make disciples of every nation. Specific references can be found in Matthew 28:16-20 and Mark 16:14-18.

Jared Wellman, Cooperation Group chairman, believes if Southern Baptists remember this it will help them keep their “emotions and passions” in the right place and discern the “appropriate amount of energy” to spend on the Convention.

Wellman was the lead writer of an essay released June 3 on the group’s website unpacking their thoughts just days before the 2024 SBC annual meeting.

The group, appointed by SBC President Bart Barber, released their recommendations May 1.

They include:

  • Aligning the way the Baptist Faith and Message is amended with the method for changing the SBC Constitution and Bylaws
  • Ensuring the messenger body has sole authority in seating messengers at the annual meeting and celebrating new churches seating messengers
  • Changing the Convention’s governing documents “to require the Committee on Nominations to nominate as entity trustees and standing committee members only those candidates who affirm the Convention’s adopted statement of faith”
  • Calling on the SBC Executive Committee to evaluate the usefulness and accuracy of a public list of cooperating churches and report their updates at the 2025 annual meeting

Wellman, a Texas pastor, says the response to the recommendations has been encouraging and gives him hope the convention will be ready to cooperate in the days ahead.

Fellow committee member Andrew Walker, associate professor of Christian ethics and public theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, agrees and says he is heartened “by the amount of consensus that has come out of the committee.”

“I’ve really been impressed, and honestly, shocked by how little criticism there was in response to the release of the recommendations,” Walker said in an interview on “SBC This Week.”

Since the release of the recommendations, the group has been publishing weekly essays to flesh out the recommendations and promote cooperation. Walker acted as the lead for what they called the education group, providing oversight for the essays.

“One of the things we wanted to do with these essays was to demonstrate cooperation in the essays themselves,” he said. Each essay has a lead writer but a group collaborated on them.

“Honestly, there were individuals who would have been on varying tribes of the SBC who were all on these essays together in order to demonstrate that consistent ethic of cooperation,” he said.

Baptist Press has published the essays here:

  • What does it mean to be the Southern Baptist “Convention” (rather than a Southern Baptist “Denomination”)?
  • Southern Baptist churches, confessional statements and cooperation
  • What does it mean to be a cooperating church in the Southern Baptist Church (versus a “member” of the convention)?
  • What is the role of a trustee in the Southern Baptist Convention (When an entity must “not contradict” and a cooperating church must “closely identify with”)?
  • What is the secret to the Southern Baptist Convention?

The Cooperation Group’s report is scheduled for the evening session on Tues., June 11, during the 2024 SBC annual meeting.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee.)

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