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First SBC open forum

Today was our first SBC regional forum. Walter Price, Bret Capranica, and I piled into a car together and drove down to East Clairmont Baptist Church in San Diego. There we met up with Blake Withers and several Southern California pastors (and one high school student).

There was no real agenda; just a time to chat about the state convention and learn how we can cooperate more effectively. As our state president Walter Price has said many times, "There are some things we can do better together than we can do separately." In particular, the way we cooperate in missions, education, and compassion (i.e. disaster relief) seem to be worth preserving. But how do we get the next generation on board? What excites them about our convention? What turns them off? These are the kind of questions we're trying to answer.

Several good thoughts came out of today's meeting. We definitely need a more robust church planting strategy, including better training, funding, oversight, and support. We also see major room for improvement in communication, social networking, and online resources.

Several like the idea of associations and state conventions serving the local church more as "clearing houses" of information and resources. These entities do not need to be manufacturers as much as conduits that will connect people and resources together.

Clearly, no one in the younger generation is going to "buy in" to a program simply because it's got the SBC label. The days of brand loyalty are gone. Now, pastors are consumers. SBC programs are like dishes at the buffet table. Each program will be weighed on its own merits. Some are chosen, while others are overlooked.

Our next regional forum will be in Fresno on May 18, followed by meetings in L.A. on July 22, and both Sacramento and San Francisco on September 16.

If you have any interest in the Southern Baptist Convention and would like to join the conversation, please join us for one of these meetings.

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