Our adventures at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention

By Scott McCullar
Posted 9/1/18

What a whirlwind summer for the McCullars! Counting numerous impactful local mission projects as well as meaningful and life-changing mission trips to North Carolina and New York City, perhaps the most surprising trip was the one to Dallas, Texas in June. Our family attended the annual Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Dallas and we had no way to anticipate the unbelievable set of circumstances that would take place during and after that event.

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Our adventures at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention

Posted

What a whirlwind summer for the McCullars! Counting numerous impactful local mission projects as well as meaningful and life-changing mission trips to North Carolina and New York City, perhaps the most surprising trip was the one to Dallas, Texas in June. Our family attended the annual Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Dallas and we had no way to anticipate the unbelievable set of circumstances that would take place during and after that event.

My middle child, Zak, who is 9 years old, wanted to make sure to soak up and participate in all the meetings and events that he could. He hadn’t been to an SBC Annual Meeting since he was just a baby, so he really had no context for what went on at one. Therefore, off we went to every session we would attend.

Since the Southern Baptist Convention only has a few days to do all of its business, there is an Executive Committee, made up of over 90 Southern Baptists leaders from all over the country, who meet in Nashville, Tennessee and do the business of the Convention apart from those couple of days in the summer each year. All of their work is printed in a “Book of Reports” that each “Messenger” receives once they register for the Annual Meeting which details all of the various and wonderful ministries that the SBC is involved in to reach, bless, and minister to people around the world and, on top of it all, to lift high the name of Jesus.

To my astonishment, Zak was reading all of the business notes in that book like he was a majority stockholder in a business examining how the company was growing and using its resources. He worked through every paragraph and each sentence as seriously and intently as possible.

Zak pointed out to me that the Executive Committee had approved and passed an “Orphans and Widows” Sunday to be added to the official SBC Calendar which would be promoted for each of the thousands and thousands of Southern Baptist Churches to add to their own church calendars if they wished. He thought that special day was a good idea. And then he said, “Dad, is there a Children’s Ministry Sunday on the SBC Calendar?” I assured him there was and went about my work of talking with old friends and hearing the speakers and doing the business. A little while later, Zak notified me that there wasn’t one after all. There was a youth Sunday, an anti-gambling Sunday, a racial reconciliation Sunday and much more. But he couldn’t find a Sunday to emphasize children and the work they do, even though they are little, to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I took the Book of Reports and looked myself. He was right! Southern Baptists had many Sundays through the year to focus on many different areas of ministry, but there wasn’t one for children.

In the next session, Zak told me the SBC needed a children’s ministry day. He wondered how to make that happen. I told him that during specific times of the Annual Meeting, Messengers could make motions that would be considered during those few days or by the next Annual Meeting at the latest. He thought it over a minute and declared, “Dad, I’m going to make a motion for there to be a Children’s Ministry Day to be added to the SBC Calendar.” I asked him to repeat that and he did. He wasn’t joking around. This little guy was serious. “Son, there are over nine thousand people in this room. That’s pretty intimidating. Are you sure about this?” His reply: “I’ll be alright. I sing in the choir at church in front of all those people, so what’s nine thousand?”

I couldn’t talk him out of it, and as a messenger, he had a right to make any motion he wanted. But I had been to several Conventions and watched enough of them online to know how wild the times were when new motions were allowed. People got stage fright and stuttered, made crazy motions that would make people audibly gasp, and would just talk on and on until they were made to stop by the Convention president and Parliamentarian. On many occasions, the time would expire for the introduction of new motions and lines of folks would just be left standing at one of the various microphones scattered about the conventional hall with no more opportunity to speak. I started getting nervous.

I told Zak if he were committed to doing this, he had to do it right. So I took him to one of the SBC official who was seated at a nearby microphone and received all the details of how to make a motion. Zak wrote his own motion out on an official form and signed it. He was all in. As my family sat back, Zak made his way to a microphone to stand in line and wait.

When the time came for new motions, Zak stood and waited patiently for his turn. Finally, it arrived. Dr. Steve Gaines, the president of the SBC and the Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee called out to my son’s microphone: “Please state your motion.” Zak didn’t miss a beat. He didn’t stutter. He didn’t hesitate. He spoke clearly and distinctly into the microphone and asked the Executive Committee of the SBC to create a Children’s Ministry Sunday oblivious to the fact that he was being live streamed to all the large screens in the room and to computers all over the world.

What happened next still chokes me up. The entire convention gathered in that room that day - over nine thousand people – gave my son a long and sustained round of applause. Zak just smiled and walked back to his seat next to me. Thousands of eyeballs followed him. From that moment on, I had a little celebrity on my hands.

Everywhere we went, people spoke to him: in line to get food, in the exhibit hall, on the escalator, in the bathroom. As we were leaving one session, a man approached us from behind and said, “Excuse me, sir?” I turned around and acknowledged the man, but he just looked at me and matter of factly stated, “Not you. Him,” while pointing at Zak. This sort of thing happened more than once. I began getting texts, calls, and Facebook messages from all over talking about Zak making that motion. A tweet I sent out about with a video of him making his motion before the assembly received over 31,000 views in just a few days. Zak took it all in stride.

The next day, the Convention reported on all of the motions made the day before. When the chairman got to Zak’s motion, he notified the entire convention that Zak had been invited to go to meet with the Executive Committee in Nashville at a later date and when they began to discuss his motion, he would be welcomed to speak on its behalf if he wished. If the Executive Committee passed Zak’s motion, the entire Southern Baptist Convention would vote on it at the 2019 Annual Meeting in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. Gaines then joked from the podium about making Zak a Vice-President of the Convention. We were overwhelmed.

Once we arrived back home we found out that different Baptist state newspapers had featured Zak, but none more than the New Mexico Baptist newspaper! We were sent a copy and then a podcast based out of New Mexico asked for an interview with him. Other Baptist podcasts were discussing him as well. The Daily Mountain Eagle featured him in a front page article. People would see him in Jasper and come speak to him. Once again, we were shocked at the attention.

Not long ago, I received a phone call from the Executive Director as well as the Communications Director of the National Women’s Missionary Union of the SBC. They had a children’s emphasis week in February and wanted to see if Zak was open to his proposed Children’s Ministry Day being a part of that celebration. He was excited about the idea and then, a few days later, we were contacted by the Executive Committee about Zak coming down in mid-September for a committee meeting and then a plenary session regarding his motion. We are still scrambling to find us a hotel room and such but we are all excited about how God is using a little nine year old boy.

When I sit back and reflect on the events of and following the SBC, what strikes me is that you are never too young or too old to be used by the Lord. There truly are no obstacles in being a worker for Jesus. The only qualities you need to serve the Lord are an open heart and a willing spirit to obey. Anyone of any age, economic status or health condition can serve their Savior. If you are breathing, God wants to use you in and for His kingdom. If a nine year old is willing, what’s holding you back?

Scott McCullar is pastor of First Baptist Church of Carbon Hill. He can be reached at can be reached at rscottmcc@att.net of by calling (205) 924-4145. Information on the church can be found online at www.firstbaptistcarbonhill.org.