[This is the first of five posts reflecting on my experience at the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, LA in 2012. For more information, or to see the other posts in this series, click here.]
During the first business session, Southern Baptists met Richard Tribble, pastor and messenger from Emmanuel Baptist Church, Decatur, Illinois. Pastor Tribble made not one, but four motions from the floor microphone. He made a motion to prohibit messengers from debating motions or nominating officers from the platform microphone. He submitted a motion that the Executive Committee schedule the convention during the last weekend of June, to prevent conflict with Father’s Day. His third motion was to require officer nominations to include the nominees church name and percentage of undesignated receipts given to the Cooperative Program. He also motioned that the Executive Council develop a policy and procedures manual for convention officers.
Other motions were presented, but in one brief session the stage was set. Tribble had come to the convention with purpose. In a non-business session conversation, his genuine motives were revealed – he had studied for nine months in order to dispute and defeat the motion to adopt an official alternative name to The Southern Baptist Convention (see next post in this series). In this endeavor he failed – not as a result of a lack of study and preparation, but of discernment. Every motion made by Pastor Tribble was worthy of discussion. Every one. And yet, despite his best attempts, he could not manage to be taken seriously.
Speaking with experienced pastors between sessions provided great wisdom and insight into Tribble’s trouble. He had a good argument. However, his motions lacked the focus of defeating this particular vote, and as a result, each time he took to the microphone, the crowd collectively murmured and giggled. Speaking afterward, my pastor instructed me to be judicious in selecting issues to speak on, and even then, only take to the microphone once in a given four year period. By doing this and ensuring that you have something credible to say, he said, will prevent you from being classified with those with less discretion.
This is not written to disparage Pastor Tribble in any way. His motives appeared to be pure and I believe he had only the good of the convention in mind. The key, as others have stated, is to refrain from maligning him and learning from his plight.