The Open Door: What SBC resolutions really mean


Since the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, I have received a number of questions regarding SBC Resolutions. There is a lot of confusion about resolutions and what impact they actually have.

A good article was written on this subject recently by Keith Hinson, who is a state missionary with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. He serves as an associate in Communications and Technology Services. I am thankful to Keith for his article which I believe clearly and correctly identifies what a resolution is and what impact is does or does not have. The following is his article which I hope you will find helpful.

At annual meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention and of various state conventions resolutions adopted by messengers are often misunderstood.

  • A resolution is non-binding. It is a snapshot in time of what messengers approved at one Convention meeting.
  • A resolution is not a statement of Southern Baptist policy. It speaks only for the messengers who were gathered in a particular place at a particular time.
  • A resolution does not have any effect of allocating resources or directing the work of Southern Baptist or state convention entities, and a resolution certainly cannot govern the ministry or policies of any local church.
  • A resolution is often mis-portrayed — probably unintentionally — by some news media as a statement on behalf of all Southern Baptists.

Journalists in the mainstream media, if they have any background in the Christian faith, are often from denominations with “hierarchical polity” — that is, faith groups in which local churches may be told what to do, whom to employ, and how to allocate resources by regional, state, or national governing bodies.

Among Southern Baptists, each church is entirely autonomous and self-governing. All denominational ministries – whether on the level of the association, state convention or SBC – exist only to help local congregations fulfill the Great Commission.

Neither resolutions nor any other statement outside the local church can be considered policy of any local church unless the congregation itself decides to affirm the statement, such as many have done with the Baptist Faith & Message.

messengers, resolutions, SBC, SBC 16, SBC annual meeting, vote