Southern Baptists’ budget vote shapes new evangelism approach

ORLANDO, Fla. — A decade ago, Southern Baptists fought over the belief that Jesus is the only way to heaven and the inerrancy of the Bible.

Today, they’re divided over budgets and baptisms.

As the older hard-line conservatives fade into the background, a new group of leaders is jostling over the priorities of the country’s largest Protestant denomination. These new leaders are less concerned about conservative politics and more concerned about saving souls.

“Status quo is not the way to go,” said the Rev. Matthew Surber, the new pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville. “To pretend like everything is fine and we just need to try harder is not going to work.”

At a gathering of 11,000 Southern Baptists on Tuesday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Baptists overwhelmingly approved a plan that will channel funds away from established Baptist programs and use them to fund new churches and more missionaries. It’s called the Great Commission Resurgence. The national meeting concludes today.

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