September 20, 2011

Name-Changer...or Game-Changer?

Last night I'm catching a little TV and start noticing that Twitter (at least in my little realm & world) is about to blow up with news that the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) "has announced the appointment of a presidential task force to study the prospect of changing the 166-year old convention's name." While I will admit the name "SBC" is not anything life-changing in itself - and I completely understand the baggage that is accompanied with this name from years of bad press, party affiliation and political intimidation, and just plain flat too much rhetoric AGAINST too many things - I still don't believe this is the answer to the real issues at hand. [BTW - Considering the idea of appointing a presidential task force of my own, just because it sounds so awesome.]

If you know computers - and especially if "You're a Mac" - you know that Apple has gone through some major transitions over the last 15 years. The main one being Steve Jobs returning to the company to focus on (what is now) the MacBook. Let me give you my totally unprofessional (maybe amateur's a better word for it) perspective on this history and situation. Some fundamental decisions had to be made at Apple: We are NOT selling a computer for data, spreadsheets, or mass networking - we are creating and marketing a desktop publishing, creative-thinking, right-brain, top notch machine. We know our target audience and we love them. We are going to do a few things and do them well. And they did. And they still are. Just look at the last 10 years of Apple's rise to the top. Yet, in all of that, take note of this one fact: Changing their name wasn't part of the equation. And most certainly there was years of frustration and baggage that were stapled to their name and identity. The name didn't need to be changed. It needed to be reborn!

Here's my theory: If the Southern Baptist Convention wants to take a serious, relevant, and realistic look at repairing the reputation of the denomination and beginning to reach thousands (if not millions) whose views and perceptions are tainted (at minimum), then changing the name doesn't mean squat. It's time to make some fundamental, grassroots changes - mainly in the realm of HOW you do things. It hasn't been the WHAT that's damaged the SBC's name - it's been the HOW. It's become known for what it stands against, and (worse) HOW it stands against it. It's become known as the Republican Party's Godfather, with the Religious Right standing in the wings, waiting to pounce. We've been shouting on street corners for 3 decades now - first against divorce, then abortion, then homosexuality, followed by gambling, then abortion and homosexuality. We've protested and denounced Disney (while on vacation there). Some in the SBC lash out at Rick Warren, while others deify him. The name - three little letters - isn't the problem. And it's certainly not the solution. Let me give you a few more examples:

Chad Ochocinco - Yeah. That was helpful.
Chaz Bono - Sorry, but I still know you're Chastity and God intended you to be a woman. Now I'm just scared of you.
Cru - Possibly the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a LONG time! 
John Cougar - John Cougar Mellencamp - John Mellencamp (I'm confused.)
Prince - The Artist Formerly Known as Prince - ?????????? (You do have to admit, that symbol was catchy!)

I could go on. You get the point. And I'm fully aware that biblically this is a very familiar, even significant concept - name-changing. Saul became Paul. Simon became Peter. Abram became Abraham. This is by NO means an idea that God is opposed to. That said, it's very difficult for me to believe that until the very fundamental makeup and fabric of HOW things are done is changed - AND this becomes a very present and evident reality in the eyes of those previously hurt, wounded, or offended - no one's going to be fooled. Here's the bottom-line: If this name change is begin considered simply because of the baggage that goes along with it, it is senseless. You still have to tend to the baggage! But if this is being considered because the SBC is saying, "It's time to begin a whole new season and era of ministry and living out the Gospel together"...then I might see it differently. SBC: Do you want to be a name-changer? Or a game-changer? Figure that out first.

What are your thoughts?

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