A Compass and a Vane: The SBC’s Navigational Decision in New Orleans and Beyond


I gave up my pirating days after 2021, but if I may, I’d like to use another nautical analogy for the Southern Baptist Convention and the days ahead…

Long ago, perhaps at some imperceptible moment, or over the course of a series of moments and decisions, the SBC failed to be able to distinguish between a vane and a compass. For clarity, the vane shows you which direction the wind blows, while the compass points you in the direction you must navigate.

Thus, the blowing winds of the age adjusted the vane, which is only natural. That’s what winds do. And it’s what vanes do. Nothing calamitous there. The tragedy, though, was that men began to understand the course that ought to be charted was the direction the vane pointed, rather than the City to which the compass directed.

In Ephesians 4:14, Paul warns of those who are blown about by every wind of doctrine. He also gives a solution: Godly men appointed by Christ to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (cf. Eph. 4:11ff). Paramount to any local church avoiding the winds of the present evil age blowing it off course, is qualified, godly, courageous, manly leadership. The church always needs such men at its helm submitted to Christ who is both our Captain and Sure and Steady Anchor.

The SBC, of course, is not a local church. It is, however, a convention comprised of local churches. And if courageous, godly, qualified men are needed to lead our churches, so too are they needed to lead our convention.

The election for president of the Southern Baptist Convention this year in New Orleans should not be seen as “taking the ship” or any sort of insurrection. Rather, it should be seen as simply the first step in the restoration of the Convention’s discernment of the proper distinction between a vane and a compass. Vanes are useful in identifying which way the wind is blowing. It is necessary for any ship to understand where the winds are coming from. But it is only the compass that shows those upon the ship the proper way forward.

Sometimes in navigation, the vane and the compass are in direct opposition. The vane points in one direction while the compass a 180-degree difference. Even more so is this analogy apt in the present SBC discussions. The winds of these dark days bear down hard upon us.  Oh, but friends! What a compass we possess. In the blackest of nights, in the fiercest of storms, in the tumult and crashing of waves, the compass clearly points ahead, giving us precise guidance.

Thus, in such days, the SBC needs a man to hold up to this convention, unapologetically and uncompromisingly, the compass of God’s Word, pointing us to true north, setting our eyes on glory, keeping us from straying from the path before us by our good and gracious King. We need a man so bold as to tell us that it is time for all hands on deck because our current trajectory is dismal and following the vane has created a direction that is unsustainable.

For the president of this convention, we need a man powerful in his preaching, humble in his disposition, serious in his convictions, unwavering in his commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture, and able to differentiate between the proper uses and purposes of a vane and a compass. We need a man who has faced the swirling winds of compromise, and by God’s grace, has not vacillated.

In God’s kind providence to the SBC, we have such a man who will be with us in New Orleans.

That man is Mike Stone.

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1 thought on “A Compass and a Vane: The SBC’s Navigational Decision in New Orleans and Beyond

  1. Amen to that! Mike was nominated a couple of years ago, but I believe because of his connection to the CBN, he lost. I believe that if he ran again, NOT connected to the CBN (not for or against the CBN, by the way, though many are), that he could win. He is much needed.

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