Needed modes of communication for united denominational life:
1) messengers to trustees
2) trustees to messengers
3) trustees to entities
4) entities to trustees
5) messengers to entities
6) entities to messengers
Full disclosure: I have sent a (modified) copy of my post containing my proposed amendment to several entity heads (those I thought might feel threatened or concerned by it) and to the chairmen of the boards of trustees (at least those I could identify from the most recent release of that information). To those entity heads I sent my letter, I do not intend to provoke you and I do not think that you need to be threatened by the recent upswell in interest in trustee accountability. Yet the problem remains: we FEEL left out of the loop and abandoned by you. To those trustee chairmen who received a letter, please consider discussing and debating this amendment at your next meeting. I would much appreciate your comments and concerns as to how this change might affect your business at the entity or your perceptions of those of us who are not on your board. Regardless of whether you support, reject, or choose to remain neutral in regard to my proposal, please make efforts to “include” us, your denominational constituency, in future decisions. We want to feel a part of the process!
Indeed, it is the feeling of factionalism and back-room politics that has motivated this effort (and those like it by others) to change the way entity trustees set/define their policies. Biased as they are, my opinions about why we had such a heated debate concerning the Garner motion in 2007 and the tenor of the SBC blogosphere concerning recent, controversial policies is that much of this anger or dissent is fueled by frustration at what seems to be a deaf-ear policy by the trustees concerning what the Convention at large might think about their decisions.
(to use the voice of the angry brothers and sisters) In fact, that is the crux of the matter: We don’t even know if you know what we actually do think. You don’t seem to care what we want or don’t want, but only what your tight-knit group wants…sometimes it even seems like you actually want to change us to fit your narrow(ing) view of what it takes to be a Southern Baptist!
(returning to a calmer tone) To fix this problem, it does not require my amendment…in fact, I would be happy if we would change our behavior without such “legalism” about our polity! If the boards tried to be more transparent, surveying the churches, their pastors, or their entity staff, and attempted to ascertain what the messengers desire in new guidelines, we might not have such animosity! Consider this situation: the trustee chairman of XYZ entity, or some other trustee on that board, proposes a resolution about some issue or a motion to study the issue by the entity BEFORE policies are made, feelings are hurt, and reputations come under scrutiny. The Convention meeting in LargeCity, America would consider the resolution or approve the motion and the entity would have the authority to find what the consensus on that issue is, rather than appear to be setting it.
We don’t want much…only the primary issue of the Conservative Resurgence: accountability of the entities and their trustees to the people who sit in the pews. In 1979 and the years that followed, we fought for the right view of Scripture. Now, we are fighting about our open, yet orthodox identity as Baptists. But we don’t need to fight…we need to talk! Perhaps we can put down the flaming arrows and pick up the banner of our commonality…and then we won’t have to make new rules….