Archive for June, 2009

Convention Countdown: Day -2

June 17, 2009

Today we continue our journey through the three issues that I feel will be important at this year’s Convention

Issue #3: seminaries and the future of the SBC

Issue #2: Tensions between perspectives on the faith

As I sat down to write this post, I first checked Baptist Press to see what articles had been posted. You can’t imagine my surprise and shock when the lead story is about the largest Christian radio network in the Midwest dumping a program featuring Mark Driscoll! Turns out Mark has been a bad boy and said some risque things in Edinburgh. When Baptist Press has to start their article with a Editor’s Note about explicit sexual content, you know that something MAJOR has gone down!

The issue underlying this is not really about crude language…well, not entirely. It is about the deeper, trans-biblical acculturation that we in the American church engage in and feud about regularly. Soteriologically, we are divided into at least three camps: Calvinists, non-Calvinists, and anti-Calvinists (sarcasm alert: I always enjoy when we in the Christian community can be against yet another thing!). Ecclesiologically, we kick out pastors over feuds about church leadership veiled in the elders vs. deacons debate. Pragmatically we deprive new church plants of support because their practical theology violates our teetotaling sensibilities. It even turns out the the movement de jour is also an arena of in-fighting among the power camps! And I am tired of it!

Perhaps I am naive to think that the largest Protestant denomination in the United States might actually try to work together and get along for the Gospel and the Kingdom. Perhaps I am short-sighted to think we could, at least on these non-essential areas, move beyond our Separatist origins and not “kick at the goads” everytime someone displeases us. Of course I also believe that local churches shouldn’t fight over the color of carpets or worship music selections!

Into this fray, I plan to propose a motion to form a reconciliation committee to address the first fracturing issue (soteriological disagreement). If that works (please hold your laughter for the end of the post!), I might work toward the next two in the coming years.

However, this motion is the last (of four) that I have planned to present…and I might not present it at all if the business sessions seem too full of GCR committee plans or in-fighting over the language of congratulatory resolutions. I also need to see the response to my first three and more controversial motions….for all I know, I might be stripped of my messenger credentials, put before the thousands of retirees and three-piece-suit-wearing-preacher-boys, and tarred and feathered!

Convention Countdown: Day -3

June 16, 2009

Well, it’s almost convention time and that means (at least this year) a preview of some issues that I think will be important this year…if only because I am making motions concerning them!

Issue #3: seminaries and the future of the SBC

I’m not trying to be selfish here (although helping the seminaries does help me, a seminary student!), but there are definite reasons why we might want to focus on this area in the near (read: immediate) future:

  1. Demographic decline in young members and baptisms
  2. Purported loss of young leadership to attrition
  3. Tensions between the young innovators and the older status quo seekers

Some solutions/responses:

1. This year, seminarians in attendance at this year’s Convention will be recognized during the first Executive Committee report:

This is the text from an email sent out by John Kyle, on behalf of the Executive Committee:

During the upcoming meeting of the SBC in Louisville, as part of our Executive Committee report, we are planning to recognize seminary students who are in attendance. The focus of our report this year is the fruit of our cooperative efforts and people like you who are following God’s call to serve as pastors, church planters, missionaries, and other ministry leaders, are part of this fruit. Part 1 of our report is Tuesday morning and I would like to invite you to participate. We have reserved a block on seats at the front of the room on the right side of the stage. During our report, we’re going to ask that all the seminary students in that section rise, come forward, and stand in front of the platform. We will then extend an invitation to pastors, and other messengers, to come and surround the students. Following a song, we will have a special time of prayer asking God to bless you, empower you, and make you fruitful as you serve Him. Following the prayer you can return to your seat. It is our hope that this will be a meaningful time for you and for those in attendance.I’m hoping we can have over 100 students participate therefore, if you know of other students who will be at the convention, please forward this invitation.

I am very appreciative of the effort to recognize the future of the Convention…and I hope that the Midwestern cohort (my group) will at least be second-highest in attendance. Perhaps we should continue this practice even when the Convention is not in the city of a major seminary! Perhaps we should subsidize (not ExComm, but willing pastors and churches) the travel expenses of the seminary students in your area to go to Convention each year.

2. Efforts (on my own part) to normalize seminary allocations:

  • revival of an effort to have a seminary offering (inspired by this post)
  • a motion to count where seminary students come from, so that the states can know how to help supplement the seminary budgets or direct their scholarship funds
  • a motion to include extension site FTE’s into the allocation formula: this both smooths out inter-campus transitions like the one occuring at Golden Gate and catastrophic loss of campus facilities such as New Orleans in 2004. Also it modernizes the funding method to fit the more regional, less centralized seminary structure of the modern day.

I hope that others will give their input and ideas at the Convention this year. If you will be there, I’ll present these two motions at the afternoon and evening business sessions on Tuesday…be there to see me on the Jumbotron!

Something more wholesome and kind!

June 5, 2009

Having heard no pushback on any kind from my last post, I have gathered that:

1) we are all in agreement, or

2) no one is reading this…:(

Nonetheless, I am certain that someday, I will be searched for on the internet and this blog will be found and then skimmed with the proverbil finetooth comb for errors against whomever

Thus let me balance out my ire with saccharine kindness.

I planted three apple trees that I had raised from seeds (Some people keep dogs as pets…I keep germinating seedlings!) behind my mother’s house last August. One has done very well and is as tall as the (uncut) grass around it. The other two are hanging on…one of them barely (the ribbon I tied to it so I could find it again has actually bent it over!)

What moral/societal lesson can we derive from this? Life is more than “bloom where you’re planted” and “just hang it there!” Given the same circumstances, some will abundantly succeed, some will tread water, and some will live on the edge of oblivion. Which, I think, is one of the intended meanings of Matthew 13:8,23

8″And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.
23″And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” (NASV)

The perspective is not on how much you produce, but that you produce. Some will be blessed, like Isaac, a probable referent of Jesus (Genesis  26:12-14). And some will only return what they put in…while others barely return anything. The difference between the condemned slave in Matthew 25:24-30 and the builders of the holy temple in I Corinthians 3:12-15 is their effort. We misread these two passages sometimes….the testworthiness of the temple is based on the base materials (wood, hay, straw) as the decorations are only on the surface and often “burned up”. The wicked slave gives a really bad excuse: if he knows the master “harvests where he had not sown and gathers where he had not scattered seed”, why wasn’t he afraid enough to try to impress him?

Do not worry, my dear friends, if others harvest more than you…be of the mind to harvest still!

Do not tarry at your labor..sow much seed and be an aide…help the Kingdom as you will!

Do not think of others’ treasures when there’s souls and lives to save…work until the Master calls you!

For soon the working’s over and rest will come to you

And Christ in comfort keep you and celebrate the new!