Archive for the ‘6 modes of SBC communication’ Category

SBC-Phoenix 2011: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Part Drei

June 22, 2011

First, please see the sunny side: Part Uno – The Good

Then, check out the dark side: Part Deux – The Bad

Now, let’s take a stroll on the weird side – Part Drei – The Ugly

1. The Thom Rainer/Channing Kilgore fiasco: I cite this blog only because it presents the video of said interaction easily…I have my own take on the Q/A throwdown. Rev. Kilgore, for those who read the Book of Reports and keep track of who made which motion when, seems to be somewhat of a thorn in the side of Dr. Rainer and LifeWay. While Dr. Rainer could have been a bit more tactful and kind, it was apparent that Rev. Kilgore’s repeated assaults against the staff, trustees, and leadership of LifeWay because they choose to sell books that people are buying (Shock of the century, for many of you, I’m sure!) wer, in the words of parliamentary form, “not well taken”. Rev. Kilgore was also the proposer of (best case scenario) misguided, (worst case scenario) anti-ethnic motion during the EC report, Part 1. Must we endure such inanity from messengers? No wonder many, both in and outside the church, today see us as irrelevant and disconnected from reality!

Advice: Please have your questions pre-read by another member of your church or someone you trust…and move on even if you don’t like their answer!

2. The Al Mohler/Peter Lumpkins fiasco: As he promised, Peter Lumpkins confronted Dr. Mohler during the Southern Seminary Q/A…and got his lunch handed to him, in my opinion. While the question needed to be answered…and it is curious that Dr. Mohler didn’t clarify his statements when the instigating article in the Christian Science Monitor appeared…it is unfortunate that we will now discuss and parse the words of both men instead of responding to the cultural issue they’re discussing.

Advice: Denominational leaders should be forthcoming and transparent (M.Burg will know that this is true of other seminary presidents we know). Ask questions…but also work toward solution and reconciliation, both with those discussed and those disagreed with.

3. The split floor on immigration policy: First, the action of the Resolutions Committee to touch this third-rail issue in a border state is curious…and that we had to go to a vote about the phrasing BEFORE they offered to amend it shows a degree of recalcitrance that should be avoided in the future. Second, I am glad that the emotional exchanges about this issue did not make front-page news or a prominent slot in the cable news cycle…probably only because Casey Anthony gets more viewers/readers! Finally, I have grown tired of the need at the Annual Meetings for us to “express our opinion” on every secular political issue…I realize that we are one of the largest and most conservative voting blocs, but can’t the ERLC make these recommendations without us taking up an afternoon to fight about them?

Honorable Mention: The growing tension between theological factions in the SBC9Marks and Baptist21, for all of the good that they do to empower and connect younger pastors, will end up being the new “union elites”, just like Baptist Identity and Founders…will we survive our compartmentalization to actually accomplish the Greats (Commission, Commandment, or Glory of God)?

 

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SBC-Phoenix 2011: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Part Uno

June 20, 2011

I’ll try to post my thoughts over the next week about the recent Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention which I attended.

HT: M.Burgett for asking for such posts on my Facebook!

Part Uno: The Good

1. The location: The Convention Center was right off the light rail system of Phoenix, making it very convenient (and green!) to get to from far-flung hotels.

2. Frank Page and the ExCom report: Dr. Page’s speech was thrilling and encouraging. Several were wondering what side he would take amid the denominational tensions (more on that later). I was glad that he took neither…or at least the side of unity/cooperation/non-fighting. I was also very encouraged by the adoption of the Affirmation of Unity and Cooperation.  

View here: Video archive, look for “Executive Committee report, part 1” especially.

3. The chance to make new friends: I was at a meeting Monday evening and met a couple from South Carolina…we talked for a few minutes afterward, then went to dinner together and talk for a few more hours! This is the kind of instant kinship we need more of in the SBC!

Having hit (some) of the high points, we’ll descend to the level of disappointment with our next installment…Feel free to add other good points or comment!

What’s so wrong with increased seminary funding?

October 28, 2009

Having read Gerald Harris’ op-ed at Baptist Press, I have only one comment…why you all hating on the seminaries?

Dr. Harris lists Myth No. 1 about the GCRTF as “The goal of (particular members of) the Task Force to get more money to the nations is only a smoke screen to get more money to the seminaries.” Admittedly, I am a bit biased, being a seminary student, but what is the rationale for not wanting to provide for the best education for the most students of our Southern Baptist churches?

Point 1: We as SBC want to reach the world for Christ…but we don’t want to prepare new ministers to do that?

Harris also cites Axiom IX of the GCR Declaration, “We believe that North American church planting, pioneer missions around the globe, and theological education are three priorities around which most Southern Baptists will unite.” as the potential reason for this myth’s spread.

More irritating to me, however, is Daniel Akin’s own response to the myth: “The GCR is not and has never been about getting more money to the seminaries.  It has always been about international missions and North American church planting.  It is about getting the gospel to the unreached and under-served peoples of the nations and in our nation. ” How do we expect to have missionaries to send internationally and domestically, or even to our own churches to keep them mission-sending centers without theological education? Before we can tackle the bastions of Satan’s strongholds, we must have soldier-pastors who are more than adequately prepared!

Point 2: We want to fully fund our entities…as long as their names end in “Board”??

We already know that the seminaries are in trouble…the good news is that austerity measures in place at some of the six sisters have stemmed the tide of loss. Not to draw needed attention away, but why is that when mission boards run short in times of need, we offer to have special offerings for them, yet when seminaries run dry, we don’t? Perhaps it is the same reason why we prominently display missions during Christmas (Lottie Moon: international) and Easter (Annie Armstrong: domestic), but hide away SBC Seminaries Sunday and don’thave an offering for their support. Compounding this error is the requirement that missionaries have some seminary experience…”you need it, but we won’t fund it.”

Point 3: We as SBC started the Conservative Resurgence because of the drift of the seminaries…but now we just want to let them wither for lack of funds??

I have argued before about the need for a reworking of the funding formulae and to that end, I made two motions at this past Convention.  I remain speechless at how many seminary students struggle to make ends meet and pay for their schooling (EVEN with the SBC subsidy!) and yet our leadership is adamant that we are as fully funded as we need to be. It seems strange to make those assertions when some seminaries have put off necessary improvements or remodeling until money comes available and some seminary boards of trustees must pay out of their own pockets to build necessary facilities! Need I say any more?….

Thinking about what to do at Orlando 2010…

October 22, 2009

For those of you who care, I did make my two announced motions plus one more that I did not post. Of the three, all were referred to the appropriate SBC agencies and I have heard the response to two (both declined…which was expected).

Having had the drama of that all blow over, I now turn my thoughts to if I should make motions at the next Convention in Orlando. If so, what should they be about?Also, I don’t want to step on the toes of the GCRTF report…so what will they not cover?

I relish your thoughts and comments….

Time to nominate those worthy church faithful

September 24, 2009

Les Puryear has done an excellent job analyzing the upcoming trustee openings for the 2010 cycle of the Southern Baptist Convention. Feel free to check out his analysis of the slanted representation that each entity has and also take the intiative to nominate one (or more) worthy SMALL CHURCH leaders for these open offices. I have assembled the data below for your ease of reading and consideration.

Executive Committee

Alabama – 2
Arkansas – 1
Georgia – 1
Kentucky – 1
Texas – 1

NAMB

Alabama– 1
Florida – 1
Maryland/Delaware – 1
Mississippi – 1
Texas – 1

IMB

Arkansas – 1
Georgia – 1
Kentucky – 1
New Mexico – 1
Oklahoma – 1
Texas – 2

Guidestone

Arkansas – 1
Georgia – 1
Maryland/Delaware – 1
Missouri – 1
Nevada – 1
Oklahoma – 1
South Carolina – 1
Tennessee – 1

LifeWay

Alabama– 1
South Carolina – 1
Texas – 1

Southern Seminary

D. C. – 1
Ohio – 1
Kentucky – 1

Southwestern Seminary

Alabama – 1
Illinois – 1
New York – 1
Texas – 1

New Orleans Seminary

South Carolina – 1
Kansas-Nebraska – 1

Southeastern Seminary

Northwest – 1
Virginia – 2

Midwestern  Seminary

Florida – 1
Missouri – 1
North Carolina – 1

Golden Gate Seminary

California – 2
New York – 1
Virginia – 1

Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

D.C. – 1
Illinois – 1
Kentucky – 1
Mississippi – 1
New York – 1
Virginia – 1

Totals for each state:

Alabama – 5
Arkansas – 3
California – 2
D. C.  – 2
Florida  – 2
Georgia  – 3
Illinois  – 2
Kentucky – 4
Kansas-Nebraska – 1
Maryland/Delaware – 2
Mississippi – 2
Missouri – 2
Nevada – 1
New Mexico – 1
New York – 3
North Carolina – 1
Northwest – 1
Ohio – 1
Oklahoma – 2
South Carolina – 3
Tennessee – 1
Texas – 6
Virginia – 4

Time to get rowdy!

May 27, 2009

In the words of my good friend (and part of this year’s Hebrew crew) Kelly, “It’s time to get rowdy!” I try not to pour out the vitriol when I blog…but some issues require the sharpened tongue and the rapid-fire rebuke.

Let me begin by saying that I have the utmost respect for those who allow themselves to be nominated to denominational offices and trusteeships. Their sacrifice of time (and I am certain, money) to do this service for the Southern Baptist Convention is admirable and should be encouraged.

However, occasionally, well-meaning and passionate statements necessitate the response of those with less degree of tunnel vision about the issues. Such a scenario has arisen in recent days concerning the funding of the SBC entities and their inability to properly do their work.

I am fairly certain that this conversation has arisen as a watershed  from the recently released Great Commission Resurgence statement. I have read the statement and I agree in principle with all of its articles. Particularly, Article IX (A Commitment to a More Effective Convention Structure) has motivated us (The SBC, particularly her blog-friendly participants) to discuss what is effective and what is dead-weight in the 21st century world and church.

Therein lies the rub: The trustee leaders of  two oldest entities in the SBC have gone and made some rather ill-advised and half-thought-out proposals to remedy the lack of funds at the national level. The North American Mission Board chairman, Tim Patterson, has proposed merging the two mission boards to eliminate the “antiquated”, “duplicate”, and “overly bureaucratic and bloated” aspects of the organizations. The International Mission Board chairman, Paul Chitwood, has proposed changing the Cooperative Program formula “to ensure that the majority of money given to get the Gospel to the nations no longer gets held back in our own nation.”

Now both of these ideas on the surface are admirable. Rev. Patterson is simply asking for us to do what will eventually be needed: to take a very hard and very counter-traditional look at what each Southern Baptist ministry does and produces for the money we give to it. Rev. Chitwood is simply asking for the most money to go to the greatest need: to the lost.

However, both ideas are wrongly oriented. Both men miss the point (although Rev. Chitwood alludes to it): the problem is not the redundancy of the system (as is) nor the CP formula…at least not at the national level. THE PROBLEM IS THE STATE CONVENTIONS!

There is redundancy and deadwood in the system…at the state level. There is poor allocation of monies received…at the state level. There is a breakdown in how the Cooperative Program is supposed to function…at the state level.

Let us review the history of the CP: In 1925, the Cooperative Program was adopted with the guiding principles of:

1) equal division of church offerings between church needs and the Cooperative Program (SBC Annual, 1976, p.54)

2) equal division of funds between state and national conventions (see principle #4)

3) equal division of national money between domestic and international missions (SBC Annual, 1983, pp. 42-47)

4) funds given seen as a “sacred trust” which the states “were not to touch… for their own use” (principle #11)

I think that it is fairly clear that point #3 is being upheld…since every year, 50% of national CP money goes to the IMB. It is also clear that the other points are not being upheld!

After all the fighting over whether 10% CP giving was too high a threshold to require for participating churches, it turns out we aren’t even close to the original vision of the 1925 statement! When 36.2% (not 50%) of monies collected by the state conventions is allocated to go to the national convention, it is clear that we have a problem at the second level of trust! If we then consider the 13 state conventions that make up the core of the SBC (78.5% of combined Baptist budgets, 81.6 % of national CP budget, over 80% of SBC messengers, 83.1% of SBC members), the statistics are slightly better with 37.6% of the combined budgets going to the national convention.

In light of this, it does not surprise me that many state convention leaders were upset with the GCR statement. Admittedly, the plan has a glaring absence of “clear details, proposed plans or potential consequences.” But, with all due respect to Rev. Barrentine, it is a statement, not a plan of attack! Or is it…perhaps the state leaders fear the blue-haired ladies and the young whipper-snappers of the convention actually considering whether all those state ministries are necessary. Border states have little to fear…it is the core states, with breakaway retirement home systems, wayward colleges and universities, and convention centers that seize valuable assets who need to consider what fat they might be willing to cut to promote world evangelization.

In summary, let me add my own solution to the possibilities being bandied about: why not fulfill the 1925 vision as much as possible. Let’s start with the state conventions SERIOUSLY considering what ministries are indeed 20th century holdovers and how they can dispose, rework, or combine them for greater efficiency. Let’s start demanding that 50% of CP money go to the national convention NOW – not in 10-20 years when our 1% increment gets us there! An excellent idea (that needs to be more bold and go farther) is David Hankin’s Cooperative Program Advance Plan – coming from a state convention director nonetheless! Let’s start by increasing our churchs’ giving to Cooperative Program, as well as national and state missions offerings…and cut our own fat before we demand the pound of flesh from the conventions!

Let’s get started…it’s times to get rowdy, people!

*editorial note: Now I’m going to make some brownies…hopefully I’ll feel better after that! I relish any comments concerning this idea or the others highlighted, especially from anyone I have potentially offended…

Reflections on the “Generational Issues and the SBC”

May 21, 2009

I recently watched the “Generational Issues and the SBC” Panel Q&A conducted at Southeastern Seminary and found it to be most helpful for my own thinking about the future and the present of the SBC. I will treat the four speakers alphabetically and have included the approximate starting times (according the media player at the website) of the comments I quote.

Daniel Akin: (website)

“Bottom line: if you do that [violating a signed covenant],… your issue is integrity. Basically, you’re a liar, basically you’re dishonest, basically you are disqualified for ministry…. If you give your word to do something, then keep your word.” (63:00)

How appropriate in a day when we have a young man who chose:

  1. to attend a fundamentalist school
  2. to violate the covenant of that school to take his girlfriend to the prom

…and yet wants to whine and complain about their treatment (expulsion for violating the covenant he chose to sign and violate) of him!

“I am not a fundamentalist. I am an evangelical who affirms the fundamentals.” (16:15)

I have always found Dr. Akin to be a unfiying voice in the Convention in recent years. Yet again, I would like to thank him for encouraging me to move forward with a resolution to the 2007 Convention on soteriology.

Nathan Finn: (contributor at Between the Times)

“If your Calvinism precludes you from cooperating with non-Calvinists, then you would probably be happier somewhere else. But if your Calvinism is not the primary issue for you, but maybe an important issue, but you’re willing to work with other evangelical Baptist Christians who disagree with you on the doctrines of grace, then the Southern Baptist Convention is a great place to be.” (46:00)

I appreciate your emphasis on cooperation over Calvinism. I hope that others will agree to share a unified front against the powers of Satan and not let the friendly fire of theological discussions to weaken our ranks!

JD Greear: (blog)

“Good parachurchism…exists to assist the local church in her ministry…. Bad parachurchism tries to take local ministry from the local church,…thus separating it from the context God intended to move forward…. The Southern Baptist Convention was conceived in good parachurchism and over time, many parts of it have devolved into bad parachurchism.” (18:00)

I am glad that he has made a statement, recently reinforced by the Great Commission Resurgence statement (of which he is a signatory), that the Convention may need to be tweaked to be more effective. I’m sorry, state and national entities, but the years of programmatic and redundant ministry have passed. Just as we as a denomination need to trim our personal fat, we may need to reconsider if, for instance, each state convention really needs their own retirement homes system or not.

Greear later states: Take the lead (in doing ministry) and take what you’re doing to the institutions. See how fast they get onboard and those that don’t, “will probably get left behind.” (16:45)

David Nelson: (SEBTS article)

“I don’t think the major issue facing the Southern Baptist Convention is intergenerational. I think there are two issues. I think that there are competing visions for the Convention…. I think that we don’t all agree about what the gospel is. Those are two pretty big issues that divide us.” (22:30)

Nelson goes on to describe them:

Two visions:
1) those that enjoyed the CR and would like for things to be just like it was when the CR occurred:

  • separatist stance: “Baptists have the way to do things”
  • “Christian” subculture that isn’t and distance us from those we are trying to reach with the gospel

2) more ecumenical, willing to work with like-minded groups that are not Southern Baptist

  • focused on cultural transformation or engagement
  • interested in breaking out of the subcultures we have created

Two views of the gospel
“pray a prayer and get a better life” vs. “no life apart from Christ and maybe a life of suffering in this age”

Personally, I am in the second category on both terms (and I’m pretty sure the Bible is too!). I hope that the years ahead for the SBC will be a second Resurgence and not a second Baptist Civil War. I may blog on this issue in the coming weeks, depending on the ruling of my church’s elders about my plans.

“We need to talk”: trustees and entities (3 & 4)

July 29, 2008

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

Now we have arrived at the part of the discussion of communication within the SBC…that you might not think is a problem: the conversation between trustees and entities. Granted, some may think that the behind-the-door discussions are the cause of the problems today, but my perspective is that they too must maintain the chain of accountability to the churches and the messengers.

There has been some discussion of entity heads and trustee leadership turning their trustee boards into rubber stamps. There have been allegations of entity heads involving themselves in issues beyond their responsibility and purview. This is very distressing to me..that such behavior could even be conceived among our body! No, openness and humility must reign among our representatives and leaders. They should not allow themselvs to be lured into a sense of superiority of thought or opinion…or into an exaggerated view of their own importance to the denomination.

Before I get myself into any more trouble, let’s get to the solution I am proposing. Every trustee should be mindful of the decisions being proposed by the board, particularly if they are of staff origin. New trustees, dont be shy…ask questions…get involved! Trustee leadership, most notably those on their second term of service, please consider that this is not your opportunity to set doctrine or make history (there I go again, making people mad!) Entity leadership and staff, please advise and recommend, but know that we elected trustees for a reason…to provide oversight and leadership for your choices.

I will close here…because there’s not much more I can say…without digging the hole any deeper! I’ll post again sometime around August 14, as I am in my borther’s wedding this Saturday and then packing to get back to KCMO!

“We need to talk”: trustees to messengers (2)

July 17, 2008

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….

“We need to talk”: messengers to trustees (1)

July 10, 2008

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

Last time, I wrote concerning a motion to provide Convention oversight on controversial policies enacted by the entities and their trustee boards. Today, I will continue that theme, focusing more on how we might avoid this rather contentious and divisive action.

The problem, it seems, is that the trustees either do not know or do not care what the messengers or the churches think about certain issues. I am hopeful it is the first option, though some actions seem to indicate the second is not as unlikely as we would think. Regardless, if the people, in the form of the messengers they send or by a mass letter/email campaign, spoke out about these problems, the entities would have to respond either by enacting what they now know or explaining why they differ from the status quo.

I have taken the liberty of collecting the addresses of the entities for those with some concern or gripe to send. Where I could find the information, I have listed the administrators (at or above the level of vice president) and the chairs of the various subcommittees as well as a listing of trustees by states. I do this so that you can more specifically direct any questions or comments to the committees within each board of trustees responsible for your area of interest. Also, any suggestions, I feel, should be first directed to your state’s representatives as an overture of friendly participation in the process of entity business. Also local trustees might be more apt to contact or meet with you to discuss your ideas before presentation to the whole board.

When one considers the small number of motions that each entity deals with in a given year, it is surprising that more is not done to present concerns to the entity boards directly during their inter-Convention terms. Certainly they are busy with budgets, hirings, appointments, and the like, but I feel that we might have less contention at Convention each year if we would take advantage of the opportunity to address our concerns directly. Most trustee meetings are open to the public (though whether public comment periods are schduled is unclear) and most trustees, it would seem, do not come to their assignments with any agenda other than to seek the best for the entity and for the Convention.

Let us discuss for a moment an alternate history of the most divisive debate in the past few years: the decision by two entities (IMB and SWBTS) to establish a policy on charismatic speech. Had those on the other side of the discussion from the majority of the board taken to writing to the board, appearing at their meetings, or otherwise engaged them in irenic conversation, we might not have had the anger of the 2007 convention nor the need for two trustees (W. Burleson and D. McKissic) to publicly step down in protest.

Indeed if we had more cross-talk, we might not need motions and changes such as I have previously proposed. Next time, we will discuss how trustees might report to the messengers and the churches more effectively, in a way in the spirit of cooperation of my proposed action without the messy and potentially volatile requirement.