Archive for the ‘confession-failures’ 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)?

 

“And let it begin with me”

April 19, 2010

“As a convention of churches, our missional vision is to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.” – the missional vision under Component #1

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:19-20a.

Regardless of what transpires in Orlando this June, the ultimate test of the Great Commission Resurgence will be numerical…and financial…and chronological. It will be evident when we actually take time out off our schedules and money out of our budgets to use it for the Gospel and the Kingdom.

From these two standards, I see a easy way for measure our GCR progress:

GOING: How much money classified “missions”, and not sent to the Convention, at the local church level actually materializes into sent people? How much time in the church calendar is dedicated to “crossing the ocean” or “crossing the street”?

MAKE DISCIPLES: How much of our church budget or church schedule is dedicated to discipleship…and not spiritualized fellowship (NOTE: not that fellowship is bad, but it is not GCR)

BAPTIZING: In coordination with the above metric, how many of our baptizees remain a part of the fellowship after one year? How many of our life-long members are involved in the journey to the baptismal waters (evangelizing, discipling, etc.)

TEACHING: 2 Timothy 2:2 sums it up nicely…are we teaching information or “the latest ideas“…or are we preparing God’s people to reach the world and to grow in Christ-likeness

EVERY PERSON/ALL THE NATIONS: Are we thinking of ALL when we budget our time and money…both international AND domestic lost…both those who have never heard and those who need to hear again?

Ultimately, will state conventions survive this review? Not in their present form: some will have to jettison much of their activity and re-direct much of their funds. Others will simply have to dissolve and be re-formed to be GCR-reformed (NOTE: no soteriological statement intended here!) In thirty years, will we have a 200-year old institution or an accomplished commandment…we can have both, but only if we “let it begin with me”

On death and life…

December 15, 2008

WFAA report

Bart Barber’s reflection on the tragedy

As I read through my Monday litany of blogs, I came upon a scene of hurt and or redemption. Words are failing me now, but I will attempt to transcribe my thoughts.

“God is love.” (please read the poem written by Malcolm Yarnell, comment #5 in Barber’s post) So often it seems that theodicy slaps us in the face. Why, God? Why Nicholas? Why Bart? (silence…)

Why not? (our silence…)

Bart, you probably won’t read this, but here is my (pathetic and somewhat Elihu-like) response:

You were chosen by God because you get it…. You took the time to hold a dying boy’s hand. You are robbed of sleep though you know that there was nothing else you could have done. You were the one God and Nicholas needed.

You were chosen by God…(this is raw, please forgive me)…because you needed this. You needed to be reminded of God’s plans…and how painful they are. (So cheap is grace when we don’t feel death’s sting.) You will be haunted by this and shaped by this. It will make you a better disciple and a better pastor. You are but dust and ashes, brother…mortality waits for your body too.

Why Nicholas? (I am silent…I do not know)

Why this, God? (Teach us Lord!)

I sit silent now…I mourn for life cut short and for life forever marred by this. I rejoice with families being bound in hurt, but finding love and forgiveness. I stand in awe of a God who loves and yet lets happen…who teaches lessons we still don’t want to learn….

School is back in session…

September 15, 2008

…and I have been a blog-slacker! Sorry! Will return to regular (weekly, if not more) writing soon.

Will finish my discussion of SBC life and then start into a broader view of theology (i.e. you get to see some past assignments of mine!)

A quick post…

August 5, 2008

I know I said next Thursday, but just saw this via Willimon’s blog…thought it strange how similar the UMC and the SBC are these days:

http://www.gbod.org/youngpeople/losing_ground.html

“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….

The denominational stool revisited…part 4: trustee accountability

July 1, 2008

Four problem areas in SBC life:

1) trustee accountability

2) evangelistic emphasis

3) cooperative giving

4) discipleship and baptismal retention

It’s time, my loyal reader…onto the number one issue for the Southern Baptist Convention: trustee accountability. This is most definitely a touchy subject…and one that will most likely not be solved by my discussion of it. Indeed, this post may be my downfall for anyone who may in the future search this blog for dirt (there goes my denominational career!)Triangle of intended interactions among SBC members

As I see it, there are three populations that interact with and interdepend on each other in denominational life. At least, they are SUPPOSED to interact and interdepend! Too often, in recent years, the pattern has been reduced to:
1) Entities and their leadership report annually to the messengers (6)
2) Messengers elect the annual slate of new trustees (1)
3) The trustees supervise the entites (3)
4) The entities report to their trustees (4)
…and the cycle continues.
Rarely, messengers will question and contact the entities (5). But I have never personally, in 5 Conventions in the past 12 years, seen the trustees or the entities report to the messengers about their decisions (2 or 6).

This is the problem: our view of church/denominational polity has become unbalanced in practice. We elect messengers and trustees in order to take care of our denominational well-being while we minister and live in our individual communities. Yet somehow we have lost touch with the entities, beyond the official annual report and any communications they may send to the churches.

Many have become disenchanted with this “party line” method, resulting in anger and discontent over some policies the elected boards have enacted. It also seems that there is no recompense, other than overturning the decisions by replacing the trustees. In fact, this method was effectively utilizied during the Conservative Resurgence to regain control of the entities. But this is not an option for us today.

First, we lack the grass-roots support to attempt to overturn the Committee on Nominations’ nominees (this may not even be a option, given Bylaw 15-K) or to elect Convention presidents for three consecutive years that will appoint Committees on Committees, which will appoint Committees on Nominations that will enact the new slates of trustee nominees (yes children, it requires five or more years of concerted effort to bring about top-down change!)

Second, it is not in the best interest of the denomination to force the trustees and the entities to “circle the wagons” and require a Convention floor fight over issue that those irritated themselves see as tertiary. In my opinion, this year’s controversy-free Convention was a refreshing respite, one that I personally would not sacrifice if I could help it.

Third, to be frank, it is those who are best at that method that it seems to be the ones who some want removed themselves! Again, it is not in the best interest for us to fight among ourselves. WE are not the enemy…we are just in disagreement!

So, you might ask, what is the solution? If I may be so bold, we simply need more communication and respect when it comes to potentially (or actually) controversial issues and decisions. But how can that be fostered in the present system? It must be (at least at some level) systemized itself…it must become part of our denominational/Convention DNA…a habit we begin and maintain.

Let us return to the two directions of accountability that I have found lacking or absent in recent years…I did research this phenomenon (in the Convention proceedings back to the late 1960’s) and have found little evidence of it since the early seventies, when the Sunday School Board changed the name of Training Union and was called on the carpet for it! So what is needed is a mechanism so that controversial trustee decisions, but not all entity choices, can be reviewed by the messengers.

First off, we do not need to hobble the trustees, making them bring every jot and tittle to the Convention floor for our approval. To do so would negate the need for trustees in the first place and would overwhelm the Convention. If we had to approve every allocation of funds, every appointment or hiring, we would become quickly bogged down with trivialities…think of how few messengers attend all the entity reports, much less actually pay attention and desire to ask questions!

No, the solution lies only in the area of controversy: policy making. I propose the following rough draft of a amendment to the ministry statements which govern the entities and the trustees in their decisions:

Any action by an entity which acts to interpret the Baptist Faith and Message, as approved by the Convention, or any governing policy set by the Convention must be, following its approval by the trustees of the entity, disclosed to the subsequent Convention and be approved by a majority of the messengers in attendance therein.

Thus hiring decisions, budgets, and other decisions which we can in good faith entrust to the wisdom of the trustees will not unintentionally be put on hold until the next June. However, any additions to or expansions of BFM or other Convention policies will be brought before the scrutiny of the messengers…again in good faith and as a check against the machinations of some thirty or forty like-minded individuals against the will of the larger community of Baptist churches.

Similar action is not unprecendented. First, the Convention has historically approved the governing charters of the entities, some of which include interpretations of Baptist views (i.e. the Abstract of Principles). Second, the Convention retains the right of review of changes to the ministry statements themselves….why not their application in the real world? In my opinion, my motion is in the spirit of and in accordance with the letter of rights #5 and #7. Third, most entities have yet to even seem to contravene the will of the Convention or her member churches…so very few of these reviews would take place at any time.

Having finished my expansion of my four needs in these past few posts, I will later discuss these lines of communication (see below) and they can be strengthened and used appropriately. I encourage you to respond with your thoughts and comments. Once I have processed any feedback you may have, I will forward this amendment to the trustee boards of each entity for their feedback, as is the recommended method for any major policy change. Again, if we work together, we can achieve harmony nad understanding on the issues that threaten to keep us distracted and divided.

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

The denominational stool revisited…part 3: evangelism

June 25, 2008

First off, please forgive the long delay in writing….got caught up in SBC/Indy mode….stories to follow!

+++++++

Many would think that the Southern Baptist Convention does not have a problem with evangelistic emphasis…but we do.

We can measure evangelistic effectiveness (yes, I know the Spirit moves, but we in the SBC still obsess about the numbers….) in two ways: as compared with primary worship attendance and as compared with resident membership. By the way, only 71% of church members are resident members and only 33.7% of church members are primary worship attenders…thus the growing demand for more accurate membership counts

PWA has only been collected since 1991 (thanks LifeWay Research for the data!). So in 1991, there was one baptism for every 11.55 primary worship attenders (think regular pew-fillers)…by 2007, it increases to one baptism to 17.77 attenders! That’s an average increase of 1 attender every THREE YEARS!

Resident membership was collected from 1950 (as far as I know!) to 2005…which means we can look at the decade averages! All of you statistical freaks like me can now rejoice! For the unintiated, the t-test number is the probability that the two neighboring averages from the same distribution of values…so the lower, the better! Anything above 0.05 means they are not significantly different.

Average Resident Members per Baptism (t-test with next group)

1950’s: 15.21 (1.65E-07)

1960’s: 20.69 (0.018 )

1970’s: 23.49 (0.007 )

1980’s: 27.34 (0.522)

1990’s: 28.02 (0.294)

2000’s: 28.86

pre-1980: 19.80 (4.04E-10)

1980-1994: 27.88 (0.821)

post-1994: 28.06

post-1979 : 27.95 (1.21E-12 w/ pre-1980)

Summary: The number of resident members per baptism has increased significantly, from 13.89 in 1950 to 30.51 in 2005, an average increase of 1 resident member every three years. But more specifically, the increases occurred before 1979…yeah, something that can’t be blamed on the Conservative Resurgence! Yet the flip side is that our efforts for doctrinal orthodoxy have done nothing to reverse the trend, since the number has only stabilized since then.

Let’s cut to the chase: we need to stem the flow…we need to DECREASE by 1 primary worship attender or resident member every three years…hey, let’s try every year! And for that to happen, we need some leadership…which I hope we will find in Johnny Hunt. He had the second highest baptism percentage (baptisms per PW attender) of the 2008 candidates. His 7.5% is DOUBLE the average of SBC churches! We have had the vigor of Bobby Welch…which didn’t motivate us. We had the irenic “blip” of Frank Page…which made us feel good, but didn’t kick us in the butt. Perhaps two years of Hunt will tip the trustee boards in favor of evangelistically minded representatives, that with God’s help might set the example we need in all our struggling churches and associations.

Personal note: Please pray for a revival series I am helping to co-ordinate. It will occur this October in the association(s) in my state with the lowest average baptisms. May others catch this vision to help one another bring in the harvest and may God bless our efforts and open eyes, ears, and hearts to the Gospel we bring!

Still percolating…

June 19, 2008

Here is a half-formed, un-ready idea I have about this series on the SBC’s woes/flaws:

Is it time for a new campaign to rally the troops…something like “A Million More by ’54”?

And what should be emphasized this time?

hoping to post maybe tomorrow….

The denominational stool revisited…part 2: giving

May 23, 2008

Based on the number of comments I received from my last post (one!), I am either overwhelming you (with my brilliance and humility!), boring you (with my length and content), or there are none of you reading to even comment! Nonetheless, let us(?) return to the third leg of the stool of the SBC.

+++++++++++++++++

“The stool is a little wobbly”

This rather obtuse phrase is my shorthand for four problem areas in SBC life:

1) trustee accountability

2) evangelistic emphasis

3) cooperative giving

4) discipleship and baptismal retention

What can I say that has not already been said (repeatedly!) from the pulpit and the blog? Not wanting to enter into a twelve-week (or more!) exegesis of the New Testament to support tithing and cooperative giving, let me continue my recent pattern (can one week make a pattern?) of commenting on the published reports/news of the SBC.

I strongly encourage you to read the Baptist press article, ” ‘Missional’ focus must include cooperative funding, report says“, first published in the Southern Baptist Texan, from which I will quote.

I also encourage you to read “One Sacred Effort” by Chad Owen Brand and David Hankins. We were given a copy as part of the CP seminar at the seminary and I found it to be a very enlightening read, both about the history and the continuing need of the Cooperative Program.

“From the early 1930s until the mid 1980s,…the percentage of churches’ aggregate undesignated receipts given through CP was consistently in the 10.5 to 11 percent range….But in 1984, while the total dollars continued to grow — reaching $522 million in 2005 — and the percentage of churches giving through CP remained remarkably high at 95 percent, the average portion that churches contributed began to sharply decline — from 10.6 percent in 1984 to 6.99 percent in 2004.”

What, you may ask, happened in 1984 to start such a rapid drop? While many (myself included) may be quick to say the Conservative Resurgence, I see it as more a symptom of the reasons for the CR. For many decades, probably from 1925 until 1980, we as a denomination has been lulled into the passivity and apathy of the 20th century American experience. We had endured the Great Depression and World War II and had bumbled into the Baby Boom and its consequent social changes (television, The Sixties, etc.). Through the patently American sentiment that good people go to the local church, we grew from a relatively insignifcant, regional religious association into the largest Protestant denomination in America. BUT we also became bloated with the influx of “good Christian people” and other social hangers-on.

In my humble opinion, ALL of the modern problems that we as the Southern Baptist Convention face and endure today are the result of this bloat. The loss of evangelistic fervor seen in the low levels of baptisms, primarily those of people above the age of five(!), is the result of unregenerate members transferring in from other denominations and softening of priorities and bilical fidelity in the modernist era. The second we combatted in the CR, but the first still plagues us…how many of our churches think they are doing fine because they look like they are growing due to the revolving door of church-hopping we tolerate? Our loss of trust in the boards of our entities is partly due to the perception of an “inner circle” of appointments and nominations for all offices at the national level, but more importantly is a symptom of the same trend that corrupts the local Baptist body: we have to appoint people who sit their butts in the pews each Sunday because they are the ones we are familiar with and the ones who vote in the meetings…regardless of whether they even resemble the characteristics of Christ-likeness or the biblical traits of the office! Our downhill slide in regard to discipleship and baptismal retention is the result of the burnout on “programs” which our parents and grandparents emphasized, programs that also soft-pedalled the gospel and its costs on our lives, and our tendency to preach to the most popular sentiment so as not to alienate anyone (missional, emerging types listen up!) and not the clear, costly commands of Scripture. Our fall-off in giving is the result of worldly sentiments to money and the Christian life…we have made the church so much like the American dream that we have forgotten that Christ is not of this world!

Perhaps it is time for us to pass a regenerate membership resolution (surprisingly, it looks like we might this year!) AND for us to get honest at the local level and cull our rolls…if we want to keep inactive members’ addresses on record, then move them over to a prospect file and stop reporting them on the Annual Church Profile!

When the CR got into full swing (1984 represents the first year when CR trustees held majorities on the entity boards), the distributions got cut…in my opinion, for worldly reasons. Many churches wanted to defund the SBC as they began to defund their pet liberal Christian policies/agencies/people. Other churches were divided congregationally and had to soft-pedal and compromise so as not to split. Still others got misinformation or poor information and thought they could better use their money and wait out the storm. A decade and more later, the first group has left us for the CBF and other groups, the second have moderated themselves into apathy as these percentages became “traditional”, and the third have found local mission projects to be effective and have forgotten the larger context and need. We still give to CP, but just not as much….we need to maintain our faithfulness and increase our funds!

“In a survey of Southern Baptists of Texas Convention churches responding to the Annual Church Profile,… the TEXAN found that congregations with fewer than 1,000 resident members averaged 7.4 percent in the amount of undesignated receipts set aside for the Cooperative Program — nearly a percentage point higher than the norm for all SBC churches. A decline occurs with a 6.7 percent average for churches in the 3,000 to 3,999 range, 4.3 percent for those between 4,000 and 4,999 and 3.75 percent between 5,000 and 9,999 members. Once over 10,000 resident members, the CP average falls to near 1 percent. The overall average among SBTC churches analyzed is 7 percent…. In [some] cases, churches have moved from a budgeted CP percentage, preferring a lump sum instead. As the church grows, that line item isn’t likely to grow with it.”

I find it both concerning and ironic that big churches dominate the national offices, but don’t pay for its services! But this trend also supports my previous statement, we as Southern Baptists have an unspoken maximum amount of money we want to send to the national level…as our budgets get bigger, we cut the rate of the distribution of undesignated receipts. I am all about helping all the blue-haired old ladies in the small country churches to support missionaries by collective action, but they shouldn’t be the only ones supporting them! Mega-churches are the problem…and this from someone who grew up in and whose family still attends a mega-church! First, they are the most likely to be swamped by those looking for “a nice youth group to baby-sit my kids”, “a big church where I can make social and business connections”, and other less-than-holy reasons. Second, they are the most concerned with programs and fiduciary efficiency…that CEO that sits on the finance committee wants more cost-benefit analysis from the mission field! Finally, they have the resources and the people to support missionaries themselves without CP…some of them actually do! CP was designed when we were small and is thus perceived as “useful only to small churches”.

“Many churches seem to assume they give generously through CP when tens of thousands of dollars are raised annually for the seasonal Lottie Moon Christmas and Annie Armstrong Easter offerings. But those are designated gifts limited to funding mission endeavors of the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board. When churches prioritize mission offerings to the neglect of CP, other SBC ministries take a hit, including six theological seminaries where ministers are trained, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and relief for ministers’ widows…. One participant in a TEXAN survey of CP and missions giving indicated CP support at a level four times what ACP figures reported the church gave. Most likely the church included seasonal offerings as CP funding.”

And from Les Puryear:

“During the IMB Pastor/Missions Leader Conference, I was stunned by the following information:
SBC Churches Involved in International Missions (2006)
Limited = 51.5% (24,700)
Supporting = 48.5% (23,300)
Exploring = 9.5% (4,500)
Partnering = 1.0% (480)
Multiplying = 0.1% (50)
Definitions of Involvement Categories:
“Limited” means no discernible involvement with international missions either through prayer or through financial giving.” (emphasis mine)

I love the missions offerings…each year, I give to them above my tithe (hence the reason they are called offerings!). But sadly, if these two quotes are mutually true (and I have no reason to think otherwise), over half the churches in our denomination have deceived themselves! They give generously, even sacrificially, and support the much-needed frontiers of the Kingdom, but fail to help the next generation of those at home. And others don’t even do that much! I might be a gadfly for CP giving and other critical issues, but even I am aghast that the most basic (and given the tendency of some of our membership to see the high holidays as the only ones needing their attendace, most supported) of giving tracks to be STILL insufficient and unsupported! Words having failed me, I move on….

When some messengers to the Greensboro meeting bristled at the original language encouraging churches to give at least 10 percent of their receipts to support world evangelization through the Cooperative Program, others questioned what message is being delivered when SBC presidents typically come from churches with poor levels of CP support. Ultimately, the reference to a 10 percent goal was removed from the report put before the convention in June, though messengers gave 50.48 percent of their votes to the candidate who has demonstrated strong CP support at all of the churches he has led…. Page expressed his objection to any percentage becoming a mark of cooperation and for participation. “The question for me was, does your church give sacrificially to the Cooperative Program? Does it give in such a way as to show a missional mindset?” While calling it “bad theology” to assert that churches can and should tithe, “I do believe 10 percent indicates a serious commitment” to missions, Page said.”

We have yet another divide in our deliberative body. I was at the 2006 convention and I supported the language on 10 percent, even though my church had not yet reached that goal. I also voted for Frank Page for the reason deduced by many…he was the strongest supporter of CP giving.

In 2007 in San Antonio and this year in Indianapolis, I will reserve my feelings on secondary issues and even about mega-churches to vote for those I think are the best nominees to lead our Convention (and in the case of the President, to set the ball rolling for the appointment of new trustees). In my desire to set aside my ecclesiological biases, I use the most neutral of standards: baptismal percentage and CP giving percentage. And in future years, I will continue to put these first in my view for the future of the Southern Baptist Convention. Secondary issues will fall to the wayside or be seen as points of disagreement, but not division if we set our eyes on the prize of the gospel. Regionalism and protectivism will burn away in the fire of revival that will arise among us. The failure of our forefathers to finish the gospel push in this world will be remedied when we FULLY support missions and the future of the church through regular (might I say, regulated?) and sacrificial (might I emphasize, SACRIFICIAL?) giving.