Archive for the ‘SBC trustees’ 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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GCRTF Progress Report Component 5: Great Commission Giving

March 10, 2010

“Component #5: We believe in order for us to work together more faithfully and effectively towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission, we will ask Southern Baptists to reaffirm the Cooperative Program as our central means of supporting Great Commission ministries; but in addition, we will ask Southern Baptists to celebrate with our churches in their Great Commission Giving that goes directly through the Cooperative Program, as well as any designated gifts given to the causes of the Southern Baptist Convention, a state convention or a local association.”–Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Progress Report, p. 27

“Please understand clearly, we are not recommending any changes to the Cooperative Program but are reaffirming it as our central means of supporting the Great Commission ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention.”–Ronnie Floyd, Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Progress Report, p. 27

“[We] should acknowledge and appreciate [designated gifts as an] adjustment of nomenclature.”–J. Robert White, GCRTF Preliminary Report session

Because of a request from a fellow commentator (Louis at Praisegod Barebones), I have jumped to Component 5 to discuss what many see as the greatest weakness to the GCRTF report. In essence, a new term would be used in Southern Baptist life, Great Commission Giving, which would include both CP & designated gifts. Allow me to use the words of another commentator as a skeleton for my own response.

Steve Loggins, Director of Missions, North Jefferson Baptist Association, Alabama, wrote a scathing response to the GCRTF presentation, focusing at one point on Component 5:

“Component 5 is a big problem for me – I do not see how ‘celebrating designated giving’ is going to do anything but reduce support for the CP instead of enhancing it. If I am wrong, then I am wrong and I pray that Lord reveal this also to me – I do appreciate the gifts given to the association, to the state, to other mission causes – but if we put these along side of the CP as equal partners – then we will find that diamond of the CP will be lost in the setting of a host of other jewels – too numerous to count, for everyone has their own favorite mission enterprise.”

Rev. Loggins is correct in his cursory judgment…if the term is not defined correctly. If we indeed allow “gifts given to the association, to the state, [and] to other mission causes” to be counted as “equal partners” with CP, we are doomed to simply transfer our funds to a pseudo-societal model, much like the one we had before 1925. However, proper safeguards put into place should prevent this re-appropriation from taking place at too high a level. Will churches re-direct funds under a expanded definition? Yes, because they will have the liberty and the breadth to do so. Can we keep CP alive and even improve it? Yes, if we carefully determine how the money is considered as “equal” (more on this later).

“In fact, this is already part of the problem in the loss of CP giving which facilitates what we do as Southern Baptists.”–Steve Loggins

This would seem to be the case at first glance. Direct funding apart from CP is no doubt part of the problem of why CP is underfunded (poor stewardship by Baptists in the pews and churches are a large chunk, in my opinion). However, directed funding also keep our CP-supported entities alive.

The following data for the funding year 2007-2008 is taken from the 2009 Book of Reports, with page numbers indicated after each example. Direct contributions to Nashville for distribution through CP from individuals and churches makes up 3.09% of the CP budget (31). When distributed throught the CP allocations, that 6.3 million dollars constitutes anywhere from 0.84% (Southwestern) to 3.02% (ERLC) of an entity’s budget (20-26). Money from other sources (“designations”, “other gifts”, or “other sources”), make up anywhere from 1.47% (ERLC) to 22.67% (New Orleans) of the entity’s budget (20-26). By comparison, CP money allocated from the states’ contributions makes up 26.33% (Southwestern) to 94.83% (ERLC) of the entity’s budget (20-26).

In conclusion, we already give directly, either to get around uncooperative states (which I call support-with-dissent) or for direct one-entity funding, even before we expand the definition. We need to allow, maybe even encourage, direct giving, but be most careful not to revert to a societal, non-CP system in the process.

“We do not need to add more pieces to the pie – just enlarge the pie.”–Steve Loggins

I am loathe to re-hash old arguments of mine (so I will direct you to the post where I expressed them), but I will add two comments. The GCR will have to start with you and me and blue-haired grandma in the pew. If we do not give, whether societally, cooperatively, with the state, around the state, whatever, if we do not give, we will never fund the entities that we have commissioned to aid us in the Great Commission. We must “enlarge the pie” by emptying our wallets.

Secondly, we must encourage each church to feel free to autonomously give without encouraging them to undercut cooperative efforts. In consonance with the apostle Paul, set aside contributions for the good of the church, but also give to support common efforts.

The End of the Matter

What are our options?

1) We can refuse the recommendation:
This would preserve us from what many perceive is a watering-down (or at least, a putting on the back burner) of CP emphasis. However, it does not fix the underlying problem of poor stewardship at every level in our Convention. I then tacitly reject this option.

2) We can not define what “Great Commission Giving” and allow each church (association, state) determine it for themselves:
This would leave wide open the door to anemic CP giving and pseudo-societalism that Loggins (and I) fear. I actively oppose this option!

3) We can create a series of offerings, akin to Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong, to supplement and emphasize direct entity giving:
This option has been proposed at one level by some, including Bart Barber (and myself). This is a reasonable option at first consideration, but would be a scheduling and promotion nightmare. Consider the following yearly schedule:

JAN–promote Southern Baptist History emphasis
FEB–Historical Archives Offering
MAR–promote North American missions
APR–Annie Armstrong Easter Offering
MAY–promote state and national coordination?!
JUN–ExComm Offering (during Convention?!)
JUL–promote our professors and future pastors
AUG–J.P. Boyce Seminaries Offering
SEP–promote standing firm on social issues
OCT–ERLC Watchman on the Wall Offering
NOV–promote International missions
DEC–Lottie Moon Easter Offering

…and we think giving to the two mission offerings is already too low! This model also has the genetic problem of societal giving: pew burnout. And for thsoe of us who are passionate about supporting the work of the Convention, will we have to rob from Annie to give to the seminary? I must reject this option.

4) We can move the CP distribution to the state…or preferably to the local church:
Each body of believers, under our polity, has the right to direct their gifts to the needs of their community and their various inter-church associations. The role of promotion by the states and the entities would be directed from the Executive Committee’s subcommittee on Convention budget to the budget committees of the churches. collection of funds would then be at each endpoint: state office and entity offices. However freeing and patently Baptist this seems, this option also runs the risk of societal giving itself with the overwhelming flood of pleas and the need for expanded back offices to produce and distribute those pleas. I oppose this option as well.

5) We can define giving in narrow terms and promote CP as the best of all modes:
The best option, in my opinion, is to create a two-tier system of giving. Money given through the CP route of state-to-national would remain in place. A new category, “directed giving”, wold be created to encompass all giving not through CP: Annie and Lottie offerings and direct entity contributions. The two categories would be combined for a bottom-line “Great Commission giving”, that would replace CP giving as the (for better or worse) standard for Convention support (i.e. in our discussions about candidates for trustee or officer positions).
To give the designation “teeth”, a consitutional amendment to modify Article III, section 2 to read:

2. One (1) additional messenger from each such church for every two hundred and fifty (250) members; or for each $250.00 paid to the work of the Convention through the Cooperative Program during the fiscal year preceding the annual meeting; or for each $500.00 paid to the work of the Convention through directed giving during the fiscal year preceding the annual meeting. (additions in bold)

This addition would privilege CP giving over directed giving, while also encouraging directed giving as legitimate for churches who desires to cut one or more participants out of their cooperation. (I know this is a somewhat anti-cooperative action, but I think it helps more than hurts. I am open for discussion and better ways of proceeding.)

Finally, giving to non-national, non-state efforts, such as church mission trips, would be excluded from consideration. This is due to the fact that a church might give $2500 to a team of three people to go to Africa (like my own church is doing this year) and under a broad/unqualified “Great Commission giving” definition, they would be able to maximize their allotment of Convention messengers (see Article III). In essence, we could all go to the Convention, fully enabled by the present status quo to vote on Convention matters, and not actually fund anything that the Convention does. We need a “narrow” definition that still allows for support-with-dissent,but prevents us from bringing to reality the fear of Loggins and others (myself included) of a bankrupt, yet fully “supported” Convention. I encourage support for this option.

We need to clarify the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force recommendation so that what is a good idea in principle will be one also in practice.

“Component #5: We believe in order for us to work together more faithfully and effectively towards

the fulfillment of the Great Commission, we will ask Southern Baptists to reaffirm the Cooperative

Program as our central means of supporting Great Commission ministries; but in addition, we will ask

Southern Baptists to celebrate with our churches in their Great Commission Giving that goes directly

through the Cooperative Program, as well as any designated gifts given to the causes of the Southern

Baptist Convention, a state convention or a local association.”–Great Commission Resurgence Task

Force Progress Report, p. 27

“Please understand clearly, we are not recommending any changes to the Cooperative Program but are

reaffirming it as our central means of supporting the Great Commission ministries of the Southern

Baptist Convention.”–Ronnie Floyd, Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Progress Report, p. 27

“[We] should acknowledge and appreciate [designated gifts as an] adjustment of nomenclature.”–J.

Robert White, GCRTF Preliminary Report session

Because of a request from a fellow commentator (Louis at Praisegod Barebones

[http://praisegodbarebones.blogspot.com/2010/02/how-to-resurge.html]), I have jumped to Component 5

to discuss what many see as the greatest weakness to the GCRTF report. In essence, a new term would

be used in Southern Baptist life, Great Commission Giving, which would include both CP & designated

gifts. Allow me to use the words of another commentator as a skeleton for my own response.

Steve Loggins, Director of Missions, North Jefferson Baptist Association, Alabama, wrote a scathing

response to the GCRTF presentation

[http://noba-blog.blogspot.com/2010/03/observations-of-executive-committee.html], focusing at one

point on Component 5:

“Component 5 is a big problem for me – I do not see how ‘celebrating designated giving’ is going to

do anything but reduce support for the CP instead of enhancing it. If I am wrong, then I am wrong

and I pray that Lord reveal this also to me – I do appreciate the gifts given to the association, to

the state, to other mission causes – but if we put these along side of the CP as equal partners –

then we will find that diamond of the CP will be lost in the setting of a host of other jewels – too

numerous to count, for everyone has their own favorite mission enterprise.”

Rev. Loggins is correct in his cursory judgment…IF the term is not defined correctly. If we indeed

allow “gifts given to the association, to the state, [and] to other mission causes” to be counted as

“equal partners” with CP, we are doomed to simply transfer our funds to a pseudo-societal model,

much like the one we had before 1925. However, proper safeguards put into place should prevent this

re-appropriation from taking place at too high a level. Will churches re-direct funds under a

expanded definition? Yes, because they will have the liberty and the breadth to do so. CAn we keep

CP alive and even improve it? Yes, if we carefully determine how the money is considered as “equal”

(more on this later).

“In fact, this is already part of the problem in the loss of CP giving which facilitates what we do

as Southern Baptists.”–Steve Loggins

This would seem to be the case at first glance. Direct funding apart from CP is no doubt *part* of

the problem of why CP is underfunded (poor stewardship by Baptists in the pews and churches are a

large chunk, in my opinion). However, directed funding also keep our CP-supported entities alive.

The following data for the funding year 2007-2008 is taken from the 2009 Book of Reports, with page

numbers indicated after each example. Direct contributions to Nashville for distribution through CP

from individuals and churches makes up 3.09% of the CP budget (31). When distributed throught the CP

allocations, that 6.3 million dollars constitutes anywhere from 0.84% (Southwestern) to 3.02% (ERLC)

of an entity’s budget. Money from other sources (“designations”, “other gifts”, or “other sources”),

make up anywhere from 1.47% (ERLC) to 22.67% (New Orleans) of the entity’s budget. By comparison, CP

money allocated from the states’ contributions makes up 26.33% (Southwestern) to 94.83% (ERLC) of

the entity’s budget.

In conclusion, we already give directly, either to get around uncooperative states or for direct,

one-entity funding, even before we expand the definition. We need to allow, maybe even encourage,

direct giving, but be most careful not to revert to a societal, non-CP system in the process.

“We do not need to add more pieces to the pie – just enlarge the pie.”–Steve Loggins

I am loathe to re-hash old arguments of mine (so I will direct you to the poat where I expressed

them), but I will add two comments. The GCR will have to start with you and me and blue-haired

grandma in the pew. If we do not give, whether societally, cooperatively, with the state, around the

state, whatever, if we do not give, we will *never* fund the entities that we have commissioned to

aid us in the Great Commission. We must “enlarge the pie” by emptying our wallets.

Secondly, we must encourage each church to feel free to autonomously give *without* encouraging them

to undercut cooperative efforts. In consonance with the apostle Paul, set aside contributions for

the good of the church [http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+15:26&version=NIV], but

also give to support common efforts.

[http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Corinthians%209:1-7&version=NIV]

The End of the Matter

What are our options?

1) We can refuse the recommendation:
This would preserve us from what many perceive is a watering-down (or at least, a putting on the

back burner) of CP emphasis. However, it does not fix the underlying problem of poor stewardship at

every level in our Convention. *I then tacitly reject this option.*

2) We can not define what “Great Commission Giving” and allow each church (association, state)

determine it for themselves:
This would leave wide open the door to anemic CP giving and pseudo-societalism that Loggins (and I)

fear. *I actively oppose this option!*

3) We can create a series of offerings, akin to Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong, to supplement and

emphasize direct entity giving:
This option has been proposed at one level by some, including Bart Barber

[http://praisegodbarebones.blogspot.com/2008/09/southern-baptist-convention-im-pc.html] (and myself

[https://adubhigg.wordpress.com/2009/01/03/the-seminaries-are-in-troublesbc-people-to-the-rescue/]).

This is a reasonable prima facia option, but would be a scheduling and promotion nightmare. Consider

the following yearly schedule:
JAN–promote Southern Baptist History emphasis
FEB–Historical Archives Offering
MAR–promote North American missions
APR–Annie Armstrong Easter Offering
MAY–promote state and national coordination?
JUN–ExComm Offering (during Convention?!)
JUL–promote our professors and future pastors
AUG–J.P. Boyce Seminaries Offering
SEP–promote standing firm on social issues
OCT–ERLC Offering
NOV–promote International missions
DEC–Lottie Moon Easter Offering
…and we think giving to the two mission offerings is already too low! This model also has the

genetic problem of societal giving: pew burnout. And for thsoe of us who are passionate about

supporting the work of the Convention, will we have to rob from Annie to give to the seminary? *I

must reject this option.*

4) We can move the CP distribution to the state…or preferably to the local church:
Each body of believers, under our polity, has the right to direct their gifts to the needs of their

community and their various inter-church associations. The role of promotion by the states and the

entities would be directed from the Executive Committee’s subcommittee on Convention budget to the

budget committees of the churches. collection of funds would then be at each endpoint: state office

and entity offices. However freeing and patently Baptist this seems, this option also runs the risk

of societal giving itself with the overwhelming flood of pleas and the need for expanded back

offices to produce and distribute those pleas. *I oppose this option as well.*

5) We can define giving in narrow terms and promote CP as the best of all modes:
The best option, in my opinion, is to create a two-tier system of giving. Money given through the CP

route of state-to-national would remain in place. A new category, “directed giving”, wold be created

to encompass all giving not through CP: Annie and Lottie offerings and direct entity contributions.

The two categories would be combined for a bottom-line “Great Commission giving”, that would replace

CP giving as the (for better or worse) standard for Convention support (i.e. in our discussions

about candidates for trustee or officer positions).
To give the designation “teeth”, a consitutional amendment to modify Article III, section 2

[http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/legal/constitution.asp] to read:

2. One (1) additional messenger from each such church for every two hundred and fifty (250) members;

or for each $250.00 paid to the work of the Convention *through the Cooperative Program* during the

fiscal year preceding the annual meeting*; or for each $500.00 paid to the work of the Convention

through directed giving during the fiscal year preceding the annual meeting*.

This addition would privilege CP giving over directed giving, while also encouraging directed giving

as legitimate for churches who desires to cut one or more participants out of their cooperation. (I

know this is a somewhat anti-cooperative action, but I think it helps more than hurts. I am open for

discussion and better ways of proceeding.)

Finally, giving to non-national, non-state efforts, such as church mission trips, would be excluded

from consideration. This is due to the fact that a church might give $2500 to a team of three people

to go to Africa (like my own church is doing this year) and under a broad/unqualified “Great

Commission giving” definition, they would be able to maximize their allotment of Convention

messengers (see Article III [http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/legal/constitution.asp]). In essence, we

could all go to the Convention, fully enabled by the present status quo to vote on Convention

matters, and not actually fund anything that the Convention does. We need a “narrow” definition that

still allows for support-with-dissent,but prevents us from bringing to reality the fear of Loggins

and others (myself included) of a bankrupt, yet fully “supported” Convention. *I encourage support

for this option.

GCRTF Progress Report, Component 1: Missional Vision

February 23, 2010

“Component #1: We believe in order for us to work together more faithfully and effectively towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission, we will ask Southern Baptists to rally towards a clear and compelling missional vision and begin to conduct ourselves with core values that will create a new and healthy culture within the Southern Baptist Convention.” — Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Progress Report, p. 13

Tonight, at 9:30 PM (CST), the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force of the Southern Baptist Convention delivered their progress report to the Executive Committee of the same. Over the next few weeks, I hope (and plan…provided school doesn’t continue to get in the way!) to blog my own thoughts/reflections on this pivotal action. I surmise that my fellow Southern Baptist bloggers will do the same….

The missional vision cast by the task force is as follows:

“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.” — Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Progress Report, p. 13

This is a noble endeavor and one I think that each church member and each local church should dedicate themselves to do even now. My own church is already planning for our summer missions efforts, this year to include our first international trip (to West Africa). But this vision must also include the local as well as the global. I committed myself to not speak at the Convention (which I did) until I had witnessed to ten people or had one person be converted by that testimony. Coming down to the wire (two days before), I was privileged to have my first person accept Christ as Lord and Savior after I presented the gospel to them (Tony, I’ve prayed for you daily and will continue to do so!) I challenge myself and you to sow seed in anticipation of “the brink of this global harvest” (p. 8)

Now for a history lesson:

I has occurred to me of late that we, the SBC, are yet again in the wake of our denominational inertia, which I have called the 14-40 effect. A brief study of the history of major events in the Convention’s 164-plus years has shown that major decisions about new initiatives occur about every fourteen years (see below) and major doctrinal/policy decisions every 40 years. (If someone would like to liken that the the Matthean pattern of generations in Jesus’ lineage or the 40-year length of a generation in the OT, feel free to spiritualize away!)

14-year  cycles
1845 – SBC founded
1859 – SBTS founded
1873 – L. Moon volunteers for China, first SSB dissolved due to fin. crisis, first meeting of Southern Baptists in Texas 1874
1888 – first Christmas missions offering (WMU)
1901 – proto-SWBTS at Baylor
1917 – NOBTS founded as BBI
1929 – WMU president first reports (women speaking in Convention)
1944 – GGBTS founded
1957 – MBTS founded
1970 – Denver meeting (Broadman controversy)
1985 – CR tipping point (majority of trustees now conservative)
2000 – BFM 2000

40-year cycles

1845 – SBC founded
1888 – WMU founded
1925 – BFM 1925
1963 – BFM 1963
2000 – BFM 2000
2004 – SBC withdraws from Baptist World Alliance

As we approach the next impulse (2013-14), I suggest that we think clearly these next few Conventions about what we really want out of our denominational cooperation. As you might expect, I have some ideas that I will share…but for those, you will have to tune in again!

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

I would like to announce my candidacy for SBC office…

July 31, 2009

We have officially kicked off the 2010 SBC presidential campaign, but wait, there’s a twist…it appears that now you can vie for entity leadership as well.

Arena 1: The Executive Committee:

Morris Chapman, president of the Executive Committee, is embroiled in a controversy that may cost him his job . Starting the inferno were his “outrageous and shameful remarks” concerning Calvinism and the Convention. Feeding the flames was the hush-hush dismissal/resignation of vice president Clark Logan, which has drawn many questions and not a little ire. Anybody want to run the largest Protestant denomination from July until May?

Arena 2: The Mission Boards

This just in…it seems that attempts to dismiss the leader of one of the largest mission-sending organization (see also here) are now being attempted at her sister agency. Now, admittedly, there may be some historical overtones to this, but it does seem a little odd that Poe’s pendulum seems to try to cut the mission leadership away at regular intervals?

Arena 3: Will the Page-Hunt Revolution continue? More on this later…

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….