by the Contributing Editors of SBC Today
This is a list of recent blog posts which we found interesting. That we found them interesting doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with or endorse the ideas presented in the posts, but that we found them to be intriguing and thought-provoking. (They are listed in no particular order of interest). Please post your comments to discuss any article that strikes your interest. If you have recent blog posts to nominate, please send the link to email@example.com.
I am not a professional counselor, not an adviser of churches or denominations or pastors as such, and not an expert on problem-solving or conflict management. What I am is a retired preacher and a blogger who sometimes gets asked, “What is your take on this? What do you recommend we do about that?”
Out of that experience, and spurred on by the two most recent situations–one by phone last night and the other from an email this morning–here are three “case studies” or problem scenarios that occur with alarming frequency in our churches. And my suggestions on what the leadership should do in handling them.
As always, I do not claim to have the last word on any of this. But if it turns out this is the first word, something that gets readers to thinking deeply and acting courageously, it will have been worth the effort.
A little group of unelected lay leaders is running the church behind the scenes.
In most cases, the new pastor learned of the existence of this cabal only after he had arrived, set up his office, began his ministry, and then decided to try something. He was told there was a small group of people–almost always it’s a group of men–who would have to clear this before he could proceed.
How those few men came to occupy this lofty perch of “The Church’s Board of Directors” is irrelevant. The issue before us is what to do now.
Dr. Thomas Douglas
Parkway Baptist Church
Kansas City, KS
This is the fifth article in the series on the importance of small churches. The previous articles are:
The Introduction (an overview and rationale for the series)
Part 1: Truth (an overview and rationale for the series)
Part 2: Mature Love (the imperative of having a loving fellowship)
Part 3: Unity (the importance of unity)
Part 4: Joy (the importance of joy)
One of the greatest challenges small churches face is fulfilling the Great Commission. Many members struggle from time to time wondering, “How can so few of us make the huge impact on the world that the Great Commission implies?” Can a church with more members make a larger impact on the world than a smaller church? Yes, but when we look at church size as the definitive measure for eternal impact, we fail to qualify our statements. First, a larger church can potentially have a greater impact if they faithfully share the gospel where they live and send missionaries into the world. Being part of a large church does not guarantee the advancement of the gospel into the lost world, nor does it mean more of their members share with people the good news of Christ. Large churches fill too many American cities with huge church complexes where crowds come to hear and trust others to do the work. When James tells us to consider the high position the brother in humble circumstances possesses (1:9), we can apply that to churches that lack the resources and the manpower. Instead of being envious of what large churches can accomplish with greater resources, small churches should praise God because what they cannot match dollar for dollar or even person for person, they can match in faith.
Second, God calls specific churches to reach specific people. Now, I believe God gives more opportunities to churches that are found faithful in sharing the gospel, but the truth remains that Paul believed the churches he planted had an obligation to reach their communities for Christ. He repeatedly calls them to witness (Phil.1:18) and celebrates their evangelistic footprint (Phil.1:5; 1 Thess.6-8). Small churches do not need the size of other churches to make an eternal impact. Instead, they need faith in God to work through them to reach first the community they are in and then the world.
By Ron F. Hale.
He has served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.
It sounds like an All-American axiom: He pulled himself up by his own bootstraps!
This phrase indicates that a person labored long and hard to improve his or her situation in life by time-consuming toil and self-effort. Self-made men may happen in the financial world, but not in the Kingdom of God.
Some of my more Calvinistic friends write like they have a monopoly on monergism — the belief that the new birth is completely and perfectly (100%) a work of God and the sinner adds nothing, not even faith in Christ. In essence, the picture has been painted quite successfully that the majority of Southern Baptists pull themselves up by their bootstraps when it comes to salvation; a self-salvation, so to speak. Nothing could be further from the truth! We believe the Holy Spirit is the exclusive agent affecting regeneration and He needs no assistance from us (2 Cor. 5:17).
The vast majority of Southern Baptist pastors believe that salvation is all of God! Yet my more Calvinistic friends will say SBC non-Calvinists hold to a synergistic salvation with the Holy Spirit being dependent on man’s will. Our God is not a co-dependent personality feeding off the fear of our personal rejection or acceptance of Him. We just believe that God’s forgiveness must be received! We see ourselves as the beggar and God as the benevolent benefactor.
Bill Harrell has served as Pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, Georgia, for over 30 years. He also is active in the Augusta Baptist Association, Georgia Baptist Convention, and SBC, including having serving as the Vice-President of the Georgia Baptist Convention and as Chairman of the SBC Executive Committee.
In the short span of time of about five years, those of us who are observers of activities within the Southern Baptist Convention have witnessed not only changes but mega-shifts in our convention. It would take a large volume for someone to treat all the various subjects at hand but I want to address just a few that are very subtle in some ways but very overt in others.
Most of our Southern Baptist people are just tending to the business of the Kingdom in their part of the world unaware of the forces that are in play and what those forces are trying to achieve and indeed are achieving with much success.
Two things have come to our attention in recent days that bear watching. First, our agency for missions within the US, NAMB, has been using some of the Cooperative Program funds to help establish “Acts 29” churches. These churches must, by their own charter, be organized as five-point-Calvinist churches. There are those who have it as their goal to change the SBC into a Reformed convention more akin to a Presbyterian church that a Baptist church. I cannot, in these few words, get into a broad examination of what is going on, but any informed member of the SBC understands that this is happening.
The driving force behind the Acts 29 churches has been Mark Driscoll; and I do not need to elucidate how controversial he is. He has become, to the younger people, somewhat of a folk hero who they are willing to follow no matter what he says or does. Chapter 10 of his recent book, Real Marriage, is nothing but pornography. It encourages people to think that it normal to do sexually what the Bible condemns. Yet, it is Southern Baptist people who suddenly seem willing to accept the things that the people of our convention rejected outright as sinful until recently. In recent days the leadership of Acts 29 has shifted to someone else, at least in the public eye. Driscoll is the founder of this emergent church, Calvinistic organization; and many believe he will still be the “behind the scenes” leader. Being the founder, he is not going to “ride off into the sunset” too easily or too far.