This is just a brief overview of how I felt the convention went this past week.
Sunday Service with Richard Mc Pheeters
Nearly everybody from SBC Today went to see ex-Oklahoma pastor Tank McPheeters deliver God’s word. A strange coincidence, Tank actually interviewed at Immanuel before I did, but did not feel the call to this church. We now know why because he pastors New Salem Baptist Church in Cox Creek, Kentucky and is working on a PhD. The church was founded in 1801 and the current building was built in 1906. Some noted previous pastors of that church are A. T. Robertson and W. O. Carver. Listening to Tank preach gave me reassurance that he was carrying on the great preaching and scholarship tradition of times past.
After church, Tank’s wife cooked lunch for all of us. Her generosity and cooking ability is great. Trust me, no one walked away hungry. All of us thank Tank, his wife, and the church for their hospitality.
For me the pastors conference seemed like a constant barrage of negativism. Many who I talked to felt they were being scolded for not running big numbers. Not all the sermons were like that. There were in fact two high points. First was Gov. Mike Huckabee. He is correct in pointing out that the problem with America, and dare I say our churches, is not financial, but moral. He encouraged us to hold the line on biblical values and to keep on sharing Christ. The other bright spot was David Platt. Everyone who I talked to said that Platt hit it out of the park. There were some other great sermons, but Gov. Huckabee and Bro. Platt are two that gave the most buzz.
Dr. Mohler presented the motion for the task force on the Great Commission Resurgence. Going into the convention I had mixed feelings over the whole motion. When I left Perkins, I thought I would vote against it. On the road I had further time to think and give consideration to changing my mind. I also had the opportunity in Louisville to talk further with other people. When I heard Dr. Mohler, I was 99% sure that I would vote for the task force. I admire Dr. Mohler and his plea was very moving. I came to 100% certainty when a messenger, who was against it, said the problem with our convention was Calvinism and that the GCR task force was unnecessary. He even compared the Calvinists today to the Primitive Calvinist of a bygone era. Needless to say, his misinformed rant sealed the deal for me and I voted for the task force. Ultimately, I don’t necessarily believe it is a bad thing for an organization to examine itself periodically in order to maximize the stewardship of what God has given her. I just hope that the change presented will directly benefit the local church. I am praying for the task force.
Another momentary lack of judgment was when Wade Burleson wanted to replace Bart Barber on the list of new trustees at Southwestern. Bart had already committed to not teaching adjunctively while a trustee at Southwestern. In doing so, he removed any conflict of interest that may have been present. Unfortunately, whether Wade knew about Bart’s resignation from being an adjunct professor or not, the motion was presented and overwhelmingly defeated. In this, the convention affirmed Bart as a trustee of Southwestern. I thank the convention for their trust in my friend.
The other big news was the severing of ties with Broadway Baptist Church for their openness to homosexual members. Why it took so long for this action to occur still baffles me, but I am sure that the procedure of the convention allowed all parties involved to make the right decision. Kudos to the SBC in making this stand.
Quotes of Worth
PUBLIC – Johnny Hunt: The perception and vision of the church is God’s standard.
PRIVATE – Anonymous: Tertiary definition- Anything that Jesus commanded that I don’t agree with. :-)
Most everyone that I have talked to has been pleased with the convention. This year there have been no calls of victory by any one group. Most are pleased with the eighteen-member task force that has been appointed by Dr. Hunt and all are committed to praying for the people serving. I did sense a feeling of unity from the convention. The question is, will this unity last when recommendations come from the newly appointed task force?
This year will present some challenges for the SBC, with finances being a major obstacle. But I also believe that God has many great things still planned for our convention. May we all be in prayer as the task force assumes it’s mission and our churches seek to fulfill theirs.
All from SBC Today have arrived in Louisville. Let me say that it is great to see all my friends and renew our fellowship with one another. I have also enjoyed seeing many who I interact with in blogville.
Last night I attended the pastors conference. It seems the theme at this year’s pastors conference is the Great Commission Resurgence. The first one up was JD Greear. I heard JD back at Jacksonville at the pastors conference at FBC. After JD preached this sermon a friend of mine who attended Jacksonville made the comment that JD preached the same sermon as he did in Jacksonville (1 Cor. 9), only that he used a different text (Matt 23) to do so this time. I would have to concur with my friend, same message, different text. The one thing that was repeated and that I still have questions about is what are the secondary and tertiary doctrines that we should not divide over? He did mention tongues, but was not specific on other issues.
Next up to bat was Dr. Brunson. I read one blogger’s criticism that Dr. Brunson was yelling loud. Allow me to disagree, I don’t believe Dr. Brunson was yelling, but being passionate about his text in 1 Peter. His message from 1 Peter reflected upon who we should be, a loving and forgiving community seeking unity in Jesus. There were several points I was convicted over in his sermon especially when he talked about retaliation when someone says something against you. Wise words.
One area I did question was when Dr. Brunson seemed to refer to the Great Commission Resurgence and said how can anyone be against the Great Commission. I hope that is not the mantra this year, that if you are critical of the GCR document then you are against the Great Commission. Let me say that all of us at SBC Today are for the Great Commission (Tim Rogers actually did sign the GCR document). While some of us may question some points of the GCR document, we have not wained in our support of Matthew 28:18-20. Even with this, I appreciate Dr. Brunson’s message and passion for preaching God’s Word.
I did not hear much of Chuck Colson’s sermon, but I whole heartily agree with his assessment that the greatest danger we face is the moral vacuum in the church. In my opinion, if morals are to be considered secondary or tertiary and therefore to be left alone, then we will lose our prophetic voice in a dark land. Yes, we need to be a people that supports, loves, and has great unity with one another, but we cannot forgo the commands of Christ in doing so, for that is also part of the gospel message.
I don’t know if I will post again this week, but I look forward to rest of the convention.
Here is an article I have worked on for our Church newsletter. I realize I have been away for awhile, but other obligations have kept me from producing anything for SBCToday. Until I am able to return with more frequency, I thought I would share my latest newsletter to Immanuel. It expounds on the article of Dr. Thom Rainer concerning his love and desire to see established churches grow. Below is my article:
I recently read an article by Dr. Thom Rainer, President of Lifeway Christian Resources. In it he makes this statement:
“We need leaders who will have a long-term perspective, who realize that, while change may be slow, it is possible. We need leaders who will love the existing congregants and lead them at a pace that will not divide the church. We need leaders who will love and live among the church members. We need leaders who will live and love in the community.”
If there is one think I have always felt, it was a “long-term perspective” in my leadership at Immanuel. I have heard too many pastors talk about how they were going to “change the church within a year” only to prepare their résumé for another pastorate after division forced them out of the pastorate. What many of them fail to realize, and by God’s grace in my own experience I have been able to grasp, is that pastors don’t change churches. God and Him alone is the author and finisher of our faith. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying; while a vision is given to pastors for leadership, it is God to gives the growth. Yes, leaders preach, pray, and prepare, but when we begin to understand that God is ultimately in control, all of us can experience less frustration.
God has his hand upon our church and is working in many of our lives to prepare us for the future. Who would have thought 3 years ago we would have a new Music Minister? What will God do three years from now? I don’t think any of us can say with certainty what God will do, but I do know this, God will provide for us whatever we need to be the church He desires us to be. What is our role in this? Nothing less than to seek God’s will in our life and see how he will have us fit in to what he is doing in His church. I believe he is calling us all to “trust and obey.” I look forward with anticipation in witnessing where God will bring us.
This past Sunday I preached on 1 John 4:1-6. The big idea was that the church is to discern which spirits are from God and which are from the world. Many scholars agree that John was dealing with a heresy that was in its early stages and would eventually grow to be gnosticism. Basically, gnosticism saw all things in this world (i.e. flesh) as evil and those things in the spiritual world as pure and perfect. Therefore for those who maintained this kind of dualism, Jesus could not have came in flesh since flesh was of this world and therefore evil. It also meant that one could live anyway they chose since it only affected the flesh, which was already impure, and not the spirit. In John’s letter there are several Christological and moral affirmations that gave assurance of a redeemed life. Essentially he was writing to correct a false understanding of Jesus and how He is to be lived out in the Christian life. Those who confessed a true doctrine of Jesus and lived according to His commandments could be assured of an already abiding presence of Christ in their lives, as opposed to the false teachers and prophets not abiding in Christ who maligned Him and His commandments.
John wanted the church to realize its responsibility to keep herself pure from false prophets, false teachers, and false living. That is why he began this portion of the letter (4:1-6) with the two commands: not to believe every spirit and to test the spirits. In unpacking all of this, I finally came to the application that dropped some jaws. The way we accept members into our church is unbiblical. I always assumed it was proper to accept someone who walked forward during the invitation and answered correctly that they accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior and was properly baptized. A thirty second interview later and voila, new members! Yet, as I study and read more scripture, I am realizing that each generation has the responsibility to be guardians of truth, morals, and church membership.
I read that early Baptists would require any candidate for membership to give their testimony to the church, answer theological questions, and finally come under a time of watch care to see if the person exhibited fruits of a redeemed life. Obviously our forefathers took the commands of not believing and testing seriously. Fast forward to today, what does a biblical method of accepting transfer members look like in the 21st century? While I don’t claim a perfect model and it is definitely a work in progress, here are some ideas with which I have been toying:
1. Stop voting on membership at the moment when someone presents themselves. Move it to a business meeting. After all, don’t we vote to transfer members out of our fellowship at that time?
2. Require an orientation class for membership. This class would be an opportunity to present the candidates our basic philosophy on who we are and how we live out the command to make disciples. During this class we would present our church covenant, basic statement of beliefs, and our mission and vision statements. Ultimately, it would be a vehicle by which we could get people plugged into the mission of the church.
3. Take one on one time to talk with the candidates about their salvation. If they realize they are not saved, encourage them and lead them to come to the Lord. If saved help them construct a written testimony of their salvation to present the church. Also help them clear up any unfinished business (baptism, repenting from a particular sin) if necessary.
4. Have them somehow demonstrate their agreement with our church covenant/statement of beliefs. Also have them commit to using their time, talents, and tithes in helping our church achieve her mission and vision.
While I don’t expect Immanuel B. C. to make an 180 degree turn immediately, I am in the process of praying and proclaiming in an effort to allow the Holy Spirit to move in His people. May Jesus be glorified as Lord of His church!
On a side note, it will be some time before I am able to blog again. I have several responsibilities weighing upon my time during the months of June and July. While I may be able to sneak one in here or there, I will for the most part be absent. I look forward to seeing many of you in Louisville.