Fellow pastor and blogger John Quincy Hooks has graciously invited me, along with a couple other members of the SBC Today team, to participate the last two weeks in his internet radio program, Baptist Talk. I appreciate his kindness in inviting us to join him, and I enjoy the wide-ranging discussion that unfolds.
Going into the episode we recorded this week, I knew that John was interested in discussing the statements of the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, statements she made during the opening of the church’s general conference last week in California. I think I caught our host somewhat by surprise when I led off by saying that, based on the article I had read on the bishop’s comments, I agreed with a good portion of what she had to say.
On my desk sits a plaque of the kind that typically contains the name of the person sitting behind the desk. This plaque sat on my grandfather’s desk, and rather than displaying his name, it displays his favorite verse of scripture:
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. – Ephesians 3:21 (KJV)
My grandfather faithfully pastored Baptist churches for over thirty years. I never had the privilege of knowing him as an adult, as he passed away when I was 17. But knowing he treasured this verse means a great deal to me, because it means that he treasured the glory of God, and that he treasured Christ’s church.
I remain convinced that so many of the difficulties and challenges we face today can be traced back to a lack of understanding of the true nature and purpose of the church.
Recently, Dr. Alvin Reid responded to a post I wrote after last year’s convention. We have since exchanged very affirming emails and I was truly honored by his generous and kind response. In the post last year, I had some questions concerning what the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) was all about because it seemed to be a new buzz term that everyone was excited over, but could not exactly explain on what it all entailed. Since that time several items have been written concerning the GCR and I am happy that Dr. Akin, Dr. Hunt and others were able to put together the new GCR 10 point document. There are several items that I affirm in this document: Lordship of Christ, Baptist Identity, gospel-centeredness, faithful Biblical preaching, and Biblical inerrancy just to name a few. But, I do have some issues in which I either desire further clarification or additional information that are discussed below.
Recent days have seen the increasing warning that pastors under 40 are abandoning the SBC for a movement that is more relevant. Large church pastors on the cutting edge are paraded before the followers of SBC goings-on for the purpose of demonstrating “how it ought to be done.” Falling baptismal rates, shrinking churches, and graying heads are cited as supporting evidence of the tragic direction of the once mighty ship of the SBC. Having instilled fear into the heart of the young, the barely 40 pleads with the nearly 40 to come out and “be ye separate” lest the ship sink from a lack of interest. Our participation in the Great Commission is beckoned at every turn, as well it should be. However, according to some, the call is not simply to DO the Great Commission; rather, it is to do the Great Commission “like us.” The newly created box is to do things out of the box.
This is not to say that we are not encapsulated within our own time and culture. However, we must be careful not to act as if the Great Commission is prone to failure. When we participate in the command of Christ to make disciples by teaching and baptizing, we can be sure that the Commission will accomplish its intention. In other words, the power of salvation resides in the Word of God properly taught, preached, and obeyed. Therefore, as an under 40 pastor, and at times a victim of others misunderstandings, monikers, and misrepresentations by barely 40 pastors, I offer a series of posts from one under 40 pastor for your consideration. In not necessarily any order of importance, I offer the first of seven reflections of an under 40 pastor.