This third post of the series is where I get really excited. How can we in the SBC move forward in sharing Jesus to a lost and dying world. If we can only realize that God has so blessed us, oh what we could do to further the sharing of the Gospel, and in a true since, help local churches accomplish more than they ever dreamed. Think about it for a moment. Turn on the television and watch for just a short time. You will find ads for Methodists, Mormons, and so on. The ads are done not by local churches but by national organizations. It is this visual that motivates the simple thought:
Why have we in the SBC not done the same?
With all our passion of words concerning evangelism, this type of activity and thinking should be our highest priority in my opinion. In fact, for our continued growth in efforts to reach the world, we must focus on reaching America with the same fervor and passion that we have applied in our foreign efforts. It is this type of intentional outreach that brings into reality a concept that is at the heart of this series.
The SBC needs a passionate vision of intentional mission, focused on the home front of America.
We are seeing the beginning of this type of thought in several Associations around the country. They are groups who have made the decision to adjust their structure to make possible “intentional culture reaching mission” instead of trying to maintain a structure that was built in another culture for that culture. It is time to take the message of Christ to our current culture without changing the message or compromising our doctrine. It is this opportunity that reveals our need for moving forward much more than using the term reform. The SBC is not in need of doctrinal reform. It is in need of “stepping out of the box in our methodology to take the Gospel to the world.”
This step will not come easy. This step will be embraced by many while also propelling the doubts and questions of “how?” by others. It is the opinion of this Pastor and Church Strategist that debating the how, and formulating the plan in this area, should be the cry of our hearts. The distractions of attempts to change our doctrine have failed and I thank God for that. We now have a golden opportunity to capture a vision for now and tomorrow of effective mission. Our Seminaries are educating better than ever. I have talked with students who long to see a passionate move towards this type of strategy. I hear men who have pastored for years asking this question. I see church members of all ages wondering if this type of thinking is possible.
It is! Today all around our country people are already into this mindset. So how can we proceed?
Just as any church must constantly evaluate it effectiveness and it’s priorities, we as a convention must do the same. It requires questions of stewardship. Are we being good stewards? Is our structure more important to God or is His mission? The steps to accomplish this forward move begin with keeping the main thing – the main thing! Reach people for Jesus! Thus instead of focusing on overturning the structure, we need to evaluate the structure and see what adjustments need to be made to bring this type of intentional mission to the forefront. As is common with any organization, structure tends to get entrenched. It is the nature of any organization. Evaluating with a priority of MISSION allows for the difficult steps to be developed and the energy of our money and people to be focused. It goes far beyond ads on television. It reaches out to effectively equipping our churches with relevant training and unified ministry opportunities compared to stale programs and repackaged ideas. We say in our staff meetings; “cookies and kool-aid don’t cut it, neither do pizza and coke!” Well, color and graphics don’t cut it either. We need a structure designed to reach people! We need a passion of stewardship that channels resources into creative and effective methods without watering down the Gospel. We have the creative minds. We have the resources. We have the doctrine. It’s time to use them. Talk about getting more people in the younger generations to buy into CP giving? This will wake them up!
The SBC developed under the idea that working together, we could better accomplish missions. I do believe that we are seeing that idea worked – and is working. So why not apply it here at home. When applied we will see the strengthening the resources for foreign missions by actually growing our churches here in the states. But wait. We will see God’s passion and commands followed thus allowing for His blessings to flow. May we move forward in getting out of the box of our structure thus creating a focus with avenues for WINNING PEOPLE TO JESUS!
It is time to move forward in our structure focused on reaching America for Jesus!
The following posts will deal with our specific structures, funding, and hurdles. Should be fun!
As we proceed with this series, we will deal quickly with the doctrinal issues pertaining to the SBC and her entities. Read carefully the words following. I believe these words summarize and settle the discussion currently being held around the SBC.
Dr. Morris Chapman said this:
“It is imperative that our Convention return to some sense of normalcy in the operation of the Convention. May I suggest one way to begin the process? Southern Baptists now agree that our trustees should be inerrantists. We believe they should embrace the Baptist Faith and Message (there is only one, you know… the last one). Most believe that trustees and their churches should be faithful in giving a significant amount through the Cooperative Program. We believe our trustees should have a heart for lost souls and be affiliated with churches that evangelize at home, and support missions around the globe. And finally, but most importantly, our trustees should be people who have a close daily walk with our Lord Jesus Christ.” (SBC 2004 in Indy)
Thus, according to Dr. Chapman, the SBC has set the course for doctrinal issues. Included with that course is a great statement concerning our Trustee system. Trustees should be inerrantists and they should embrace the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. This is in fact the correct minimal interpretation of this issue. This, in my opinion should be were the discussion or “fuss” ends. I thank God for our entity leaders. Our Seminaries are led by men of integrity to the Word of God. We have changed the course of past deficiencies and now are challenged to maintain that course. Though some may wave flags of supposed threats to certain ideas (Calvinism etc.), they are indeed just threats. There is no move a foot to remove such from participation in the SBC. There should also be no move a foot to infiltrate the SBC. Our course is set. We need to stay the course. We need to guard the course setting. It is in the area of education and the teaching of ecclesiology that we may find our challenge to be a constant tug of war. It is here that the maximal arguments pertaining to the BF&M break down. It is here where we will find thousands of differing views. Yet the choice of selection of schools is open and that is fine. Since numbers do not matter (as some are saying), numbers should not effect what we teach. Our doctrine must remain consistent.
Our doctrinal issues show a need for a specific core understanding concerning the SBC. Since we are not a denomination, it is not imperative that every church accept what other churches desire. This is central to who we have been as Southern Baptist. It is however important to understand the need for consistency in SBC entities. Whether it is in training of students or the sending of missionaries, we must be “on course” in a minimal sense. Some entities will go beyond. They must. Their function require this. No large group will ever agree nor can a vote be held on every issue (and there will be many). That is why we, in our structure, have adopted the Trustee system.
It is imperative to discuss the Trustee system when viewing our doctrinal issues. The SBC has chosen the Trustee system to oversee the Entities of the SBC. Doctrinally, the Trustees deal with much. In fact, Dr. Page said it best when he said:
“There are a multitude of issues that have to be dealt with within the trustee framework that go way beyond the Baptist Faith and Message. … There are many things that the Baptist Faith and Message just simply doesn’t deal with.” (Interview w/Florida Baptist Witness)
So it is true and should be easy for us to grasp that the Trustees will go beyond the BF&M in multiple situations when dealing with Entity issues pertaining with doctrine. Yet, moving along…
It is also important to realize that the SBC is NOT a denomination in it’s structure nor daily operations. This could be part of our confusion. It is a confusion of understanding. Just as it is true that Baptist are not protestants, we are not a denomination nor do we desire to be in our origin. A Denomination naturally equals “hierarchy”. We have none. Our churches are independent, thus allowed to function as they feel led under the Spirit of God. It is true that a person can find many different flavors of SBC churches. We combine only in the area of supporting Missionaries and influence in our culture and in the area of education (formal and literature). If a church desires to believe different and yet still support the mission sending aspects of the convention – so be it. If a church decides to send people for candidacy, those whose beliefs differ, they will probably not qualify nor be sent. But in reality, there is no other way nor is there any other system much less denomination, that works any different. All have standards and all stick with them. The SBC should be no different. We might also remember that those who claim to say we limit thus hurt our numbers, are also saying that numbers do not matter. That is true when it pertains to doctrinal purity and maintaining doctrinal standards in line with our Lord and his inerrant word.
Our doctrine must be set. It should not be up for vote every twenty years or so. Nor can our doctrine be subject to changing churches that may be weak in theology. The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message sets the minimal standard for cooperation. Each entity is thus trusted to proceed from that point in selecting it’s course of action in hiring and spreading the Gospel. It is my firm conviction that the attacks in the area of doctrine may be our toughest issues in the years to come. Churches are weak theologically speaking. This will only increase with each passing day. Hearts are convicted to “go and reach”, yet it is our responsibility to maintain that people going out as SBC, reach with the best, most doctrinally sound form of the Gospel that we can share. We hold to our faith in Christ and live in full reality of His Lordship. We deny our human tendencies and fallibility’s to live in submission to His Lordship. We can do no less. Many systems of thought may and will abound. Yet it is our command to stay truthful to His Word and resist modern attempts to compromise or culture our doctrine.
The implementation of our doctrine is first seen or not seen, in our commitment and effectiveness to sharing Jesus to a lost and dying world.
That is the thrust of the next post. Hope to see you there!
Tim Guthrie, the owner of the original SBCToday blog, has decided to post a series on moving forward in the SBC by looking to the future of continuing “loyalty to God and His Word” in reaching the lost for Christ. Thanks to his generosity, he is allowing us post this series here. Welcome Tim!
In this series, I will seek to share what one person believes are needs that the SBC must address in order to maintain it vitality in our world and it’s faithfulness and loyalty to God. In this series, it is the specifics of faithfulness and loyalty to God and His Word that will permeate throughout. For in these areas, we must capture His vision and His purpose. I do not nor will I pretend or think to believe that I have it all figured out. None of us do. However, I do believe that together we can discuss and sharpen each other in a way that can lead to seeing God move our ministries and convention in a positive light towards faithful obedience; thus His blessing being seen in all that we do.
We need not reform in areas of doctrine, but rather we need a rekindling of purpose and vision using our current minimal confession known as the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message as the basis for such. This purpose and vision needs to understand the day and time in which we live and the weakening of basic doctrine in America first. It must envision a passion for not only world evangelism but also a passion beyond for reaching our own country with Gospel of Jesus Christ. We will discuss the need to rekindle a passion for bold preaching and teaching fo the Word of God. We will look at how methodology seeking has led to a de-emphasis on annointed Bible Preaching.
Ideas pertaining to approaches and “models of ministry” will be presented using some current changes being made in a few state convention along with a few associations. I believe that the SBC will need to be lean and innovative if are to reach the lost today and tomorrow. Priorities must be examined and some history will be applied in the making of suggestions towards accomplishing this goal.
Respect will be given to leaders and entity heads for this is not about personalities nor people in positions. As Christians, we are instructed very specifically how we are treat our leaders and we will do so in this series. It is my desire that we will rise above the rhetoric of the past two years in this area. We need to set the legacy for future generations in this regard. The discussions of the SBC need to also set the example for our many churches who may at times encounter difficulty.
New ideas pertaining to mass evangelism will be shared and hopefully discussed. The SBC lags behind other “denominations” in regard to using media and advertising effectively to reach America. This will be one of my favorite discussions as we proceed through this dialogue. I get excited thinking about all the opportunities we have as a convention in regard to creative outreach. Just maybe this section will stir us to think not only as a convention but locally as churches to do more in this area.
The series would not be complete without a good discussion of giving and the Cooperative Program. I have found it interesting that some tend to focus on percentage giving while ignoring the fact that we are setting records in total gifts. This trend will and in my opinion should be the thrust in our promotion of the greatest missionary sending plan known to man. It will be in this discussion that we will also get specific in the “breakdown” of the CP giving. Much needs to be addressed in this area. In fact, this may be the most spirited part of the whole dialogue.
I look forward to this discussion and pray that you will join with me in catching and spreading a vision for what as the SBC can do and be. I am just one man with no desires for office or fame. I have served in the past in many different levels and am not one to seek such service again. Rather, I do believe that we can come together and share with one another in a manner that will help each one us as we lead the ministries that God has entrusted to us and we rekindle the passion and vision for reaching this world with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It will be a fun ride! I look forward to this journey together.
[This is the second of a 4-part series on "Critical Criteria" for me considering the president of the SBC. Click here for part one.]
Secondly, a criterion I would lean heavily upon is whether the candidate abstains from even the appearance of impropriety. What do his lifestyle choices reveal? What do his interests reveal? What motivates this person? What things can be distractions?
While we can all agree that sin is sin, many of us divide on what is and what is not – the gray areas of darkness. One man’s temptation is another man’s downfall. One man’s downfall is another man’s victory. One man’s victory is another man’s struggle and ultimately could be a stumbling block for many. The president would be representing the entire SBC, not just a section, portion or group.
Therefore, I would not vote for a nominee whose lifestyle suggested to me that he directly opposed what I believe to be in keeping with Southern Baptists generally and the Scriptures specifically. I would therefore want a man who could speak to cultural problems and global concerns with a knowledge superseded by the wisdom of God.
We are pleased to welcome back as a guest writer at SBC Today one of our more frequent commenters, Chris Johnson. Chris is currently the Pastor of Grace Church at Hermitage which is located eleven miles east of downtown Nashville. He is a full-time employee of Fresenius Medical Care, the world’s largest dialysis provider, with headquarters in Bad Homburg Germany. Chris is the Manager of Information Systems specializing in Network Architecture and Engineering for over 2200 clinics serving 175,000 patients.
In a day where there seems to be confusion about prayer, it is important to understand the model for prayer as commanded by Jesus Christ to the founding members of His body, the Apostles, who were filled and led by the Holy Spirit. Preceding the apostolic questioning of Christ about prayer, Jesus spoke in public to those who are called out by God, who will soon serve His body in a new profound way as an advance on the commonwealth of Israel in the world. (Matthew 6) They were commanded to pray in the manner that Jesus has commanded. Jesus Christ is the supreme commander of how to pray in the Spirit of God, and teaches all of His followers the language of private prayer. Is what Christ offers as instruction for prayer sufficient for communion with Him? A simple question to ask yourself when you pray….. “Do I pray as Christ has commanded me to pray or am I offering to Him more than he commands?”