NAMB Trustees Deny Partnerships

November 5, 2014

Dr. Rick Patrick | Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, AL

On October 6, 2014, I posted a Request to NAMB Trustees regarding our partnerships with non-Southern Baptist organizations in church planting. The Trustees were kind enough to offer their Prompt Reply, in which I discovered new information about our church planting process. Listed below are my comments and observations in light of their recent correspondence.

Gratitude for NAMB’s Response

I am grateful for NAMB’s courteous and prompt reply. My letter was not ignored, and although we disagree on certain matters, it does appear that NAMB continues to take such requests for information seriously. I am encouraged that further dialogue is both possible and welcome. My concerns were neither ignored nor dismissed, but addressed in a forthright manner.

Assumption Regarding Send North America

I found it peculiar that the first paragraph assumed my affirmation of the Send North America strategy although I wrote nothing about it in my letter. I merely noted I was happy to partner with NAMB in planting new Southern Baptist churches, something I was doing long before the Send North America strategy ever existed. The fact is, I do have concerns that this strategy may be unbalanced in favoring urban locations over rural ones, northern locations over southern ones, and Calvinistic church planters over Traditional ones. Also, since we have over 45,000 churches, why is NAMB celebrating only the 3,000 involved in Send North America? If the other 42,000 churches are not on board with it, then what does that tell us?

Transparently Sharing Incomplete Data

In the second paragraph, NAMB’s transparency in reporting is celebrated. In fairness, they do try to share what little information they have at their disposal. However, later in the letter, they admit such disclosure is limited by (a) church autonomy and (b) current reporting practices. They are simply unable to gather such data: “NAMB cannot provide that precise information for church plants.” I believe we must better track our co-denominational churches and plants.

We’ve Been Over This

For some reason, the third paragraph informs me that all of this information has been shared “many times” before. Am I being shamed for asking questions? Is this some kind of rebuke for not paying attention? (“Come on, Patrick. Try to keep up, will you?”) This attitude is reminiscent of NAMB President Kevin Ezell’s quip at the convention, “I would be happy to answer any questions, but would prefer not to.” Really? The weight of that contradiction is on the latter statement. I may be wrong, but I get the impression that NAMB really doesn’t like having to interact with the churches that support them. They seem burdened with the chore of repeating information. They may assume that all of this knowledge is making its way down the chain of command to the churches, but it is not. I read everything about SBC life, and this letter is the first I have heard about the plantingprojector.com project, the voluntary nature of church plant reporting, and the widespread co-denominational ethnic church plants.

Partnerships or Funding Sources

My strongest objection to the reply is in the first bullet point where NAMB denies any formal or informal partnership with any church planting network outside our 42 state conventions. My position is that co-funding actually creates a partnership. When two parties each contribute financially to a third, they enter into a partnership or cosponsorship—whether or not they recognize it as such. Because it is fairly common for the third party, at some point, to side with one or the other of the cosponsors, it is normal to initiate such partnerships with safeguards in place to prevent the loss of investment by the partner eventually losing favor. This was never an issue when we planted missions that were 100% SBC sponsored. I prefer such “Pure SBC Church Planting” because I believe most Southern Baptists expect that their offerings are starting new Southern Baptist churches rather than an indefinite number of “Hybrid Churches” with leaders who are also accountable to other networks and denominations outside SBC life.

NAMB Evaluates Autonomous Churches

The second bullet point had little to do with my questions, but sounded a bit like a commercial for Mobilize Me—which itself sounds like a commercial for wireless telephone service. The only sticking point here is that Southern Baptist Churches are now being “evaluated by NAMB to determine if they are healthy enough to participate as a sending or supporting church.” One wonders which churches, if any, have been branded by NAMB as being “too unhealthy” for involvement in church planting. In terms of hierarchy, this raises the question: “Does NAMB evaluate churches or do churches evaluate NAMB?” In light of all the other concerns over local church autonomy presented in this letter, why not leave to each local church the privilege and responsibility of determining whether or not they are healthy enough to plant a new church?

New Technology To Compile Incomplete Data

The fourth bullet point comes closest to responding to my concerns by promising an exciting new piece of technology to monitor the co-funding sources I consider partners. This looks like very good news. Upon reflection, however, it brings up additional concerns. First, why must a “sending church” be responsible for monitoring and reporting donations? Can we not request this information directly from the church plant? Second, by empowering dependent church plants with the same autonomy as fully constituted churches, they are not required to report anything at all, and the data becomes meaningless. Kudos to NAMB for trying to get data on these funding sources. Mega-kudos if they will simply make it mandatory for financial support. Third, there is a peculiar irony in our application of the principle of autonomy. On the one hand, our established churches do not possess the autonomy to determine whether or not they are “healthy enough” for church planting. But on the other hand, our dependent church plants do possess the autonomy not to report their funding sources. I would argue that autonomy belongs to the established church and not to the dependent church plant. Because we are giving them money, our questions can be mandatory and not voluntary. We have the same right to demand information about their other sources of income and their outside associations as parents have to ask about their teenager’s income and friends—as long as they live under our roof.

Ethnic Co-denominational Church Planting

The final bullet point introduces additional questions concerning the affiliations of our ethnic church plants. While Acts 29 denies that it is a denomination—an assertion I disaffirm—many ethnic church plant funding sources admit quite freely that they are indeed denominations. Southern Baptist church planting dollars are being used to plant a number of cross-denominational churches. I don’t believe most Southern Baptists are aware of the preceding sentence. No, we have not yet partnered with the Methodists or the Presbyterians, but our offerings are being poured into a joint church planting kitty along with the offerings from outside denominations and networks. Is it at least possible that this practice of Hybrid Church Planting might eventually weaken our denominational loyalty over a period of time by watering down the distinctively Southern Baptist identity of new churches?

Survey to Compile Incomplete Data

The letter concludes with news of yet another survey of 2,500 church planters—one that is totally voluntary, which therefore means it contains incomplete and unreliable information. The letter does not make clear if 2,500 is the total population or the number of respondents. Perhaps fewer people actually responded, in which case data might need to be extrapolated for an estimate of the entire population. In any event, of those who did respond, and chose to volunteer this information, 30 indicated an Acts 29 affiliation. This number does not tell us very much at all. Certainly, we have a floor, but we have absolutely no clue about a ceiling.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while I am grateful for NAMB’s response, we disagree on (1) the meaning of the term partnership, (2) the conferring of autonomy to dependent church plants, (3) the right of NAMB to evaluate the church health of autonomous churches, and (4) the wisdom of using our Southern Baptist offerings to plant cross-denominational churches with leaders loyal to other networks and organizations outside the Southern Baptist Convention. In evaluating whether the Send North America strategy is “healthy enough” to receive our church’s autonomous support, two criteria emerge: (a) can our church funds be channeled in such a way that we are able to promote only Traditional Southern Baptist theology in our church plant, and (b) can our funds avoid being co-mingled with those of outside denominations and networks that exclude us from membership? With regard to transparency, NAMB appears to be attempting greater disclosure, but their level of information gathering is subpar. They have more power to compile this list than they realize. If they truly want to acquire information from the church plants we financially support, they can make these church plants an offer they cannot refuse.

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William Thornton

Rick, your link to NAMB’s “prompt reply” doesn’t work, making an evaluation of your conclusions impossible. Could you try and fix it?

    Kyle Gulledge

    The link is now fixed! Sorry for the delay.

Lydia

If you notice, the entire response has a pattern: Top Down superiority thinking.

The SBC has been moving toward heirarchy for years and away from priesthood of believer. So NAMB is going to “evaluate” churches and decide which ones are healthy or unhealthy? These are the same people who did church planting business with Driscoll’s Acts 29?

So let me get this straight. They give money for church plants but cannot track it? They cannot even report something as simple as: we gave 50,000 to church plant xyz in 2014 to help fund pastor Joe Smith’s salary for a year? Seriously?

“First, why must a “sending church” be responsible for monitoring and reporting donations? Can we not request this information directly from the church plant? ”

A recipe for hierarchal disaster.

So why is it that the recipient of any funding source has to report specific data to that source (whether it is 1 or 10) . It is like this whether in business or government. So, NAMB can give OPM to these church plants but does not think they have the right to expect information on how it is spent or even data on health of the church?

“Third, there is a peculiar irony in our application of the principle of autonomy. On the one hand, our established churches do not possess the autonomy to determine whether or not they are “healthy enough” for church planting. But on the other hand, our dependent church plants do possess the autonomy not to report their funding sources. I would argue that autonomy belongs to the established church and not to the dependent church plant. Because we are giving them money, our questions can be mandatory and not voluntary. We have the same right to demand information about their other sources of income and their outside associations as parents have to ask about their teenager’s income and friends—as long as they live under our roof.”

He who has the gold, makes the rules. Based upon the patterns of behavior from this group, I would say this “autonomy irony”, which is backwards to say the least,… fits nicely with growing the Reformed brand in the SBC.

I have a question: Has one SBC penny gone to fund the SG Louisville church plant “to be near the seminary” in any way shape or form? Is there any way to track the money given to Acts 29 or Sojourn (formerly Acts 29 which employs former Mars Hill staffers) church plants. A total amount over the last 6 years would be nice.

Too bad the Trustees are rubber stampers.

Max

“… Calvinistic church planters over Traditional ones …”

I doubt seriously if NAMB has a check-box for this on their application for church planters. This has become such a hot potato that a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is probably in place. But a glance at the multiple recent SBC church plants in my area indicate that none of them would be characterized as traditional … all have young reformed “lead pastors” and elder governance (with “elders” in their 20s-30s).

peter lumpkins

p>Rick,
As for your point pertaining to local church plant autonomy, note bullets 3 and 4 (italics added):

Any church plant with which NAMB participates in funding has certain requirements placed on the plant: (1) The plant must affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, and (2) The plant must give 10 percent or more to SBC mission causes – 6 percent or more of which must be to the Cooperative Program. 

…Once all of our partners are on board with this technology, we will be able to monitor sending church and primary partner information on all church plants. Even with this being the case, we will respect local church autonomy and therefore leave it to the church plant or sending church to decide what information they wish to share publicly.

When NAMB names requirements for each church plant in bullet 3, there is an explicit contradiction in pleading local church autonomy in bullet 4. If NAMB can require what a plant MUST confess and how much a plant MUST give, what possible objection could be named in honoring local church/church plant autonomy to resist requiring other vital information helpful to NAMB supporters in evaluating NAMB’s stewardship?
One gets the impression from this letter that, at least in some ways, we’re all just a bunch of dopes.
With that, I am…
Peter 

    Rick Patrick

    Peter,

    Thanks for catching that. You’re exactly right. If they can require BFM affirmation and 10% SBC mission gifts, then they can also require the reporting of all co-funding sources. This does not violate autonomy in the least. It merely adds a third very reasonable requirement.

Norm

Rick:
Thank you for your courage and candor, as well as your willingness to make public your observations. This sentence is indeed a revelation: “Southern Baptist church planting dollars are being used to plant a number of cross-denominational churches.” Cross-denominational? Doesn’t that really mean non-SBC? Is NAMB trying to dissolve the SBC by planting such churches? Or, are some of our seminaries not graduating enough SBC church planters that we must look to other denominations? Or, some of our seminaries *are* graduating church planters, but they apparently care little about Southern Baptist doctrine and heritage.
Once upon a time I defended removing the word Baptist from a church name. But what an ill-conceived notion that was on my part and of those who dropped that historically rich descriptor, Baptist. I think one could make the case that dropping the Baptist name from the church sign has led to dropping Baptist distinctives from church life.
A sad day.

Norm Miller

    Rick Patrick

    Thanks for your comment, Norm. And I agree with you that as individual churches have been running from our *SBC brand* for years, the impact on our denomination has been devastating.

    To answer your questions, when I use the term “cross-denominational” I mean a church plant that has two or more denominational parents. In other words, it’s not so much NON-SBC as it is *BOTH* SBC and some other (usually ethnic) denominational group or (usually Calvinistic) network. It’s something of a hybrid, like a cross-training athletic shoe for both basketball and running. I do not believe that NAMB is *trying* to dissolve the SBC by such actions, but I do think it is an unintended consequence that our Baptist identity is thereby weakened. I don’t think we are looking to other denominations in our church planting so much as we are *sharing* the very same church planter with two denominations or networks. I do agree with you that some of our seminaries are graduating church planters whose denominational identity may be primarily Southern Baptist, but they really identify more with a broad, sweeping, generic evangelicalism that is usually reformed. In other words, they have more affinity with a Calvinistic group like The Gospel Coalition than they do with the Southern Baptist Convention.

      andy

      One more question, Rick, then I’ll stop commenting and go take out the trash…

      How important, really is the “SBC Brand”? The SBC itself was formed by including a variety of views, beliefs, and practices on secondary matters. And then, as it grew and matured, DID come to have its own identity that continued to grow and change, from Sunday school boards, lifeway, various updated hymnals, Namb, IMB, ERLC, etc…

      Is it not more important that our churches and pastors hold fast to our core beliefs (BF&M summarized) than hold on to a certain “brand” of church? Cannot the brand adapt to it’s context to make the Gospel as clear as possible?

        Rick Patrick

        Hi Andy,
        Thanks for all the comments. I don’t think I’m really using the term “brand” in quite the same way that you are. I’m not so much talking about views, practices and styles, but our “name” as Southern Baptists. It is important to have a good name and reputation. It is important that you have an identity and stand for something. Certainly brands adapt, but my concern is that we are not adapting the name Southern Baptist so much as we are abandoning it for a nebulous evangelical whatever.

William Thornton

There are some interesting questions in this that I plan to examine but I have one for you. Does a “Traditional Southern Baptist theology” in a church plant exclude automatically exclude churches that are Calvinistic?

    Rick Patrick

    William,

    Thanks for your interest in this matter. When I use the term “Traditional” Southern Baptist theology, I am talking about those who have or could affirm the Traditional Statement of 2012, a statement which does indeed exclude Calvinists—just as certainly as the doctrinal statements for the Acts 29 Network and The Gospel Coalition exclude Traditionalists.

    However, lest you get the wrong idea about my church planting considerations, let me elaborate a bit. As our church gives through the Cooperative Program and through Annie Armstrong, I realize we will support financially the planting of some churches espousing Calvinistic theology and other churches espousing Traditional theology. (I’m not convinced that our church plants are reflecting the theology of our sponsoring churches in a proper and proportional measure, but without accurate data from NAMB, no one can really speak to this issue with any certainty.) This kind of funding is not really what I’m talking about when I discuss church plant funding channels and my two criteria in the final paragraph.

    In the final paragraph, I’m evaluating the Send North America strategy whereby a sponsoring church is involved in church planting through NAMB. As an autonomous church, I am assuming we would have the right to select both the Pastor and the location for the church plant. It is this funding channel, specifically for the church plant in which our church would be the sponsoring church, that I believe we should be able to direct theologically.

    To give you just a bit of background, our church, along with many others today, routinely screens for Calvinism in calling church staff members. As a church, we’re just not promoting that theological view any longer. For years, our Minister of Education purchased John Piper books for the youth group. He no longer does so, citing as his rationale the fact that virtually all of these youth are now Presbyterians. Essentially, we discipled them right out of the Southern Baptist Convention. We are not going to make that mistake again. Since we would not call a Calvinistic ministry staff member, we obviously would not wish to sponsor financially the planting of a church with convictions that do not reflect our own. I hope this clarifies both my use of the term Traditionalism and my perspective that church planting is, necessarily, theology planting.

    Andy

    William, I’m going to guess that in they way Rick is using it, it does. (my other comment assumes as much).

    But your question reveals the difficulty that has been created by the title of the Traditional Statement. Whether intentionally or not, it implies an accepted norm, outside of which is something abnormal. So from the 1600’s – 2012, if someone said “traditional baptist theology.” They would be describing: Believer’s Baptism, church autonomy, belief in scripture, Salvation by grace through faith, etc…. Since 2012, SOME use that phrase to describe a particular soteriology, while many who hear it may not fully understand that. There is now a confusion of terms that exists, whereby “traditional Southern Baptist Theology” not only excludes calvinists, but also:

    -Baptists who aren’t sure on the issue
    -Convictional Arminian Southern Baptists
    -Baptists who reject calvinism, but accept the imputation of Adam’s guilt.

    So the term now excludes more than just calvinists, but the NAME of the term implies that it covers the vast majority of a group.

    (I’m really not trying to cause trouble, but I really see the term itself as a problem.)

      Rick Patrick

      Andy,
      Follow this link for an explanation of the use of the term TRADITIONALISM. Since 2001, when Humphreys and Robertson first used the term in their book, it has been the most common designation to distinguish the majority Baptist position from the minority Baptist view of Calvinism.

Andy

2 questions from Rick’s original article…

“(a) can our church funds be channeled in such a way that we are able to promote only Traditional Southern Baptist theology in our church plant?”

I’m going to guess this is a ‘NO’. First, by it’s very nature, the CP giving is given with the understanding that it will be distributed as the entities see fit. Indeed it is interesting that you would ask this question, since you have also advocated strong CP giving, as opposed to directed designated giving.

Second, the opposite is also true, those calvinist churches and church plants, when they give to CP, whether they like it or not, are supporting Traditionalist schools like Southwestern. Unless someone is advocating a very definite split along soteriology lines (which would, by the way, leave a BUNCH of people in the middle)…then both camps must accept that their General donations will support the work of the other.

“(b) can our funds avoid being co-mingled with those of outside denominations and networks that exclude us from membership?”

This would be technically much easier to do than the first. It would simply mean NAMB requires it’s church planters to not take funding from any other source. Simple.

However, this simple choice is not one that many will favor. It would mean NAMB funds far few church plants, which means fewer SBC churches, which means some of those planters will go elsewhere to plant. So on the one hand, this would preserve a “purer” SBC identity (Something you favor). On the other hand, it would diminish SBC partnerships with the broader evangelicalism, which in my opinion, is not the best way forward. We have much to learn from other Christians, including both calvinistic Christians like those in the Gospel Coalition, and those salvation-losing, Free-Will baptists like those organizing the D6 Family conferences and curriculum.

    Rick Patrick

    Hi Andy,

    As I clarified in my comment to William, I am not talking about CP giving when I speak of funding Traditional church plants, but rather of *Send North America church planting sponsor church* giving. By the way, the bunch of people in the middle presents no problem at all—people could simply give Calvinist, Traditionalist, or No Preference.

    There is another way to deal with the co-mingling issue as well. Rather than simply forbidding all NAMB church planters from co-funding sources, just allow a “PURE SBC” option for those who do not wish to contribute to a group that excludes them, like The Gospel Coalition and Acts 29 both exclude me.

    By the way, you were curious about my preference for strong CP giving rather than directed giving, since this suggestion would seem to direct giving away from the Calvinists. I guess my response is that if you can’t beat them, you really have no choice but to join them. If Acts 29 and NAMB are planting a ton of Calvinist churches with CP money plus Acts 29 money, so that Calvinism is being funded strongly, then I want to find a way to fund Traditionalism just as strongly.

      William Thornton

      Rick, I think you err on several levels in this. I’ll probably address them all in another format due to length. I’ll just note here that NAMB has no authority to restrict their activity and funding to theological parameters other than the BFM. SENDNA, is a particular focus on cities and on certain parts of the US. If the protocols on that don’t suit you then I would not expect you to participate but you could start your own network. NAMB still grants millions of dollars to state conventions that may be used differently.

        Rick Patrick

        William, I look forward to your critique. Before you start, however, let me preemptively point out that nowhere did I ask NAMB to (in your words) “restrict their activity and funding to theological parameters other than the BFM.” All I am asking them to do is to *report* all co-funding sponsors / partnerships. Once we have that kind of information, it will be fairly easy to trace the theological positions, relative to salvation doctrine and ecclesiology, that are being planted through co-funding networks.

        There is a vast difference between reporting one’s partnerships and restricting one’s activities and funding. Even if NAMB were to communicate clearly the theological tendencies of each church plant, this would still in no way restrict the activity and funding of those very church plants. I realize NAMB is investing a lot of money in Calvinist Church Planting. I realize this will continue in the future. Nothing I am proposing will stop that train.

        My request for information will merely allow those who are interested to get a handle on the number of Calvinist churches being planted versus the number of Traditional churches being planted. I am not asking NAMB to restrict activities and funding. However, individual autonomous churches may or may not wish to restrict activities and funding on the basis of information we are able to glean from such full and proper disclosure. Essentially, reporting is not restricting.

        I agree with you that SENDNA has a particular focus. Without any clearer information about the churches we are planting, the protocols may indeed not suit me. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that I need to start a church planting network. I am encouraged to hear you speak of the millions of dollars NAMB grants to state conventions that can be used differently. I would be eager for NAMB to give this secondary option an exciting name like SENDNA and do a little more promotion of it as well, particularly if this secondary church planting option involving millions of dollars could plant *pure* SBC churches whose theological convictions were transparent.

      andy

      Rick, thanks for clarifying your comments. I suppose I was, (and largely still am), ignorant of how Send NA. works. But it brings up another question:

      Are you saying that if your church was the “sending church” of a church plant, that you would not be involved in the selection of the Church planter? That NAMB would assign one to you? Because if your church had a church planter that you had raised up, and who had applied for NAMB funds; would not that church planter share your theology? It seems that the sending church’s involvement in coaching and training and sending would do more to guide the new church’s soteriology than would limiting where he gets his money. I suppose I still don’t understand what you are saying.

        Rick Patrick

        Andy,
        I would absolutely want to select the church planter if my church were a sending church. I do not know if NAMB assigns these or if the sponsor church does. All I know is NAMB tells you whether or not you are *healthy enough* to plant a church. Based on my initial impressions of a VERY CONFUSING MAP, the vast majority of non-ethnic church plants involved in SENDNA are planting Calvinistic churches, so an awful lot of Calvinist churches must be considered healthy. (Lots of Journeys and Graces and HighViews with affiliations to 9 Marks, TGC or Acts 29) Again, this is more art than science, but without accurate information from NAMB, we don’t really know what kind of churches we are starting. Assuming we were able to choose the church planter ourselves, then we might indeed be able to work with SENDNA, directing our funding to plant the type of theology we espouse.

pam knight

Thank you again Rick for the updated information on where our money is going…..I just wish there was some way to mail or email a newsletter to all SBC Churches with “this type” of information…because I know that the majority of just regular church members in the pew has no idea of any of this kind of stuff that is now going on within the SBC. Most people in the pew that are 40 years old and older are thinking that the SBC hasn’t changed much since they were kids. That is how they are picturing things. Most “traditional” labeled church members have no idea of all the changes that are going on , such as in the mix of doctrine and in the way our leaders look at things and do things within the SBC now. Most churches and especially small rural churches are caught up in their own church activities and with sharing the gospel in and around their own communities. They are not caught up in SBC Life. They are Southern Baptist and give to the Cooperative Program but that is all they know. They couldn’t tell you who is who in our leadership positions in the SBC much less what those leaders believe in their doctrines. Most people in the pew just think if your a Southern Baptist then we all believe the same doctrines. And I believe that the Calvinist within our Convention have counted on the fact of people in the pew just not knowing what all is going on. They have took advantage of the majority of SBC membership just not knowing. When the Founders people tried to reform local churches in a quiet way, that’s when they found out that when they tried their reformation the people rejected it. So then they changed tactics to the SBC leadership positions and boy are they having a field day there. Because when they found out that the local churches just weren’t paying attention to who’s who in the SBC leadership or what they were doing….or believing then they saw their chance of reformation there in the leadership positions. So we really need a way for all those regular people in the pew to not have to “google search” information about their Convention. Their Convention should be sending the people in the pew information about everything that is going on within the Convention and not in a “spin” sort of way. They deserve to know about issues that are in debate and contention as to which way we should go or how we should do things And I believe that most people in the local churches are just giving to the Cooperative Program like they always have but the people who are taking that money know that those local churches have no idea of how and where that money is being spent and used. And they certainly want it kept that way. Our family has been a member of a Southern Baptist Church our whole life. So I am not saying all of these things because I don’t care. But I am saying this because I care more about Christ than I do the SBC. And I don’t think Christ is pleased with alot of what is going on. It is not right to keep taking money from people and using it in ways that those people giving that money would not approve of if they knew where it was going.
In Christ
pam knight

    Rick Patrick

    Pam,
    What an awesome comment! Thank you for sharing it. We absolutely MUST help the laypeople in our churches understand what is going on. The Calvinization of the Southern Baptist Convention is a difficult concept to explain. It is multi-faceted and fairly nuanced. But we will not give up until the people of our convention realize that things are not like they used to be. The leaders of the convention are not going to tell them. Baptist Press is not going to tell them. All we’ve really got is one organization (Connect 316), one blogsite (SBC Today), and a few sympathetic colleges and seminaries. But we will not stop until the laypeople in our convention have been duly informed of the influence of New Calvinism in the SBC.

      Max

      “All we’ve really got is one organization (Connect 316), one blogsite (SBC Today), and a few sympathetic colleges and seminaries.”

      And 45,000+ Southern Baptist pastors (most of traditional belief and practice) who ought to be having “family talks” about Calvinization of the denomination they serve in! Their silence is deafening … leaving SBC’s multitude uninformed, misinformed, or sadly in many cases, willingly ignorant.

        Rick Patrick

        Yes, we need to do more to get the word out, Max. Looking over my previous comment, we also have additional blogs I should have mentioned, like those of Tim Guthrie, Peter Lumpkins, Tim Rogers, Bob Hadley and many others.

        Of those who follow the convention closely, a good number believe like we do. I suspect, as you do, that among those who do NOT follow the convention closely, most of these folks would side with us.

        Also, thanks for using the term “theology planting” in a comment recently. I am borrowing that term because I believe we need to help people understand that this is really what we are doing.

    Ty

    Hmmm. One persons danger is another persons blessing. I think what is happening in the SBC is incredible.

      Rick Patrick

      The Reformed Movement has not been a blessing for Southern Baptists in general–only for the elect minority who are Calvinistic. If you are part of that group, then yes, you would see it in a positive light. But generally, Southern Baptists are by nearly all measures (baptisms, CP giving, popularity, etc.) experiencing a definite downward cycle.

        Max

        “The Reformed Movement has not been a blessing for Southern Baptists in general–only for the elect minority who are Calvinistic …”

        I would add an extension to that sentence “… and who now control most SBC entities!”

        So where does that really leave the majority SBC membership going forward since most young pastors coming out of SBC seminaries appear to be bent in the reformed direction? I propose a simple solution to fix SBC’s complex dilemma. Since we now have two distinct and diverse theological threads under one big SBC tent, simply paint “Reformed” or “Traditional” on 45,000+ SBC church signs. That way, the minority Calvinist membership can “elect” to attend where they wish and majority non-Calvinist members can attend where they “choose” and we can all still protect Cooperative Program activities at the denominational level (although it wouldn’t be a genuine unity). The reformed mind will argue that soteriology is a secondary issue and we shouldn’t separate Southern Baptists that way … however, I doubt very seriously if God’s plan of salvation was considered a secondary matter in the first century church. They gave their lives to witness one Gospel message.

          Andy

          Max, I suspect your proposal would need a third category. From surveys, apparently about 30% of SBC pastors are Calvinists. There are no surveys on traditionalism, but I suspect not much more than 30-35% would be able to sing the traditional statement. As for there maining middle, there are probably 2 main sets:

          1. Those who would agree with MOST of the traditional statement, except for some aspects of article 2 on the nature of the fall.

          2. Those who see scriptures about Election & predestination, and others about free-will and response, and really don’t know how it all works together, but find themselves bound by scripture to not make statements that deny what they view as real election to salvation on God’s part. I recently talked to another SBC Pastor about this, and this was his position.

          So we’ll need 3-4 signs: Cal, Trad, Mostly Trad, and “not sure.”

          :-)

            Max

            “So we’ll need 3-4 signs: Cal, Trad, Mostly Trad, and “not sure.” ”

            Yep, that sentence speaks volumes Andy. Southern Baptists have lost their identity.

Jon Estes

If a church plant was receiving monies (and from the history of NAMB’s financial support for church planters, poverty level monies were the staple) and for that plant to remain open, would you be in support of Acts 29 supporting the plant also?

I know in the NC area I just left, the church planters could not get monies, from NAMB through the state, except for ministry activities and needs. No monies were allowed to be used for salaries (ethnic churches could use monies for salaries). Monies given needed to be requested in advance for an event being planned or for a need which had to be approved.

I am not saying this is bad but it made it more difficult on the planter to provide for the family.

    Rick Patrick

    Jon,

    Acts 29 totally excludes me. They would not give money to support the promotion of the theology of my own church, for example, in a church that we might plant. They would not allow me to affiliate with their network if God led me to become a church planter myself. I am not Acts 29 material. It’s because of what I believe about God. I have nothing to do with Acts 29 precisely because they have made it clear that they have absolutely nothing to do with me. They are not “Together for the Gospel” with me.

    In this regard, Acts 29 is just exactly like the United Methodist Church or the Presbyterian Church of the USA. I am friends with their pastors. I consider them brothers in the Lord. We have the same kind of unity that one has with all other believers outside one’s own denomination. However, I would not want our church planters to receive money from the Methodists or the Presbyterians, regardless of how tight their finances became.

    The reason we should exclude Acts 29 partnerships has nothing to do “BFM2K” considerations. Rather, it has everything to do with “rejection of my fellow Southern Baptist” considerations. I believe we should exclude Acts 29 because they exclude the theology and membership of my fellow Southern Baptist brothers and sisters. Our philosophy should be, “If they are unwilling to accept my Southern Baptist Traditionalist brothers, then they won’t get my support either, since my loyalty to Southern Baptists is greater than my loyalty to Evangelical Calvinists.”

    It’s just very insulting for us to send money to people who discriminate against us. I wish people could put themselves in our Traditionalist moccasins. They don’t want us. They just want our money. How is that together for the gospel?

      Jon Estes

      Rick,

      To take a position of… We are not going to include them because they will not include some of us… Is childish. It also seems to be opposite of what Christ does for us. Christ invited me to walk with Him when I wanted nothing to do with Him.

      To be willing to let a church plant close instead of receiving a gift from someone which will help keep the doors open, though we disagree with them is sad.

      The church I currently Pastor was refused IMB support years ago when being planted because we were, and still are, an english speaking church on foreign soil. We will support the SBC and that should grow as I will lead them that way though they excluded us for being english speaking in a Muslim country in the Middle East.

      If I take your position I should refuse to support the SBC because they excluded us. Is that something you would recomend to me?

        Rick Patrick

        Jon,

        It is not childish of me to refuse to plant churches with other denominations. Believe it or not, you draw a denominational line somewhere as well. Among those I would not support through joint church planting: the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship of America, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the General Association of General Baptists, Landmark Baptists and the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference. Nothing personal here—they’re just not my denomination. Acts 29 is in the same category. They are not bad people or anything—just not my people. I am not them and they are not me. My funding channels should not be forced to support these organizations who reject me.

        To suggest that a Presbyterian who does not want to co-plant with a Methodist is “opposite of what Christ does for us” would be a serious interpretive leap. To spiritualize denominational boundaries in this manner is a stretch. The fact that Christ pursued me and loved me before I ever loved him simply does not bind me to enter into church planting partnerships with extra-denominational organizations that discriminate against me. I also don’t have to pay for any co-planting with Episcopalians or Catholics.

        I will not be guilted into paying dues to an organization that I am not a part of. I don’t pay tithes at the Assembly of God Church across town. Does that also make me a bad person? How can you not see the unfairness in making me pay for a group that discriminates against me?

        In your hypothetical, you assume the church plant will close. I assume they will either become SBC or Acts 29—one or the other. If they choose SBC, I will help raise funds for them. If they choose Acts 29, then it’s their responsibility to pay for it. I do not accept the idea that the only way to plant churches is to tear down denominational barriers and force people to pay for the promotion of groups to which they do not belong.

        Another way to resolve this, of course, is to lobby Acts 29 to accept Traditionalists. While you’re at it, feel free to ask Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition to include us as well. Maybe then we could be…you know…TOGETHER for the gospel. See, you assume I am the bad guy in this, but really they are the ones drawing the lines first. You don’t seem to hold them accountable for that in the least.

        As for your example regarding the IMB, I’m afraid I cannot speak to this particular policy. I don’t understand why language would impact their support. However, I have publicly disagreed with their stance on the 2% threshold for considering a nation to be “reached.” Even though I disagree with their policy on this, I am leading my church to increase our Cooperative Program giving from 8% to 9% this year, along with strong goals for Lottie Moon. Thus, you can see that it is *clearly not* my position to withhold funding because of policy disagreements *within my own denominational organizations among groups that fully accept my membership.* So, no, I would not recommend that you refuse to support the SBC over a policy disagreement.

        While I view your comparison as apples to oranges, here’s one I consider more appropriate. If you are excluded from XYZ Church Planting Network due to your theology or some other consideration, and a church plant is being co-funded by NAMB and XYZ, I do recommend that you seek to extricate your financial support from the organization that discriminates against you. In the interest of good stewardship, you should not have to pay to promote the beliefs and doctrines of organizations that will not accept your membership, but only your money.

          Jon Estes

          Rick,

          1 – Acts 29 is not a denomination… of course you know that but a point needs to be made.
          2 – If you do not want the SBC to work with them you can stand up and make a motion as part of the autonomous denomination and seek to have us do so.
          3 – If you cannot support Acts 29 being different (being a reformed theology organization) and only wanting to work with those of like minded theology that is sad. I accept your position and will support you to have it and I can still work with you.

          In your comment about what I am assuming, you need to know I am assuming nothing. Go back and look at how many church plants started are no longer breathing. Many of these are due to funds being unavailable to keep the work afloat. I have served in the pioneer mission area and know this up close. I know many of those men who would not be reformed theologically would have gladly accepted money from Acts 29, if it meant they could continue to work and reach the people where they were. I also know pastors who say they would not take the tithes of someone who just won the lottery even if it meant staying afloat in a declining financial situation. I’ll be glad to take what man uses for evil (or even different that I might believe… is that evil?) and use it for His good.

          Gosh, if I would hold hands with a Mormon to stand against abortion, why would I not work with (support financially if need be) a believer (or his group) even if their ideas on salvation may differ from mine or they would hire me or not.

            Rick Patrick

            Jon,

            I appreciate your point of view. Having begun my ministry in a church plant–we called it a mission–I know what that kind of start up ministry is like. I am sensitive to the issue of tight finances. Unfortunately, tight finances often lead people to make compromises. In this case, I think we are compromising our denominational identity, watering it down by partnering with an outside group so sadly sectarian they will not work with me to plant churches like mine due to my theology. As I have tried to get across, they are the ones drawing this line, not us. I will work with Acts 29 if they will amend their doctrinal requirements and begin planting churches with me. I know they will plant with you. The problem is they won’t plant with me. Why should I pay for an organization that refuses to have me for a member?

            Acts 29 is, at the very least, a “denomination-like” organization. They possess their own leadership, host their own conferences, embrace their own confessional statement, set their own policies for ministry, and strategize for the establishment of churches. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it really is a duck. I have heard it described as a “denomination without walls” in the way that it actually permeates through several different denominations at once. I consider it, for all practical purposes, to be a denomination. They have a mission strategy, meetings, membership, educational conferences, theological statement, etc. And did I mention that they absolutely rule me out of belonging? So I will not pay for that.

            Despite our minor disagreement in the drawing of denominational lines, I do wish you God’s best both personally and in your ministry.

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