April 3, 2020

iMonk at Patrol Mag on the SBC 09: Change or Die

icon_red1thumbnail2I’ve been a supporter of David Sessions’ outstanding webmag “Patrol Magazine” from the beginning. We need to do more linkage from over there, because he’s doing outstanding journalism.

David asked me to write some perspective on the current Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. If you don’t know much about the current issues facing the Southern Baptist Convention, this should give you a decent overview of what’s going on this week. Apparently “Coming Evangelical Collapse” has already been quoted.

Read: The SBC: Change or Die.

Comments

  1. If you’re gonna be there I’d love to greet you in person.

  2. As an Episcopalian I must say that your article title is unfortunately close to a book by a certain bishop about why “Christianity must ‘change or die'”

  3. I agree that it is time to eliminate the bureaucratic layers and overlapping organizations within the SBC so that more of the funds can be spent doing direct missions work.

    I recently exchanged several emails with an SBC missionary friend overseas. He is very supportive and loyal to the International Mission Board, so I had to “read between the lines” and ask a few pointed questions to get some clarity as to changes he was alluding to in his emails.

    He has been told that specific projects in his region cannot be funded, but that he is free to do them if he can raise the money independently from individuals and churches. However, he cannot make a direct appeal for those funds. Apparently, a “wink wink nudge nudge” approach is required. Weird.

    We support a couple of missionaries through direct designated funds. One is our SBC friend (the “rules” allow him to tell me about his projects since I specifically asked), the other is supported through the Mennonite Mission Network.

    Our last gift to the Mennonites was acknowledged with a personal visit from a one of the volunteer board members and member of their “huge” central staff (which I believe is less than 5 people) while the gift to the SBC was acknowledged with a form letter and a pamphlet on how to donate our estates to the SBC in our wills.

    Yes, the Mennonite Mission Network is considerably smaller than the SBC, but I think it shows that a small, dedicated organization can be as effective in putting missionaries out in the field planting churches as a behemoth.

  4. I agree we should support our missionaries – both the IMB and NAMB – but I disagree with the push to eliminate the state conventions or change the funding percentages.

    Wade Burleson covered this far more eloquently than I can (http://kerussocharis.blogspot.com/2009/05/changing-cp-formula-is-not-answer.html“>here), but I have a more personal reason for supporting the state conventions.

    The church that served as my first pastorate burned back in April due to arson. The Alabama state convention provided a portable chapel quickly enough to insure that Pleasant Hill could celebrate its homecoming on the first Sunday of May on the location where the congregation had worshiped for over a century. Nashville couldn’t have done it, and the NAMB wouldn’t have done it. A few years ago, some college students burned 9 churches across the state. The Alabama state convention stepped up and provided portable chapels for all of them, including (if I remember correctly) some churches that weren’t even part of the SBC.

    Our state convention has avoided the messy wars of many other states while serving our churches far better than most other conventions. In addition, Dr. Lance has emphasized evangelism and ministry opportunities throughout our state. I’d lift ALSBOM as an example that other conventions, both state and national, should emulate.

    Let’s see the choices:

    * Supporting an excellent, responsible organization in Montgomery;
    * Giving more money to the incompetents that blew money on nonexistent church plants (NAMB), expensive jets (NAMB), and recording studios (NAMB);
    * Giving more money to the imbeciles who unnecessarily excluded competent, God-called missionaries through questionable doctrines in an effort to bring down the president of our mission organization and then backstabbed a trustee with the nerve to expose the dark dealings of the Fundamentalists treating it like their own fiefdom (IMB).

    I’ll choose ALSBOM any day. Eliminating great state conventions won’t fix the problem. SBC members will support their mission organizations when they believe they’re efficiently administered by their staff and competently overseen by godly trustees with no hidden agendas.

  5. Imonk,

    Great take on things. I’d like to heartily amen two things.

    1. Baptists have to abandon their teetotalism. Folks who will criticize that statement just dont’ understand how much of an obstacle it is to a lot of people outside the inner SBC.

    2. It is time to change the convention name. Don’t get me wrong. I love almost anything Southern. I am a member of the SCV, I was denied an interview recently for and Assistant Princiapals job because my picture was in the local paper at an SCV Memorial Day service (I was told this directly), I put flags on graves of ancesotrs I never met, I like the 1950’s style of worship, I thought the 1995 group apology for slavery was theologicaly dubious at best, but our name is not representative any longer of who we are so it should be changed. To what? I do not know.

  6. John: I do NOT want to eliminate State conventions. Under NO circumstances.

    I do think that State conventions need to realize that changes are necessary. (I work for an entity partially funded by State convention cp funds.)

  7. Stan Hankins says

    iMonk, I was about to comment on your homosexual post, but couldn’t find a place to comment. Howcome? I had a good comment!!! Come on man.

  8. I’ll agree about changes; nothing’s ever perfect, and occasionally we face changes so drastic that we’re forced to rewrite the manual. I don’t think we’re there yet, at least here in Sweet Home Alabama.

    Someone over at Wade Burleson’s site said something along the lines of, “What does it mean that we trust our leadership so little that we start trying to read between the lines of a document claiming to emphasize the Great Commission?” I suppose I fit there. I’ve seen so much crazy stuff since 1979 (I was only 13 but already aware of SBC politics) that I start wondering what the Old Guard’s up to when they propose anything. The trustees’ treatment of Burleson only exacerbated my mistrust.

    I wonder if anyone’s accumulated the data regarding support for the Cooperative Program in states where the conventions split in reaction to the Conservative/Moderation War. Perhaps the War was a Pyrrhic victory.

    OTOH, I passionately believe the Cooperative Program demonstrates God’s blessing of our tradition. The Cooperative Program, when fully supported, shows us at our best, in spite of our other flaws.