Owing to Wade Burleson's encouragement to come to the convention in Greensboro, followed a couple hours later by Pastor Mike Shaw's encouragement over dinner, Peg and I went to the convention. Unbeknownst to me, Mike stated to a friend that if I went, I would (1) be quoted in the newspaper, and (2) speak to the convention from the floor.
He was half right. I did both, but twice. Each.
I covered the newspaper quotes previously but I need to share the floor comments, as they flow from my convictions.
The first was relative to a motion to amend the Executive Committee Report concerning the Cooperative Program. The report encouraged the States to conduct programs encouraging local churches to regularly increase giving to the Cooperative Program. A motion came from the floor to amend the report, to insert a 10% recommendation as a level of giving for local churches. I spoke against that amendment.
There had been considerable discussion about percentages, previously. The Executive Committee had deleted the percentage reference, which I think they should have. The point I raised was two-fold.
First, the task of the local church .. its vision .. is that which is brought about by the giftings of the local membership. That's what God provides to the church to work with, and that determines what God has in mind for the church to do. I said no one, outside the church, can determine what that is. The tithes given to the church are really given to God, not to the church, and it's the church's awesome responsibility to determine where God wants them to spend His money.
I also said that the CP leadership needed to realize that God is the source of their supply, and not the local churches. If they don't think they're being funded as they should, they need to ask God why He is not providing them with as much money as they think they need.
Thankfully, the motion to amend failed. The report, Part I, was adopted as presented.
The second time I spoke concerned the motion brought by Wade Burleson, in the first morning session that day. He'd moved that the Executive Committee be authorized to investigate controversies at the International Mission Board. The Committee on the Order of Business subsequently recommended that the motion be referred to the IMB, for a report to be presented to the 2007 Convention. They also scheduled discussion on that referral for the Business Session at 7:40 that evening.
When that time came, I stood to oppose the referral, and pushed the "Against" button on the #8 microphone stand. The Chair recognized microphone #1, speaking for
the motion first, and it was Wade Burleson himself! He stated his acceptance of the decision of the Committee on the Order of Business, and that he'd work with the Board of Trustees of the IMB to resolve things.
That was a testimony to Wade's character, but it left me sort of perplexed as to how to proceed. But God reminded me that He'd not shown me what I'd realized so I could find a reason not to say it. So I did. The facts I pointed out were as follows:
Saul didn't know how to be king when God selected him, so God had to train him. Saul apparently learned well, as even after he'd turned his back on God, and God had taken His Spirit away from Saul, Saul went right on with what he'd learned about being king.
The SBC has done a wonderful job carrying out the great commission. But that was a commission from Jesus, to carry on His work. And He Himself had said He didn't do any work on His own, but could only do His Father's work. In fact, that was His "meat" .. His very subsistence. That means we are doing God's work, under commission from Jesus, which mandates we do it the way He'd do it, were He here.
I said the IMB, and the BoT are under an obligation to carry out the work that way, but the SBC Leadership is obligated to see that they do. They cannot avoid their responbility to see that the IMB, and all other entities, conduct themselves that way. If leadership fails to do that, we may well come back next year and find that the Spirit has departed, and we'll just go on doing what we've learned to do.
Just like Saul.
I cannot tell you how strongly I felt about the words I spoke, both times. In retrospect, I have trouble believing I actually said what I did. I certainly don't have any educational or theological qualifications to do that.
God told me He didn't much care about that.
So ... if Brother Mike gets to telling folks what you'll be doing, listen up.