If THIS Isn't a Wake-Up Call.........
I don't know what is.
Earlier this morning, I was Yahoo-Messengering with my 23-year-old Jamaican friend of 15 years, Keri-Ann Bethune. You can read about her here. She happened to mention that they'd just finished the Assembly of the Jamaica Baptist Union this past weekend. We chatted briefly about it and I asked her where it was held. She said in their National Arena.
Now, Jamaica is a country of something like 5,000,000 folks, so I figured the National Arena was reasonably large, so I asked her about how many folks were in attendance. She immediately snagged the Moderator of the Assembly online (she knows him) and asked him. He said "10,000, give or take a thousand". Since the number of messengers I heard for the SBC Convention in Greensboro was 9,000, I figured I'd try and learn me some other numbers. Boy, was I impressed.
According to the JBU Website, their "Convention" has 302 Member Churches (with 107 ministers), and 40,000 communicant members. The last I heard, the SBC had 41,000 churches and 16,000,000 members. Well, I think I will show some integrity here say we really have only 7,000,000 (with all due respect to the soundly-rebuffed "Integrity in Membership" Resolution that was laughed into oblivion in Greensboro).
Hmmm ... let me understand this thing ... the SBC has as many CHURCHES as the JBU has MEMBERS, and they have as many messengers show up at their annual meeting as the SBC?
What's wrong with that picture? I'm not sure I know, but whatever it is, it's really, REALLY wrong.
Maybe it has something to do with some stuff I see in scripture. Take, for instance:
Proverbs 24:32-34: I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. (NIV)
I wonder if that might apply to spiritual matters, too. If it does, it'd make sense, in light of what's going on in Jamaica. Their society is riddled with crime. Almost everyone there knows someone who was murdered. In 2004, the murder rate was 32 per 100,000 population which would equate to 1,600 country-wide. Further, as I recall, it was worse last year.
I read the onine edition of the Jamaica Gleaner, and many is the Monday I've seen that there were a dozen and sometimes two dozen murders in Kingston and Spanish Town over one weekend! People there have reason to fear. The church can hardly afford to be asleep at the switch.
Then, there's the economy. Red Hills Church is a good example. We jumped in with a mission trip in 1992, when they were just starting their new education wing. It was probably 30X50 and two stories, and it took them until the fall of 2006 to finish it. With inflation normally in double digits, they cannot afford to borrow money to build the building, and their annual budget is about what ours is in a typical week. They face financial hardship, all the time.
When you add soaring crime and money problems all the time, you are neither at ease in Zion, nor secure financially, save for dependence on Jesus.
Amos said this:
Amos 6:1: Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! (NIV)
Is the SBC complacent in Zion? Do we feel secure on Mount Samaria? If we were, where would it show?
Are we like Nineveh, which was having a swell time just short of destruction until the people got the message and repented; it was only after that, that the king got the message and repented, too.
If the SBC is ever to get beyond lying about numbers, treating people unfairly, ignoring candidates' calling, spending God's money on things it should NEVER be spent on ... if that's ever to happen, where will it start?
I'm tempted to move to the seashore and start prowling for big fishes barfing up stuff on the beach. I think it's time for Jonah to put in an appearance.