Sitting In The Booth: An Explanatory Memorandum
This started as an email I sent to a friend. The intention was to explain why I do some of the stuff I do, particularly in light of the fact that I am, by nature, shy.
OH STOP IT. I really am, along with insecure and high strung. At least that's what this guy with initials after his name, an Industrial Psychologist, told me some years back.
My friend answered, and referred to it as a "good post". I hadn't intended it as that, but hey, I'm lazy so why not?
Anyway, here's what I told him:
Sounds official, right?
Actually I wanted to explain what logic I use in some of the stuff I do. I heard of a study once, about 40 years ago, in which people were put in a sound proof booth from which they could anonymously share their fears, hangups, secret vices, etc. The stated purpose was to see if sharing those things, completely anonymously, would help them realize they weren't alone, weren't freaks, etc. Some were part of a group of 2, some 3, some 4, some 5, up to 10. They'd get a number, go to an individual private booth, put on headphones and a mic, and wait their turn. Man #1 was always a guy who told a tear jerker which ended in his screaming that he was having a heart attack, which was followed by a thud, and silence.
What they REALLY wanted to know was whether the others in the booths would come running out screaming for help. The kicker was that there was ever only ONE subject in a booth. But they THOUGHT they were in groups of from 2 (them and #1) to 10 (them, #1, and 8 others). What they found out was this, to the best of my memory:
1) When they thought they were in a group of 2, they came out of the booth EVERY time. 100%
2) When they thought they were part of a group of 3 ... them, #1, and one other guy .. they came out of the booth one out of FOUR times.
3) When they thought they were part of a group of 5, they NEVER came out.
Well, when I read that, I knew that just having that knowledge meant I could no longer be the one to "stay in the booth", regardless of how many others are in the booth. I know that most others WON'T, unless it's a really small group.
That played out when we started Riverchase Baptist Church. When it was 20 of us, someone brought the donuts, somebody made coffee, somebody watched the kids, somebody took up the offering. Nobody had to ask anybody to do anything. When we got a mission pastor and he organized things, at which point we'd grown a little, they had trouble getting people to even DO the things they hadn't even had to ASK someone to do, before.
I also did some stuff I figure no one else did. I heard Lester Roloff make an unbelievable statement in the late 70's I think it was. I wrote him a letter. He'd used the phrase "Lord have mercy" in a tirade against someone and I told him I knew the Lord did, but asked if Lester Roloff did. I never heard any sort of answer or response.
I also wrote Jimmy Swaggart when he took his church out of the AoG, rather than submit to their discipline. I said I figured lots of folks would say what the flesh wanted to hear, and lots might even unload on him, but I thought someone should at least point out the obvious potential of not submitting to God-ordained authority. Again, no response.
Well, I didn't really care if I got one in either case, and in both cases I enjoyed their ministry and was sad at how they eventually ended up.
Incidentally, some more of my steam comes from the fact that Peg and I drove around Jimmy Swaggart's entire layout in Baton Rouge a few years ago. Still a church, but what a sad, sad sight.
As I mentioned one day some months back, I'd really rather not be vocal and visible; that's not really my nature. But God told me a long time ago that He didn't care about my nature, He wanted me to do what He wanted me to do, regardless. So.............
I hope the current "reformation movement" changes the direction of the SBC. I really do. I do not EXPECT IT, though, and in that I hope I'm wrong.
I just want my hands to be clean in all this, and to be found having been faithful.
Hence the posting of my latest post. We all view Indy as being important and I had thought about waiting until after SBC 2008 to post that. But I don't think my post will have any negative effect on what many folks are trying to get done, and at least what I see as the possible outcome of collective disobedience is now out there for all to see. If parts start falling off the wagon, they will have been at least warned, and my hands will be clean.
Ezekiel 3:18-19: "When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself". (NIV)
I'm not saying anyone is wicked, but if there's a principle there, maybe it applies. I don't control whose hands the "blood" will be on, other than making sure it's not on mine.
Also, I happen to think it's more important what the laymen do, than what the preachers do (as far as everyday activities are concerned). Pastors are paid to speak up, etc. We're not. The only reason laymen have for being involved is that they really believe what they're saying, and in the importance of saying it. I can honestly say that the past couple of years have been the most rewarding of my Spiritual walk, and I think it's because I've been speaking up when I had something to say (and occasionally at other times, too).
So, I put up the last post before this one. I hope it wasn't precipitous, but I figure there are other folks out there who are thinking they can never make a difference, there's no use speaking out, etc. Well, take it from someone who's been drug further into these things than I ever could have imagined: your voice is important, and you CAN make a difference. What you think, is important to God, and I think it's important to God that you say it. And God'll never use you if you won't ever do anything.
So get out of the booth already.