Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> EAGLES' REST: WHAT IF?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

WHAT IF?


VAT. The Value Added Tax. That's a tax in which the entire manufacturing process, sales, distribution of a product, and sometimes service, is taxed via a levy on every exchange in the chain. It's different from a sales tax in that it's more or less built into the cost, all along. It seems logical, as value is added when the distributor finds someone to sell the product in different areas and arranges the sales, as it is when the wholesaler finds the local marketer to sell the product, and gets it out to them.

Lately, the internet has caused conventional industry to examine their ways, to assure themselves that they're actually adding value along the manufacturing & distribution chain. I recall buying a range hood for the kitchen directly from the manufacturer once, via the internet, for a bit over half the local prices. Judging by the figures I see for internet sales, I'd say that's going on a lot at present. And I can only guess it'll get worse.

To paraphrase Jerry Grace, esteemed publisher extraordinaire of SBC Outhouse, they ain't puttin' THAT genie back in the bottle.

Which causes me to wonder if the Resident Geniuses of the SBC and its related entities have really considered the ramifications of this. I mean, the end results of this boggle the mind. If you think the status quo is going to stay quo'ed very long, I suggest you go watch this.

The SBC needs to take a long hard look at whether they're, in every entity, adding value in their operations. Is all that hierarchy in NAMB and IMB really, really adding value that makes it prudent to funnel all that money through them? Could it be, in this world today, there are better ways to do it without what it costs to have a hierarchy? I attend church with a man who works for a "Virtual Company" ... namely people with laptops and cell phones, and they're a powerful force in their industry. That could never have been done 25 years ago, but it is fact today. They have no office, anywhere.

Isn't our collective duty to be as effective in the Kingdom work as we possibly can? Shouldn't we be the best stewards of God's money that we can, in doing that?

We already have examples of what happens when the SBC refuses to change, to adapt, to innovate. Local churches and associations taking action on Integrity of Church Membership is but one example of that. But, even more important, local churches have been doing marvelous things on the mission field, here and on foreign soil, without the guidance or help of the SBC or any of its entities. Perhaps the SBC et al is closer to that "Corner of Irrelevance" than they realize. And with what's happening in local churches, and the real world today out here where study committees aren't blocking the view, I think the bell may be tolling for NAMB, the IMB, and other SBC entities already.

Our church, FBC Pelham is a pretty good example of this. We've sent several mission teams to the Gulf Coast, we send a mission trip to somewhere here every summer (Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, Missouri among others) and have even sent teams to Nassau, Jamaica, Latvia, Russia, and even bought and delivered an ambulance to Central America some years back.

All without SBC involvement. Sure, we send the CP 10% of undesignated offerings, but sooner or later someone is going to ask if we couldn't spend that money better ourselves. For instance, last year our Lottie Moon offering was a bit more than enough to support a missionary couple on the field, all by our selves. And our CP giving could support a whole mob.

I don't think we're alone in this, and I wonder if the SBC et al has considered all the ramifications of this. Consider the following:

What if a local church decided its obligation to carry out the Great Commission extended beyond sending some money to the SBC Cooperative Program ...

What if more than one local church decided its obligation extended thusly ...

What if local churches came to the realization that their congregation and leadership, themselves, were under a mandate to determine how God would have them spend HIS MONEY, which He'd entrusted to them to use in HIS work ...

What if one or more of those local churches listened to the Holy Spirit as He illumined the gifts He'd placed in their congregations, and decided that giftedness was indicative of how He intended for them to fulfill their role in His plan for the redemption of man ...

What if churches began their own programs of making disciples of all nations, as the Spirit led ...

What if local congregations around the country saw this happening and realized there might be an opportunity for them as a body, and for them .. as individual believers .. to be involved in works around the entire world, which works lined up with their passion, their giftedness, and their interest ...

What if the experience and giftedness of one church could become available to other churches to help them realize their seemingly unattainable dreams of involvement in real, heart-level missions around the world ...

What if members with particular interests, in one church, could tap into the interests and abilities of another church's members, to help them fulfill the Spiritual giftedness and passions of both, for God's work ...

What if such synergistic outreach could happen without hierarchy, with diversity of views by Bible-believing obedient believers who face exclusion (and indeed derision) at the hands of denominational leadership who have been producing, and continue to produce, a growing list of questionable reasons to exclude good people who do not change their views to match those of the rule-makers ...

What if this happened, and people decided they did not need buildings, salaries, automobiles, mansions, advertising, lawyers, press releases, or any of the other trappings which sap resources, time, etc ...

What if local believers who want to spend time or money or giftedness in world outreach could do so, with their own hands, in an atmosphere of welcoming openness and freedom ...

What if all the things above could be done by Southern Baptist Convention churches who value the SBC but value the Great Commission more ...

What if those things could be done by Southern Baptist Convention churches who have no intention of leaving the Convention that they still love ...

What if those things could be done by Southern Baptist Convention churches who have no intention of leaving the Convention that they still want to love ...

WHAT IF, indeed.

Note: I first wrote most of this some days ago, after an hour spent talking to a good friend, a pastor, over coffee at Starbucks. This was actually in comtemplation of my hopes for the SBC 2007 Convention, but since then, I've become convinced that I should post it now. Add to that the fact that 500 people have reportedly signed up for the Conference on Building Bridges between Baptists and Calvinists, just shortly after the IMB BoT apparently did NOT want to take the bridge between a trustee standing on principles and encouraging openness and honesty on all things, and themselves as a body. I figured I'd better get this up now.

Shouldn't we be going about our tasks in the most Christlike manner possible? Aren't we obligated to do HIS work HIS way?

This post may be the ramblings of an old curmudgeon, or it may be fair warning to the SBC.

That's not mine to say.

13 Comments:

At 1:20 PM, November 20, 2007, Blogger Marty Duren said...

What would happen? Things would look a lot different than they do now.

 
At 2:10 PM, November 20, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Marty, yeh, I bet they will.

 
At 5:46 AM, November 21, 2007, Blogger KellyJean said...

My, my... a curmudgeonly revolutionary!

You make excellent points here. Not being a member of the SBC, however, I do think that it is best to work within the confines of the SBC to effect change. Sometimes it is easy to look at what is wrong and want to change everything when there still are things that are right. The SBC has a certain power in the world and that really should be taken into consideration. There are ways to make changes within an organization and still maintain the integrity of that organization. The SBC does not just affect those churches that are a part of it. In many ways, the SBC has served as an example and that should not be taken lightly. I am not saying your post implies that the SBC should be done away with or anything...

Heck, I don't know what I am saying!

Happy Thanksgiving Bob!

 
At 7:17 AM, November 21, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Hi KellyJean. Thanks for reading and commenting.

I agree with your comment, but the post is what I think they can expect if they don't change, and also some examples of what churches might do if they decide to pony up and do things the best way they can, rather than expend effort and money to prop up a system.

The SBC was formed to help churches fulfill their great commission. That's morphed into a system that is being perpetuated by its hierarchy, and which expects the churches to support it in things the local churches, and believers, simply don't want to happen.

There's a lot of frustration going on in the SBC. Sadly.

Be well, God bless, and have a great Thanksgiving.

 
At 9:22 AM, November 21, 2007, Blogger GuyMuse said...

What if everyone started blogging more often the great things you bring out above? Wouldn't we be more in line with the Scriptures that we all claim to believe? I think the time has come to begin saying in a positive way all the "what if's" you bring up. Each of these is worthy of individual attention across the SBC.

 
At 9:29 AM, November 21, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, Guy. Which is precisely why I said it. Things like this are happening all round us, God is doing stuff and inviting us to join Him in His work, and we need to be about doing just that (hello .. Henry Blackaby, anyone?).

But nobody is paying attention nationally and doing what they can to facilitate it.

Who knows. Problems and opportunities both need to be identified before they can be dealt with.

Also, leadership needs a wake-up call, IMHO.

 
At 12:45 PM, November 21, 2007, Anonymous Dorcas Hawker said...

Bob -

I was with you right until the part where you said get rid of lawyers ... :)

However, I do agree with the general sentiment of what you are getting at ... I don't want to just be an attorney and put my money in the offering plate and call that my contribution to a society. Perhaps God has called some to do just that, and they probably make a truckload more money than I do. But I want to do more ... I want to actually see the people I can minister to, I spend all day at a desk ... I want to get out there and get my hands a little dusty doing something for my neighborhood. I don't know exactly what that would look like, and I don't want to do it as a lone ranger.

My favorite part of your what if's is the notion of churches working together. What if a church with a bunch of people came and helped Parkview do a VBS in our area of Arlington. Instead of feeling constrained with what we couldn't do, the churches together could reach more kids in all the apartment buildings around us than we can do alone. But that takes us being willing to get rid of our "possessive" nature of seeking out church members for one.

Good thoughts here on your post ... what if indeed.

 
At 1:20 PM, November 21, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Oh, I'm not in favor of geting rid of lawyers. Not at all. I just think they ought to be doing what any honorable lawyer is SUPPOSED to be doing .. chasing ambulances, rather than responding to inquiries about suspended trustees, or battling fired seminary professors. On CP dollars. :)

JUST KIDDING!

The interesting part of your comment about VBS is that Calvin Matthews of Red Hills Baptist in Kingston Jamaica emailed me last week about sending a team there next summer to put on VBS again for them.

We're having a mission trip to Michigan (I believe it is) next summer, to do construction and put on backyard Bible Clubs in various neighborhoods. How'd you like to tag along?

See, this stuff is already going on. Most don't know about it. They should. They may be more effective, and be better stewards of God-provided resources, if they did.

Incidentally, I will pass along your question re: Arlington to the powers who do that powerful stuff, in our church. And, you prove my point, and the need.

 
At 3:37 PM, November 21, 2007, Anonymous Dorcas Hawker said...

Bob -

Please do send me the information on that Michigan trip, I'd love to tag along, and also, it would be great to get some additional human resources coming our way to Parkview for next summer's VBS also. We could take turns helping each other out. Do you think that is allowed without a vote by the convention? :)

Let's keep the conversation going ... I think it can grow.

Dorcas

 
At 4:00 PM, November 21, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Dorcas,

I've passed your email along to our Administrative Pastor, Robert Heard. Of course I pontificated a bit and also referred him to both our blogs. I'll let you know what he says.

 
At 7:46 PM, November 21, 2007, Anonymous Harold M. said...

Bob,
You have become one of my favorite people in the SBC. You have asked some very thought provoking and sensible questions. I know that in Arkansas we are getting ready to spend several million dollars on a new convention office building. About half of our CP dollars stay with the state convention. Things like this make me wonder if this is the best use of our dollars. Why not whittle our state consultants down to those who really do ministry, give them a laptop and a cell phone, and set them free? Why do we need things like handbell choir seminars? Oh Yeah, that brings sinners running to the alter!
It was good to meet you and Miss Peggy in Arlington earlier this year.

 
At 8:08 PM, November 21, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Harold,

I appreciate the kind words. Thanks so much.

My next post will be about why I do this, in hopes that I can encourage other guys in the pews to wake up, speak up, and get involved.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

 
At 9:39 PM, November 26, 2007, Blogger Bennett Willis said...

I remember when my first wife and I married (back in the days when a service for 12 in the sterling was "needed") that we got a lot of half spoons from people. The local jewelry store would take money for half a spoon and send us a note--and my wife-to-be would carefully thank the donor for the spoon. Eventually we put all the halves together and had a whole service.

This is the purpose of the SBC--to put the halves together from the 80+% (or what ever the fraction) of us who come from churches with <200 in attendance. This is a useful function.

Bennett Willis

 

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