Weighed and Found............?
What was otherwise referred to as the "Integrity in Membership" resolution introduced by Dr. Bart Barber was passed by the Convention this morning, as amended by Dr. Malcolm Yarnell and subsequently by Tom Ascol.
I am not encouraged, although I am hopeful. But hey, I'm still hoping for $1/gallon gas, so what do I know?
Here's what disturbed me: Tom Ascol's amendment called for repentance for past practices, which is kind of the inverse of praying for everybody everywhere. We want to repent repent repent, just not for specific sins (so it seems to me, anyway). In fact, Richard Land, last evening, brought out 2 Chronicles 7:14 and claimed if we'd repent, we'd see revival in the land. Referring to the USA. I have two big problems with that.
First, that verse follows verse 13 (like ... hellOOOOOO) in which God mentioned that WHEN He shuts up the heavens and there's no rain, and WHEN He sends locusts to devour the land, and WHEN He sends plagues upon the land, THEN..... He'll do the stuff He promises if we repent and do the other stuff. So: was Dr. Land saying that the CHURCH is in THAT sorry a state? Seems that's a pre-condition to verse 14!
AND that verse was spoken to Israel ... the people ... and they WERE a land at the time. It was NOT said to the USA, and there's no indication that God will clean up Washington DC if we Southern Baptists get all righteous. But following up on a Pastor's Conference prayer in which the pastor said that WE were responsible for the condition of the USA, the fog lifts on the underlying attitudes, and the mindset comes through.
When Tom's amendment came up for vote, I estimate maybe 40% of the messengers voted against it. I'm guessing they do NOT want to repent.
Of the following:
- If the folks who actually attend SBC churches are only there 2 out of 3 Sundays, then there are about 9 million active members. We claim 16.5 million, so there are 7.5 million of what we refer to as "members" who do not attend.
- Members do not phone in their numbers to Nashville for the ACP. PASTORS report them.
- EVERY ONE of those 7.5 million "no-shows" walked down an aisle, shook the hand of a n SBC pastor, joined the church on HIS terms .. not their own ... and submitted themselves to his authority, his teaching, and the church's discipline. And disappeared.
- Pastors still include them as members.
- Pastors will say "choose ye this day whom you will serve...", and "seek ye first...", and "forsake not the assembling..." and "What good is it if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can THAT faith save him?". But they WILL NOT SAY those things to people who don't come to the church any more.
- The excuses I've heard are two-fold. One is that we need to keep them on as prospects. That is an insult to the thought that the church is the Body of Christ. There's also the idea that folks will get mad if you remove their son from membership when he went away to college 12 years ago and never came back home and never joined another church. Or just fell off the face of the earth, seemingly. Well ... those pastors ought to think twice about ever preaching about tithing ... telling a struggling family to bring in the tithe and trust God to take care of them. If they don't trust God to take care of their own job and career and family, under those circumstances, how can they expect the church to?
I was at a microphone when the amendment was offered, and had pushed the button to talk. Time for discussion expired on the amendment and the question was called. The relatively close vote was in the affirmative, and then the question was called on the amended resolution without further discussion. I had sat down by then and didn't see how close that vote was.
The overall effect, to me, was that OK, we'll repent, but not really OF anything WE did. Kind of like the "repent box" we need the prospect to check when we're trying to induce a recitation of the "sinner's prayer".
Which may, incidentally, be the one which produced the Army of the Lord, that's 50% AWOL.
So. It went as God planned. Time will tell which way the scales tip, as we observe what happens to our membership numbers. That'll tell the tale. After all, Ananias and Sapphira fibbed about some numbers, and God struck them dead........
I made that point to one well-known pastor and said I didn't know why God shouldn't strike the SBC dead over this. He said...
"Maybe He already has."