A WHOLE NEW BALL GAME? The SBC: Meetings, Organizations, Churches. And People.
Had an interesting conversation with my Pastor, about the Great Commission Document / Sermon / Publication / Thingamajig Guys Are Signing, a few minutes ago. And it prompted some other thoughts about which I figured I'd put ink on paper.
Or electrons on monitors.
It centered around Article 9 on the document he read; I can't identify with that because the one I signed had 12 points and the one he read had 10, and "nine on mine" was entirely different. So I had to run to the Great Commission Resurgence website, and see what concerned him.
As an aside, he's as "Southern Baptist" as any pastor I've ever met, taking VERY seriously the autonomy of the local church. So he's said, now and then (when the SBC made some pronouncement our church didn't go along with) that what the SBC does really doesn't necesssarily affect us, so not to worry.
Our church expends a lot of effort and money on missions endeavors outside the purview of the SBC, NAMB, or the IMB. As a matter of fact, as I start this little rant, we have two groups of people on two faraway foreign fields, evangelizing and discipling, and I don't think either group is SBC-connected!
From where I sit, we don't need the SBC. But the SBC certainly needs the local churches. I've said it before, but we're an autonomous church and we know it, and we know how to start churches here (see Riverchase Baptist Church for evidence of that). And we also know how to do foreign missions, as Red Hills Baptist Church would readily attest. Also, if we want to go plant churches abroad, our long-time Worship Leader, and dear friend, Sam Neugent .. now with E3 partners .. would be only too happy to oblige.
There is plenty of Sunday School material out there, there are plenty of good seminaries that aren't SBC, and all in all we could go merrily along our way, were the SBC cease to exist altogether.
We are SBC by choice; we've been SBC for about 100 years, and it is our decision to continue that. Not inertia, not tradition.
Brother Mike said he hadn't signed the GCR Document because (and there may be other reasons), in the version he read, Article 9 said that theological education started with the seminaries, and flowed out to the churches. His view is just the opposite. It starts with the churches, and I agree with that.
But that's not really what got me to writing. I've been fascinated with being involved in the Annual Meetings .. and some other ones too .. and I encourage my SS Class and my Discipleship Group, and my friends in general, to get involved in the SBC and to get registered and go to the Annual Meeting as messengers.
Nobody! In fact, my Pastor is not going this year, owing to a lot of family duties (including a kid getting married shortly); our Administrative Pastor (if I got the term right) and his wife will also be attending the convention. But not one other layman, out of 2,400 members?!?!
Since the younger guys seems to be staying away more and more, just in the three years I've been involved in Convention matters, I don't see this situation correcting itself. And that spells BIG problems for the SBC as the old guard continues to age, and lose its practical influence, as a Convention, over the local church and the guy in the pew. And, unfortunately, by the time the Convention considers it, the Committee (if there is one) studies it, and all the rest of the stuff happens, I think it'll be too late to get back the preachers we've lost, and the members we may never really have had.
Yogi Berra, one of my favorite philosophers, once said "If people want to stay away from a ball game, you can't make'em".