Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: When the Bottom Line Really IS the Bottom Line

Monday, June 29, 2009

When the Bottom Line Really IS the Bottom Line

There are a number of things about which I'd like to write, concerning the 2009 SBC Annual Meeting, just completed in Louisville. But I'd like to say something about something else, first.

Sort of.

As has been opined elsewhere, some of the SBC entity heads would like to see (apparently) contributions made directly to their institutions, by SBC churches, count as money given to the Cooperative Program. There are arguments on more sides of that, I suppose, than there are sides. But it seems to me the bottom line of this is the churches' responsibility in the handling of God's money.

When someone give tithes or offerings to the local church, that's immediately GOD'S money. The local church then has the responsibility to spend it as God directs. NOBODY up the line can tell them how and what they ought to spend it on.

The value of the entire rest of the SBC structure, above the local church, must be included in the church's consideration, of course, and that manifests itself in their CP giving. And that really DOES have to go to the state, as THEY are the next-most-direct contributor to the local carrying-out of the great commission (the local association is something they're already DOING, themselves).

Ditto for the State ... they have to determine what's most pressing in THEIR helping the CHURCH carry on their work. And likewise, the value of the national stuff is part of their consideration, and they pass on, upstream, funds reflecting that.

Now if the national entities think they are not getting as much money in the deal as they ought, they need to ask GOD why not. I'm a firm believer that God is still their source of supply, and when they gripe at states or churches, it's because GOD is not sending them as much as they THINK they need.

Bottom line: if the Great Commission Task Force (GCTF) has anything to do with re-structuring the SBC to alleviate what Nashville sees as an inequitable distribution of income, they're missing the mark. If it's really about seeing whether the SBC .. in what IT has to do to help the churches fulfill the Great Commission .. is being good stewards of the money that's passed to them via the CP, then fine.

I enjoyed SBC 2009, albeit my mobility was impaired by arthritis causing substantial pain in my right knee and ankle. I spent too much time in the hotel, with my right leg laid up, that I'd have rather spent out & about at the Convention Hall. Since I was determined to make it to all the business sessions, my fun time was rather limited.

Having said that, several other things were quite interesting to me. First, I went to Tuesday's B21 Panel Discussion/Lunch, featuring Al Mohler, Danny Akin, Ed Stetzer, David Platt, Mark Dever, and the pastor of Sojourn Church, Daniel Montgomery. Interestingly, Sojourn seems to be Elder-led, and it doesn't have "Baptist" in its name. Hmmm...

Al Mohler said some terrific things; the one I liked most was that we should make the CP earn every dollar we send them. I liked that. But one thing he said disturbed me quite a bit .. he said that young folks (at the B21 Meeting) should get involved, go the convention, line up at the microphones and speak in favor of his motion (which seemed blatantly political), since he said it would be "thrown under the SBC bus pretty quick". I didn't see that when the motion was discussed, and I didn't hear anyone speak against it whom I'd want testifying on my behalf in any courtroom anywhere. That surprised me a bit.

Guess it shouldn't have, though.

I was in the Business Session Tuesday morning when Morris Chapman seemed to blame the SBC woes on Calvinists. I didn't pay any attention to that, since I learned long ago to NEVER pay any attention to what Baptists say about Calvinists. Surprisingly intelligent Baptists seem to say some pretty dunb things about Calvinism, after all. But ... when Danny Akin apologized for the shameful things that had been said .. and I seem to recall him using both those words ... well, let's just say it was the only note I took at the panel discussion that was in ALL CAPS.

Another thing I found interesting was that, in the election for Vice-President, there were two candidates (there being only one each for President and 2nd VP). As of the election time, per my notes, there were 8,790 registered messengers, and only 1,620 votes were cast. That may well tell why the SBC is in trouble. Most messengers seem to pick and choose what they think is important.

Another thing I probably oughtn't be surprised about.

Also interesting: Alabama's Baptist State Convention gave the 2nd-highest amount to the Cooperative Program, of any state association, in 2008, yet we don't have any representation on the GCTF. But, including Johnny Hunt, there are 6 from Florida. Add that to the fact that Alabama seems to get it pretty much right as state conventions go .. and that Rick Lance didn't sign the GCRD .. and something of a picture emerges. That surprises and disappoints me.

Guess that shouldn't, either.

Oh .. one other thing. I picked up a little handout concerning the missions and the IMB, while I was there. Inside the front cover is a picture of Jerry Rankin, IMB President, with the following quotation:

"It is not the responsibility of the International Mission Board to do missions on behalf of Southern Baptists ... The role of the IMB is to serve, enable and facilitate all Southern Baptists to be obedient to God's kingdom purpose, and fulfill the Great Commission."

Amen to that, certainly, but I immediately wondered why he felt it necessary to say it there. They way I figure, either it's a new principle for him and the IMB (which I don't believe ..), or it's because the churches likely think the IMB really IS supposed to "... do missions on behalf of all Southern Baptists." And, if that's true, the evidence would be that we've been acting like that.

Either way: yup, we need a fresh take on the Great Commission.

Bottom line: all in all, this year is about like the Saturday after the Crucifixion. Sunday morning's coming up (in Orlando) and it's all on the line. I believe the answer, perhaps the most important in my memory as pertains to the SBC, will be obvious from the first pronouncement of the GCTF.

I plan on being there.

I enjoyed the meeting. The fellowship and iron-sharpening of the drive up with CB was terrific (47.5 mpg, by the way), it was good to see a number of myfriends again, and it was neat having Ed Stetzer autograph my right palm.

Alas, the last of the Sharpie mark is about gone.....


At 3:59 PM, June 29, 2009, Anonymous Lee said...

Baptist business as usual is to use the power of position and the weight of support to reward those who think and act like you, or who sign on to support something you want to do. So it is no surprise that Alabama, the second largest undesignated contributing state to the CP, was left off the list of GCR task force members, and Ronnie Floyd, who has his fingers in far too many pies already and whose church gives what wouldn't amount to a decent tip in a restaurant, percentage wise, to the CP, is named. In Baptist life, it is who you know, not what you can do or how good you are at it. I just hope, this time, the tilt doesn't diminish the effectiveness of the program.

I'll see you in Orlando, Lord willing.


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