Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: February 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

If You Call A Dog's Tail A Leg ......

.. Then how many legs does the dog have?

The answer is four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it one.

The SBC, and its much-maligned Committee appointed by Bryant Wright, has just given us an excellent example of the downside of that thought. They have suggested that, rather than change the name of the Southern Baptist Convention, officially, that we simply add the word "Great Commission Baptists" to our name, unofficially.

That's a worthy goal, but it surely doesn't make the SBC any more of a Great Commission organization, collectively, than it was yesterday. And if you look at the numbers, it sure doesn't look like we were.

Some interesting numbers I've found: We seem to have had 16,287,494 members in 2005, which fell to 16,136,044 in 2010 .. the 4th straight year of decline. Of those members, attendance numbered 6,024,289 in 2005, growing to 6,195,449 in 2010.

It should also be noted that if our church it typical, close to 20% attendance is children too young to be included as members. Which really depresses the percentage of attendance even further.

Compared to 2005, we now have 2,028 more churches, about 150,000 fewer members, and around 170,000 more people attending.

Simple math says that, if the churches added (2,028) had the average membership, they'd have about 352 members. And about 135 in attendance. Take out the new churches and their members and the SBC would have about 715,000 fewer members and nearly 275,000 fewer in attendance. In that case, other than number of churches, we're down every way I can think of (not including dollars here).

NOTE: The above doesn't include the effect of folks leaving one SBC church to form another. But it sure seems telling to me.

Does the evidence I've been able to find .. and what I see in our own church .. seem to indicate we are a "Go and make disciples .. teaching them to obey everything I've commanded you..." group of people?

Not to me, it doesn't. And to me, that's the great tragedy of the SBC at this time. A refusal to acknowledge it .. much less address it ... much less take action concerning it.

If the SBC and the local and state associations can throw out churches for renting space to a GLBT group, or for having a woman in a pastoral position, or for failing to "be in friendly cooperation", but not be able to take any action regarding predators in the ministry, or an overwhelming failure to make disciples ... (1) to be a disciple of one: a) to follow his precepts and instructions; 2) to make a disciple a) to teach, instruct) of some ten million people God has sent to us ... then I have to believe that the aim of the SBC is to perpetuate itself and insulate itself from problems.

That's not the great commission.

Calling us that, formally or informally, won't change that.

No wonder our supply is dwindling.

Oh yes .. an afterthought .. I've asked dozens of members, some who were viewed as spiritual leaders .. why one must be baptized to join a Baptist Church. Not one has ever known the answer. And the answer is simple .. the Baptist Faith and Message, to which we subscribe, states that a church is a "Local assembly of baptized believers..". We don't seem to have taught our own members what's contained in our fundamental confessional statement of faith!

Shouldn't the SBC be addressing these things?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Knowing Admitting What You Need

I ordered a pair of hearing aids today. Not just like the one in the picture over there, but that sort. But silver. And smaller.

I guess I've known for some time that I needed some. I've had to turn my head toward someone, cup my hand over my ear, ask someone to repeat themselves, etc, for long enough that I'd rather risk all the things I used to think about old people with hearing aids, than go on without them. So, I set off last week to remedy the problem.

As of Friday, I'd had 2 tests and came home with instructions to get the wax removed from my ears, so Costco could let me try a pair on for 15 minutes, today. So yesterday I spent at the doctor's office, getting rid of enough wax to shine up my Toyota, and today I went back to Costco, where the very professional lady redid the tests just to be sure. And then fitted me with a pair of loaners and asked me to walk around the store and talk to folks for 15 minutes.

WOW. What a difference. I learned that what she prescribed for me was exactly what I needed. I was amazed at the difference. And also how good their sweet potato French-Fries, and their take-home-and-bake onion rings really are. I passed up the brownies, and several other goodies, to hurry back and see Hearing Aid Lady, where I placed the order.

I've known about it for some time. But it wasn't a matter of knowing about it .. it was a matter of admitting it.

I wonder if the folks in the SBC aren't suffering from the same malady. We went through all the hub-bub of the GCR, a sort of blame-nobody blame game for why our numbers are headed the wrong way. And now we're preparing for some sort of shindig over a new name for the Convention.

I am wondering if, by some chance, the folks who influence the actions of others, in the Southern Baptist Convention, aren't suffering from the same malady I did .. except with lousy numbers instead of hearing. I'd hate to think they are really clueless as to why what's going on is going on. I'd rather think they just don't want to admit it.

Does it seem to you that the SBC .. at some level .. has a need for a "common enemy" ... other than satan? Like they have to have something to unite them other than Jesus?

I've only been active in SBC for 5 or 6 years, didn't care much for the denominational stuff, until making the acquaintance of some other folks, who were themselves involved, struck a chord in me. And made me think I might have something, somewhere, to contribute. Since then, I've seen SBC'ers line up like so many confederate soldiers, and fire at their common enemies, like, say......

  • Tongues...

  • "Errant" (but perfectly legitimate) baptism...

  • Calvinism...

  • Liberals/Moderates...

  • People who point out flaws that are difficult to fix, especially when a group doesn't want to...

I got active in church in about 1963. We'd been reasonably active in the denominations I've been in .. Methodist, Reformed Presbyterian, PCUSA, PCA and now SBC. I do not recall the kind of stuff I see, now, in the SBC, ever, in any of the others. Maybe it's just communication, but maybe it's not.

I just had a long talk with a friend of 30 years, who used to belong to FBC Pelham. My friend left FBC because he'd always felt there was more "meat" .. more to dig into .. than he'd gotten in the SBC.

He's now been a member of Briarwood Presbyterian, an outstanding local PCA church. They are likely the most evangelical church I know of. In fact, EVERY TIME someone has asked me one of those "key questions", leading to witnessing for Jesus, it's been a Briarwood Member.

And their missions budget is a bit over $2 million dollars a year.

If a denomination (SBC's website .. page one .. calls us that) can have an arrogant and proud attitude, I'm afraid the SBC has one. And it seems some in the SBC view anyone who points out the real flaws .. as some have done (spectacularly) and I've tried to do (hollering about denominationally missing the mark on Discipleship) as either an enemy or a non-entity.

Unless I am losing my marbles, doesn't anybody care about those things?

I'm developing the opinion that SBC's collective pride over the itself, especially things like viewing Calvinists as enemies and a threat to the SBC ..lies at the very heart of the matter. Something needs changing, and it's not the name. I think it's the SBC's collective lack of the courage and integrity to admit what's wrong.

Maybe they need hearing aids, too. It was sure time for me to admit it, and maybe it's theirs, too.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

He Already Took Up Arms...

I'd been working on a couple of posts about different topics, but hadn't been able to complete them over the past week or so. Today I figured out why.

Nothing out-of-the ordinary .. I just went back to Dr. Sorrell's office to get the second in a series of three injections in my right knee. My son Brian and I saw the Doctor a week ago and everyone's advice was to try the injections .. they worked early last year .. and see how the knee did, after. If the knee continues as it has been, then we'll probably have Dr. Sorrell replace it. He's the one who replaced my left knee in April of 2006, and it's been fine.

But surgical skills are neither the reason for the post, nor the reason I respect him as I do. That reason is reflected in the picture, of him and his family, up there on the right.

I knew he was a believer before I went to him years ago, although the reason I went was that his skill set made him the best around to replace my knee, according to friends in the medical field. But I never really expected to see the overt evidences of his faith in every room I've ever seen him in!

He has this incredible set of pictures of his kids, he and his wife, or all five of them, in every treatment room! And every one is representative of, and accompanied by, scripture verses.

There were six photos in the room where I met him this morning. So I snapped a picture of the one to my left .. arthritis in my neck makes it painful to look to the right. When he came in, the thought that struck me was my last post was about taking up arms (passive or active), I hadn't been able to replace that post yet, and here Dr. Sorrell did it years ago.

Note that, even though I call this a "passive" witness, there was a lot of work that went into them. The pictures seem professionally done, and the framing and the inclusion of the scriptures, is superb. He's obviously gone out of his way and spent a fair amount of money to get all those pictures done.

I mentioned to him, when he was done, that I was going to put the picture here, as a real-world evidence of an idea I expressed last time. That sparked a discussion about the pictures, and the wide variety of ethnicities and faith groups he treats in his practice. And what some of their reactions were (none of them hostile or mean, by the way). But he doesn't use them as a club to prompt "witnessing" to anybody.

In my mind, that's what makes them so powerful.

The Holy Ghost has the club, you know. Dr. Sorrell, on the other hand, has the medicine and the bandages. Just like you do.

Dr. Sorrell lets them know. We should, too.

Well done, Doc.