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

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Let's Find a PLAN That WORKS!!

I'll never forget the first time I ever addressed the SBC Annual Meeting ... Greensboro, 2006. The issue on the floor was a resolution recommending that churches increase their giving to the Cooperative Program. More correctly, it was a motion to amend that resolution, adding a 10% figure as the recommended amount to be contributed by the local churches.

I rose to speak against that amendment.

My objection was simple: when the member gives his tithe to the local church, he's actually giving it to God. And it is the responsibility .. and an awesome one, at that .. on the part of the local church, to see that those funds are spent as God directs them to. Nobody outside the local church speaks for God in such matters, in my opinion.

While I had the floor, I also pointed out that the EC needed to realize that the local churches weren't their source of funds, anyway ... God is their Provider .. and if their income wasn't what they thought it should be, they should take that up with God, not with local churches ... via a percentage in a resolution. Since God provides the means for us to do what He instructs us to do, a shortage of money tells me we aren't doing what He said, or maybe we're doing a lot of stuff He doesn't want us to do.

Apparently, I wasn't alone in my opinion, as quite a few folks approached me after, to tell me they were glad to have heard me say what I did.

There's no doubt that the USA is filled with people who think in terms of "cause & effect". Do "A" and "B" will happen. Follow this formula, that diet, a certain financial plan, and all will be well. The outcome will be what we predict it will be. Trouble is, I don't think that works with God.

I know the Bible is full of good ideas and nice things to do, but that doesn't give us the right to tell how God is going to use what we do. After all, we're clearly told that some plant, some water, but GOD gives the increase!

Putting it another way, our work is 100% fruitless unless God intervenes and sends His Spirit and His power, and He produces results from what we do.

Our work doesn't produce results, God does!

If my theory is right, then our prime concern now is not the quality or foresight or style of our plans, but rather the answer to this one question: Are we pleasing God?

Let's go clear back to square one: Are we fulfilling the Great Commission? Are we making disciples?

Are we seeing that all the folks who have walked our aisles are grafted into our local body and are moving from converts to disciples?

Based on the numbers, we are not!

Is there anything more important, now, than fixing that? To put it differently, is finding a new name, that's more pleasing to non-believers in the North, more important than making disciples? Has what was referred to (humorously, in my mind) as the "Great Commission Resurgence" made a big difference in our churches' collective efforts to turn converts into disciples?

I know, I know. The corporate spokesmen for the SBC claim our churches are autonomous, so we can't mandate anything like that. Sure, we can throw out local bodies which have a woman pastor or associate .. we can give the heave-ho to churches that are too Calvinistic .. we can exclude those who are too friendly to the GLBT people .. but we're powerless to do anything about churches that simply ignore .. intentionally or unintentionally .. the Great Commission itself.

For the same reason, I guess, that we can't do anything about the sexual predators in our midst. Except to recommend a secular organization to do that work for us.

I don't buy it for a minute, and what's even sadder to me is that I don't even expect the SBC to do anything about it. To do so would be admitting that we've missed the mark, from our Trustees in meetings, to our pastors in pulpits.

As one of my cartoon heroes said: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."