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."

5 Comments:

At 12:00 AM, March 23, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, Bob
Another great post.
KH

 
At 1:12 PM, March 24, 2012, Blogger Off The Cuff said...

Bob,
You raise an interesting point when you pose the question, "Are we Pleasing God?" About four decades ago Southern Baptists were enjoying growth both numerically and financially. You will recall that during that time we were promoting a program called "Bold Mission Thrust." The idea was to share the gospel with the entire world by the year 2000. However, there was a group within the SBC who deemed other matters to be more important, i.e. the conservative resurgance otherwise known as the fundamentalist takeover. Bold Mission Thurst was promptly pushed to the back burner. Now that the fundamentalists are firmly in control and the SBC is in a steady decline, missions suddenly seem important again. My question is this; Is this Great Commission resurgance rooted in the heart of a broken, repentant people or is it just another slick marketing scheme to play on the emotions of the pew sitters and get the numbers looking favorable again? I guess only time will tell if God is pleased with this latest effort.

I enjoy reading your posts and value your insights.

 
At 2:08 PM, March 24, 2012, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

I don't think the GCR is/was much more than rhetoric. At least I haven't seen any results other than a bit of difference in reporting certain things.

I cannot get much beyond the fact that we're failing at discipling people that God sends to us. If we can't take care of the folks right here in our own backyard, why would we think we can take care of them in some country that's never heard the gospel?

And God does indicate, in the Book of the Revelation, that we should notice the end times, and what sort of people we're being. I think it's critical from all aspects, at this time, to examine everything we're doing. And that includes results (other than money, I might add).

Thanks for the most observant comment. You raise good points.

 
At 8:14 PM, March 28, 2012, Anonymous Lee said...

I love reading your blog, it's been one of my favorites for a long time now. We are about to embark on an annual fund campaign for our Christian school, and I plan to use some of your words here to address the school board and the eventual fund committee. This is up to God and we have to see him as the supplier of our need. And it will go according to his desires, if we simply seek his will.

Thanks! Once again.

 
At 8:25 PM, March 28, 2012, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

You're certainly welcome, but I see myself as more of a stenographer than an author!

Trust you and yours are well, and your work will be blessed.

 

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