Our modern SBC is. . . well a mess. We have divisions, factions, dissensions, rivalries, and all sorts of things that the New Testament tells us to avoid. We are broken into groups and clubs, and so many are in to many different groups, we forget who is on our side and who is the bad guy. We can’t agree on a whole lot, and it seems like we are divided to the point of destruction. How did we get here? What happened to us? I have a few theories that I would like to toss out and see if we can’t find something to agree on for a change.
First, I think we gave the devil a foothold. I don’t know what opened the door, I am not sure at what point in our past that the devil was allowed to come in and wreak havoc, but I have little doubt that he has. I recognize that the destructive tendencies that our divisions contain come from Satan. I think we as a convention should seriously look at our shared past and find ways to confess and repent. I myself believe that if we fail to do this, it will result in the eventual destruction of our convention.
I think we have stopped focusing on the main things and begun to focus on other things. Yes, I think how we view the process of Salvation is important, but I worry that we spend more time talking about salvation, and less time actually leading people to Christ. After all, aren’t our Salvation numbers suffering, the numbers of Baptisms are down? I am not judging everyone’s ministries, just reporting the data as I have seen it. I seems like the more we argue the less effective we have been when it comes to evangelism. You can blame the New Calvinists or the Old Calvinists or the New Traditionalists, or the Traditional Traditionalists or the Marginalist or the Heretics or even the Wovenists, but at the end of the day, we are less effective. We are more effective at pointing fingers.
We have acquired a taste for eating each other. When I was growing up, we used material from the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board, because we were Southern Baptists, it was written by Southern Baptists, so we supported. . . well ourselves. Now we have Lifeway, a non-profit publishing company that is made up of Southern Baptists to get material for Southern Baptists and we criticize how we don’t like them. They are us. We talk about how NAMB is a disaster, but we make up NAMB. We have lost a sense of identity and begin to view the pieces as just pieces. It’s like if we looked at our body and decided we would rather use someone else’s hand, rather than our own, so we just dismissed our hand. We are Southern Baptists, let’s do what we are suppose to do best and partner and Cooperate. Maybe we should rename the Cooperative Program to the “Program we use when we don’t find any reason to criticize it, but still only give 1% to 3% too if they are lucky”.
We developed hero worship. We stopped wanting to play our part and we have started to desire the position of super star. We have begun to elevate the mega-Pastor and no one wants to be the country church pastor anymore. Those who want to be the country church pastor are often neglected and short-changed. We want to grow the bigger, better and faster big city Mega Church. I have read all the same books the rest of you are reading, and it’s not who makes the strongest disciples, it’s who makes the most church members. Is it really working? If Salvations, Baptisms are CP giving are all down, I’m a little suspect.
What do we do? First, like I have already shared, I think we need some good ol fashion confession and repentance. We need to go to one another and admit that we have said some hurtful things and make amends. We need to stand up and be responsible for the division, and I know that I have said some things that have probably not been fruitful. I am sorry to many of my SBC brethren who I have slighted in and on blogs, it hasn’t been fruitful. I think we need to find a way to come together, even with our differences. I think we need to get behind one another, behind our SBC leaders, behind our SBC Entities, behind our churches from the largest to the smallest and begin to Cooperate again. We have to see CP giving increase, we have to see Church Planting, Church Health, Church Support and local help all increase. We have to either be serious about being Southern Baptists, or we need to not be.
None of the solutions are quick or easy. They will all require to lay down some pride and swallow some opinions and move forward. It may require to erase some labels, get rid of some titles, and have less documents that express individual opinions on theology instead of more. We may need to toss some resolutions instead of making the lines of distinction even more visible. I think it’s a better option that cutting up and dividing us until we fall apart. Just my thoughts.