William is the SBC Plodder.
…and, if this is true, should Southern Baptists be concerned?
There has been and is this narrative afoot in our Convention: Calvinists are too numerous, have become too powerful, occupy too many leadership positions, occupy too many pulpits, exercise too much influence, and steps should be taken to slow or stop this Calvinist train.
This is a Gospel Narrative to some in our convention and it colors how this group sees our entities and decisions by our trustees.
For example, our North American Mission Board has this nascent church planting program called Send North America. It is highly successful in attracting interest from ministers who may feel called to plant a church and from churches that wish to sponsor or assist in church planting. Arguably, SNA is the most successful program of any type active in SBC life. Certainly no program has generated the levels of enthusiasm and participation as has SNA.
Aha, there are critics. But then, we are Southern Baptists and this is the Southern Baptist Convention where someone will be found to argue the proposition that the sun rises in the east and complain about Mom and apple pie.
Here’s the criticism: NAMB favors Calvinistic church planters and is planting churches that aren’t really Southern Baptist churches but rather are stealth Reformed churches.
My friend Rick Patrick is one such NAMB critic. His recent post on SBCToday,NAMB Trustees Deny Partnerships is built on the thesis that NAMB is “co-partnering” with non-SBC networks to plant “hybrid” churches rather than “pure” SBC churches and that this “co-denominational” and “cross-denominational” church planting. NAMB, Rick asserts, is denying such partnership mainly by choosing not to know relevant relationships maintained by church plants sponsored by NAMB. NAMB maintains that they only partner with the 42 Baptist state conventions. I give Rick credit for building his case with an array of trigger words like “hybrid,” “cross-” and “co-denominational.” At least he avoided the real snarl term, “ecumenical.”
But, that aside, how about some evidence please, Rick?
In the past couple of years NAMB critics could point to a couple of NAMB plants who admitted to being part of the ACTS29 church planting network. Hardly, a movement, even if one presumes something nefarious about a church being a NAMB plant and also connected to ACTS29 in some fashion.
NAMB did a study. They said in their response to Rick’s inquiry asking NAMB to disclose church planting partners that they had done a “voluntary survey” of their 2500 or so church planters and found 30 were affiliated with ACTS29. I asked NAMB about this, since the language sounded odd. What they did was compare their list of planters to ACTS29’s website. They found 30, hardly a vast number.
Here’s the kind of church NAMB plants, and no other kind of church:
- A church that affirms the Baptist Faith and Message.
- A church that gives at least 6% (above the SBC average) to the Cooperative Program and at least 10% to missions.
- A church that has an SBC sponsor church.
- A church with a pastor/planter vetted by faithful Southern Baptists.