We’ve read for some time about the coming tsunami of church closures and now at least one state convention has a program and staff person whose responsibility includes “serving interested churches that are near closing and helping find creative solutions like mergers, cooperatives with other churches, or even utilization of property for church planting.” Sad to see but I’m glad there is a resource person in this area for churches to utilize. A sub-plot in this church closure/merger business is will be megachurches grabbing the assets of dying or dead churches for their real estate value. It’s quite sad, agonizing, to watch a church die.
Some are loudly complaining about the number of allegedly Calvinistic CEOs of our SBC entities, yet the reaction of Southern Baptists as a whole has been quite positive. Both NAMB and IMB, whose leaders are on the complaint list for certain circles of SBCdom have presided over record offerings. Both entities had serious leadership failures that have been corrected. Midwestern seminary seems to be doing better with their new leader. It is ironic that while these entities are clearly stronger, criticism mounts…but I understand that it’s not about good leadership or greater support from the churches. There’s also a certain irony in a kitchen table theological statement, one that was created by no one elected by any SBC body and has been adopted by not one SBC body and which has the written support of .00007% of Southern Baptist members, being foisted as the requirement for the next SBC entity CEO hire.
I happen to think that theological tensions in SBC life are not inherently unhealthy but may become so. We’ve always had various theological subsets in SBC life, the most notable of which is Calvinists and Arminians (choose your own labels if these cause your teeth to grind). When one anti- group chooses language that is clearly and deliberately pugilistic, perhaps there is a whiff of enmity that needs addressing.
Pick a random, faithful Southern Baptist church member. These theological tensions are irrelevant to them I suspect, and are lower on the ecclesiastical priority scale than important matters such as the election, which side of the church the flag goes on, and the preacher’s tonsorial preferences.
…but we can look forward to this June’s Pastor’s Conference.