North Carolina Baptist

Big News at the BSCNC

Earlier today I twittered that I think I'm voting to split our convention.  Here is why. Actually, I think I’ll start with a bit of background for those of my readers who have no idea what I’m talking about.

The Southern Baptist Convention underwent a theological shift during the 1970s through mid-1990s. Before this period, the convention was headed in the same direction as the mainline protestant denominations. This theological shift took place over the inerrancy of scripture, although it manifest itself in many different ways. Let me say that differently. On the 1970’s the SBC leadership was strongly leaning away from a view of scripture as inerrant. During this period, conservatives, those who would say that the Bible is true in all that it declares, began an effort to return the convention to its roots. They were ultimately successful, and today the Southern Baptist Convention is a thoroughly conservative denomination. And I, for one, am grateful to those who were involved in that process. At the end of this process, many theological moderates left the SBC and formed their own convention, known as the CBF.

This same battle took place in the vast majority of state conventions as well. However, for a variety of reasons, it had differing success in different places. In Virginia, Texas, and Missouri, the conventions actually split and the conservatives left to form their own state conventions. North Carolina has been able to remain united partially because of giving plans.

What are giving plans? In 1925, Southern Baptists developed the Cooperative Program. (CP) The CP is simply a method of sharing in mission work by pooling money from the 42,000 SBC churches. Each church sends a portion of its gifts to its respective state convention, the conventions in turn, use a portion for missions and ministry and send a portion to the SBC for missions and ministry. This combined amount makes the SBC able to send some 12,000 missionaries around the world, operate 6 seminaries, and do more than I can list in this paragraph.

Within North Carolina there were churches along the theological spectrum that wanted to contribute to state missions but not to SBC missions. Some want to send part of their money to the SBC and part to the CBF. Giving plans were created in order to facilitate the desires of everyone, and they essentially created confusion.

So today, the last item of business was to get rid of all of the giving plans and replace them with a single plan which had options. A church could still designate funds to the CBF, or it could exclude the SBC, but it was all done under one plan. It was essentially the same thing, but done in a much less convoluted way.

Sorry about that lengthy background passage, here is the news of the day:

When the motion was presented, messenger Matt Williamson, pastor of Oak Forest Baptist in Fletcher (ht - Biblical Recorder for that info) immediately asked it be amended to exclude the CBF. (Actually there was some confusion, but that was the point of his ammendment) That means that if the amendment passed, there is no way for a church to give to the CBF through the BSCNC. In other words, CBF churches would be effectively shut out of the state convention. If they still wish to give to both CBF and BSCNC they would have to write two checks. No big deal it sounds like, but they would now have to go out of their way to support the state convention and the CBF. It would be a formal severing. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of discussion both for and against the amendment.

What did I do? My heart was definitely with the amendment, but I had a fear that it the amendment passed, the unified giving plan would fail and we would be exactly in the same place as we began; a largely divided convention with a horrible system of giving.

Someone finally called the question and it came time to vote. We took two sight-votes (raise your ballots and see if any side clearly wins), but it was obviously very close. So we cast ballots. The amendment passed four-hundred sixty-something to three-hundred-something. Less than 1,000 total. If anyone had suspected that would occur there would have been many more messengers.

Oh yeah; What did I do? I voted for the amendment.

After the amendment passed, the motion to move to one, CBF-less giving plan passed overwhelmingly.

I don’t want to get into prophecy, but this seems to have been the death-knell of the CBF in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Here is the Baptist Press story about the convention

Blogging about Johnny Hunt

Today was the beginning of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention. This morning and aftenoon, was the pastor's convention and I heard some wonderful preaching.  I was a bit late so I only heard part of the lineup.  I was there for Stephen Rummage, Bob Pitman, Danny Akin, and Johnny Hunt.

All of them were wonderful and I enjoyed the preaching immensely.  Especially, Bob Pitman's story of his GPS and Dr Akin's  political rant. 

But I'm addressing the rest of this post to The president of the SBC, Johnny Hunt.  He said that many Southern Baptist have a great intellectual curiosity.  That "they want to learn so that they can blog"  but that "we should want to learn so that we can do."  Let me take this opportunity to say, I love Johnny Hunt, and I think he is right.  Blogging about evangelism is not evangelism.  Forgive me if I use my blog as a forum to attack, malign or otherwise do harm to the kingdom of God.  

I write this blog as an exercise in how to organize my thoughts, hopefully it will make me a better communicator.  I also write it as part of my daily quiet time ritual.   And I genuinely appreciate anyone who takes the time to read it.  (Fortunately that is a small enough group to keep me humble)

I will post later this week about the IMB commissioning service and how wonderful it was.  That's all for now

A Few More Thoughts on the SBC President

In my previous post I asked people to lobby me for their candidate for SBC president. As I have thought about this I realize that many of my readers need a bit of a lesson in Southern Baptist polity.

I think the first thing to establish is that the president of the Southern Baptist Convention is largely a figurehead position. What I mean by that is that the SBC itself is not so much a denomination as a collection of independent churches. No president of the convention or Associational Director Of Missions has any actual power over any church. Our statement of faith the BFM 2000 is just that; a statement of faith. We join ourselves together because we hold common beliefs not because of any hierarchy. Our associational DOM has no authority over the 96 churches of the NSRBA. The convention president is the same. He has no real power.

So what does the president do and why even bother going to the convention at all? The president is moderator of the convention, he appoints the committee on committees, and he serves largely as a spokesman for all Southern Baptists to the media.

Let’s look at each of these duties and deal with them separately with the 6 candidates in mind.

First, the SBC president serves as moderator over the convention. This is a 2-day per year job. (In execution, though surely there is a lot of prep work that must be done.) Based on my knowledge of the candidates any of them would be fine in this position. There is a parliamentarian on hand to keep whoever it is straight on the details. It may well be that some of the candidates are a bit more in love with the sound of their own voice than others ;) but the sheer amount of business that must be carried out in two days makes it necessary that the president keep things moving. The position of moderator concludes with the convention sermon, they all have different skills in this regard, but hopefully any of them would be well-prepared and ready to bring God’s word to the convention.

Second, the SBC president nominates the committee on committees. Once upon a time, this was probably the most significant part of the job. Now that the convention as a whole is solidly conservative, and full of inerrentists, most likely all of the candidates would appoint all conservatives to this position. (An aside: I am thankful to God for those who figured out the significance of this and led to the conservative resurgence.)

Third, the convention president largely serves as spokesman and ambassador to the media for the entire denomination. It would be impossible to be a spokesman for the entire group of millions of Southern Baptists. As I stated earlier, we are a very independent group, and only joined because we choose to cooperate. This part of the job is significant because the media does not understand the nature of our convention. So we need an apt spokesperson. I have heard Frank Page say repeatedly that he was approached by all the major presidential candidates and asked for an endorsement. There are many other people who to some degree speak on behalf of Southern Baptists. That is essentially Richard Land’s job description, and to a large degree Al Mohler does the same thing. But there will never be a true replacement for the SBC president. This is the part of the job where the candidates truly begin to separate themselves. This is also one of the reasons that the megachurch pastors have a leg up on the field in most cases.

At this point, for me, the election is down to Frank Cox, Johnny Hunt, and Avery Willis, in no particular order. You basically have one more day to lobby me for your candidate, or disagree with my analysis in the comments. Feel free to do so.

Also as a bonus, here are links to the candidates interviews with Baptist Press

Frank Cox

Johnny Hunt

Avery Willis

Les Puryear

Bill Wagner

Wiley Drake

Am I the Key Vote?

One of the major concerns we hear about in Southern Baptist life is the lack of “young leaders.”

You often read that people under age 40 feel somehow alienated by the processes of the SBC. I am under 35, and seminary educated, but I don’t feel either jaded or disenfranchised with the processes of the SBC.

I have no idea what all the commentators mean by “leader” but I’m pretty sure I don’t qualify on that front. I’m the youth minister at a small church, and I have no ambition to ever preach the convention sermon, but I do want to see the Southern Baptist Convention be the best it can be. I obviously am a blogger, (hopefully the stigma from that label is gone now) and I read a handful of SBC blogs. Some I agree with, some I don’t. I would very much like to one day earn my PhD and my readers already know I want to be a certified apologetics instructor. It would be great to have a bunch of readers on my blog, but this blog is too often about fishing to ever catch on in a big way. So, surely I am not a “leader.” All I want is to bring glory to God in whatever position He puts me. And if that means being a youth minister to 10 kids, then hopefully I can help them to grow closer to Christ and have an impact on their world.

Despite not being a “young leader” I believe I am the very person that many people are concerned about. As an under 35, seminary educated, Southern Baptist, I am interested in what happens, and deeply concerned with the baptism decline. I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant, really I just believe I fit the mold. I’m sure there are many like me.

I will be attending the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis, and I can honestly say that I do not know who I will be voting for for president. There are 6 candidates. (<update>I am only seriously considering 3 </update>of them.) I am genuinely undecided. This is your opportunity to lobby for my vote. Use the comments to convince me that your choice for SBC president is the one who will best lead the convention.

Here are some things you may want to know about me before you begin your defense. Some of this is a repeat.

  • I am a blogger
  • I read many of the SBC blogs
  • I am not a 5-point Calvinist
  • I am not afraid of the 5-pointers (i.e. I don’t believe they are going to destroy the convention)
  • I admire all of the candidates for president
  • I admire some of them more than others ;-)
  • I can see nothing but evil coming from consuming alcohol
  • I really like the BFM 2000
  • I do not think megachurch pastors as presidents are bad for the convention
  • I do not think you have a to be a megachurch pastor to be a great convention president
  • I believe the cooperative program is the best funding device ever conceived for evangelizing the world
  • I believe that almost every state convention keeps too much CP funds (I’m talking to you BSCNC)
  • I believe that money sent directly to the SBC should count as CP giving (see the above item)
  • Did I mention that I believe consuming alcohol is pretty much indefensible
  • I am very disturbed by the baptism decline
  • I believe that the baptism turnaround will happen on the church level not the convention level
  • I am concerned about regenerate church membership. We should be honest about the size of our churches and convention

Let the lobbying begin