North Carolina Baptists

My thoughts on the 2010 KBC

For the past 7 Novembers I have been a North Carolina Baptist and I have attended the North Carolina Baptist Convention.  For at least 3 of those years I have had a conviction that the state convention keeps entirely too large an amount of cooperative program funds.  I have considered making an amendment from the floor to move toward a 50/50 split between the BSCNC and the SBC.  At one time I even consulted some friends about the best way to do this.  Ultimately I decided that the timing was not right for North Carolina. (At least not yet.) I am no longer a North Carolina Baptist.  I am now a Kentucky Baptist, and today I believe we made history.  (I guess Florida beat us to the punch, but only because their convention was last week.) Today we voted to move toward a 50/50 split between the KBC and SBC.  We voted to do so within 10 years.  This represents a 14% change.  Even more significant, there will be a 5% change in thisyear's budget.

This change in the way we fund the CP was a part of a report from the KBCs Great Commission Resurgence task force.  There were 4 recommendations as part of that report, and I expected that someone would make a motion to consider each part separately.  No one did so.  There was a motion offered to ignore the report, make a 1.5% change and thank the committee for existing, but it failed handily.  The discussion was remarkably civil.  I didn’t even hear groans or commentary from the crowd.  The recommendations passed with 2/3rds majority and I am proud.  I believe this was a great move for Kentucky Baptists.  It demonstrates real commitment and not just lip-service to taking the message of Christ to the nations.

Here are some other thoughts –

Today I served as a teller.  It was my first time serving in any capacity at a convention, and I was glad to do so.  Interestingly the ballots in my bucket twice were in conflict with the final tally.

You may notice that I share a name with the president of the convention.  Don Mathis was an excellent moderator and even if we were not related I would say so.

My former church, Mexico Baptist, was recognized for being number one in per-capita giving to the CP.

The body as a whole at the KBC is a much younger group than in North Carolina.  I was impressed with this. I think it shows a bright future for the convention.  People are always saying that the younger generation is not interested in identifying with the SBC.  But today gives me hope that that is not true.  Kevin Smith said today that if only gray-hairs are happy, then something is wrong.  I agree and I believe that many of the younger generations were happy.

If you missed the shiny shirts that the choir wore at today’s meeting, you really missed something.  I cannot do them justice with words.

The pastor’s conference last night was wonderful.  It featured 3 premier preachers, Johnny Hunt, Danny Akin, and Alistair Begg.

The youth ministers’ meeting was yesterday as well.  I was challenged to think about some stuff, and I appreciated each of the speakers.  (Especially because they kept it short)  It was definitely worth my time.  We had nothing like that in North Carolina.  I am grateful to Joe Ball for his leadership and his desire to see us fellowship as a group.

A lesson from the NC State Baptist Convention

A convention with no controversy is boring. This year I attended Tuesday only.  I had obligations on Monday that kept me away from the pastor’s conference, which I’m sure I would have enjoyed.  There was really only one major piece of business this year; amending and restructuring of the constitution.  Most of the changes were for streamlining purposes and it was not controversial.  For example, we renamed the annual session the annual "meeting." (Exciting huh?) The election of officers was completely uneventful.  Only one ballot was even necessary (CJ Bordeaux was elected as second VP), as President and first VP were unopposed.  (In slightly related news, my great-uncle, Don Mathis, was elected as president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)  Even the budget, which involved substantial cuts, only had a few comments from the floor.

Compare this to last year, when we were doing away with giving plans, or to ’07 when we were defunding the colleges as they began electing their own trustees.  Those years had a different feel to them.  In a year like this when everything is routine, we are simply going about our business controversy free.

I almost titled this post Baptists like to Argue.  At a business meeting where everything is cut and dried you begin to hear people say things like “this thing was railroaded,” or “they are just going to elect who they want.”  It’s weird; it’s almost as if we are creating controversy where there is none.  In this case I know that is it.  We in NC are too recently past the major controversies to be organized.  It ought to be a reason for celebration.  Hooray, we are controversy-free! But instead it’s boring.

I must confess, I am as guilty of this as anyone else.  I think the controversy is interesting.  I bet that next year’s SBC is the best-attended in a while.  Not just because it’s in Orlando and we can sneak out to Sea World (not Disney though ;-) ), but because of the controversy that seems to be swirling around the GCR Task Force.

That’s my two cents.  I’m glad we are not fighting, but it’s not nearly as interesting as the controversy.  Maybe next year I’ll make a motion for some controversy.  I already have one in mind.

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

BSCNC Tuesday

Brace yourself for the world's boringest blog post Today everything at the convention went so smooth it is unbelievable.  We were an hour ahead during the morning sesion.  There was no more than one nominee for any officer position, there was no discussion on any piece of business and there was no miscellaneous business. 

We were out for our lunch break at 11:00

After lunch the session was just as smooth.  We got out 15 minutes early.  It is truly amazing, I've never seen a group of baptists get together and have no discussion on anything.  There were breakout sessions in the afternoon, one at 3:15 and one at 4:15.

I attended the session led by Mark Dever on the future of the church.  I'll try to sum up a 45 minute lecture in 2 sentences.  Here goes... The church is going to lose the culture war.  The church will survive by being distinct from the culture.  It's probably unfair to do that, and horrendously oversimplified, but I saved you a trip to Greensboro.

Then I attended a listening session for the proposed changes to the giving plans.  I have always been opposed to the giving plans in North Carolina.  (Which allow the churches to taylor the way they give to the BSCNC.  Even if they exclude the SBC altogether.)  But I was inclined to not support the unified giving plan going in because it is still pretty customizable, and you can still exclude the SBC.  But the committee that put together the new giving plan put my mind to rest.  They spoke with passion and respect for one another.  And it seemed truly bathed in prayer.  I will vote yes tomorrow.

I skipped the final evening session, and am writing this post as it is going on. 

Tomorrow will not be nearly as smooth.  We have a biannual budget to vote on, and the giving plan.  there will definitely be discussion.

Thanks for reading.