Wednesday, June 13, 2007

lying to ourselves and the world...but that's ok

a resolution was submitted for this years southern baptist convention annual meeting calling for churches and the convention as a whole to be honest about our membership numbers, as well as calling our churches to return to the biblical model for church membership- namely, that only genuine believers (as evidenced by profession of faith, baptism, and visible signs of regeneration - bearing fruit) be counted as members. (read the full resolution here)

why this need?

in 2006, the southern baptist convention reported its membership of all southern baptist churches at 16,306,246.

actual attendance at these same churches with nearly 16 and a half million?

of over 16 million reported members, only 6 million are actually coming. thats only 37% of the "members" who actually come to even one service per week.

if more than ten million of our reported members don't even bother to show up, what does that say about our standard for membership?

quite honestly, it appears that the sbc doesn't care what scripture says about church membership. as long as we get a card signed and someone walks an aisle, we will count them as a member, even if they never walk through the doors again.

so, such a motion probably passed right?

it actually wasn't even given a chance to be voted on. the executive committee refused to allow a vote for the second straight year.


the reason given was that the committee thought it inappropriate to bring the resolution for fear that it would infringe on the "autonomy of local churches."

to be quite honest, that is a ridiculous reason. the resolution didn't ask for anything to be forced on the churches. no sbc resolutions are binding. issues of abstaining from alcohol are easily passed. what is the difference? oh, and good thing we have a definitive stance on global warming now.

i am saddened by the sbc's willingness to ignore the bible's teachings in favor of cultural views or practices each year. but it doesnt end there. there is a lack of honesty that goes back home at the end of the convention.

if our seminaries are sincere about what they teach us is important to bring to the church (namely, teaching and practicing the word of god without compromise), then perhaps the leadership should speak up instead of becoming silent on these same issues when the spotlight is on the convention.
quite frankly, they are just as much to blame for waving the bible at us telling us to "preach the word" and "be courageous, die to self !" in our own chapel services, but when on a bigger stage, there is nothing but silence when such an opportunity for the teacher to model his own lesson is available.

this is double talk and political game playing and it is maddening. i cant hear what you are saying because i see what you are (not) doing.

either speak up on the grand stage and say the same things to the churches that you tell us to tell them, or stop grandstanding at home with a captive audience that agrees with you anyway.

how did we get to the point where we publicly acknowledge that our reported membership numbers are a lie, but we wont even allow a vote on a resolution encouraging churches to be honest and biblical about the matter?

when did it get to the point that today's teachers teach tomorrow's leaders to stand for things that they wont speak out for themselves when it might cost them a position, a job, or a title?

praise god that our hope lies in him and not ourselves.


G. F. McDowell said...

Stephen, I share in your angst.
I feel like he ones who preach and teach so strongly in favor of baptist distinctives and against such things as gigantically bloated church rolls, fire truck baptismal fonts, the selling of sermons online, etc. suddenly change their tunes when it is convention time, there is a good ol' boy preaching in chapel that week, or the trustees are in town. Then they kowtow to the very ones who perpetuate the problems that most threaten the very existence of our denomination.

That is exactly what I see as a student. Were I privy to what goes on behind closed doors, perhaps I would realize that the leaders of our seminary are doing more good for the convention where they are than they would if they stuck to their guns on what they tell us are BIG issues. Maybe it's the modern-day analogy to Nicias in Sicily. I don't know if I could live with the tension many of the administrators here do. At least we'll all have orthodoxy with orthopraxy in Heaven.

stephen lee cavness said...


you make a good point that there may be more going on behind closed doors than what we see in public.

i do not intend to villify anyone. i am simply asking, why is it that we are told to be obedient pastors held captive to the word of god in what we go out and preach, but when given a platform to do the same in a place in time that would *aid* us, that same courage we are exhorted to exhibit is not visible.
instead, we hear the same catch phrases about inerrancy and other things that get enormous applause simply b/c those are the things that will garuntee 100% agreement. it is time to stop waving the flag of inerrancy in the air of idealism and plant it firmly in the soil of action.

i have no doubt that there are things said and done at different levels that we never see or hear about, but i have to wonder, if these things are really that important, isnt it worth a potential occupational demotion or loss of status? i would hope that i would think so were i in the same position.
i am no martyr and i have never known true persecution, but i have been made to feel very uncomfortable and unwelcome in more than one ministry position through the years because of my unwillingness to tow the party line in public while dismissing it in private. its a much smaller scale, but the intent is the same.

G. F. McDowell said...

Timmy Brister just scratched my itch, and possibly yours, too.