Saturday, May 22, 2010

Doug's Thoughts on the SBC GCRTF---Addendum

A couple of quick notes on the blog series last  week:

1.  I think it would not hurt one bit for state conventions to consider some of the same suggestions.  The best way, in my opinion, to restore funding is to restore confidence.  This will require a renewal of accountability.
2.  Just as several people have pointed, most notably Ben Stroup at Church Giving Matters, churches are no longer the only avenue that Christians give money through.  There are other groups and organizations that the people in the pews are considering.  Many of these are good causes.  Some of them are even Kingdom-building causes.  Just as we have long struggled in the SBC (at least every church I've ever been in, from baby on up) to remind people that special offerings, whether building funds, Lottie Moon, or Gideons, are above your tithe, so we have people choosing to move their tithe outside of the church.
This is the same thing the SBC is facing: competition for those dollars.  It really will require finding ways to have more pie, not just reslicing the current one differently.  This will take an increase in understanding of relevance and importance in local churches.  The SBC will need to become evidently more accountable and more relevant to individual churches.
3.  To answer a criticism some have: no, I did not attend any of the "listening sessions" with the GCRTF.  They held one in the opposite corner of Arkansas.  It was on a Wednesday, as I recall.  It would have been physically impossible for me to attend it and fulfill my responsibility to teach that portion of the flock of Christ that I'm responsible to teach that night.  Could I have found a substitute?  Certainly, had I received any information about the meeting more than 2 days in advance.
4.  There would be immense value in Southern Baptists around the nation realizing that we're all dwelling on an under-churched mission field, and quit wasting time and money on some of our disagreements.  Many of our churches are where they are financially and spiritually because they've fought over paint colors and music styles.  If we would be willing to gather for more than an hour and realize that the building is not the most important thing, we could actually look at more unity, and fewer identical congregations.
Church planting and new churches are great when they are done to reach people that the current church will not effectively reach.  Starting a new church is a waste if it's a carbon copy of a church within a 2-mile radius, which many of ours are, especially in the South.  Churches choosing to merge would reduce overhead, allow for more ministers to be focused on making disciples and less on maintaining facilities or programs.
Yes, I foresee, along with notables like Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer, a time when there are fewer SBC churches in America.  I also don't see it as a bad thing, because I think we have many places where we have too many.  If the graph were to dip, hit a low-point and then turn back up, that could indicate a good thing: carbon copies merging into sustainable sized churches, which then plant other churches across the world.
5.  Someday, we should change the name.  To what, I don't know.  However, while I'm a fan of "Galactic Baptist Alliance," that doesn't seem to have much attraction to others.  Hey, the Kingdom of God is more than just Earth, right?


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