Thursday, June 25, 2009

A debate that should be had....

I really REALLY hesitate to write this post but I feel overwhelmed at this point and feel it is necessary to write. Many of you are aware that the Southern Baptist Convention met this past week in Louisville KY. I live in Louisville and work for the Kentucky Baptist Convention so this event held some significance to me and to this area. This year there was a lot of talk/excitement about a motion/resolution called the Great Commission Resurgence. Basically they have in a way piggy backed off of the Conservative Resurgence of the 1980s but with the focus on fulfilling the Great Commission. This is a good thing in concept but like many things a concept is always good but putting the concept in to practice is where the rubber hits the road as they say. Hang with me as I am going to get to the point of this post soon. As a KBC staff employee I am quite proud of many of the ministries and services provided by the state convention. No one can question the impact of Disaster Relief and Youth Evangelism just as an example. Are there things I would change....YES. So for me evaluation is always a good thing and if change comes from it then it isn't a bad thing. I have a saying(and I don't remember where I got it from) but it goes like this...."Sometimes change is good, sometimes change is bad, and sometimes change is just change." The GCR task force has been challenged to make change a good thing and not just change!

Now to the point of this post. If you follow the SBC at all you would be quite aware that alot of things get brought up that don't necessary represent the majority of Southern Baptist. Often as well we can be seen(and rightfully so) that we argue quite a bit among one another. Weather it be on specific theological points such as Calvinism/Armenianism or something as simple as something like what translation of scripture we use. These debates are not bad in and of themselves BUT they have a huge potential to become something horrible and down right dividing for the churches of the SBC. Why does it have to be that way? It doesn't! The biggest strength of the Southern Baptist(excluding missional work) is our cooperation(or at least it should be if it isn't right now). So the debate that needs to take front and center has nothing to do with who is right or wrong with regards to non-essential doctrines and everything to do with how can we all better cooperate to see the expansion of the Kingdom! A personal story might help to clarify what I mean....3 years ago God called Crystal and I to leave our church and placed us in to Sojourn Community Church. Sojourn is an openly Calvinist church and I personally am not. Sojourn Community Church has been nothing but a blessing to Crystal and I and I am truly thankful for a body of believers that isn't afraid to tackle the hard issues yet wrap their arms around you and walk forward in cooperation on Non-Essential doctrine. The point of this story is just that....we are cooperating Oglethorpe for the gospel. I am blessed by the teaching at Sojourn and am VERY grateful for a church that defines what is essential for cooperation. The following is a quote from the Sojourn website that I think is important:

In ESSENTIAL beliefs, we have UNITY.
In NON-ESSENTIAL beliefs, we have DIVERSITY.
In ALL of our beliefs, we promote LOVE.

You can read the points that Sojourn says are essential for being a partner(member) and I think is pretty good starting point if not the final destination. So I believe that the debate that needs to be had is one of defining the essentials so we have a frame of reference to base all our debates on so that we can lock arms in the expansion of the Gospel. Isn't that what we should be about?