Thursday, August 16, 2012

Missing from the Calvinism Advisory Team

This post is more about an observation than it is a gripe.  Yes I am going to highlight something I think is missing in the formation of the Advisory Team but not as a fuss to or about Dr. Page.  Rather the reality of what I see missing is due to the current climate in SBC life and Evangelical churches as a whole.

The team that will study the issue of how Traditionalists and Calvinists will move forward together in the SBC may be more challenging than the Name Change or even the GCR report.  The list presented in Baptist Press shows some balance.  There are people representing Educators, Entity Heads, Pastors, Ethnic groups, and Denominational people.  There are mid size church Pastors and Large church Pastors.  Southern Seminary is covered with the largest group (those with close ties to Southern) and representatives from New Orleans and Southwestern.  We have Northern representation and even the East Coast (and Beltway at that).

But who do we NOT have?

As I looked at the list and discussed the breakdown on a call last night while driving, something jumped out at me and screamed loud and clear.  In the whole of the debate/discussion/elephant one group has been missing all along.  This group finds itself on the front lines of this issue right along with the turmoil in churches.  For over ten plus years now this group has been being left out of the Convention conversation on most issues simply because they are being left out of most church life.

In Ephesians we find this group given a clear Biblical role and place in New Testament churches.  Read the following verses:

 Eph 4:11-16
11    And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12    for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
13    till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
14    that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
15    but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-- Christ--
16    from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
So who is missing?

Where is the voice of the Evangelists?

I think this missing voice speaks volumes to where we are today more than we may be willing to admit.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Is "to the Nations" really missions?

There I was last week on a lake and in a boat listening to my old (according to my two sons) music and driving the family crazy with it while doing some reflection of ministry and missions.  You see, I have this problem of not being able to shut the mind off just because I am on vacation.  I like to use that time to sfocus on key thoughts etc..  And this year it was missions and ministry.

 In particular, what are we really doing and can we do more.

In this thought process the whole terminology thing came kept coming up.  Having been in SBC churches all of my life, missions strategy is all too familiar.  GO, REACH, and now The Nations are terms used to motivate and remind us that there is something BIG we are suppose to be doing.  But lets really look at the current lingo.

Reach the nations!

What does that mean?

Do we know what it really means?

Is the meaning the same from one person to the next?

Tough questions that produce answers describing a major issue in our mission efforts.  Is it possible that the term we are currently hearing over and over again is ushering in an actual opposite effect of little real missions?

Now grant it that I may be accused of being picky or crazy.  But think with me for just a moment. 

What does it mean?  Are we to reach whole countries?  Sure!  But how?  If we do a humanitarian effort in a country, have we taken the Gospel to the Nations?  If we hold a few worship services in this country, does that fulfill the mandate?

What does it really mean?  Have we been told by those who coined the phrase?  Are we told by those who use it in sermons and lectures on missions? 

When I hear the term, I think I know what it means but I am not sure.  Where is this term defined? 

A clear missions strategy must have a clear common understanding.  Every Pastor and staff member must be in sync with every entity leader in knowing what the term means.  But then it dawned on me, we live in a time when taking up an offering for xyz material need in some country is praised as reaching the nations.  Is it?

But today, I will allow for contemplation on this initial post about this subject while praising the members of our church for raising over $3,500 with just two weeks notice to send my traditional worship leader to India for two weeks to train Pastors in evangelism and the teaching of the Word of God so they can reach their home country residents. 

We will continue this thought later this week...