Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A post-Labor Day SBC smorgasbord

My church had a big anniversary celebration this past Sunday. In what was likely the SBC culinary outrage of the year, there was not a single piece of fried chicken available but there was plenty of bbq.

Here’s a smorgasbord of SBC items of interest:

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is going full bore in response to the two big hurricanes that have hit the US. This is one of the best things we do cooperatively. While we do not minister in this way for the public credit that follows, it would be beneficial if we had a better publicity system. There is an SBCDR Facebook page. NAMB has a page. Many of the state conventions have DR pages. The bright yellow DR logo is identifiable to Southern Baptists but, I’d guess, not to others. When the SBC DR logo is in a list showing relief agencies the scale of the graphics makes it virtually unreadable. Would rebranding, redesigning, better coordination help visibility? Regardless, I commend the thousands of Southern Baptists who are working even now to help those in need.

You bet…we’re involved in some significant lawsuits. The LDS-owned Deseret News has an excellent article, Serving God by Suing Others: Inside the Conservative Christian Legal Movement”. While not about Southern Baptists, it is an excellent survey of the various organizations that are involved in legal advocacy on religious issues. Our ERLC often joins in some of these efforts. What is very close to the heart of Southern Baptist ministers is the suit by FFRF against our beloved minister’s housing allowance. I look for a decision by the federal district court any day now. Closer to home, NAMB is being sued for a figure reported to be in the millions by a disgruntled former state executive. Arguments have been filed by both sides. NAMB is defending the SBC in the sense that we have the right to make internal church decisions. Such is the state of Christianity in the 21st century.

Yes, that was Kevin Ezell in the Oval Office. The NAMB leader was with President and Mrs. Trump along with the leaders of the Red Cross and Salvation Army. Why these three? Better question: why NAMB with the other two mammoth relief agencies? Because NAMB leads SBC disaster relief efforts which serves most of the meals that the other two report, or thus I have heard leaders so state. At least our guy wasn’t standing next to a prosperity false-gospel preacher in the Oval Office. We’ve done that before but not Ezell or Frank Page.

One prominent Southern Baptist is proposing an SBC reduction program. This will “incentivize SBC loyalty” it is said. Part of the plan is to require a “five-year probationary period during which we can evaluate whether or not the prospective Southern Baptist Church is serious about this relationship and ready to put their money where their mouth is”. A humble prediction: no association, state convention, or the national SBC will seriously consider this. Neither will the author ever make a formal proposal in his association, state convention, or the SBC. But it’s great blogging blather.

Don’t forget…we have a blue-ribbon Personal Soul-Winning Evangelism Task Force that is at work. This was done in June by the assembled SBC at the request of our president. The group of 19 includes seminary presidents and professors, mega-church and near mega-church ministers, and a state convention executive. There is one African-American on the task force. There is not a single female on the panel. Wonder why? Men can design evangelism programs, plans, and tools to reach non-males but how serious an effort could this be if it’s an all-male group? Is there some compelling headship, complementarian, patriarchical matter in play here? I think rather it is a case that SBC men talk only to other men and SBC mega-men talk only to God (my apologies to the Cabots, Lodges, and God). NAMB doesn’t have a seat either. Well, so long as the group doesn’t come out with a report that beats up on small church pastors for not doing anything…

The Cooperative Program will almost certainly show a tiny increase this year. This would be at the SBC level, not the CP in its entirety. With only one month left in the Executive Committee’s fiscal year, the EC reports CP giving as being up about $1.4 million over the same period last year. That’s less than one percent (.077%) but an increase is an increase. Because designated giving is substantially less than last year it is almost certain that total (CP plus designated) revenues will be down for the fiscal year. The decrease is due to last year’s inflated Lottie Moon offering.

SBC quote of the month:

“No person should be required to use their gifts and calling in a way that violates their fundamental beliefs, and the Supreme Court’s responsibility is to protect Americans from governments and agencies that demand this.” 

Freedom of conscience “matters to every American, regardless of belief,” he said in written comments. “A state that can force some individuals to violate their personal convictions is a state that will eventually force others to as well.”

This is from Russell Moore, commenting on the cake baker case before the US Supreme Court.

 



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