Roundtables … systems, structure and networks …

RoundtableGetting 100 people around a table for discussion requires a large table or imagination enough to understand "roundtable" as idiomatic. The event planners of the Sandy Creek-Charlestonian Roundtable knew quickly "roundtable" would of necessity be an euphemism. Others offer their thoughts and I really am not up for an "around the room" styled post.

My thoughts range from hopeful to cautious. I am hopeful conversation void of particular code words may eventuate. When Dwight McKissic noted his opinion inerrancy and cessationsim cannot co-exist, I wondered to myself if this may signal a discussion about the practical use of the term for theological conversation. For example, our group  spends more time pontificating about inerrancy and then treating the ethics required by such a high view as both impossible and impractical; after all, we are still wanting to be sure the "takeover/resurgence" is secure. The word inerrancy may have had a context and a day. I am not sure the day is gone. It does not in any way mean an end to a high view of Scripture but rather allows for a more honest dialogue when dealing with the text. In this case, we must confess a penchant to talk about inerrant interpretations rather than an inerrant text.

I am cautious. Many note a concern to dissent too vocally and too harshly for fear of losing a voice. Many want the role of prophet in the vein of a Jeremiah or Ezekiel but not necessarily the conflict associated. Weak spiritual constitutions did not win the day beginning in 1979 and they certainly will not make much headway if there is to be ongoing "reformation." My reference to weak spiritual constitution is less about one’s spiritual maturity and more about the "spirit" or "passion" of a person. What will happen when it is determined the structure is systemically malfunctioning? What will we do when we realize cooperation and connectedness may be done with more precision and efficiency that does not require the size/kind of bureaucracy currently in place? Rather than be viewed as "pulling out" or wanting to begin "something new," how will others be convinced the resources of money and people for the cause of the Kingdom may more efficiently handled under a more "advanced" network?

In the end, the "spirit" of the meeting appeared to be in the capable sphere of the "Spirit of God." One important aside from the meeting. Sermons do not need be more than four minutes long to be powerful and imaginative. Dr. Storms offered a great "devotional" close more akin to a sermon than what most would consider could be done with such time constraint. While Dr. McKissic’s message may have required 10 minutes, we were drawn into a certain, "prophetic imagination" to borrow from Brueggemann.

The time ended with a "Where do we go from here?" One need to note the third personal pronoun, "we." Indeed there were some who expressed frustration with experienced narrowness, a sense I share, there were no calls for new acronyms and institutional frameworks. If those who may have feared such a meeting could take the call as need for further reformation it may be more a compliment than an afront.

My fear – "positions" will only be entrenched for fear of a loss of power.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

3 comments on “Roundtables … systems, structure and networks …

  1. says:

    Sometimes I’d like to smash it ALL and see what comes out in the end…

  2. says:

    Good thoughts, Todd. I liked what you said when we were walking off. Something about, as pastors, WE have to make sure that we are good stewards and that we follow God with our involvement in missions. It’s kind of sketchy, but it was along those lines.

    I tend to agree with McKissic re: inerrancy and cessationism. But, I think that we have a lot of contradictions between what we affirm and what we actually live out. This is why the intense argument over terms and definitions, while valuable in stating what we do not believe, profits little in moving us forward in the Missio Dei.

    I guess we’ll see if this Roundtable Movement produces much fruit. I am willing to ride along and see what happens. There aren’t many alternatives, are there?

  3. says:

    I understand your angst.

    This is going to be a terrible analogy but the force of it may make the point more intense. Some years ago some famous person spoke out of turn and suggested when a woman was being raped there is little need for resisting, one might as well lie back and enjoy it. The absurdity and the ire this comment drew was well deserved. The idea that we as pastors, and assumed denominational loyalists, should sit by while the provincial regime runs the machine stirs in me the same kind of disgust the former, maybe ill-advised, illustration created in me. In other words the idea that once we have cases (note the plural) of questionable leadership we should still just go along to get along is unconscionable. In fact is is plain wrong. So, if we are a “grass roots” denomination, then the roots should rise up and call these things into question without someone pointing to the “years of loyal service” to some “takeover.” I have noted here before, ethics must mean something.
    All that said, I too am willing to see where it goes – for a time. But, trust me, there are some thinking of new ways to network while maintaining some connection. It will be interesting to see how that movement plays out too.

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