Seems like Southern Baptist state newsletters, er uh, newspapers like to be the center of attention. Last week the Baptist Messenger ran a note a graphic used in a previous issue of a “Proclamation on Morality” to be a “misrepresentation.” Talk about soft retraction.
If the shimmer comes off the Baptist Messenger with such an inaction, it pales when compared to the journalistic tit for tat offered sponsored by the Florida Baptist Witness. In an interview with mega church pastor and President of the SBC Johnny Hunt, James Smith Sr. offers a subtitle to the interview title derailing the entire piece.
Led to believe the GCR is about inspiring greater evangelism, putting more missionaries on the mission field, and planting more churches, the subtitle focuses attention not on Hunt’s personal gestures commensurate with the spirit of the GCR but instead comes off more as a public strong arm of Morris Chapman. In a case of, “What was he thinking?” Smith decides it more important to ask “where does Morris stand” than suggest others view Hunt’s decisions as the indicative mood of an SBC who found its glimmer of hope in the midst of decline in Louisville.
Read the posts. Many lauded and continue to laud the GCR vote as one for history, the record books, and the return of the SBC whose demise may have been greatly exaggerated it is hoped. Tactics like Smith’s, along with the words of Hunt, indicate the glimmer is already coming off the GCR. Seems we cannot abide success and positive moves without sniping along the way. These aren’t new tactics. These are the ones of days gone by – CR days gone by. Still ringing in my ears are the words, “But Todd, you don’t know what some of them have done to us.”
There is no place in a GCR for manipulative editorials. No place for Presidential sniping. No call for doing what we have always done. But, I guess now that the SBC is beyond 150 years old it is time to do as we do with traditional churches we believe cannot grow. Let’s throw it over and start something new. Denominational types have been telling faithful pastors that since they do not grow as fast as others, it is time for something better. What is good for the church is good for the denomination.
Whatever description we want to give the second generation CR group will not in any way change things if we do not see different tactics. The glimmer may not be gone, but the shine is sure coming off.
I have read, heard, and talked with folks who think Morris Chapman to have slipped in his leadership skill in the SBC. Calls for his resignation have come from varied places. The more we hear and read pieces like what Smith offers the more some of us are going to wonder if there is not something to Morris’ reticence to go along in the beginning. Could it be he noticed this was simply a re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? And, if it is discovered this is nothing more than a streamlining, read restructuring, then any bureaucracy that emerges will be insufficient. We will soon be asking, “Why would we throw good money after bad?”
My simple read of the Scriptures indicates what is prayed for is laborers – people. When we continue to make money the means to our demise we are simply asking the people of the SBC to fund a monumental bailout that will in the end not lead to lives lived in the way of Jesus drawing people to hope and faith in Jesus, the Christ.
I am still going to beat my drum. What we need is a Great Commandment Resurgence. Getting the Great Commission ahead of the Great Commandment misses the point of Jesus’ life. It is about our love for the other.