This series will be divided into three sections with many posts in each section. Each section will be offered with biblical, theological consideration. The first section will touch on our past. There are many things from our SBC history and heritage that we are grateful for and have learned much from. We are indebted to godly men and women who preceded us. These men and women made difficult decisions in difficult times. Our forefathers fought for missions and denominationalism, and they blazed new trails for cooperation in the cause of the Great Commission. We have learned from them, and we need to continue to learn from them. They laid a solid foundation for their children and grandchildren that does not need to be re-laid. Baptist 21 simply proposes to build on the foundation godly men and women already established for us and our children. We believe their vision for the SBC is what the SBC needs now, and we need to refocus on “propagating” the gospel!
Part of that foundation was laid in “The Battle for the Bible.” The heroes who fought that battle were men like Paige Patterson, Judge Pressler, Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, many other leaders and thousands of grassroots Baptists who continued to show up because they held a conviction that theological orthodoxy should be restored. We are grateful for these men and women, and much of what will be said in every part of this series will come from what we have learned from the godly 1st and 2nd generations of the Conservative Resurgence. In the Conservative Resurgence men fought to return the convention to the inerrancy of the Bible and theological conservatism. In part the battle was won in that our institutions returned to orthodoxy, and our convention produced a solid confession of faith around which Baptists can agree and partner together (the BF&M 2000). The importance of the BF&M 2000 cannot be understated. We have a biblical and theological consensus around which to cooperate that says who is “inside” and “outside” the tent. However, the battle over God’s Word will continue in every generation, and that is why we must continue to be characterized by solid theology. Therefore, this section of the series will attempt to underline and explain the distinctives that characterize Baptists, distinctives handed down in our heritage by faithful exegesis, theological reflection and perseverance. These distinctives, and not extra external criteria, should determine our faith and practice as Baptists in the 21st century. Some of these will include: the inerrancy/authority of the Bible, recovery of the gospel, recovery of expository preaching, the priesthood of the believer, the right practice and importance of the ordinances, church polity and autonomy, regenerate church membership, church discipline, confessionalism, our historic commitment to mission, and theological education among others.
The second section will deal with the dangers of the present hour (see previous post). It will attempt to analyze what the dangers are, where they come from, how they threaten us, and how we can respond. These dangers will include: cultural compromise, traditionalism versus relevance, lack of discipleship, watered down preaching, arrogance, whining, mission strategies and methodologies, bureaucracy, etc.
The third section will deal with a future path that might set us in the right direction. We want to walk this path within our theological consensus. This future calls for a refocus on the primacy of the local church. We need to recapture a vision of the local church as the body Christ commissioned to raise up ministers, train them, use them to plant churches, and send them to the edges of the globe. The SBC entities do not replace the church; rather they come alongside the church. This refocus on the local church will hopefully mean greater and more strategic partnerships between healthy local churches and SBC entities. This future calls for some reform of the bureaucracy of the SBC. It will focus on things like the future of preaching, fellowship and discipleship, engaging our communities with the gospel, domestic church planting and SBC entities, foreign missions and SBC entities, reform of the Cooperative Program, theological education, and battles over methodology among others.
We offer this series in humility, realizing we do not have all of the answers. We offer this series hoping to be sharpened in our thinking in these areas by dialogue with other Southern Baptists. We pray that God will allow greater cooperation among a greater number of churches that are theologically grounded in God’s Word and on fire to win the world to Jesus through the planting of churches locally, nationally and internationally.
We offer this series recognizing that this is a dangerous time for the SBC. Mark Driscoll explained in a recent message the 4-fold process of a movement. A movement is when God does what he always does (i.e. salvations, churches planted, ministers trained, etc.) but in greater numbers and at a quicker pace. The second step in the process is organization because the movement can get out of control, so some organization is necessary. The third step is institution. The movement moves from organization to institution. The institution exists, unfortunately, NOT to sustain the movement but rather to preserve the institution. That process finally leads to the fourth step, which is museum. A museum is where people talk about the “good ol’ days” and how much Jesus used to do here. It would seem that the SBC is in danger of moving from institution (which we are now) to museum. We offer this series with the greatest of excitement, expectant that the SBC can be reinvigorated to reach many with gospel now and in the future. That is quite simply all we hope for. Dr. Danny Akin concluded a paper entitled “Answering the Call to a Great Commission Resurgence” by saying, “I believe our Baptist Fellowship is big enough, in all the right ways, to have room for William Carey, Andrew Fuller, Luther Rice, Adoniram Judson, Charles Spurgeon, John L. Dagg, Basil Manly Sr. and Jr., Lottie Moon, and Annie Armstrong. I believe it is big enough to include Al Mohler and Paige Patterson, Voddie Bauchman and J.D. Greear, Adrian Rogers and Timothy George, Jerry Vines and Mark Dever, W.A. Criswell and Hershel Hobbs, Buddy Gray and Johnny Hunt, Andy Davis and Steve Gaines, Danny Akin and Tom Ascol.” Baptist 21 hopes that the SBC will be big enough for and celebrate those who agree on the gospel and seek to make the King known in the 21st century and beyond.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) originally started, among a variety of factors both positive and negative, to “propagate the Gospel.” We began as a denomination of churches working together to spread the gospel without violating the autonomy of each local church. We eventually, through various developments, began cooperating to send missionaries, plant churches, train ministers, and engage in many other causes. Baptist 21 believes that this original intention should be the vision for the SBC in the 21st century, and we fear that it is in danger. Our vision for the SBC is the greater cooperation of biblically and theologically grounded churches to fulfill the Great Commission. That’s it. This means churches cooperating together (at different levels) to train ministers to plant churches and win people to Jesus locally, nationally, and internationally.
This post is the beginning of a series for Baptist 21 that will seek to explain how the SBC might be able to multiply cooperation and increase effectiveness in the 21st century. This series will focus on what we have learned from our past that will propel this vision. We will focus on the dangers in the present that threaten the vision, and we will conclude by charting a course for the future that could make the vision a reality. The goal is a multitude of theologically grounded, healthy local churches fulfilling the Great Commission in cooperation with one another.
Our fear is that this picture is in danger presently in the SBC. There are several trends within the convention that are causing many to question the direction of the convention and its future effectiveness. There are certainly positive trends such as sending out more missionaries and seeing more students enrolled in our seminaries than ever before. But there are also negative trends.
Where do these trends stem from? There are a variety of factors that threaten the SBC.
Despite these challenges Baptist 21 is hopeful that the SBC will thrive in its mission in the 21st century and beyond. This is possible if the various entities and groups, but mainly the local churches and their leadership, embrace a common vision for the future. Baptist 21 would like to lay out what that vision of the future might look like, and what we need to include for our mission to be viable in the 21st century.
Part 2 of this introduction will give the outline for the rest of this series…The title of this series, while capturing the essence of the series, is an homage to our Southern Baptist heritage. E.Y. Mullins’ delievered a talk at the 1923 Southern Baptist Convention that bears the same title. We are grateful for our heritage and those that have passed down the gospel to us.
Baptist 21 has been approached by several people asking if we are planning on holding any kind of event at the SBC in Louisville this summer. To be honest that is something we had been considering for the future as a way of getting younger SBCers to and involved in the annual meeting, but we did not realize there would be interest this quickly. Because of the amount of interest shown we are now considering what might be doable at this year’s convention.
If B21 held an event, it would only be for the purposes of getting younger guys to the convention and providing an opportunity for them to connect with each other. What would such an event look like? There might be a couple of speakers who could discuss the topics of getting younger people involved in the SBC, why should folks stay in the SBC, and the future of the SBC. There would also be a panel Q & A made up of 2nd and 3rd generation Southern Baptists (See Steve McKinion’s posts) in current leadership in the SBC or SBC churches. This event may be as modest as a coffee house atmosphere or as large as a conference setting with live music. Baptist 21 would like to know your interest in that kind of an event and what influence it might have on your decision to come to the SBC. Since the crowd for such an event would be made up of Baptist 21 readers and those connected with Baptist 21 readers, we are setting up a poll to see what the interest would be. Please let us know how this might affect you, your friends, and your decisions on whether or not you’d come to the SBC if an event like this was held. The options are available on the side panel at the top of the website.
We hope that many, many younger SBCers will show up this year at the annual meeting and we hope to do our small part in encouraging that to happen. Please leave us your comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org on any other ideas or things you’d like to see happen with our event
Guest Blog by Steven A. McKinion
You can read the first part of this post here
In the previous article I attempted to identify distinctives of a segment of third generation SBC conservatives. In this article I will explain some ways in which those distinctives are the result of the influences of first and second generation conservatives.
The first generation of Southern Baptist conservatives includes theologians and pastors such as Paige Patterson, Adrian Rogers, Bailey Smith, Jerry Vines, and Charles Stanley, among many others. Churches such as First Baptist, Dallas; Bellevue Baptist in Memphis; and First Baptist, Atlanta, are examples of first generation influencers. Thousands of first generation churches preached the gospel faithfully, and held tenaciously to the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. This generation of SB conservative faithfully passed on to the next generation the distinctives of Southern Baptist faith and practice. They are more than influences, they are heroes, rightly, to many of us, and should not be forgotten.
Second generation conservatives such as Danny Akin, Ken Whitten, Ken Hemphill, James Merritt, and current SBC president Johnny Hunt among others, received the mantel from first gens and ran with it. They continued to embrace Baptist distinctives and to practice gospel-centered ministry guided by a firm commitment to inerrancy and the Great Commission. Through their churches, their conferences, and their personal influence, they have helped shape the third generation of conservatives identified in the first part of this series.
Together, first and second gens paved the way for the current generation of conservatives. Upon reflection, I believe there are five ways in which first and second generation conservatives influenced the current, third generation of Southern Baptist conservatives:
Third generation conservative Southern Baptist pastors, missionaries, and other leaders, are the products of the two generations of conservatives who preceded them. They saw the leaders of the Conservative Resurgence partner with non-Baptists for the progress of the Gospel and for social concerns, and they emulate them in their own networks and associations. Third gens learned to read great theologians and scholars, and to listen to non-Baptist expositors by observing their two generations ahead of them. They saw their pastors remove “Baptist” from the name of their church and the entire SBC overwhelmingly support removing Baptist from the name of its publishing house, and they did the same in their own churches. First generation youth ministries were gospel-centered and authentic. They used technology and new music. Second gen pastors and youth ministers followed this same path. Now, third generation conservatives continue this model of gospel-centered, authentic ministry. Ironically, third gens are Baptist in their faith and practice because they believe and do what they have learned from their influences. They do not believe and act because they are Baptist, they are Baptist because of what they believe and do. This may be what is at the heart of some ongoing conflicts among various third generation groups. Some may see Baptist identity as the means to faithful biblical faith and practice, while others may see faithful Christian life and practice resulting in a Baptist identity. Perhaps the question is really of the chicken-and-egg variety. But that discussion must wait.
Recently, Jonathan Akin and Ronnie Parrott had the opportunity to interview Aaron Coe, Pastor of the Gallery Church in New York City. Aaron is an innovative leader with a vision to see the people of New York City hear the love of Jesus through the words and deeds of the Gallery Church.
In this interview Aaron fields questions about church planting, missions, servant evangelism, the North American Missions Board, and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). This interview is insightful to all those contemplating SBC issues and the future of the SBC.
The Gallery Churches website explains the mission of the church and the definition of it’s name:
“What is in a name? In the case of The Gallery Church, it is more than one might imagine.Yes, it is true that our church started gathering in an art gallery-rich Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Yes, it is true that our church community values art and specifically the creators of art. Yes, it is true that the name The Gallery Church is a good fit for our context, but the name goes much deeper and is much bigger than our context. The name Gallery Church embodies a firm belief that we, as followers of Jesus, are to “display His greatness to the world.” Galleries are all about displaying works of particular artists. The goal is to promote the mission and personality of the artist through his art. In the process, the fame of the artist increases. In the same way, as a follower of Jesus, our lives should be like a gallery, where the work of God (the original artist) is on display for everyone to see. Jesus said to His followers, “You are the light of the world….let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” Followers of Jesus are not perfect and we don’t always live the way we should, but there is a commitment, a striving, to embody the life and character of Christ. His character was one of love, joy, peace, hope, patience and self-control. When we embrace Jesus, we are embracing His character, a character that is distinctly different than what our culture typifies.”
“So, what is The Gallery Church? We are a group of people who are embracing the truth and reality of Jesus and are allowing Him to transform our thinking about life, love, money, power, sex and relationships. As He transforms us, that transformation will be put on display for the world to see. It is not displayed for our benefit or our ego, but it is displayed in an effort to make the world a better place. It is displayed in an effort to let others know that the gospel of grace is alive in us and is for everyone. It is displayed in order to return fame to its proper place, Jesus. The Gallery Church is a community of people who exist to “display the greatness of God to the world.”
You can visit The Gallery Churches website here
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