Shared expenses and Southern Baptist State Conventions
In our previous post (SBC Loyalty?) we focused mainly on our generation, but this post speaks more to the generation before us. It would seem that there is a lack of transparency when it comes to allocating the CP dollars that ma and pa Southern Baptist are sacrificially giving, specifically in terms of shared expenses between the state conventions and the SBC. Since the inception of the CP, “the SBC recognized its obligation to compensate the state conventions for their partnership in promoting the entire Cooperative Program.” There are questions that need to be asked: (1) Are we being transparent about where CP money is going and (2) What are legitimate shared expenses?
The recent impulse has been to see state conventions move to a 50/50 split for CP funds. Our fear is that this category of “shared expenses” is being used to mask the fact that some state conventions are not moving towards more for the SBC and less for the state convention. This fear in many ways is being confirmed by the numbers. State conventions designated 9.2 million dollars as shared expenses in 2011, but that has risen 116% over the last two years to 19.9 million dollars being designated as shared expenses in 2013. Over the last two years we have seen an increase from only 4 state conventions that separated out shared expenses as a separate line item from the percent of funds kept in state to 17 state conventions. In many ways these budget categories of shared expenses make it look like conventions are moving closer to or have achieved a 50/50 split when it’s not actually happening.
In the past Baptist21 has let our readers know about a church-planting network in NC called PlantNC. It is their mission to be a network of churches, pastors, leaders and planters whose mission is to make disciples through the planting of gospel centered churches. So, in order to carry out that mission PlantNC has an exciting opportunity coming up that Baptist21 would like our readers to know about: Porterbrook NC Training
Recommendations for Porterbrook:
Tim Keller “The Porterbrook Network is an innovative resource that offers affordable, high quality training for mission and ministry in the 21st century. I warmly recommend it.”
Alan Hirsch “Porterbrook? Do it!”
As we close out 2010, Baptist21 wants to take a look back on the year in the SBC. We will list the top ten stories of the year in the SBC, as best we can.
1. The Passing of the GCR: the passing of the GCR could be one of the most significant moments in SBC history, though the full impact of this motion will be unknown for some time. However, the potential impact is great. Some impact is already being made (see below on State Conventions and NAMB). Follow the links below to learn all about the recommendations and challenges included in the GCR report. B21 is excited about the passing of this motion and what it may have in store for our future as Southern Baptists. It is our hope that all will strive to take up the challenges offered in this motion that was approved by an overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists at this past year’s Southern Baptist Convention.
2. Reaction by State Conventions to the GCR: The state conventions have had varied reactions to the GCR report, particularly the challenge in the report for state conventions to move to a 50/50 split in CP allocation. Some states formed GCR task forces and voted to move to 50/50 over time (Kentucky and Florida), while others voted to keep far less in their states (Tennessee, Nevada, New York). This means more resources will make their way to the underserved and unreached areas of our nation and the world. Other state conventions have taken a slower posture, while some have opposed the GCR.
Accompanying Resources: A Baptist Press article detailing some of the varied responses to the GCR. See also the Encouraging Trends B21 Post.
3. Election of Bryant Wright as President of the SBC: The election of Bryant Wright seems to signal the sentiment of the SBC in a pro-GCR direction. Bryant Wright had been very critical about the amount of Cooperative Program resources that stayed in the U.S. He had even suggested in the Christian Index that we needed “a radical reprioritizing of Cooperative Program funds through our state conventions” calling for the state conventions to keep no more than 25-30% of CP dollars so that more money will make its way to those people groups that have no access to the gospel. Wright’s faithful and focused service as a pastor is now coming to bear on the SBC.
Accompanying Resources: Christian Index article on Wright and Bryant Wright’s Monthly videos to Southern Baptists
4. Election of Kevin Ezell as President of the NAMB: The election of Kevin Ezell to the NAMB Presidency was a bold move that has B21 excited about the future of the SBC. Kevin Ezell has been tasked with focusing NAMB’s efforts, giving it a new look. At the heart of this commission is the call to focus primarily on Church Planting, especially in the underserved areas of North America. Ezell has been busy restructuring NAMB so they can focus on Church Planting (see article below). Ezell has stated, “every reduction we make is to put more missionaries in the field.” Church Planting’s popularity is on the rise in several different evangelical denominations, and the SBC is no different. The election of Ezell and the refocusing of NAMB coincide with this rise in popularity of church planting among the other evangelical denominations. We hope that this focus on church planting in the SBC is not a fad. B21 is very excited about the future of NAMB and its future in helping churches plant churches.
Accompanying Resources: Baptist Press article detailing some of the downsizing
5. IMB still without a President: 2009 saw vacancies at the President position in three SBC agencies: IMB, NAMB, and the Executive Committee (EC). Two of those agencies (NAMB and EC) filled their vacancies, however, one is still open. The IMB, which many consider the “bell cow” of the SBC, is still without a president. This is certainly a big story, and perhaps the most disheartening story of 2010. Not much information is known about why this is the case, and it has not been discussed whether the IMB trustees are taking steps to re-assemble a new selection committee or sticking with the one that has been doing the work so far. Whatever the case is, it is our hope that the IMB will make a bold move with this vacancy. It is our hope that this bold move might see the IMB focus on the primacy of the local church in sending missionaries, new business initiatives overseas, and team planting. Let’s all commit to pray for the search committee and the next president.
Accompanying Resources: IMB Homepage
This raises the question then, how is the Old Testament to be read? And is the Old Testament of value to the church today?
Jon Akin, who is completing a PhD in Old Testament studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has written several blogs that can help us with both of these questions. He writes in one of these blogs:
Can the Old Testament be read in its literal sense and still be of value to a Christian audience? Allegory says, ‘No,’ and historical-grammatical method does not know. The Bible answers this question with a ‘Yes,’ and that yes is Jesus Christ. The entire OT is about Jesus (Luke 24:27), and all of history points to Jesus (Eph. 1:10). This means that OT history is about Christ and moving towards Christ. Christ is Abraham’s seed, so those in Christ are offspring of Abraham, heirs of the Israelite promises, and part of the vine of Israel (Gal. 3:29; Rm. 11). That means that Israelite historiographic literature is Christian historiographic literature. Jewish heritage is Christian heritage in Christ. Therefore, Christians cannot read Israelite history as if they are reading someone else’s mail. In order to read OT history as Christian scripture, the reader must read the narrative Christocentrically. All of the Old Testament is pointing to Christ, and if we are in Christ then it is pointing to us mediated through Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). The Old Testament does not first and foremost apply to the Christian; rather, it first applies to the Christ, and then it is mediated to the Christian. This means a typological, Christological reading of the Bible as a whole. The Bible is one book, and the Old Testament is the first part of that book. The little narratives should not be examined apart from the big narrative. Jesus and the apostles seemed to use this strategy.
Below are several blogs exploring Old Testament narratives that will help us see how to read the Old Testament and how the Old Testament is still vital to the life of the Church.
(Reflections on Prov 9:10)
If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, is the fear of man the beginning of foolishness?
In my own attempt to live out the Gospel, I constantly fight the fear of man. I am reminded, however, that fear is fundamental to the Christian faith. Not the fear of man, of course, that centers around self, but the fear of the Lord that centers around God and His Gospel.
At the root of the fear of the Lord is a humility before almighty God that He is the Creator and we are His creation; He is in charge and we must obey. At the root of the fear of man is pride before almighty “me” and a need to defend oneself, saving face at all cost. Fear of the Lord evokes awe-filled wonder of God, even genuine fright, like that of the “undone” Isaiah. Fear of man stands in awe of the smart and the talented, and seeks to be made in their image. Fear of the Lord promotes right worship of our King positioning our heart to approach the throne of grace with boldness. Fear of man invites man worship wherein mere creatures become our idols and attemps to please them occupy the bulk of our time and energy.
It is foolishness to walk about crippled by what others think, and decide what to say by the impression it will make. The fear of man puffs up to the point that men are sure to wrap an arm around their wives during the closing prayer of corporate worship, but never lead in prayer at home, and blinds to the degree that moms will dress their daughters in the trendiest jeans and jewelry, but never consider adorning them with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.
The fear of the Lord, however, is the starting place for a life of wisdom. It breeds humility, hard work, discernment, patience, perseverance, love for others, kindness, and joy. The fear of the Lord thinks first of others and how to serve them. The fear of man thinks first of self and plans how to sacrifice others to get ahead. The fear of the Lord recognizes the value of creation and remembers the sacrifice of Christ.
This is the way in which Christians are to walk. It is not the way that seems right to man, for that way leads to destruction. But rather, it is the way that leads to life–wisdom’s way. So, walk this way. And, where to begin? In the fear of the Lord.
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