B21 is excited about the plan being put forward by the new Executive-Director of the Florida Baptist Convention. We are thankful for the bold vision that Tommy Green, formerly the Pastor of FBC, Brandon, FL, is proposing as he steps into this new role.
B21’s Scott Wilson, who pastors a Florida church, recently had the opportunity to interview Executive-Director Green. We believe you’ll be encouraged by Green’s comments below. We wish to thank Tommy Green for his willingness to share his vision with the readers of B21, and we pledge our prayerful support in the days ahead.
Q: Being the pastor at FBC, Brandon since 1996 I know it was a difficult decision for you to step away and accept this new call. Can you speak to what that process was like in accepting this new position with the state convention?
A: It was a difficult decision to move away from the long-term pastorate of First Baptist Brandon. Our lives are deeply anchored in the area and church. Brandon is our home and family that we will greatly miss. God began stirring in my heart about this opportunity as I was approached to consider this calling. Karen and I diligently prayed and discerned that God was leading us to this place of ministry. God has granted us peace and assurance that accompanies such a major move. In the midst of our seeking the Lord, God began revealing to me a new paradigm for the Florida Baptist Convention. As we proceeded it was abundantly clear that the calling focused beyond the person to the plan for the future of our State Convention.
Q: What key concepts will guide your philosophy in leading the Florida Baptist Convention?
A: The paradigm is built upon the vision that the Florida Baptist Convention supports the local churches in their mission of making disciples of all the nations. The Florida Baptist Convention exists for the churches and not the churches for the convention. This strategy focuses upon three concepts of design- Decentralization, Regionalization, and Personalization. Our team will be living in the regions (we have 5 defined regions in Florida) and building personal relationships with the churches and pastors. The regional teams will be resourced to support the local churches in conferencing and development that is requested by the churches in the regions.
Q: Many Florida Baptists would love to see us reach that 50/50 division of giving through the CP so that more funds leave Florida to reach the unreached outside our borders. What is your plan regarding allocation of CP funds moving forward and why is that important to you?
A: My conviction is that churches plant churches and churches revitalize churches, not state conventions. Our budget will include monies to partner directly with churches in planting and revitalizing churches. We have tremendous churches in Florida which are led by Kingdom-minded pastors who will effectively plant and revitalize churches across our state. We will be redeploying Cooperative Program money back into our Florida Baptist churches.
The budget that will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Florida Baptist Convention will be based on sending 51% of Cooperative Program dollars to the Southern Baptist Convention and 49% will remain in Florida. This budget will be fashioned exclusively on monies given by our Florida Baptist churches. We will eliminate shared ministry receipts and negotiated dollars from the budget. The budget will be based on the contributions from our churches. It is exciting to know that we will be adopting a budget that sends more away than we keep in Florida. This percentage formula is not the final landing place for Florida. My commitment is that we will continue widening the gap as Cooperative Program monies increase from our churches. You cannot out give God and as we demonstrate generosity as a State Convention, I believe God will honor our efforts to reach Florida and the nations for Christ.
Q: As you step into this new role, what would be your encouragement to those currently serving as state executives outside of Florida? What would you like to see happening across the SBC?
A: The key to more resources from the Cooperative Program being available for the IMB, NAMB, our Seminaries, and ERLC is directly linked to the giving formulas changing within our state conventions. We have outstanding leaders at our entities who have great Kingdom perspectives. I am committed to leading Florida to doing more and giving more to change our world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Q: What excites you about the future for the SBC and Florida Baptists in particular?
A: I am extremely excited about the unity that I am experiencing around this vision for Florida. Pastors of all ages are expressing their support and encouragement as we advance this vision in our state. I encourage us to unite in prayer for a powerful move of God upon and through our Southern Baptist Convention and our upcoming meeting in Columbus, Ohio.
Daniel Akin recently contributed to a website called Openly Secular. The mission of the site is to eliminate discrimination against secular people by allowing them to be open about their beliefs. Some people will question why Dr. Akin has contributed to such a site because Christians and secularists disagree about some very important issues. However, I am thankful that Dr. Akin has lent his voice to the discussion.
In an increasingly secularized world, we as Christians need to avoid the two extremes of withdrawal and condescension when it comes to cultural engagement. I believe that Akin is modeling a Pauline approach to cultural engagement by appealing to shared convictions and beliefs (Acts 17). And I believe there is scriptural and theological evidence to affirm what Akin says.
We can partner in valuing the dignity and worth of all human beings.
Practically, the image of God is the basis for human dignity. All people are valuable and have dignity and worth because they are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). A correct understanding of it is the basis for truly Christian human justice systems and relationships.
All people would affirm that murder is a heinous crime. As Christians, we believe the basis for this is that to kill or even curse another is an affront to God (Genesis 9:6; James 3:9-10). All people can affirm through experience that all free and loving human relationships are not sustainable unless there is a mutual understanding of the dignity of the other.
We can partner in advocating the free expression of beliefs according to the dictates of human conscience.
We’ve seen an unprecedented change in American culture against basic religious freedoms, freedoms that once were at the foundation of the American conscience. If we as Americans are a free people in a constitutional government, we should advocate for liberty and justice for all. No one should be coerced regarding their religious views.
In the Bible, the state is granted the power to act against threats to public order and justice (Romans 13:1-7). However, the state does not have the power to regulate religious freedom, which is a matter of personal conscience (Mark 12:17). God desires human beings to worship Him from an open and free conscience (1 Timothy 1:5; Hebrews 9:14). As Americans, all people should be free to express beliefs sensibly without hatred or discrimination, as long as their beliefs do not directly lead to the intentional and senseless harm of others.
We can partner in caring for creation and in the fight against poverty.
The Genesis account teaches that human beings are to be fruitful and multiply, to till the soil, and to have “dominion” over God’s good creation (Genesis 1:28). First, we are to care for the natural world. As Russell Moore has said, the natural world is made for man, not man for the natural world. While humanity is the crown of creation, humanity is also dependant on creation for natural life (air, water, the sunlight, etc.). We all need to conserve and care for the good earth that God has created for us to dwell in.
Second, we are to care for the poor. As Christians, we understand that Jesus Himself defined His ministry as being focused on the poor, the captive, the blind, the oppressed (Luke 4:18). Therefore, we join Him on mission not only when we proclaim His saving gospel but when we seek justice and the welfare of others. Certainly, our primary aim in mission should be Word based—the proclamation of the gospel—however, our deeds need to testify to the Word we proclaim.
We are to serve faithfully as a representative of Christ, even as we interact with secularists. As evangelical Christians become increasingly marginalized, we will be tempted to respond in sub-Christian ways. God has saved us so that we would bring every square inch of our lives under submission to His Lordship. We do this as a matter of witness and obedience.
Our ultimate goal is to glorify Christ through witness and obedience with the hope that we might be used to engage and perhaps transform our culture. Every square inch of this universe has potential for Christian mission. We should, as The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 demonstrates in article XV, be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth.
Matt Capps (M.Div., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary). Matt is a friend of B21 and serves as the Brand Manager for The Gospel Project and as a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship in Nashville, TN. Matt is currently completing his D.Min. in pastoral ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
We hope you plan to join us at the 2015 Baptist21 Panel at the SBC. We will discuss pressing issues in the Southern Baptist Convention. What those issues are will be determined by you! We want YOU to help us develop the list of topics and questions we will ask.
Do you have something you would like Albert Mohler, Russell Moore, David Platt, H.B. Charles Jr., or Danny Akin to answer? If so, send it in below and we will collect them, filter them, and come up with a solid list.
If you are attending the SBC you can register for our event here. We will also be streaming our event live. Details for that will be announced asap.
Thank you for keeping up at Baptist21. We look forward to reading through the questions!
Bold decisions were made at this week’s IMB trustee meetings that will open up the possibilities for “limitless missionary teams.”
For example, the IMB has traditionally majored on one pathway to the field (i.e. fully funded service), but will now emphasize multiple pathways in order to exponentially multiply the missionary force. This includes a major city strategy where we send students, businessmen, teachers, coaches, retirees, and more who could be self-supported. The IMB will still have fully-funded church planters in key places all over the world, but alongside those planters will be teams of people sent through these new pathways.
Also, the trustees approved a unified statement for the qualifications to be an IMB missionary. This statement replaces some previous policies concerning private prayer language, circumstances surrounding baptism, teenage children in the home, and more. The press release linked below does a great job explaining why these changes were made. We would encourage you to read it in its entirety.
Finally, the moves unify the IMB with SBC churches and entities because it elevates the importance of the BF&M 2000. Not only will missionaries be held to belief in our statement of faith, but they will also be held accountable to the statement of faith for how they live and work as IMB missionaries. This raises the theological bar; it does not lower it!
We are so thankful for the leadership of David Platt, and we could not be more excited for the future.
Here is a link to the IMB’s story on the changes
Here is a link to the press release
Here is a link to FAQs
We are grateful to once again have David Platt, the President of the IMB, as a panelist at the B21 luncheon at the SBC on Tuesday June 16th in Columbus. Register here today and don’t miss the opportunity to hear from him directly about these decisions and the new course for the IMB. If there are questions that you would like to ask David Platt directly, please feel free to ask them in the comment section, and we will consider your question for the panel.
The B21 panel at SBC 2015 is fast approaching. We are pumped about our all star lineup of panelists who will be with us: H.B. Charles, David Platt, Al Mohler, Russell Moore, and Danny Akin. Your ticket to our panel includes lunch, a ton of free books, and a guarantee that your Tuesday lunch at the SBC will be well-spent with key leaders in our convention engaging in needed conversation on difficult issues. Come join us! You can register here.
At B21 we are proud of being pastor-led, and we want to always promote open dialogue on the difficult and pressing issues concerning our convention and churches. With both of these things together it means that we, and our panelists, aren’t afraid to ask and discuss the tough questions. At this year’s panel we’ll tackle issues like future of the IMB, race relations in America, cultural engagement and marriage, future of theological education, current trends in church growth, etc.
Coming to the panel? Or, are you just interested in winning free stuff? Give us a metaphorical hand by getting the word out about our panel, and we’ll help you out by entering you into a no-strings-attached drawing for free stuff.
We’re not looking to get anything from you or harvest your contact info; we’re just a group of pastors who likes no-strings-attached free stuff ourselves. Help us get the word out on the twitterverse, and it just might be your lucky day…