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‘Tennessee Baptist Convention’ Category

  1. Greear and Why It’s Worth Sticking with the Southern Baptist Convention

    February 9, 2012 by Jeff Wright

    I’ve appreciated J.D. Greear since I first came across his work in 2009.[1]

    His latest blog post is another example of how to reasonably think through the issues facing the Southern Baptist Convention in our day.  I think you should read the whole thing but let me pull out a section I believe is exceptionally helpful.

    The [Cooperative Program] finances the Southern Baptist seminaries, the North American Mission Board, the International Mission Board, and other Southern Baptist mission efforts. The CP has enabled the SBC to do unparalleled things–for example, Southern Baptists have put more missionaries on the field (5000+, currently) and provided a more affordable, higher quality theological education than any other denomination. That’s what happens when 42,000+ churches contribute to a collective pot.

    Yep.  Greear goes on to [rightly] acknowledge the problems with the Cooperative Program, namely that too often the wrong hands dip in to the pool of resources that is the Cooperative Program.  However, Greear and his church see the value of the Cooperative Program as too exceptional to just abandon and thus have chosen to work for reform.

    To this I say a hearty Amen!

    I’ve long been concerned that my generation – the “young leaders/pastors” that it seems so many in the SBC are worried about loosing – are too self-centered to realize that abandoning the SBC – and thus the Cooperative Program – will result in a much greater decline in resources aimed at Gospel and Kingdom work (some lesser known than others) than could ever be replaced by forming new networks.  In 2010, after hearing the report of the GCR Committee, I wrote:

    I’m… realistic about my generation. I know the ones most loudly talking (and Tweeting and blogging) about being missional are the ones hardest to satisfy. Frankly speaking we’re arrogant, self-confident beyond reason, and iconoclastic to the core. [The suggested GCR changes] won’t satisfy the thirst of those who think they know a better way to support missions. I’m afraid that a significant percentage of them will head off in any number of directions not realizing that separate we can’t accomplish even a portion of what we could together. As individuals my generation thinks we are the next Luther, Calvin, Wilberforce or Spurgeon. Well, if not that then at least the next Driscoll. We never realize that we’re much more likely to be unknown than well known. I’m afraid this inappropriate self confidence will cause us to break apart the greatest system of supporting mission work that has been produced in the name of new ventures that won’t touch the significance of what we sacrificed to attempt them.

    I am just as concerned about this possibility today as I was two years ago.  May the Lord use J.D. Greear’s influence to preserve what my generation may not otherwise have the sense to guard.

    [1] If you see weird formatting on those posts please accept my apologies. Our site was compromised by a virus the year they were written and the clean up process left us with some odd changes to those posts.  I’m in the process of getting it all reworked but haven’t gotten to those Greear posts yet.

     


  2. Remind Me: Why Lifeway?

    February 8, 2011 by Jeff Wright

    The “Briefing” section of the most recent Christianity Today contains a blurb regarding Lifeway Christian Stores’ decision to stop labeling books by authors of questionable doctrinal perspectives as part of their ‘Read with Discernment’ program (the CT article specifically mentions Rob Bell, Donald Miller, Brian McLaren, and William Young as examples).

    Being someone who tries to stay apprised of issues connected with the Southern Baptist Convention (with which Lifeway is affiliated) I was surprised to find that such a program had ever existed and that I hadn’t already heard it was being dropped. I don’t think the fault is entirely mine; having worked for Lifeway in Knoxville, TN I can attest to the fact that in the years I was in their employ the ‘Read with Discernment’ program was never mentioned in any staff meeting or corporate literature I can remember (by comparison, the corporate emphasis on suggesting additional items at checkout is still fresh in my memory). I know that no labels were ever attached to any copies of Miller’s Blue Like Jazz or Bell’s Velvet Elvis but McLaren’s Generous Orthodoxy was available for special order only.

    Very telling is a quote from Chris Rodgers, identified in the article as Lifeway’s director of product standards and customer relations, identifying the labels as “kind of irrelevant.” I’ll just be honest: that kind of language from Lifeway leadership makes me (a local church pastor who is already pretty miffed about Lifeway’s lack of attention in the area of doctrinal fidelity) question how relevant Lifeway is to me as a consumer – both personally and on behalf of our church.

    The same article cites a blog-posted criticism of Lifeway by Christian artist Shaun Groves who calls out Lifeway on an obvious hypocrisy on Lifeway’s part in choosing to sell books that are doctrinally shaky but label them for special attention: “…instead of refusing to sell [doctrinally questionable titles], Lifeway chooses to profit from what it alleges to be heresy(ish).” Although I suspect Groves and I might be on different sides of the issue as to whether or not Lifeway should carry such products I think he’s directly on point here. As an employee the same issue galled me.

    Again, as a consumer, I’m struggling to see any reason to continue doing business with Lifeway. The prices are obviously more expensive than Amazon and the move away from even token attention to doctrinal fidelity removes any convictions I might have about doing business with an explicitly Christian retailer (as I have regarding buying directly from Westminster Books or Crossway) leaves me wondering exactly what would compel me to buy a title from Lifeway.

    I realize that being competitive in a marketplace where Amazon and Wal-Mart gobble up business like Baptists at a KFC Buffet makes Christian retail a hard niche to fill anyway. I would suggest, however, that becoming more inclusive and less doctrinally committed is precisely the wrong way to go. If I don’t have any greater doctrinal affinity with Lifeway than I do with Amazon why not save myself the difference in cost of purchase? The counter might be that Lifeway allocates some proceeds to Christian missions. My answer is I support missions through my local church and I do so with partners of a like perspective on doctrinal issues. I don’t need a bookstore to be my missions department. I do need one to filter and distill the broad range of Christian products available into a best-of assortment that I can discerningly sort through.

    As such I’ll continue avoiding Lifeway stores (assuming I won’t be beset by an overpowering need for Scripture Mints or Praise Ponies) – excluding the campus bookstore at Southern Seminary in Louisville – and will be even more loathe to recommend shopping there to my church members. On the other hand I might be convinced to spend more of my money at a Lifeway were I confident the chain had assembled a team focused on providing the very best of available Christian content (or at least one that screens out the worst of the worst like McLaren with something more vigorous than a must-special-order policy).

    Being all things to all people worked for Paul’s ministry but I suspect it is a bad business model for a denominationally affiliated Christian bookstore.


  3. Not Qualified for Church Planting?

    January 6, 2009 by Jeff Wright

    Today I am deleting an email I have kept for nine months.

    This particular email is an artifact from a period in my life where I contemplated planting a church through the Tennessee Baptist Convention. I still periodically ponder planting a church. I’ve just given up on the TBC as being of any help to me.

    If you browse the archives of this blog you will find out that I am not a fan of church planting, at least not in areas already served by multiple established churches. We immediately need church planters in the Northeastern seaboard, Pacific Northwest, and Europe. In the Southwest and Southeast, not so much. I would much rather see money invested in the established churches of an area to revitalize their outreach and ministries. It is horribly wasteful to abandon the resources of these established churches. Furthermore, planting new churches in the shadow of old churches brings further separation of the Body of Christ in a given area while creating another dichotomy between the established church, viewed as outdated/outmoded, and the new church, viewed as relevant.

    Church planting also carries the problem of the church planters themselves. When I meet someone passionate about church planting I almost invariably* find unhealthy motivation. These issues include, first, a desire to be innovative for nothing more than innovation’s sake, hardly a worthy ministerial calling. Another is the belief that they have the key to reaching their area in a way no one else can, strange when one considers that all believers have access to the same gospel. Finally, there tends to be a problem with church background  maybe having never been involved with anything other than a parachurch organization or – maybe a home church which stubbornly refuses to follow the brilliance of the planter’s leadership/priorities/methodology. It isn’t uncommon to come away from such a meeting with the impression that the home church body is/was holding back the Kingdom of God by refusing to get on board with whatever latest-and-greatest the church planter has embraced. Ironically, a lot of these guys are still pedaling Rick Warren or Bill Hybels. These aren’t the types of fires we need to be feeding with Cooperative Program dollars.

    So there I was, not interested in church plants in my area and not wanting to be lumped in with all the unhealthy church planters I’ve met. Furthermore, I love the church I’m at. Our people are wonderful to me and my family, they respond to my leadership better than I could have ever hoped, and they consistently demonstrate an uncommon spiritual stability. Heck, we’re even growing. Why would anyone leave that?

    The only answer I can give is that I see a need and am willing to meet it. On the other hand, I don’t know if simply seeing a need and being willing to meet it is sufficient ground to justify launching another church. I am also unclear if someone like me who has never been trained to plant a church is the best candidate for a new work. What I really need most immediately is counsel from people who know about church planting to double check my rationale and see if they also see a clear need. After that I would need someone to help me evaluate my capability and develop a game plan.

    So what did I do? I remembered that my beloved TBC is investing in new churches. I figured they’ve got an oversight perspective that would be helpful in double checking my thinking and, if I’m on to something, provide some insight as to how I might get started. I called the TBC office in Nashville and was given the email address of a gentleman who should be able to help me. I then sent off an email and present where I’m at: reasonably confident I see a need that isn’t being addressed by any congregation nor is any church in the area that I’m aware of mindful of addressing the need. However, I’d could use some independent confirmation. Furthermore, it might be that I’m not the right person to launch out on this venture. Im sure there are others who are looking for opportunities that have been trained in church planting and I’m happy where I’m at. Maybe there is someone better suited to plant this church (if the need is truly great enough to warrant a new church).

    You know what I received by way of reply? I was told there was no question that new churches were needed (Really? The last association I served in had enough Baptist churches in it to seat everyone in the county) and that I should contact this person back when I definitively knew that I was God’s man to do this.

    Now, bear in mind, I know of church plants receiving Cooperative Program monies that have decided to only meet as a body once per week. Some of these once-per-week bodies don’t even take the time to have preaching when they do get together. I also know of church plants that take their corporate worship times and use it to honor the local high school football team rather than, you know, actually attempt to honor God in worship. Based on what I see around me you can plant a coffee shop church, a cowboy church, a Harley church or any other niche-targeting church you want. You can do all those really bad (in regards to those which don’t worship or preach) or pointless (in regards to those who think the church should cater to niches in society) things in the name of God with Cooperative Program dollars but you know what you can’t do? You can’t get some advice and direction unless you are baptized into church planting as the end-all-be-all key to the Kingdom and know-that-you-know-that-you-know you are called by God – Hallelujah! – to plant that church.

    As I said above, the email response I received told me to contact the TBC offices back when I knew I was God’s man to do this. Nine months have passed. I still haven’t received an angelic messenger and still haven’t had some entirely subjective humor arrest me about my singular value to the Kingdom as a church planter. I would still really like to talk with someone who knows how to evaluate what I’m seeing but, since I don’t have the requisite church planting obsession and personal conviction that I’m the only one who can pull it off, I guess it’s just best to delete that email.

    Now: anyone out there know someone I can talk this over with?

    ——————

    *You don’t have to post or email telling me that your pastor/husband/son/loved one who plants churches is nothing like what I’m writing. I realize there are exceptions to what I say; Robert Chapman in rural PA is a good example. In fact, I’m sure there are a host of God-honoring church planters out doing Kingdom work. I just haven’t met a great number of them.


  4. Please Pray For Union University

    February 6, 2008 by Jeff Wright

    From Baptist Press:

    Posted on Feb 5, 2008 | by Staff
    UPDATED 5:45 A.M. February 6, 2008.

    JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–Union University in Jackson, Tenn., sustained heavy tornado damage Tuesday evening at approximately 7 pm when a line of heavy thunderstorms rushed through the area.

    At 5:45 P.M. Central on Feb. 6, news and information director, Tim Ellsworth, reported that the all 12 students who had been trapped in a collapsed dorm had been freed. The last one was extricated a little after midnight and taken to an area hospital; doctors reported he would be fine.

    “We had 50 other students taken to hospitals, 8 with serious injuries,” Ellsworth said, “but none of their injuries are life-threatening.

    “Many buildings sustained heavy damage,” he added. “Dorms in both the men’s and women’s areas have been destroyed.”

    He reported the roof on Jennings Hall was nearly completely gone.

    “We moved most of our students to the Stein Mart store north of the campus and parents can pick up their students there,” he said.

    (HT: Jeremy Weaver)

    Update

    Union University has established a blog to disseminate information regarding their situation. You can find it here: http://uuemergency.blogspot.com/

    A fund has been established to help Union recover from this tragedy. You can find more information about how to give here.


  5. Union University Hosting Worship Conference

    January 7, 2008 by Jeff Wright

    You’ve probably heard about it by now but in case you haven’t here is a conference you need to go to. I’m not able to get off work so you should go in my stead.

    Union to host Baptist Worship Identity Symposium in February

    JACKSON, Tenn. – Union University will host a major conference early next year focused on the importance of worship in Baptist life.

    The Baptist Worship Identity Symposium Feb. 14-16 will feature a distinguished panel of presenters on the Jackson, Tenn., campus. They will explore key worship issues and present musical performances.

    “This project unfolded into a dynamic, three-pronged focus upon three areas: a major symposium, worship renewal in partner churches and worship renewal throughout our campus community,” said Richard Joiner, chairman of the department of music at Union. “We are blessed to have the opportunity to join our churches and our Baptist communities of faith with this pivotal endeavor.”

    The Baptist Worship Identity Project and Symposium is a joint endeavor of Union University and the Tennessee Baptist Convention. This symposium and project are made possible, in part, through a $14,000 Worship Renewal Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in
    Grand Rapids, Mich., with funds provided by Lilly Endowment Inc.

    Among the presenters scheduled to appear is Marva Dawn, author of “Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down,” and other books on worship. She is a teaching fellow in spiritual theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.

    Also scheduled are Donald Hustad, senior professor of church music and worship at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.; Robert Smith Jr., professor of Christian preaching at Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, Ala.; David S. Dockery, Union University president; George Guthrie, Benjamin W. Perry professor of Bible at Union; Daniel Montgomery, teaching pastor at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Ky.; and Mike Cosper, also of Sojourn Community Church.

    The conference will also include a special time of worship and hymn-singing on the evening of Feb. 14.

    The symposium follows two Baptist Identity Conferences at Union in 2004 and 2007. Those meetings focused on key matters of faith, doctrinal and confessional identity, evangelism and the future of Baptist associations and the traditional church.

    “The Baptist Worship Identity Project and Symposium was born out of the hope that the Baptist Identity Conferences would not only affirm the doctrines that are essential to our identity, but guide us to a worship that grows out of that identity,” Joiner said.

    The conference will be augmented by special chapel programs at Union on Feb. 13 and Feb. 20, focusing on worship. Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, will speak Feb. 13, followed by David Nelson, senior vice president for academic administration at
    Southeastern, on Feb. 20.

    Conference registration is $50, which includes meals. Online registration is available at www.uu.edu/events/bwi.

    For more information about the 2008 conference, or to register by phone, contact the department of music at (731) 661-5345.


  6. TBC Afternoon Session 2 and Concluding Thoughts

    November 15, 2007 by Jeff Wright

    By now I’m sure you have some idea of how the last session of the 07 TBC annual meeting went. Sorry about that. I got home late last night and had to get up early this morning to go to work. This post will serve as my last report and concluding thoughts on the annual meeting.

    As already stated, I’m sure you know how the final session played out. Basically, for a conservative like myself, it couldn’t have gone much worse. Each of the alternative nominees failed. The motion to grant the TBC President nominating powers failed. Considering that my motion failed (to make it out of committee) I’m left wondering whether my bad fortune resulted in my not actually being elected to the Committee on Resolutions. I’d normally think it was a formality but considering how my luck is running – and that I left before the Committee on Boards report was voted in –I very well might not have been.

    The walk out to the parking lot after the last session was down right depressing. I don’t know the best word to describe it. Maybe “slimy.” There was also a profound sense of loss. As one of the gentleman I shuffled out alongside said, “It sure seems like all the good accomplished last year was worth nothing.”

    I realize that I’m writing from a conservative perspective. I make no apology for that. I believe it’s the objectively right position. With that up front, I do feel an intense pain over the events of this year’s convention. Regardless of the rhetoric being tossed about regarding a “wide circle” of opportunity for both conservatives and moderates that simply is not the reality we conservatives experience. There is no sense in being naïve, the Executive Committees appointments are the most significant because they carry the most opportunity for influence. I realize everyone (myself included) who serves on other committees do so for the good of the Kingdom. However, to pretend the ExCom positions don’t carry more weight in the course of TBC life is to deny the obvious. With that in mind, look at the ExCom nominees this year. More of the candidates who don’t affirm the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message were nominated to this committee than any other. I haven’t done the math but I have a good suspicion that it was also the committee to have the highest percentage of non-BF&M 2k nominees as well. The message to conservatives is loud and clear: there is a seat at a table for everyone in the TBC…but the big folks table is reserved for the moderates. The conservatives can sit at the kid’s table.

    So what does one do? I’m a SBC/TBC guy. My friends tease me about this. I want to be a part of both the state and national conventions but I’m feeling pretty well marginalized. The intra- and post-TBC conversations I participated in indicate I’m not alone in that perspective. What should, or can, be done? I’ve heard many options discussed.

    Do you just give around the TBC? Conservatives have been doing this for years in regards to a Tennessee Baptist Convention they didn’t feel comfortable with. Sure, that’s an option. Still, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Being that I’m vocal about being a Baptist and, since I live in Tennessee, anything the TBC does affects me on the level of public perception. Thus it’s hard to say sayonara to the TBC because many in the community and society around me won’t know I’m not part of that group.

    Does one begin to explore the possibility of starting another state convention? This idea most likely already has some traction amongst a number of Tennessee Conservative, considering that it was brought up in conversation so regularly. That’s a fine idea. Baptists are a uniting people, joining in ministry with those of like faith and practice throughout history and the idea has worked in other states. Doesn’t it seem like it would be a lot of work though? It’s hard to launch on a new work, needed as it may be, when you see established systems already in place in the neighborhood you are leaving. I wonder whether or not the young conservatives I know would even care enough to launch such a project. Most have established ministry partnerships with churches of like faith and mind in their immediate area. Considering that one can find other networks (“other” meaning “other than a state convention”) in which to join others in ministry, especially with the option of giving directly to the Cooperative Program through the SBC, I seriously question whether there will be enough energy available to birth a new state convention. Speaking of alternative networks…

    The other option is to simply find other ways to participate in cooperative ministry. I hate this idea (because I love the SBC/TBC so much) but it seems to be the way of the future. Many of the purposes served by local associations, state conventions, and even national denominations are simply no longer needed. The average church can conduct and execute its own community outreach events, mission trips, etc. The average church (not mine necessarily) also doesn’t have such a great need for the training and resources these older institutions offered. In a climate where ministry means money and information moves faster than ever there are myriads of options for ministry materials and training available. So why bother trying to reform or heal an existing organization that is largely easily replaceable? I think that is a question many conservatives have to be asking themselves. Now, as I said, I hate it. I like the Cooperative Program. I still think it’s the best mechanism for supporting missions on a broad scale. Furthermore, the state convention still serves as a resource that wouldn’t be available to pastors of small congregations if the bigger structure were to cease existing. Finally, I hate the thought of the damage done to annuitants who depend on monies given by a bigger group as the numbers of that group dwindle. But, as this convention has made plainly clear, what I’d hope wouldn’t happen very often does.

    In the midst of these considerations I feel a profound sense of irony. Much sound was given to reaching out to “younger pastors” at this year’s convention. Every pastor I know under 40 is a conservative. Yet we are continually assaulted by a very real sense of something being radically wrong when we gather for the annual meeting of the state convention. We must sit and listen as the head of the most powerful committee in TBC life preaches a sermon while never deviating from Bultmannian categories when discussing the issues most dear to us: “Do you believe in a literal resurrection? I believe in a ‘living Christ.’ Do you believe the Bible is inerrant? I love the Bible; it contains the word of God.” Look – even if you think conservatives aren’t the brightest bulbs in the box please know that we’ve read enough Neo-orthodoxy and been sold enough used cars to recognize double speak when we hear it. So not only do we hear heresy but we have to receive it from a condescending attitude that thinks no one is bright enough to pick up on what is actually going on. Even more, we see our nominees disappear into the netherworld while seven nominees from the same association – who also, surprisingly, have a hard time affirming the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message – are nominated to the most powerful committee in TBC life.

    Ultimately, as bad as this is, the blame falls on the shoulders of conservatives. As one messenger said in discussing the abysmal course of the last session’s activities, “The votes were there Tuesday morning.” Each tabulated vote declined in number of total votes cast from its high point on Tuesday morning. By the end of Wednesday there were approximately half of the messengers left. Again, you can’t convince me (but I would love to see someone try) that the majority of Southern Baptist clergy and laity in Tennessee aren’t theologically conservative. And yet at the annual meeting we don’t see a ratio of conservative to moderate messengers that reflect the numbers of the same categories across the state. Basically the moderates care enough to show up and defend their entrenched positions. Conservatives, apparently, lack the courage of their convictions – choosing to stay at home rather than try to take the hill.

    You know what? Shame on you if you weren’t at the TBC this year and there wasn’t some major family or ministry issue keeping you there. Shame on you if you stayed home for some reason other than a funeral, church crisis, or family emergency. Shame on you if you did come but left early because it was boring or required some thought to sort through the various issues. Shame on you if you didn’t encourage your church people to come with you as voting messengers. Shame on you if you didn’t try to find someone to do a good job filling in for you teaching and preaching on Wednesday night. Think you can find someone when it’s time to take the family vacation? Shame on you and shame on conservatives for failing to do what is necessary to have a state convention we can be proud to participate in.

    The saddest part of this whole thing is what it very well could mean for the future of the TBC. From my perspective, the moderates represent the old guard of the TBC. As I’ve mentioned before, they are entrenched in crucial leadership positions and refuse to allow those posts to leave their control. Through controlling the nominations process they ensure that their type of leaders stay in power, thinking that throwing a bone (by way of a meaningless appointment) to conservatives is more than enough to placate those who disagree with their position. On the other side is the younger crowd of conservatives, trying to elbow their way into a party they are quite obviously not invited to. Will their energy persist long enough to bring change or will other opportunities and apathy steal the impetus for reform? If so you’ll have a future where the old guard expend the last days of a significant TBC fiddling while Rome burns around them. Ultimately, when their generation passes from this mortal coil what will remain?

    From where we stand today I don’t think any of us can be sure.


  7. TBC 2k7 – Second Morning Session

    November 14, 2007 by Jeff Wright

    I just finished a large lunch at a local Mexican restaurant so I thought I would attempt a short update while I recover.

    The morning’s session was entirely uneventful. There was a deluge of reports and exhibitions but the miscellaneous business session garnered nary a motion. I spent my morning in the lobby catching up in conversation with old and new friends. Quite enjoyable. Tim McGehee was voted in as Second Vice President this morning.

    There is some rumor that the coming session will involve some controversy. It is rumored that the alternative nominations for the various committees and boards will be subject to an attempt to rules these alternates out of order. I’ll be interested to see what happens as nearly half the messengers have departed by this point, based on the approximate 600 votes cast in the 2nd VP vote compared to the 1000-ish cast in the Presidential vote. I don’t know how to speculate on how the reduced numbers help or hurt the agendas of the liberals and conservatives. I guess I will find out soon.

    Oh, my resolution died in committee. I’ve been told that it was an issue of whether or not the resolution interfered with local church autonomy. I can’t see how it does. You can read below – the words are “urge” and “encourage” not “command” or “demand.” Either way, the decision has been reached. Considering how late in the convention the time for consideration of resolutions comes I don’t think I’ll read it in to the record or challenge the committee’s decision. Hopefully it will get a better reading next year and perhaps make it to the floor.


  8. Narrow Margin On BF&M Vote

    November 13, 2007 by Jeff Wright

    As I mentioned in my previous post one of the more significant issues to arise on day one of the Tennessee Baptist Convention was a motion to change the way potential convention servants were interviewed.

    Last year a motion passed charging those who contact nominated candidates for positions on TBC boards and committees to ask the nominated whether or not they affirmed the Baptist Faith and Message. This information would be (and was this year) distributed to the messengers of the annual meeting.

    Apparently some number of Tennessee Baptists were upset about this but didn’t know exactly why they were or what to do about it. Some (this year) wanted to abandon creeds and simply ask a vague question about what one thinks about the Bible. Others apparently wanted more creeds as they took out an advertisement in the Baptist and Reflector to suggest that potential candidates should be asked if they affirm any one of the three generations of the Baptist Faith and Messages.

    Eventually both groups made their way to the microphones at this years convention. As previously mentioned, the group wanting a vague affirmation of the Bible in some sense didn’t garner enough votes to change what was decided last year. As was also previously mentioned, those who wanted any of the three creeds usable for the interview proposed a motion at this past afternoon session whereby the question would become something along the lines of “Do you affirm either the BF&M 1925, 1963, or 2000?” The messengers would receive a report indicating, yes, the candidate was willing to affirm one of the three but with no indication or which one or simply no.

    I just got word from Steve about the vote on that second option. Those wanting to change from one BF&M to three lost. But not by much. Apparently the vote went 407 against changing the question to 400 for. That, my friends, is a pretty close vote.

    So how does one analyze this? I see several options and I’m not sure which one it is.

    1. The TBC could really be that split over the issue. I’ll be honest, I doubt it. For one, last year, when the original motion to begin asking about the BF&M was on the floor it was voted in overwhelmingly. Perhaps a significant number of those who voted “yes” last year had a change of heart or were replaced by messengers this year who didn’t agree with last year’s action.

    2. You could simply have a result which indicates many TBCers had reached a point where they’d had enough miscellaneous business and were ready for some lunch. Don’t laugh. If my memory serves me correctly there were over 1000 votes cast in the Presidential election (with Pastor McCoy winning with something like 600-ish total votes). Where did those other 200 messengers go? Many left between when the threefold BF&M motion was being considered and when I read my resolution title.

    Either way, this is apparently quite the hot button issue. Will there be some attempt tomorrow to introduce a similar motion in the hopes that some of the conservatives have gone home? Will there be a greater number of conservatives in attendance tomorrow because of the narrowness of this vote? Will a re-introduction of this motion (or one similar to it) swing some votes because they are tired of dealing with the issue? Will there be a motion to add the BF&M 2000 to the bylaws of the TBC? I have no idea. But when the afternoon plays out (and as soon as I can get to a Wi-Fi spot) I’ll let you know what, if anything, comes of this issue.

    *edit*

    Updated numbers on the vote: 497 to 490. Somehow my source didn’t account for 90 votes. :D Either way, the margin stays the same, right?


  9. TBC 2k7 – First Afternoon Session

    November 13, 2007 by Jeff Wright

    I came late to this afternoon’s session, right after Dr. Porch’s address. It was a strange sight to enter when I did considering that Dr. Porch gave an invitation after his address, a first for me as a TBC messenger.

    The significant business issues were as follows:

    1. The election of next year’s TBC President. Two candidates were nominated. The first is Tom McCoy of Thompson Station Baptist Church in Thompson Station, TN. Pastor McCoy is currently serving as the Vice President of the TBC. The second was Randall Adkinson of First Baptist Chuch, Cookeville, TN. Pastor McCoy won the election.

    The miscellaneous business session was, as all of the misc. business sessions are, very lively. The first issue to come before the messengers was a motion to change how candidates for service are questioned when they are interviewed. It was similar to the motion that passed this morning in that it addressed the same process. The differing element of the afternoon motion was to change the question so that if the candidate articulated an affirmation of either the 1925, 1963, or 2000 Baptist Faith and Message the report given to the messengers at the next annual meeting would simply read “Yes.” Of course, if they said no, that would be reported as well. This motion received a great deal of discussion and ultimately was taken to a ballot vote. As soon as I hear the results of that vote I’ll post it.

    I read the title of the motion I submitted (read below) before the convention to fulfill the requirements of submitting a resolution for consideration by the messengers. Another motion, dealing with gratitude, was also submitted.

    If you are interested, the motion I submitted is below. It’s a TBC application of the Resolution on Integrity in Church Membership that Tom Ascol has been attempting to bring to the messengers of the SBC annual meeting for the last two years. Steve Weaver found and substituted the TBC information for Tom’s SBC info and changed the wording to apply to the TBC, after which I submitted it in my name. I have no idea whether or not it will pass but I am hoping it will inspire some conversation amongst Tennessee Baptists about the issue of church membership.

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    Resolution on Integrity in Church Membership

    Submitted by Pastor Jeff Wright

    Messenger of Welchland Baptist Church in Spencer, TN

    WHEREAS the Baptist Faith and Message states that the Scriptures are “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried” (Article 1); and

    WHEREAS life in a local church should be characterized by loving discipline as the Bible teaches in passages like Matthew 18:15-18, 1 Corinthians 5 and Titus 3:10-11; and

    WHEREAS the 2006 Tennessee Baptist Convention Annual Church Profiles indicate that there are 1,127,839 total members and 833,139 resident members in Tennessee Baptist churches; and

    WHEREAS in 2005-2006 only 390,466 of those members attended the AM worship service of their church in a typical week; and

    WHEREAS the ideal of a regenerate church membership has long been and remains a cherished Baptist principle as described in Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message; now, therefore, be it

    RESOLVED that the messengers of the Tennessee Baptist Convention meeting in Kingsport TN, November 13-14, 2007, urge Tennessee Baptists to repent of our failure to maintain responsible church membership, and be it further

    RESOLVED that we urge the churches of the Tennessee Baptist Convention to repent of the widespread failure among us to obey Jesus Christ in the practice of lovingly correcting wayward church members (Matthew 18:15-18), and be it further

    RESOLVED that we plead with pastors and church leaders to lead their churches to study and implement our Lord’s teachings on this essential church practice, and be it further

    RESOLVED that we encourage denominational servants to support and encourage churches that seek to recover and implement our Savior’s teachings on church discipline, especially when such efforts result in the reduction in the number of members that are reported in those churches, and be it finally

    RESOLVED
    that we commit to pray for our churches as they seek to honor the Lord Jesus Christ through reestablishing integrity to church membership and to the reporting of statistics in the Annual Church Profile.


  10. TBC 2k7 – First Morning Session

    November 13, 2007 by Jeff Wright

    This morning’s session consisted of several reports. Reports regarding the budget, the Executive Committee Report, the Committee on Committees reports, etc.

    Some highlights:

    The Belmont Study Committee reported that they had agreed to a resolution with Belmont University in regards to dissolving the TBC’s relationship with Belmont. As I understand it Belmont will make an initial contribution of 1 million dollars to an endowment controlled by the TBC. Belmont will then continue to pay into that endowment to the tune of 250,000 dollars each year until the total reaches 12 million dollars. While this decision was arrived at by the Belmont Study Committee and ratified by both that committee and the Executive Committee, the TBC messengers did vote by a clear majority to affirm that resolution to the Belmont issue.

    The Committee on Boards’ Report involved several proposed amendments, generally focusing on replacing those candidates recommended to the messengers as servants on various committees for the coming year that did not affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. A number of alternative candidates were suggested by those amendments. Final voting on this report (and its amendments) will take place tomorrow.

    The most contentious item in the miscellaneous business session was a motion to change the question asked of candidates who might potentially serve on TBC committees and boards. The motion proposed today moved to change the question from an affirmation of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 to a question regarding the candidates affirmation of the Bible as the Word of God (the exact wording fails me at this time). When the motion went to the vote a messenger requested of the moderator to hold the vote via ballot and the request was granted. At the time of this writing I’ve not heard how the vote went.

    *Update* I’ve not heard the raw numbers but I was told over lunch that, in my absence, the results of the vote was announced and the replacement question motion failed by a margin of two to one.

    One other item came up in miscellaneous business that might be of interest to some readers. A messenger suggested that we pull the name “Baptist” from the hospitals currently operated by Saint Mary’s Health Systems that continue to use the name Baptist. This motion was tabled by popular voted.

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    Belmont has released a letter announcing the dissolution of its relationship to the TBC. (HT: The Refugee Baptist)