Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Word from One who Left

Without a doubt, the Southern Baptist Convention presently stands at a crossroads. As an Associational servant, each and every day I observe both the best and the worst of our denominational culture. And while I am one of the few young guys who still see the glass as "half-full," I am well-aware that many young leaders within the SBC are simply emptying their glasses and looking for another well.

Their reasons for leaving are many...admittedly, some are simply whiners who despise all things institutional. Such persons will never be pleased, and we should never be surprised to see this type of individual jump ship. Still, there are others who are leaving; the kind of creative, competent people who are essential to our continued success and Kingdom impact. These don't usually make a lot of noise when they jump off the wagon. In fact, most simply say nothing. They just dissapear. But today, I heard from one of them, and I think you should hear from him too.

I was reading an online essay by Nathan Finn, a current Ph.D. student and staff member at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, entitled The Varieties of SBC Conservatism. I commend this article to you, and give the link to it below so that you can benefit from the wisdom of this soon-to-be Doctor. It is articulate, consistent, sagacious, and in some sense may even prove to be prophetic. Yet it wasn't Finn's article that caught my attention so much as one of the comments left on his thread.

For some time I have been seeking to put to words the sentiment I hear from many young pastors within the SBC. The annonymous comment below sums up this sentiment well:

· A handful of reasons why we are leaving:
We are leaving because we are more committed to winning souls in the world than winning a majority position in a denominational arena.
We are leaving because we have the ability to hold different theological positions and discuss those positions, without hating one another for them.
We are leaving because it is more important to us to worship with a pure heart and serve with clean hands than to judge others in their worship and service.
We are leaving because we understand that when Christ returns he will not be riding on a Donkey or even on an Elephant for that matter.
We are leaving because we want to distance ourselves from tongues seemingly set on fire by Hell that must be heard in annual meetings or on daily blogs to feel righteous.
We are leaving because the Kingdom has come, the fields are white, and many SBC workers have become more preoccupied with who THEY are and less with who HE is.

Well said.

For more than 150 years, the SBC has been used by God to extend His Kingdom in mighty ways, and I still believe our potential is great. But if our desire is to continue this legacy well into the 21st Century, we had better pay attention to voices like the one above!

Read Nathan Finn's post here:


Debbie said...

This comment also grabbed my attention, enough that I read it over two or three times.

Anonymous said...

Joel -

Thanks for your thoughts today. I've never been to your blog before, but saw a comment you posted to Marty Duren's site.....and I really appreciate your post of today. I also was touched by Mr. Finn's essay and the anonymous comment to it that you noted.

God is great; and still on His throne. Even in Missouri where we have conservative, fundamentalist, inerrantist, supporters of the Conservative Resurgance now SHOOTING AT EACH OTHER almost daily. It does make one weary; and brings to mind other avenues for service.


Kevin Bussey said...

I heard Andy Stanley told a NAMB VP similar reason why Northpoint did not join the SBC.

Joel Rainey said...

Good to hear from you.

In fairness to the SBC, I have to tell you that the Northpointe issue is a bit deeper than what you suggest.

I won't air "dirty laundry," but I will say that my level of respect for Stanley dropped a notch or two when I heard what his real reasons were.

Suffice it to say, Stanley was not who I had in mind when I wrote this post.