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Two Musts for a Healthy SBC

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We are a cooperative. A cooperative is a group of individuals, allowed to maintain their individuality, who choose to cooperate around a common goal. The cooperative works as long as individuality is the accepted standard and the goal suits each individual.

The source of our individuality is the doctrine of “Priesthood of Every Believer.” Many will say that the SBC is a bottom up organization with the local church as its base and cooperative efforts then exist at associational, state and national convention levels. This is not quite accurate. The association is the second level of cooperation. The local church is the first level of cooperation among a base of individual believers. The Autonomy of the Local Church stems from the doctrine of Priesthood of Every Believer. The entire bottom up structure stems from this vital Baptist doctrine and distinctive.

Individuality is the source of our cooperation and when it is hammered together with a common goal we become a powerfully focused organization that is tremendously effective.

The goal of our cooperation is missions. The entirety of our cooperation was formed, and now exists, to spread the Gospel to everyone who stands in need.

Therefore, two things must be assured for the health of the SBC.

1. Uniformity must be fought at every turn. If people are not allowed to be themselves, they will no longer participate, even if they share a common goal. This is part of why we see the attrition of younger leaders and lay people within the SBC. It is why the SBC has its eyes on the Younger Leader movement. Those with vision know that if they lose this crowd of individualists, they will lose the future, as YL’s take their churches and the offerings that go with them, out of the Convention.

2. The Goal of Missions must be guarded at all costs. When our primary mission agencies are shaken the way NAMB and the IMB have been this year, all eyes must focus intently on them. If these two entities fail to effectively press toward our common goal, they will lose the trust of the individuals who sustain them. The loss of trust will bring about the same result as a loss of individualism. People will leave to go it alone.

The SBC is at stake. Great leaders from years gone by and new leaders must work together right now for the survival of this cooperative – if they believe that our cooperation is still as vital to the obtaining of our goal: Reaching the World for Christ.

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10 Responses to “Two Musts for a Healthy SBC”


  1. tim rogers
    on May 24th, 2006
    @ 12:28 pm

    Brother Art,
    What a great piece on the American Dream. Rugged Individualism is what found this nation, if you do not believe that ask Rush Limbaugh. It was not Individualism that founded the SBC. The Priesthood of the Believer is the battle cry for individuals that desire to interpret the Scriptures any way they please. The doctrine of the Priesthood of the Believers is used for salvation, not unity. When Martin Luther used this term he was referencing the fact that we could go before God and did not need a Priest to intercede on our behalf. This term is not for our cooperation in the SBC.
    While I do agree that the first level of cooperation is among the individual believers in the local autonomous church, I have to disagree that it is Individuality that brings us together. Any time you make a decision to be part of an organization, you give up certain individual rights. For example, the IMB Trustees can make the decisions they made because I gave up my right to be there in person when I agreed to the Trustee System. I am still an individual and I still can voice my concerns, but my individuality has taken a certain degree of restraint.
    Do you not believe that we should be encouraging YL to remain in the SBC instead of stating; “Those with vision know that if they lose this crowd of individualists, they will lose the future, as YL’s take their churches and the offerings that go with them, out of the Convention.
    Brother, this sounds as if you promote Independent Baptist doctrine of NO denomination.

    Do you write on the side for Sword of the Lord? :)


  2. Jeff Richard Young
    on May 24th, 2006
    @ 12:35 pm

    Dear Brother Art,

    I agree that we must focus on the governance of our mission boards. I have not done so in the past, but now pray for and monitor them as closely as possible.

    Love in Christ,

    Jeff


  3. art rogers
    on May 24th, 2006
    @ 1:42 pm

    Tim,

    Not to sound too much like Steve McCoy, but I think you misunderstood what I wrote.

    Priesthood of the Believer is very much about salvation, but not salvation alone. It is about relating to the Lord – Salvation is the first part of that relationship, but not the only part.

    Surely you are not suggesting that the church body is responsible for your sanctification over the authority of the Holy Spirit who lives inside you?

    You said:

    “The doctrine of the Priesthood of the Believers is used for salvation, not unity.”

    I never suggested that it was used for unity. If you think I did, please show me where I said it.

    I also never suggested that the SBC was founded on rugged individualism. I will say plainly that the SBC was founded by individuals who desired to cooperate toward a common goal.

    As to giving up rights, that presupposes a top down structure. We don’t have that.

    This is about cooperation. As long as we accept one another and are willing to move together toward the same goal, then we have an effective cooperative. If we reject one another (over the interpretation of Scriptures, perhaps) or our goals diverge, our cooperation fails.

    You can’t be serious asking me on this blog if I think we should be encouraging YL’s to participate in the SBC. Read the Archives.

    However, any attempt at forcing YL’s to simply show up and shut up – keep giving, but don’t expect to be heard – is a break of individualism that will lose them.

    Obviously, I think it is less important to ask them to continue to hang on to a denomination that seems to care less and less about who they are and what they think AND more important to speak to the denomination and make sure it understands that cooperation is a precious thing and that the SBC does not have the right to individuals, churches, associations or even state conventions nowdays. They have these people because of two things: They accept them as individuals and the share a common goal.

    Seriously, I say this with all compassion, I think you completely missed everything I was saying.

    And Sword of the Lord? This tells me that I am right, since they are among the LEAST cooperative people around. Sounds to me like you are more along their line of thought than me, by far.


  4. tim rogers
    on May 24th, 2006
    @ 2:40 pm

    Brother Art,
    You said; The source of our individuality is the doctrine of “Priesthood of Every Believer.” You later said; “Individuality is the source of our cooperation and when it is hammered together with a common goal we become a powerfully focused organization that is tremendously effective.” I really do not see how I misread this.
    I also do not see where I am presupposing a heirarchial structure by giving up rights. When I am a Trustee I give up certain public rights because I am in the meetings discussing the issues. If it does not go my way I do not then have an outlet to the public in order to get my point across. That is giving up rights for the sake of unity. As one that is not a Trustee I proxy my rights to those in the Trustee System because I cannot be there. I hold them accountable each year at the SBC convention. this is my thinking to your statement; “As to giving up rights, that presupposes a top down structure. We don’t have that.”
    I also am not saying that we should force the YL’s to show up and shut up, but I am saying we should help them understand there is order to the Body of Christ. It was Paul who told the church body “let all things be done decently and in order.” To allow people to run in any direction without some form of order in the convention is chaos.
    I too am passionate about this. I love the SBC, I believe it to be closest to NT Doctrine. I also see the narrowing of parameters that go beyond Scripture. However, I am not ready to throw out the baby in the bath water, nor am I ready to return the the Neo-orthodox level of leadership that the SBC was steered away from. This last statment in no way implies that I believe the latter is happening. It is just a contrast to the different directions.


  5. tim rogers
    on May 24th, 2006
    @ 2:43 pm

    Brother Art,
    Also, I will go back and re-read your post. I just do not think I mis-read it.


  6. art rogers
    on May 24th, 2006
    @ 5:29 pm

    You said; The source of our individuality is the doctrine of “Priesthood of Every Believer.” You later said; “Individuality is the source of our cooperation and when it is hammered together with a common goal we become a powerfully focused organization that is tremendously effective.” I really do not see how I misread this.

    Individuality + Goal = Effective Cooperative Organization; this is not the same as saying that the SBC was founded on rugged individualism. I am saying that it was founded BY rugged individuals.

    I also do not see where I am presupposing a heirarchial structure by giving up rights. When I am a Trustee I give up certain public rights because I am in the meetings discussing the issues. If it does not go my way I do not then have an outlet to the public in order to get my point across. That is giving up rights for the sake of unity. As one that is not a Trustee I proxy my rights to those in the Trustee System because I cannot be there. I hold them accountable each year at the SBC convention. this is my thinking to your statement; “As to giving up rights, that presupposes a top down structure. We don’t have that.”

    I just disagree with you on this. I give up all my rights to the Lord, but this isn’t a commune that asks you to check your rights at the door. What you said about the Trustees and public speaking about the issues is just the opposite of what I am saying. We may just have to work together as individuals cooperating toward the same goal. If not, we will have to part ways and our cooperative effort will die.

    I also am not saying that we should force the YL’s to show up and shut up, but I am saying we should help them understand there is order to the Body of Christ. It was Paul who told the church body “let all things be done decently and in order.” To allow people to run in any direction without some form of order in the convention is chaos.

    I am not saying you are saying YL’s should show up and shut up. I am saying that the convention is perceived as saying this by many YL’s I know. Including me.

    The quote from Paul is one that the Landmarkers use to prooftext the enforcement of certain of their beliefs.

    You are not a Landmarker, are you? If you are, that’s fine, but it will certainly change my approach to our communication.

    I too am passionate about this. I love the SBC, I believe it to be closest to NT Doctrine. I also see the narrowing of parameters that go beyond Scripture. However, I am not ready to throw out the baby in the bath water, nor am I ready to return the the Neo-orthodox level of leadership that the SBC was steered away from. This last statment in no way implies that I believe the latter is happening. It is just a contrast to the different directions.

    This last paragraph confuses me. At first I thought you were saying I wanted to do away with the SBC or that I was Neo-Orthodox. Then you said you weren’t saying that. Then your last sentence … what contrast to what directions? huh?


  7. Anonymous
    on May 24th, 2006
    @ 9:12 pm

    Where in Scripture do you gain your doctrine of the priesthood of every believer?


  8. tim rogers
    on May 24th, 2006
    @ 9:12 pm

    Brother Art,
    Just got home from church and am trying to read the different blogs that reference Wade and the Trustee meeting today. More on that in a moment.

    Let’s just agree to disagree on this. No, I am not a Landmark as a matter of fact I loathe the doctrine because of the Pharisaical leanings and how it plays out. My last confusing paragraph confused me after I went back and read it again. I was trying to get back to the office and rushed that thought. For the life of me I cannot remember how I wanted that thought to be stated. If I can remember correctly I was trying to say that it does seem some in the YL movement want to do completely away with any authority. The Landmark verse from 1 Corinthians is not my way of making certain everyone walks the line, but I truly believe there has to be some order to be able to allow God’s Spirit freedom to work and not come across as chaos.
    I am saddened and very concerned with the bombs thrown on the way out by Trustees rotating off the IMB. This is like Sadam setting the Oil Field on fire when he left Kuwait.
    The problem that will be faced is the Committee on the Order of Business. They will refer every motion to the IMB Board for a report next year, or they will rule it out of order. If an appeal of the Chair is challenged it will then take a 2/3 vote to over-ride the chair. A 2/3 vote is something that will never happen against the chair.


  9. Paul
    on May 24th, 2006
    @ 11:16 pm

    [he, he. He just likened that trustee to Sadam Hussein. he, he.]


  10. Tim Sweatman
    on May 25th, 2006
    @ 1:24 am

    Tim R.,

    You’re right about any pertinent motions being referred back to the BoT. Even if there is a 2/3 vote, that only forces the BoT to report back to the convention before the convention adjourns. However, if any motions to revisit the issue or reverse the policies pass and are referred to the BoT, it is possible that a number of trustees who went along with the policies just because the BoT leaders supported them might change their position on the basis of the expressed will of the convention.

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