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Interesting Chapel Services

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Dr. Patterson fielded some questions from students during an “open forum” style chapel yesterday.

You may find some of the questions and answers interesting. The video can be downloaded at the Seminary Chapel Webpage.

Bob Pearle, pastor of Birchman Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, where Dr. Patterson attends, talks about Baptist preachers. Very interesting. It seems that unless we are offending culture, we are not actually ministering to the lost.

I think that there is a place for the prophetic voice to culture, no doubt. I don’t think that all we can do is scream condemnation at the lost, however. Is there no place to preach grace to the sinner? There is just such a lack of balance in our denomination. Why must we do one without the other? Still, it is no wonder why we continue to produce resolution after statement after boycott if this is what we are trying to constantly accomplish: Offend the lost culture so they will come under conviction. Yet this mindset is juxtaposed against the comment that our Baptist churches are baptizing fewer and fewer comments each year.

So, if we are prophetically condemning sin and our conversions are less and less, what would that say? Wouldn’t it say that constantly condemning the lost for their “lostness” is losing traction? I know. Dr. Pearle was saying that the reason our conversions are down is that we are not confrontational enough that we are losing ground because we are trying to be “palatable.” I have a hard time with that.

How many of our churches could reasonably be classified as “Emergent?” Almost none. Of the 80% that are in decline, how many are “emergent?” The fact is, the traditional church is in decline in our own denomination. It is not because they are not confrontational enough, either. It is primarily because they are not relevant to new generations.

Tomorrow is Johnny Hunt. I am curious to hear what he has to say. Remember that he called Ronnie Floyd “Missional” in the nomination speech in Greensboro. I wonder if he will defend the concept against some of the comments given today.

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24 Responses to “Interesting Chapel Services”


  1. jasonk
    on Nov 29th, 2006
    @ 4:33 pm

    I do not mean to be negative, but their comments just show how consistently out of touch many Baptist leaders are. They are not just a little bit removed from the culture. They are systematically unfamiliar with what is happening in the world around them.

    Lifeway just finished a study that confirms this (as if anyone really needed a study to show it).

    In SBC life, we have had the confrontational model for generations, and that may have been what was called for fifty years ago, when people held pastors in high regard, and heeded a word spoken with forcefulness. But those days are long gone. People no longer respect pastors. Look at what they are doing at Bellevue. That pattern is repeated day after day in our country.

    Art, if you preach grace to the sinner, you will quickly run out of room in your sanctuary and your parking lot, because people will flock to hear what you have to say. And we are not compromising truth to do it either. We live in a time when people no longer take it for granted that pastors have their best interest at heart. More than ever, pastors have to earn the right to preach truth to people.

    The thought of all those young men at seminary being taught that they need to be forceful and confrontationial in order to win the lost is frightening.


  2. Bob Cleveland
    on Nov 29th, 2006
    @ 5:32 pm

    Hasn’t anyone made the connection that what we have done has resulted in what we are? Yet what we hear is we need to get back to what we’ve always done. Our systems and methods have built the church we have today?

    All sixteen … uhhh … eight million of us?


  3. John Stickley
    on Nov 29th, 2006
    @ 5:34 pm

    Just a thought that popped up while I was reading this post… isn’t being confrontational to culture to bring conviction to a particular group of sinners exactly what the folks from Westboro are doing (albeit in a very sick and disgusting manner)?

    Please don’t take that as me comparing anyone in SBC life to that group!


  4. Gary Snowden
    on Nov 29th, 2006
    @ 7:04 pm

    I listened to Pearle’s message and what struck me was his insistence that the preaching of the gospel must always be confrontational if it is to be true to the Scriptures. He made reference to the Greek term “scandalon” or stumbling block. What Paul actually said was that the preaching of the cross was a scandalon–not the preaching of the gospel. Before someone objects that the preaching of the cross is the preaching of the Gospel, please hear me out. Obviously the cross event (Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection) is at the very heart and essence of the gospel. When Paul refers to the preaching of the cross itself as scandalous, or a stumbling block, it is because of the Jewish mindset that took the OT passage, “cursed is everyone that hangs upon a tree” and thus rejected the notion that Jesus could be the Messiah because of the manner in which He died. Thus the cross itself was a major hurdle for the Jewish audience whom Paul initially sought to win to Christ as he entered each new city and went first to the synagogue.

    That does not mean that the preaching of the Gospel itself ought always to be judged according to its effectiveness by how offensive it is to its hearers. I seem to recall that Jesus’ approach to the Samaritan woman at the well was to engage her in a conversation about living water long before He brought up the issue of her multiple husbands. He invited Himself to Zaccheus’ house to eat without first demanding that the tax collector amend his corrupt ways. That same pattern can be observed in all of His dealings with the lost. The Pharisees were the ones who got upset because Jesus was too quick to spend time with sinners. I’m afraid that far too many of our denominational leaders and others who are the chief promoters of Baptists’ engagement in the “culture wars” pay far too little attention to the teachings of Jesus Himself in the Gospels. We could all benefit by becoming what Tony Campolo has entitled “Red-Letter Christians,” those who read and live by the words of our Savior.


  5. Alan Cross
    on Nov 29th, 2006
    @ 8:28 pm

    Anyone beginning to get the feeling that we are just on totally different wavelengths? At what point does communication with these folks break down? At what point do we cease caring and just get on with the task given to us in this generation? If we know what to do, then we should just do it. You can’t put new wine in old wineskins. I’m all for respecting those who have gone before us, but this has nothing to do with age. There are many people who are older who have the appropriate mindset. It has to do with whether you are missional or attractional, and whether you are grace oriented or law oriented in your approach to the Christian life. The Law is good and is needed to show us God’s character and our sin, but it does not save. Only Jesus saves. We have a dearth of Jesus in our churches and the only thing that will change that will be a heart turn back toward Him.

    Sorry. I just got out of Wednesday night Bible study where I was teaching on the incarnation of Christ. I’ve got my blood up!


  6. Paul
    on Nov 29th, 2006
    @ 9:39 pm

    Uh…what all those guys ahead of me said, only with a scowl on my face, a pounding headache and an uncontrollable urge to spew.


  7. Paul
    on Nov 29th, 2006
    @ 9:42 pm

    Oh yeah…and how would 1 Cor. 5:9-13 apply to this discussion (especially v. 12)?


  8. Joe
    on Nov 29th, 2006
    @ 10:52 pm

    And, I guess my biggest fear is that we are becoming less and less relavent with each passing year/month/day. We must pay attention to the culture that every day drives past our buildings to go to places that are relavent to their lives.

    Maybe the question we should answer is where would you rather be….where someone is constantly condeming you are where you are loved in spite of your shortcomings. May grace always abound in our ministries.


  9. Paul
    on Nov 29th, 2006
    @ 11:24 pm

    I’m going to jump out on a limb and guess that Bro. Pearl would really like this guy.


  10. jasonk
    on Nov 30th, 2006
    @ 7:25 am

    Man, Preacher Bob really draws a crowd. Who is that guy? What was he doing at OSU? Did you see all the vids on YouTube? He’s kind of spooky. But you’re right, some folks in the SBC would believe that this is the way preaching should be done. How very sad.

    I still remember the first day I left the SBC. It was one day after riding 100 miles on a bicycle with a friend and former pastor. I told him that Saturday, “today is my last day to be a Southern Baptist.” The next morning I went to church, heard a challenging, expository message from Galations 1. And for the first time in a long time, I left church feeling better than when I had arrived. People come to church to be challenged, to grow, to develop in their walk. They do not come to be beaten over the head.


  11. Geoff Baggett
    on Nov 30th, 2006
    @ 7:43 am

    Truly, the culture around us knows little about Southern Baptists. I live in the South, and I almost feel a bit apologetic when I introduce myself as a Southern Baptist pastor … especially to people who have moved here from the north. I actually feel like I need to apologize for so many of the actions and attitudes of the Southern Baptist churches and pastors that these new friends of mine have experienced in times past. (Sort of like Donald Miller’s “confession booth” experience in Blue Like Jazz … can anyone relate?)

    I recently had a couple join our church who came from Northern Illinois. Here was the gentleman’s basic impression of Southern Baptists:
    1. We are against pretty much everything.
    2. We are all mad at the world for some reason.
    3. We don’t actually teach the Bible in our churches … we just yell at people and tell them that they are all going to hell.

    How sad. I have no problem distancing myself and my church from these types of attitudes and behaviors. But I think that those of us who think differently and lead different types of churches have to consider some other issues. How does all of this affect our giving and our cooperation? Can we, in good conscience, continue to pump money into systems that reflect mindsets and a complete resistance to missional thinking (reaching people WITHIN the culture) that typifies our own churches? I’m struggling right now, guys…


  12. micah
    on Nov 30th, 2006
    @ 9:12 am

    I once heard a quote that I think applies well to many within SBC life it goes something like this, You can be right even when you’re wrong, you just have to yell louder.

    I think it’s interesting that we get the maddest in SBC life over things we don’t have to worry about as problems in our own church. We don’t have issues with alcohol in our churches, as a general rule, we don’t struggle with homosexuality, and so on, and so it’s much easier to yell, scream and argue about them. It’s interesting, however, that we refuse to address unregenerate church membership, or gluttony, or gossip. I’m convinced it’s because those hit to closely to home.

    I think in SBC life we have learned the art of yelling louder to divert attention from our own struggles. By doing so we participate in the abdication of responsibility as far as dealing with the problems for ourselves. In fact, I think part of our fascination with delving into politics so heavily within SBC life has something to do with that as well. As a matter of fact, I think Nathan Finn summed it up very nicely yesterday when he said, “What a terrible tragedy if conservative Christians actually “wins” America for the Religious Right while failing to truly share the gospel with lost Americans.”

    Good article, Art. Here’s hoping for genuine, missional change within SBC life.


  13. Tim Cook
    on Nov 30th, 2006
    @ 9:30 am

    Take heart, guys; not EVERYONE is like this. There is a lot of good stuff going on in our seminaries regarding church planting and other evangelistic efforts, if what I hear is true. I have a few complainers in my church; I’m sure you do too. They just don’t get it. Sometimes they are loud, sometimes they are important leaders in the church. When I listen too much to them, I get really discouraged. The trick is not to let the few ruin you on the potential of what God can do with the many. I don’t think you would hear a chapel sermon like this at anywhere other than SWBTS. I might be wrong, but that is the way I see it. All is not lost… there is still hope!

    God Bless,
    Tim Cook


  14. Bart Barber
    on Nov 30th, 2006
    @ 10:23 am

    I think that comparing Bob Pearle with Westboro Baptist Church is the equivalent of comparing you guys with Joel Osteen.


  15. Art Rogers
    on Nov 30th, 2006
    @ 1:35 pm

    Bart,

    I agree that it is absurd and John said so. Much the same way that Dr. Patterson did when comparing someone who believes in a Private Prayer Language to one who mainlines heroin.


  16. One Alias
    on Nov 30th, 2006
    @ 10:14 pm

    I agree that it is different wave lengths. No flame just an accurate observation. I tried to yell and scream once during a sermon. It didn’t work. I think God wants us to be who we are and who He made us to be.


  17. David Rogers
    on Dec 1st, 2006
    @ 2:44 am

    Because we are all brothers in Christ, and part of the same Body, I don’t believe we can afford to take the option of “just writing off” those who come from such an apparently different perspective. We must continue to try to present our convictions in a firm, but gentle manner. Yes, it is important to love the sinners in the world, and to help those of our brethren who may not seem to be doing a very good job at doing this in a sensitive and effective way. But, we need to also remember that Jesus said “All men will know that you are my disciples by the love you have FOR ONE ANOTHER.” This, in my opinion, includes those who may indeed be totally out of touch with culture, and have a complete different perspective than us on many things. Is this easy to do? No way. But then again, Jesus never was much for “lowering the bar” of discipleship.


  18. Bart Barber
    on Dec 1st, 2006
    @ 10:25 am

    Art,

    Thanks for reminding me that John qualified his remarks. I had already seen that, and I appreciate him doing so. Yet, I assumed that his qualifications did not exist to remove any correspondence whatsoever (in which case, what would be the point of the comment?), but to indicate, I guess, that he considers the difference between Westboro and, say, Pearle to be one of degree rather than nature. I’m guessing here, because the difference between John’s comment and Dr. Patterson’s is that Dr. Patterson took an extreme comparison and indicated precisely what he did mean by it, while John merely indicated what he did not mean by it.

    I thought my comment might be helpful in our search for “balance.” Since the grotesque example on one extreme had been introduced to the discussion, I thought it might be helpful for us to consider the grotesque example on the other extreme.

    Tim’s comment, I think, includes buried within it what I consider to be the weakness of your argument—the caricature of the SBC upon which it is based. You allege that the other point of view believes “all we can do is scream condemnation at the lost” and that they find “no place to preach grace to the sinner” since they apparently believe that we must “do one without the other.” I didn’t hear that in Bro. Pearle’s sermon.

    Please give me the names of those who hold and promulgate this view so that I may join you in condemning them.

    This Christmas season I’ve been thinking about the role of John the Baptist. Have we read his preaching lately? I’ve come to think that the preaching of grace requires the preaching of condemnation. It is amazing grace precisely because it saves us from the condemnation which we deserve. If there is no condemnation apart from salvation, then salvation is not very gracious, is it?

    Of course, I think we agree here. Do I correctly discern that the conversation is not so much about whether condemnation is real, but whether it is good strategy to talk very much about it to lost people? If so, then I wish to offer a case for the idea that the preaching of condemnation is, indeed, good strategy in conjunction with the preaching of grace.

    John’s message of condemnation was considered the necessary preparation for Jesus’ ministry. I think also of Galatians 3:24, where the Law is described as our paidagogos “tutor” to lead us to Christ. This is the law that is described in the same chapter as not being of faith, not justifying anyone, and having the universal effect of putting mankind under a curse. Yet this unregenerating, condemning, cursing law is the tutor that leads us to Christ! The message of “Repent” and “You brood of vipers! Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” is the “voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord.'”

    Thus, I believe that the preaching of condemnation is often effective to produce “godly sorrow” that “leads to repentance without regret.” As you rightly note, such a message by itself is completely ineffective (As you fail to note, there is no serious problem within the SBC of people refusing to preach the gospel of grace—some merely preach condemnation more forcefully or more frequently than you prefer). Yet as precursor to the preaching of grace, the preaching of condemnation is biblical and has a pretty good track record across the broad scope of Christian history of effecting actual demonstrable conversion in people’s lives.


  19. Art Rogers
    on Dec 1st, 2006
    @ 11:36 am

    Bart,

    As always, good thoughts.

    I don’t think that the caricature, and I agree that it is a caricature, is held by the other side within the convention, but by the lost within our culture.

    Speaking of them, and John the Baptist, John spoke to God’s own people – those to whom the law and the prophets were given. And speaking of the prophets, the bulk of the prophetic word came to God’s people as well. Jesus’ harshest words were for the Pharisees. I think it would be more apropos if we compared these words to strong words spoken to the church about the sins we actually harbor.

    Also, I do think that we need words of conviction and of grace. Before sinners accept a savior, they need to know they need a savior. I agree that there needs to be balance. I also agree that there is much more balance than it sometimes seems.

    Is there a place for the prophetic word to be spoken to the lost? Sure. Jonah and Nineveh springs to mind.

    When thinking of balance though, I would have to say the bulk of our prophetic word needs to be spoken to those who claim to belong to God.


  20. Wayne Hatcher
    on Dec 1st, 2006
    @ 1:04 pm

    Art,
    Thanks for the audio. I haven’t heard the Bob Pearle audio yet, but will soon. I have tons of time to listen, not so much to read. Thanks again.

    How did I guess he was going to be asked about alcohol? His comments about Driscoll were sad and rude.

    Wayne Hatcher


  21. Bart Barber
    on Dec 1st, 2006
    @ 2:33 pm

    Art,

    Well said. Most of our preaching takes place in church to the church. So, if Pearle is talking about our preaching, maybe you and he are really pretty close in what you would advocate.

    Thanks for being one of the only people actually blogging these days.


  22. Paul
    on Dec 2nd, 2006
    @ 12:25 am

    In light of both David and Bart’s fine observations let me apologize if my comments either offended or came off as rude. I’m aware that my humor can often sound “biting.” I’d blame it on being sick this week, but it probably has more to do with a poor attitude. Art, I especially apologize to you since I did this at your place.

    Paul


  23. John Stickley
    on Dec 4th, 2006
    @ 12:00 pm

    Bart…

    I hadn’t checked this comment stream in a few days, and just now noticed your comment in response to my remark.

    Although I thought my words pretty clearly indicated my intent, I’ll clarify further… When I read Art’s post, specifically some of the phrases like “offending culture” and “screaming condemnation”, the image that entered my mind was the encounter I had with a group of protesters from Westboro at the SBC meeting this summer. It disgusts me, but that was (and is) their chosen method of preaching their message… screaming condemnation on a group of sinners in some of the most offensive manners imaginable.

    That was my sole intent in the comment… to share the first thing that popped into my head when I read this post. There was ZERO intent to cast anyone in SBC life in the same light as Westboro… ZERO intent to imply anything about anyone… just to share the image that popped to mind in response to the post.

    What I’d like to know is this… why the quick jump to assume ill intent?


  24. Stuart
    on Dec 4th, 2006
    @ 3:50 pm

    I can only speak for myself, not my entire generation. But it occurs to me that if most preaching takes place in the church, then the audience for “most preaching” is overwhelmingly already a “Christian” audience.

    Which is why I’m concerned that much preaching “against culture” does little to actually penetrate “the culture” with the gospel or to change the minds of people outside of the church. But it could very well tend to make comfortable pew-sitting Christians feel good about the fact that “we” are not like “them”. (We may be prideful or complacent in here…but look…they’re a bunch of gay baby-killers out there.) Which I’m pretty sure isn’t a good thing.

    Or perhaps I’m just overreacting to the constant cultrure bashing I heard week after week after week from the pulpit of the large church in central Virginia in which I grew up.

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