12 Witnesses

Let these stones be a witness to what we have done here this day.

Rundown of the UU conference

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For great info, you can follow the twitter feeds of: Marty Duren, Micah Fries, Trevin Wax and me.

For blogs of the full content, be sure to check out Trevin Wax and Steve Weaver.

Ed Stetzer and the Future of Denominations

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Could you tell that I’ve lost my passion for live blogging?  I’d forgotten to even write about Ed until this morning. :)

But I do have several things to offer.

First, Trevin Wax is here and is ready to challenge Timmy Brister for champ of the live blog.  Here are his notes on Ed’s presentation.

Also, here is a link to the tweets I put up at the MissioScapes twitter feed.

Finally, I’d like to summarize my reaction to Ed’s super fast talking.

The gist of it all was that, yes, we will have denominations, but what they will look like has yet to be determined. Nevertheless, churches naturally will find each other and will work together if they have a passion for the Great Commission.

Still, there are benefits and burdens that go along with denominations. The burdens center around our tendency to focus on the mechanisms of our cooperation rather than our common calling.

The benefits are many and, quite frankly, are both obvious and listed in the above links.

What most struck me about the message was the forceful tone he took calling for cooperation.  This might not surprise you, but what might surprise you is that, at one point, Ed suggested that if certain people can’t get along with the rest of us, insist on attempting to run everyone else out or force us to conform, then THEY should leave the convention.

The people about whom he was speaking were obvious to the engaged SBC observer and even to the more disengaged former SBC blogger, like myself.

In terms of pointed rhetoric, Ed was somewhere between his usual provocativity and Marty Duren from back in the old days.  On the SBC spectrum of “lighting it up,” if Micah Fries is a 1 (humbly opinioned) and Ben Cole is a 10 (Shock & Awe), Ed normally resides in the middle at a happy 5.  I’d have to say that last night, Ed jumped up to 8 on a few occasions, which was kind of fun.

Especially because I agreed with him.

Had he been talking more about me (and he did from time to time) I might not have enjoyed it as much.

The Future of Denominationalism Schedule

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denominationalismI mentioned Friday that I was traveling to Jackson, TN for this conference and as you read this, I am on the road.

I mentioned that I would be blogging and twittering from there during the conference.  given that, you might want to check out my twitter feed: twitter.com/artrogers, or the missioscapes twitter feed: twitter.com/missioscapes, or even these guys, who will also be there: twitter.com/martyduren & twitter.com/micahfries.

My plan is to twitter live, either through my own feed or through the MissioScapes feed, or both.  Then I’ll recap thoughts in a blog post later.

Here is a schedule published by Union University that you might consider if you are looking to follow live tweets on particular issues:


Tuesday, October 6
  • 5:00 p.m. Ed Stetzer: Denominationalism: Is There a Future?
  • 6:00 p.m. Dinner
  • 7:00 p.m. Jim Patterson: Reflections on 400 Years of the Baptist Movement: Who We Are. What We Believe.
Wednesday, October 7
  • Continental Breakfast
  • 8:30 a.m. Harry L. Poe: The Gospel and Its Meaning: Implications for Southern Baptists and Evangelicals
  • 10:00 a.m. Timothy George: Baptists and Their Relations with Other Christians (G. M. Savage Chapel)
  • Noon Luncheon Address – Duane Litfin: The Future of American Evangelicalism
  • 2:00 p.m. Ray Van Neste: The Oversight of Souls: Pastoral Ministry in Southern Baptist and Evangelical Life
  • Afternoon and dinner on your own
  • 7:00 p.m. Corporate Worship: Robert Smith, preaching, (G. M. Savage Chapel)
Thursday, October 8
  • Continental Breakfast
  • 8:30 a.m. Mark DeVine: Emergent or Emerging: Questions for Southern Baptists and North American Evangelicals
  • 10:00 a.m. Daniel Akin: The Future of the Southern Baptist Convention
  • Noon Luncheon Address – Michael Lindsay: Denominationalism and the Changing Religious Landscape in North America
  • 2:00 p.m. Jerry Tidwell: Missions and Evangelism: Awakenings and Their Influence on Southern Baptists and Evangelicals
  • 6:00 p.m. Banquet
  • 7:00 p.m. David S. Dockery: So Many Denominations: The Rise and Decline of Denominationalism and the Shaping of a Global Evangelicalism
Friday, October 9
  • Continental Breakfast
  • 8:30 a.m. Nathan Finn: Southern Baptists and Evangelicals: Passing on the Faith to the Next Generation
  • 10:00 a.m. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.: Southern Baptists, Evangelicals, and the Future of Denominationalism (G. M. Savage Chapel)

*There is one caveat.  I am also dealing with a great many things personal and professional while on this trip.  I am not guaranteeing that I will be at every session to tweet/blog.  I fully intend to be at the ones I perceive as most relevant.  This is not to discount any of the speakers or their topics, but to simply let everyone know that other things may take precedence for me.

The future of denominations

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Next week, Union University will be hosting a conference entitled Southern Baptists, Evangelicals and the future of denominationalism.

I’m excited to be attending for several reasons, not the least of which is that the topic fascinates me.  I am anxious to hear the thoughts of those being brought in to speak to the issue.

Further, the SBC finds itself in the moment of re-creating itself via the Great Commission Task Force and its impending report in Orlando next year at the Annual Meeting.

I’ll be blogging and twittering from the meeting, but as a primer for that time, I thought that you might be interested in these videos from the B21 Panel at last year’s annual meeting, where the hot topics of the Southern Baptist Convention were discussed by some of the leading voices.

The first video says it’s 80 minutes, but it is only about 40. Total of both videos is about an hour and 20 minutes.

B21 Panel From 2009 SBC Annual Meeting from Sojourn Community Church on Vimeo.

B21 Panel from SBC Annual Meeting Part 2 from Southeastern Seminary on Vimeo.

A study in great crises management

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Yesterday I couldn’t get into my gmail account even though I knew there was mail that I needed to handle there.  Now I know why:

Official Gmail Blog: More on today’s Gmail issue.

Here are some things google did right:

Capable and empowered staff on hand to deal with the issue immediately.

Flexible infrastructure that allowed them to correct the problem without having to create a plan, purchase hardware or put together an inadequate solution.

FULL DISCLOSURE.  Not only did they handle everything, they told their patrons EVERYTHING that happened, why it happened, what they did and what they are doing.  It creates trust among those who are invested to know that they are so on top of what is going on.

I can thing of a few organizations and, er… denominations… er… task forces… that could learn something from google here.

Just sayin’.

GCR Task Force Listening Luncheon Videos


GCR Task Force Listening Luncheon

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GCR Task ForceIf you had told me 3 years ago that I would be sitting, at Ronnie Floyd’s invitation, in his church listening to him, Johnny Hunt and Al Mohler talk about the SBC as being in decline and the need for us to deconstruct that which is complex and bulky to get to what is efficient in accomplishing God’s Mission – I would have thought you insane.

But there I sat, front and center, listening to them say some of the things I had been thinking for years.  Even taking some hits from some dude channelling the spirit of Roger Moran until interrupted and chastised by both Hunt and Floyd, being further corrected by Mohler.

How did I get here?  Am I dreaming?

Some will complain that these guys are just classic middle adopters, attempting to lead from the middle.  Others will say that they’ve offered nothing new.  I’ve heard others say they are simple politicians, finding the flow of the crowd and getting out in front.

Those things may be.  I can’t tell you, but you see, the thing about a middle adopter is, he’s adopted.

These guys seemed pretty genuine to me.  If not, time will tell.  The telling of their sincerity will be in Orlando and it is something for which they asked.  Judge us by Orlando.

Fair enough!

Before I quit blogging about the SBC, I said that if the statesmen of the SBC stood against the wall while I stood to the mic, then the SBC will fall away into decline and there would be no stopping it.

The big deal about the principles and ideas being put forth by the GCRTF is that those speaking are not on the fringe of power within the SBC, but they are the leaders and statesmen.

About time.  Well done.  Thank God.

GCR Task Force Listening Luncheon Today

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Yep, I’m going.

I’m not sure if I’ll bother live blogging, but I might tweet.

If you are interested follow my twitter or the MissioScapes twitter feeds.

I’ll probably write a post event perspective for later in the week.

121 Forum at Frederick Boulevard

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New Missional Cooperative Blog or Let’s Get the Band Back Together

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So a few weeks ago, as I was at my in-law’s house about to head with them to a family reunion vacation for the week, I got a call from Alan Cross.

He started with the line, “I’m trying to get the band back together.”

Flattered that he thought me essential, but wary of being drawn back into a political melee, I was initially non-commital.  I told him I was happy trying to advance the Kingdom from my church and blogging my ideas of the Missio Dei (Mission of God) from 12 Witnesses.  I was not going back “there.”

It was a longer conversation than just that, but I ranted about the foolishness of some and the impure motives of others alongside the personal regrets that I had for my own follies.

Patiently allowing me to disgorge all my emotions, when I was done, Alan simply agreed and said that everyone pretty much felt the same way.

So I said I was “open” to the idea.

Shortly thereafter, during a video conference, Todd Littleton argued that we were Southern Baptists and that, unless we were willing to walk away completely from the SBC, then we had an obligation to stay engaged – at least ideologically.  After all, we are sending part of the tithes and offerings of our church members to the SBC.  We at least owe it to our churches to stay connected.

I had to agree.

Therefore, Paul and Todd Littleton, Marty Duren, David Phillips, John Elam, Alan Cross and I agreed to launch MissioScapes.com where we address the Missio Dei from a Southern Baptist context in several expressions (from rural to urban), but also with an eye toward things beyond our denomination.

It launched today, and we hope to bring you some great ideas alongside some that just won’t fly, but all of which we hope will spur you to think about fulfilling God’s mission to our world.  You’ll be reading interviews, book reviews and original articles from the the 7 editors and beyond.

Just for clarification, this effort is ideological and not political.  We will be addressing SBC related issues, among other things, but nobody needs or wants “a seat at the table” and we have no intention of sponsoring motions or resolutions.  Nor do we have any intent of being drawn into petty side discussions with those that do desire to dwell in the world of political mechanizations.

Oh, and 12 Witnesses is going nowhere.  I’ll still be posting here in the same vein that I have for the last couple of years and there may even be an occasion when I’ll post an article in both places.

I hope to see you around.

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