Friday, June 29, 2007

Thinking Cooperatively About Missional Christianity

The Purpose of My Blog, Part 3: A Cooperative Conversation

A third purpose of this blog focuses on how Bible believing Christians generally, and Baptists particularly, might work together to fulfill the Great Commission.

Evangelicals for the last few generations have generally been drawn toward a responsible ecumenism. Christians have held a sentiment that all who believe the gospel are brothers and sisters in Christ and should do all they can to build this unity despite differences on peripheral doctrines.[1] While some have held to a kind of liberal ecumenism marked by religious relativism and a “broad tent” mentality, others have sought for a more evangelical type of unity that allows for fellowship among true believers and, when appropriate, working together in Great Commission work.

In recent years, Southern Baptists have renewed their sense of the importance for cooperation. Seven years ago, messengers (myself included) adopted the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message forming the capstone for the conservative resurgence. Since that time, there has been a renewed effort toward working cooperatively in Great Commission work. The executive committee, led by Morris Chapman, has called for increased cooperation among churches challenging messengers in its annual reports, introducing the theme “Empowering Kingdom Growth,” and a leading in a renewed commitment to the Cooperative Program. The International Mission Board has led in developing ways churches can partner in the global effort. At the same time, the board has renewed guidelines that both allow cooperation with other groups and set parameters for how it could be done appropriately. Many other things could be mentioned that demonstrate this trend toward cooperation, but suffice it to say that Southern Baptists continue to think both about how we might promote partnership in missions and evangelism and how we might do so appropriately.

The purpose of this blog begins at the next level. Once determining the appropriate boundaries for responsible partnership, how can we best cooperate as missional Christians and churches? What are the ways in which we can do so? Southern Baptists are perhaps most familiar with financial cooperation through the Cooperative Program. But beyond joint funding of mission efforts, Christians ought to think through ways we can partner together for kingdom purposes (through prayer, mutual encouragement, sharing of ideas, and appropriate joint efforts). It will be the purpose of this blog to explore ways in which Baptists and other evangelicals can work together toward His Kingdom purposes.

[1] For a great assessment about doctrinal differences and their relative importance, see Dr. Albert Mohler’s recent blog entry, “A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity.”

No comments: