Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Toward continued cooperation in missions: Responding to decisions of Baptist decision makers

Even though this blog is about missions, I have until now decided not to post on controversial convention politics affecting missions such as the 2005 IMB baptism policy or the recent MBC executive committee’s decision to defund Acts 29 church plants. However, I have stated that this blog concerns, at least as one of its objectives, cooperation in missions. Therefore, I will offer these thoughts with the goal of furthering cooperation in missions.

1. As I stated in my previous post on critical contextualization, the danger of slipping into theological error and thus compromising the gospel is real and ever present. As we guard against this danger, sometimes bad decisions will be made, decision makers will over-react, or there will simply be disagreements on specific issues. This is nothing new and should not shock us. Let us be thankful that we serve in a denomination whose leaders are concerned about theological truth, even when they sometimes get it wrong.

2. In most cases, those pastors, laypersons, professors, presidents, trustees (and any other Baptists) that harp on theological matters, do so because of their love for the gospel and for the truth and not for self-aggrandizement or a personal agenda. Younger evangelicals must be careful to respect those with whom we disagree. This means we should not assume motives of others. I have met with several men with who I disagree and have found them to be humble godly men who are, like me, striving to be like Jesus Christ. Let us treat our brothers with respect. Personal character attacks of individual decision makers and influential leaders are neither lawful nor profitable.

3. NEVER blog when angry. No further comment necessary here.

4. Remember, we get it wrong too. In our efforts to be contextual, we can do things that are at least controversial and sometimes over the line. We must be open to others’ challenges and questions about OUR decisions, beliefs and practices. We must think critically about our own efforts to contextualize the gospel and consider outside critique of what we do. I, for one, have made some stupid mistakes that I was convinced were right at the time.

5. Not every perceived injustice is worth fighting about. We must use discernment and choose to battle only over those issues that really matter. The fact that I am personally affected by a policy does not make it a first tier issue. Each issue must be weighed and determined as to whether or not it is an issue worth fighting for.

6. Quit threatening to leave. Constant prophecies or threats that younger evangelicals will leave the Convention are unprofitable and border on being a bit juvenile. If you want to leave, leave. Do it quietly and without fanfare. If not, quit threatening to leave. Serve God where you are, join in cordial dialogue with those you disagree, give financially to missions, and go to the Convention and vote.

7. If sometimes bad decisions are made, remember that God is sovereign. God will work bad policies together for good. No errant decision will thwart his will. You may be personally affected by a bad decision or policy or know someone who is. Here is your chance to trust God. If God wants you to serve Him as a missionary or church planter, no policy is going to stop Him. This just gives God the opportunity to be creative and bring more glory to Himself. Trust Him, He knows what He’s doing :-)


James said...

Well said!

C.W. said...

I agree 100%. There is godly balance in what you write.