Acts 29, State Conventions, and Acts 1:11 Conference

This week is a rather interesting week in the life of the SBC.  Three meetings took place in the SBC world which are worth noting, especially in comparing and contrasting them.  They are:

1.  The Acts 29 Ambition Bootcamp held at Sojourn in Louisville
2.  The respective state convention meetings across the country
3.  The Acts 1:11 Conference held by Jerry Vines Ministries

I’ve penned my thoughts on the differences and similarities between the three, but I’m interested in your thoughts, especially on the various points:

* Those who attend (who, why, average age)
* Conference or Meeting Purpose
* Theological Emphasis or Meeting Theme (like, dislike, agree, disagree)
* What Each Represents within the SBC World
* Their Future in the SBC (increasing, decreasing)

Given that these all converged on the same week in the SBC calendar, I thought it would be worth thinking about their implications and what they, as a snapshot, might reveal about the SBC and its future.

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29 Comments on “Acts 29, State Conventions, and Acts 1:11 Conference”

  1. Matt Svoboda Says:

    What does this reveal about SBC’s future?

    1) We will continue to emphasize planting churches, which is great. This is a healthy sign for the convention.

    2) In the majority, the SBC will continue to have bad Eschatology. 🙂

  2. Jacob Hall Says:

    I will be attending the Acts 1:11 conference because I will receive 3 hours credit towards my MDiv. Ironically I opted to skip out of the Georgia Baptist Convention on Tuesday and was jealous of all my Acts 29 brothers who were able to go to the bootcamp. I am actually taking a break from finishing my last pre-conference assignment to type this.

    The trend that we have seen will continue, Jerry Vines Ministries will continue to appeal to the older generation of leaders while in most cases isolating the younger, with the exception of the crowd that follows the Caner brothers.

    I fear that we will be more like the Niagara Bible Conference than JVM realizes with our end times positions.

    Ironically they state that it was unthinkable for sometime that a Baptist would be anything other than a Historic Premillenialist. Which is an appeal to historic view, and not an argument from scripture. Which, if I recall correctly, is exactly the opposite of what makes up Baptist.

    Just something to think about…

    I’ll update after I attend the conference.

    Jacob

    • tom ascol Says:

      Jacob:

      You’re getting 3 hours credit toward an MDiv to attend the Acts 1:11 conference? Which seminary do you attend? What professor/class is offering this deal? I am intrigued.

      Thanks,
      tom

    • Greg Alford Says:

      Jacob,

      I, like Tom, would like to know how you are getting 3 hours MDiv credit for attending the Acts 1:11 conference?

      I would like to know what seminary is offering this deal… because I have attended enough conferences over the years to get my MDiv if they are giving out credit hours for attending conferences.

      Grace & Blessings,
      Greg

      • Jacob Hall Says:

        Tom and Greg,

        I am a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I attend the Atlanta Campus. NOBTS is one of the supporting schools for the conference and Vines is an NOBTS grad.

        I have several assignments for the class, as well as conference attendance. We have two class meeting times, one before the conference starts on Thursday, and one on Friday after the conference ends.

        I have to write a reflection paper on the conference, a 12 page single spaced position paper on where I fall on the endtimes and why, read and review three books, attend the two classes and the conference. Its a modified J-Term.

        Tom, It was in the pre-conference class that David Allen made the Founders comment that I emailed you the details of.

        • Greg Alford Says:

          Jacob,

          I knew it was to good to be true… 🙂

        • Jacob Hall Says:

          A couple of points of clarification. I originally said Historic, I mispoke, the position held by and advocated by the speakers is Dispensational Premillinialist.

          Also, Peter Lumpkins referenced my comments on his blog, and links to this blog. Since I am blocked on his, i wish to clarify his mischaracterizing my words. I never stated I “had” to be at Acts 1:11. I said that I was taking it to help finish my degree sooner. There is a difference between having to do something, and being opportunistic.

          I also hold no ill will towards Jerry Vines or Jerry Vines Ministries. Dr. Vines and I had the chance to speak during breakfast about my education and how thankful I was for his SBC leadership, and that I appreciated the chance to attend the conference. However, I make no excuse for the fact that I would not have attended had it not been for the class and 3 hours credit.

          As a wrap up to the conference, Most of the men were hospitable and friendly to other view points.

          The only man at the conference who needs to clarify his statements (and probably apologize for them) is Ergun Caner. His wild claims and assertations are without base. I heard several people state that they were Premill Pre-trib and were offended by his false representation of the AMill camp.

          • Greg Alford Says:

            Jacob,
            You mention three things that I want to note:
            1) You say your professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary used the offer of 3 credit hours to those who would attend this seminar to entice you to go. I do not blame you for taking advantage of this opportunity, but unless this is the normal practice of the Seminary, and is open to a wide diversity of seminars of differing theological positions, it smells of someone using their position at NOBTS to the questionable support and possible financial gain of a friend??? We can only imagine the outcry that would erupt if Southern Seminary offered credit hours for those attending the Founders conference each year, or if Southeastern Seminary offered credit hours for those attending the Building Bridges conference.
            2) Peter Lumpkins mischaracterized your words. Really??? …Now there a surprise for “No one”.
            3) Ergun Caner made offensive, baseless, and wild assertations… Ergun Caner falsely represented the theological position of others… “No Way… I don’t believe it!” (Sarcasm intended)
            Grace Always,
            Greg

  3. John Says:

    Timmy,
    Our state convention meeting (Michigan) was at the end of October, but Morris Chapman was there to speak. He took the opportunity to make an unfavorable comment about the GCR Taskforce. I Tweeted this and at least one pastor (who is probably representative of others) said that he was suspicious of the GCRTF too. All of his reasons were basically the rumors going around that Akin had tried to dismiss on the SEBTS blog.

    I am very fearful that many people think this is about a power-grab rather than a prioritizing around the Great Commission and the great need that exists for global missions. I think that for some who believe it this reveals something in them as well: a heart that longs to keep hold of existing power/resources. These things keep me on my knees in prayer.

    Hopeful for Orlando,
    John

    • Brent Hobbs Says:

      I think “power grab” is the default accusation when (1) you don’t agree with someone or are suspicious of what they are trying to do but (2) don’t have anything of substance to refute their position.

      Most people aren’t opposed to “power grabs” by people with whom they agree and share priorities.

  4. joshjcollins Says:

    I went to the state convention in Missouri this year, and with the exceptions of young church planters seeking sponsoring partnerships (mostly in the exhibition hall), it was a very old crowd.

  5. poopemerges Says:

    Southern Baptist are Historic Pre-mil? Like in the G.E. Ladd sense? I did not know that. Having grown up GARBC I assumed all Baptist tended toward the Tim Lehaye vision of the end. At least a Historic view is Biblically tenable.

    D

  6. michaeldebusk Says:

    Timmy,

    Just back from the GA Convention. A sprinkling of younger guys, though still mostly middle-aged and older.

    Pros:
    Exhortations to depend on the Lord for his provision during tough economic times.

    Missions report times were outstanding, as were reports from Gerald Harris for the Index and from Emir Caner for Truett-McConnell College.

    Great theme in “LoveLoud: Light It Up” and great ministry through the LoveLoud project. Our group got to distribute food at a local trailer park where an FBC Woodstock small group has an ongoing outreach ministry. It was very well organized and very well received. It was also a tremendous opportunity to share the Gospel with folks. Hats off to all those who put this event together and to the over 1100 who participated in the evangelistic service projects.

    Cons:
    There was an obvious circling the wagons on the definition of who’s a good Cooperative Program supporter and who’s not. An anti-GCR mood was evident throughout, with platform speakers constantly referring to how our problems are spiritual, not structural (why is this constantly assumed to be mutually exclusive?!), how the CP has worked in its present form for generations so don’t even think about altering percentages, and so on. We even passed another CP support resolution just to make it clear that the 50/50 formula originated with apostles and that any church that diverts CP funds to other ministries obviously doesn’t love missions or Jesus (unless they’ve given their 10% first). The only thing that came close to a pro-GCR move, was the appointment of a state convention task force made up of the usual folks to evaluate the effectiveness of convention programs. It was announced literally in the convention’s closing minutes. The huge irony in all of this, of course, is that we were meeting at FBC Woodstock this year.

    Another alcohol resolution, just to make sure that we’ve gone on record about the issue 🙂 This one was directed at anybody who tries to reach out to folks in proximity to a bar (Just for the record, I’m a teetotaler).

    • Thomas Twitchell Says:

      “This one was directed at anybody who tries to reach out to folks in proximity to a bar…”

      That’s weird, there are lots of bars in rich neighborhoods. We have bars within blocks of some SBC churches in very upscale haunts. I can’t imagine SBC churches forsaking the green pastures for brown. It makes you wonder if they would take “a bar the door Sally” attitude towards visitors? And I guess that would mean no visitations at Aunt Audries. Love that choke-cherry wine she puts up. “Ah, to * with her.” Yeah, that makes for a good Evangelism slogan.

      • michaeldebusk Says:

        Admittedly, the “proximity” part was a bit tongue in cheek. I honestly can’t remember what it said exactly.

  7. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    I can’t really comment on the five points (interesting), but the convergent dates of these at divergent places says that some view unity as non-emergent. As one group of them might say, “Whose sayin’ we need to recover the Gospel, we dint knows it went missin’.”

  8. Jeremy Burrage Says:

    Timmy,
    Sneaky Dave & I are headed to Huntsville Monday for the Alabama State Convention. Give us some wisdom on how to get the most and give the most to the Convention


    • Jeremy,

      Well, I don’t know what to tell you exactly. You will likely hear the culture warriors during the resolutions time (anti-alcohol, gambling, etc.), a debate over the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) and perhaps an apologetic that we do not need to change structures but stay the same but only do more (the problems are spiritual, not structural talking point).

      The best way to make the most of these meetings is to connect with folks and network with them. Find pastors or the remnants of those under 40 and have dinner together. Create a forum where there can be candid conversation where differing perspectives can be shared and respected though not everyone will agree. See if you can connect with men like David Platt, Buddy Gray, and Al Jackson especially who are, IMO, the biggest influencers in AL right now. They are all great men whom I’ve come to love and appreciate personally.

      Other than that, don’t get discouraged by the flashes of fundamentalism or cheers of triumphalism. Pay close attention to how the CP is explained, how and where money is spent (and percentages), and observe from the kind of people attending as well as the subjects being discussed what the direction of the state convention is heading. There are some state conventions that are poised to do some great things because of their desire for reform and transparency. I’m not sure that ABSC is one of them.

      Have fun, and send my love and regards to Kizzie.

  9. Jacob Hall Says:

    Here is something that happened in my pre-conference class. David Allen, one of the speakers, came into the class to interact and answer questions.

    Dr. Allen stated that the early church fathers held to a position of Premillenial. He never mentioned their rapture position, probably because its hard to get a martyr to say they will escape punishment.

    He followed that up by saying if you are going to start a “Founders Ministry” thats a point you need to know.

    Knowing Allen’s position on Calvinism and dislike of Founders Ministry, I knew his choice of words was very intentional.


    • Thanks for the comment, Scott! I hope you are doing well. Happy (belated) Birthday man. Wish I could have been there in Louisville for the bootcamp.

      And, I am really encouraged to see the partnership with SBTS/Mohler/Moore taking place in recent months.

      BTW, the church bought me a livescribe pulse pen back in May for my 1 yr anniversary. 🙂 Thanks for the tip.

  10. Frank! Says:

    Timmy,
    I was sent as a delegate to the California Convention this week (I ended up being a visitor due to some error) and I was there for the last days activities, I can tell you it ended with a very somber message by President Walter PRice. In short, he had the delegates all stand. And then had us sit down as he called out each age group, starting with 65 and ending at 40. There were about ten people left standing (in a room of 300) when he got to 40. Reading from 1 Corinthians 3 (divisions in the church) he said that the California Convention is in danger of becoming impotent and/or weak in the next 15 to 20 years. At best it will be a loose collaboration of various associations (divided by geography or ethnicity).

    At stake he said was our Co-Op, our educational institutions, and our outreach and compassion ministries. He felt that those trying to build their own kingdoms, or those who were already disparaging the GCR recommendations (without having seen them) were taking a bad approach in dealing with the problem. It is a very real problem.

    He called for a “new normal”. That is, a change in how we do things. I’ll have fuller notes at my blog, soon, but i have to include what he ended with.

    He interviewed some young pastors and church planters. He asked them what they would do if everyone in charge over 50 disappeared. One said, ” We’d have to start over” T which someone else responded, ” If we wanted to”.
    I have my own thoughts on this (which I’ll have at my blog) but one of my friends pointed out that most all the people on the stage (minus Cal Baptists Men’s chorale) all had gray hair. I noticed that there was little to no interaction with current technology. I’m hoping that this address will be posted on-line (they mentioned paying for them) because it’s something we all need to hear.

    • Frank! Says:

      My link was put in wrong, my blog can be found at letmypeopleread.blogspot.com On another note, it would seen that the same problems are being faced more over. I don’t htink it helps that lot of these new younger church planters and pastors are Reformed.

      • Greg Alford Says:

        Frank,

        “I don’t htink it helps that lot of these new younger church planters and pastors are Reformed.”

        Please explaine???

        • Frank! Says:

          What I mena to say is, that because they are young and Reformed, it becomes yet another barrier for them to cross. Sorry for the mix up. My notes should be up tomorrow if anyone is interested.

  11. Hutch Says:

    The Baptist Standard of Texas had some interesting numbers on the BGCT annual meetings that demonstrate the decline of state conventions:

    the Houston annual meeting itself drew only 1,493 elected messengers and 626 registered guests, down from the 1,891 at the 2008 meeting in Fort Worth and the least number since 1,667 attended the 1949 meeting in El Paso. While the messenger count for several years in the 1930s and 1940s was not available, the lowest participation on record was 1,445 in 1937.

    In contrast, the largest meeting in BGCT history—the 1991 annual meeting in Waco, when the convention was dealing with controversy surrounding a charter change for Baylor University—drew 11,159. Excluding that year, the average number of messengers at annual meetings in the 1990s was 5,941.

    After the 2000 annual meeting in Corpus Christi, which drew 6,713 messengers, the numbers dropped to 3,317 in 2001 and 3,327 in 2002. The convention hasn’t reached reached the 3,000-messenger level since then, and the numbers have declined every year since 2004.

    • Adam Harwood Says:

      Frequent reader but rare post-er.

      Thought it might be helpful to mention that TX is one of the few states in the nation with two state conventions. Although still on the decline, the reality is not as bad as Hutch’s figures suggest. The other convention, the SBT, has grown every year for its 11 years of existence.

      • Hutch Says:

        The SBTC had 889 messengers and 423 this year. Of course, the meeting was in Lubbock which may have depressed attendance by a few hundred. Still, that means that there were only 2,382 at the two state conventions COMBINED – nearly 1,000 less than than the BGCT alone in 2002. From what I have heard, the audience is largely old people at both state convention meetings. The BGCT has declined partially because it moved away from the SBC, causing many churches to flee to the SBTC. But the BGCT has also declined simply because state conventions are becoming increasingly irrelevant.


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