Posted tagged ‘Missouri Baptist Convention’

MBC, Acts 29, and ‘Cultural Liberalism’

May 19, 2008

The issue of alcohol and the redefinition of conservatism has been a hot topic in the SBC for the past three years, but perhaps the consequences of such a controversy are not greater evidenced than in the Missouri Baptist Convention.  Under the direction of Roger Moran, fundamentalists have continued the fight against what they are now calling “cultural liberalism” and more specifically churches they find to espouse it. 

The churches in the MBC which Moran and Co. have found unworthy of convention support and affiliation are primarily those within the Acts 29 Network.  Since April of last year, I (along with several other bloggers) have followed the agenda to disassociate these churches from the SBC, and in December it was announced that they were being de-funded when MBC reneged on their commitments as a tribute to their continued battlecry against “cultural liberalism.”  For background to this controversy, check out:

* Acts 29 and the MBC [April 28, 2007]
* When I Am Ashamed to be a Southern Baptist [December 11, 2007)
* Let’s Talk About Accountability–Let’s Talk About You and Me [December 15, 2007]
* A More ‘Conventional’ Way of Supporting MBC Church Plants [December 16, 2007]
* Update on the Acts 29 Churches and the Missouri Baptist Convention [January 11, 2008]

Last Tuesday (May 13), the battlecry was again trumpeted at a state-wide meeting held by Moran and others to deal with a myriad of issues, not the least of which included, in their words:

NAMB-sponsored events featuring Acts 29 and Emerging church leaders as well as the recent hiring of David McAlpin (one of the 11 SOC leaders who helped the Journey in St. Louis plant an Acts 29 church in St. Charles that also had a bar-room ministry in a micro-brewery.  McAlpin’s son is an intern at the Journey).   

This is also about the downloading of “cultural liberalism” into MBC/SBC churches. 

Not only that, but Moran has included my friend Micah Fries as a topic of discussion.  Moran writes:

The pastor that spoke against the alcohol resolution at the 2007 MBC annual meeting has been named to the SBC Committee on Committees which names the SBC Nominating Committee.  This pastor, Micah Fries, is strongly supportive of Acts 29.  (SOC spokesman David Sheppard served on this committee last year.) 

For the record, I am not directly affiliated to the Acts 29 Network, and I am an abstentionist.  However, what is really troubling is that my fellow Southern Baptists are making their stance on alcohol a litmus test for conservatism and more consequently a dividing line for financial support of church plants.  It is not a matter of theological liberalism or rejecting the Baptist Faith & Message (2000); rather, it is the repackaging of fundamentalism in the quest to root out what they have called “cultural liberalism.”

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A More ‘Conventional’ Way of Supporting SBC Church Plants

December 16, 2007

My last article was rather long, and included in the piece was specific information regarding how you and I can support the church plants that will be de-funded by the Missouri Baptist Convention in a couple of weeks.

As I understand it, while there are nine Acts29/SBC churches in the MBC, only four are being immediately affected financially. Here’s how it breaks down:

>> CHURCHES <<

Believer’s Church (losing $1,000 a month)
#1 YMCA Drive
Hannibal, MO 63401
573.221.8889
Pastor: Sam Byers

Genesis Church (losing $1,000 a month)
4525 Highway 109
Eureka, MO 63025
635.549.3179
Pastor: Mike Hubbard

Karis Community Church (losing $500 a month)
P.O. Box 572
Columbia, MO 65205
573.823.4130
Pastor: Kevin Larson

The Journey St. Louis (see Darrin’s comment below)
7701 Maryland Ave.
Saint Louis, MO 63105
314.863.8448
Pastor: Darrin Patrick

>> GIVE <<

For the upcoming year, a total of $30,000 will be needed to maintain current support for the three churches above (Believers, Genesis, and Karis). There are a number of ways we can help meet this challenge. Here are some ideas:

1. If you a minister or pastor, consider taking up a special offering on behalf of these churches sometime in the next three months.

2. Consider contributing a small amount each month to the “Show Me Church Planting Fund.” If a total of 300 people end up giving a total of only $100 (per person) next year, then the $30k goal could be met.

3. If you know you will be receiving additional income, for instance, from you income tax refund next year, then perhaps you could give a portion of that in a one-time offering.

So where are we to send our financial gifts? Below is the information and directions for sending all checks and financial contributions:

St. Louis Metro Baptist Association
(designate it for the “Show Me Church Planting Fund”)

Mailing address:

St. Louis Metro Bapt. Assoc.
attn. Darren Casper
3859 Fee Fee Road
Bridgeton, Mo. 63044

You may contact Darren at 314-571-7579, extension 103.

>> PRAY <<

Friends, let us also not forget to pray about this situation. Pray for these pastors and young church plants. Pray for the MBC and those behind this motion. Pray for the SBC at large. Pray for the Acts 29 Network and future church plants, including those associated with the SBC.

Lastly, we need to get some perspective on this whole situation. The Missouri Baptist Convention next year will have $10.5 million in their piggy bank to use at their discretion. We are talking here about $30,000. Doing the math will tell you that $10.5 million can be broken down to 350 different $30k blocks. We are talking about only one. Now, what the MBC does with the other 349 blocks of $30k you and I have no idea. But I tell you now, I feel much more comfortable with my Southern Baptist dollar in the hands of the “Show Me Church Planting Fund” than the MBC piggy bank. Let us put our money and pool our resources together in a way that we are fueling front-line church plants, not a back room bureaucracy.

Let’s Talk About Accountability – Let’s Talk About You and Me

December 15, 2007

Don Hinkle is the editor of MBC’s state paper, The Pathway, and could perhaps be considered the authorized spokesperson for their Executive Board. What makes Hinkle unique is that he is also a blogger who happens to believe that fellow bloggers cannot address issues like the de-funding of Southern Baptist churches in a Christ-like manner. Granted, we can all admit that the unprecedented decision does raise a lot of emotion, frustration, and even anger, and I would argue rightfully so; however, I am afraid that the substance of the disagreement is written off prima facie simply because we are “amateurs” and not professional journalists. But be that as it may, I would like to respond to Hinkle’s comments in the hopes that, perhaps, he and others in the SBC might give a listening ear.

In his latest blogpost, Hinkle begins with the statement:

In Missouri Baptist Convention life, next to Christ and His Word, there is no higher authority than the convention’s Executive Board.

I find this an odd way to begin for several reasons, not the least of which is that denominational leaders are otherwise considered “denominational servants” who exist to serve Southern Baptist churches, not exercise authority over them. As we all know, the issue before the MBC regarding Acts 29 churches has to do with the issue of alcohol. Now, consider how their authority is being exercised over their respective churches. Interim Executive Director David Tolliver passionately argued that alcohol consumption at any level is “a violation of Romans 14, which urges Christians not to cause a brother or sister in Christ to stumble.” Therefore, Tolliver believes “Missouri Southern Baptists ought to abstain from the imbibing of alcoholic beverages.” So what grounds the exercise of making such a decision? Consider Tolliver’s confession:

“I understand that the Bible does not say, ‘Thou shalt not drink. . . . The Bible doesn’t say that. I get that. The Bible doesn’t say ‘Thou shalt not drink’ anytime, anywhere, for any reason. It’s not that explicit. I’m a little slow at it, but I can read, and I understand that the Bible does not say that. The Bible does not specifically call the drinking of alcohol a sin—not in so many words.” (emphasis mine)

So Tolliver believes that the position the MBC is holding to, and exercising authority over, is not found in the Bible. Now, go back to Hinkle’s first comment. He says there is no higher authority, next to Christ and His Word, than the Executive Board of the MBC. Perhaps it should be restated that there is no higher authority in the MBC than the Executive Board period, since the explicit confession by their director reveals they have no biblical warrant for executing their motion among the churches. The only ground they have to stand upon is their own convictions, not the authority of God’s Word. That alone should cause enough concern for us Southern Baptists who believe that Scripture is our sole and final authority, not the dictates of men.

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When I Am Ashamed to be a Southern Baptist

December 11, 2007

UPDATE 12.12.07 :: 7:30 p.m. EST: Scott Thomas, director of Acts 29 Network, has responded to the motion.

My good friend Scott Lamb, also a contributor to Missouri’s state paper The Pathway, has reported that members of the Executive Board presented and passed a motion (28-10) during the miscellaneous business session that sets down a “no-partnership with Acts 29″ rule for MBC church plants. Here is the motion:

Effective Jan 1, The Acts 29 Network is an organization which the MBC Exec Bd. Staff will not be working with, supporting, or endorsing in any manner at anytime.

It was amended with the following statement:

While recognizing the autonomous nature of all areas of MBC life beyond that of the Executive Board Staff, the MBC Executive Board directs the Church Planting Department and other ministry departments to not provide CP dollars toward those affiliated with the Acts 29 Network.

What this means is that dually affiliated churches (Acts 29 and SBC) will not be able to receive church planting funds from the Missouri Baptist Convention.

For background information to this embarrassing situation, you need to read this post. Scott makes an excellent point, reflecting:

I just wonder where all the church-planting police were 10-15 years ago when I resisted the siren song of Willowcreek and Saddleback, only to have it thrown up in my face by Baby-Booming pastors that I was an arrogant idiot who resisted the work of God in my generation if I didn’t buy into the seeker model.

In addition, I do wonder if the MBC will be consistent and pass a reciprocal measure that keeps Cooperative Program dollars from coming into MBC coffers via such polluted churches.

For all of us Southern Baptist who are committed to building bridges in the SBC, this is a day where we should all be ashamed of being one. Let’s be clear on this. The issue about the MBC and Acts 29 is not merely about alcohol; it’s about the future direction of the SBC and who will be leading us there. For 2008, the MBC will be keeping $10.5 million of Cooperative Program money to be used for their own causes, just not church planting with Acts 29. With all that many and with so many less church plants to fund, one has to wonder what exactly they are planning to do with that $10.5 million. Abstinence billboard campaign? Hiring “specialists” to do weekly inspections of MBC churches that give traces of Acts 29 involvement? Church planting recruiters? But I digress.

Scott asks a pointed question:

Have we really come to the point as a denomination that we encourage muscle-men power teams to come and blow up hot water bottles and break bricks over their heads, but we cannot condone what basically amounts to a Francis Schaeffer approach to cultural engagement with the lost? Acts 29 doesn’t walk on water, but at least there is a serious-minded approach to the gospel that leaves the buttons, balloons, and baloney in the dust.

It is not enough to shake our heads and move on as though we think this situation is isolated to Missouri and Acts 29 churches. As we have seen, one state’s precedence becomes another state’s principle, and if they will do this to Acts 29 churches, what makes us think they will not do it to Founders or IX Marks churches? It is times like this that I wish some of our SBC leaders would step into the ring, even if they happen to disagree with the alcohol issue. Those of us who are passionate about the gospel, church planting, and building networks and partnerships with others in the evangelical world with like-minded passions cannot and must not tolerate these kinds of actions in the SBC. May God grant courage and conviction to steer the convention away from the fundamentalism and folly before us today.

Other responses:

Scott Lamb: Missouri Baptist Convention vs. Acts 29
Micah Fries: Acts 29 Is Banned
Tom Ascol: Missouri Baptists Axe Acts 29
Steve McCoy: No Funding for SBC/Acts 29 Church Plants in Missouri
Tim Ellsworth: MBC enacts ‘no partnership with Acts 29′ rule for church plants
Aaron Martin: The Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Committee Should Repent
Marc Backes: I Guess That Answers That Question
Talitha Koum: Missouri Bites a Hand That Feeds It
Borrowed Light: The Effects of the Acts29/MBC Decision