Are younger leaders in the SBC doing anything, or are they only complaining about what’s wrong with our Convention? This has been brought up a few times recently, and even tonight I was asked, “What are you doing besides talking to bring about the change you desire in the SBC?” While I cannot speak for all of the younger leaders and churches, I can speak for some of us. What are we doing? 1. We are talking. This really is a valid part of the whole process of change. Conversation helps us in our learning. Through discussion online and in person I have seen people (including myself) change direction. For a people that place great emphasis on words/preaching, the use of words should be understandably valuable. As an aside, people should not expect more from a blog/message board than what it can do. That medium is a place of discussion – nothing more. It isn’t where we do our work in the church and world, but where we talk about it.
2. We are writing. By writing I mean some are writing books, others articles, and some letters to denominational leaders. Writing is a way of participating within our Convention, and should aim at solutions. Criticism alone is helpful when an issue is being neglected. Once awareness is raised we can begin directing people toward solutions.
3. We are reworking discipleship. Why do you think we don’t use Lifeway curriculum? Much of it does not fit our approach and/or theology. We are pushing discipleship beyond the “classroom” setting and into homes. We are building it into actual relationships because we believe this is more biblical, and more productive. We are pushing community, serious theology, and emphasizing the experience of truth.
4. We are approaching evangelism differently. We have moved away from canned presentations and toward a more dialogical/relational model of evangelism that involves spiritual diagnosis beyond “lost” and “saved.” Our message of the kingdom is often bigger than the message of personal salvation commonly found in modern approaches.
5. We are participating in the SBC at every level. We are coming to the annual meeting, working with our local and state associations, and taking positions within when nominated. Why, because we want those roles? To be honest we’d rather have more free time or family time. But because we believe God can and will use the Convention, and because we want to partner together with others for the glory of God, we stay involved.
6. We are reforming churches. Theologically, operationally, structurally, et al – many of us are laboring within churches to see reformation and revival. Are we “punching in,” maintaining the status quo and collecting paychecks? No. Instead we are seeking to be faithful to God and his people by leading his people to change wherever necessary no matter what the cost. We are seeking to be faithful to the task of semper reformanda.
7. We are planting churches. Many of us are re-imagining and starting new churches that are theological and missional and therefore breaking many traditions in the process. This is not only a move forward with change, but a move backward as well. We are seeking to return to a 1st century model where we can, while incarnating that ideal in the 21st century.
This is part of what we are doing. We are busy at work - some of it fails and by God's grace some of it works. As you can see, most of it happens at the local church level. In truth, these are not only the things we are doing, but they also become the means by which this work spreads and change continues. The young churches and leaders are not simply complaining, but are talking about what concerns us, and what we are attempting to do about it. Our protest is proactive, not passive.