If you read this blog you know the issues that concern me about our Convention. But I do like the SBC, and thought I would explain why.
- I like that at the center of our cooperative efforts is the autonomy of the local church.
- The resources for cooperation and support through state and local conventions can be great.
- Though we need better ways for churches to connect with more missionaries personally, I love the way in which we fund our missionaries (CP).
- I love the networking potential we have in the Convention (Founders Ministries already does it, and I hope to see more of that sort of thing).
- I love the Convention because of its support of Grace as a church plant. Let me explain this.
When I was in seminary, my home church asked if I would head up the church plant God had been leading them to start. I had always prayed that God would bring us back to where I grew up to start a church, reach the lost, etc. When he opened the door, the work began. Ed Stetzer helped me work my way through the Nehemiah Project while at Southern, and as I studied church planting models I began to see what I thought would work best for our group in the far west suburbs of Chicago (a small group in a small town). As that vision became clear I shared it with the parent church and then had to articulate it for many others while being commissioned through the North American Mission Board. The point was not to start a Reformed church (we would be openly Reformed theologically, that was a given), the point was to establish a Christ-exalting; new testament church; a modern, or perhaps postmodern (thinking historically here) first century church. Truly, we simply wanted to be God's people gathered in the community. Having said that, I was always honest about what we would become if God allowed it. Reformed, plurality of elders leading, deacons serving, engaging the culture, etc. I share all of this to say that I never at any moment found any resistance to our ministry. NAMB, Nehemiah, our State Convention and the local association were all supportive. Both in terms of our method and theology we received no trouble, not even attitude. Even today, the most we get are a few raised eyebrows when they hear about something we believe or do that seems odd to them. Some are curious that we never give the traditional "invitation," that our converts never pray the "sinner's prayer," that we have deaconesses, Theology Pub, etc. Everyone I encounter is excited for our small, but growing church.
For all of the support, financially and spiritually, we are very greatful. This is why I care for the SBC; because they have cared for us.
Our experience is certainly not everyone's. Others have shared their stories with me, and some of them have not had the same support. I know others who have found serious resistance from churches, conventions and/or SBC institutions because of theology or practice that does not violate our confession. This seems to be most common among some of the Reformed brothers and sisters. I'll grant that some of the Reformed SBCers sabatoge their own ministry with a wrong attitude, but the vast majority of the men I have met with who have found opposition to their ministry because of Calvinism are humble, godly evangelists/preachers who want to follow Christ, serve the church and reach their community with the Gospel.
All of this is an attempt to say that while I see a real need for reform and repentance in our Convention, I am in and involved in the SBC, and I really do like it here.