Sunday, May 30, 2010
On Monday our President will place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, to acknowledge the sacrifices made by our veterans in all wars. Earlier today, in Kabul, Afghanistan, active duty troops have already had a memorial service for their fallen comrades. Across the river in Ironton, Ohio, the streets will be lined by hundreds of people to view the longest continually running Parade in America - the 139th Annual Ironton Memorial Day Parade. Ceremonies like these will be held on military installations, in cemeteries, parks, and streets of big cities and small towns all across America today. This is fitting and proper because of the many veterans who gave "their last full measure of devotion" while fighting various enemies under the Stars and Stripes that represented their homes, families, freedom, and American way of life.
May we never forget the sacrifices they (and their families) have made for us.
My own family has had its share of men who have served, and I am proud of them all. My great grandfather, Cumberland Adkins (Sr.) a Civil War soldier, and my grandfather, Caudle Adkins, Sr. served in the Army in WWI. He was gassed in the Argonne Forest and eventually died of lung cancer at a relatively early age. Dad (Caudle, Jr.) and his older brother "Buster" served in the US Navy during WWII. Dad's younger brother, Sammy, enlisted in the Air Force during the mid 50's. An uncle on my mother's side, Jerry "Bob" Stidham also served in the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. My brother, Bruce and I both had Viet Nam era service - he in the Navy and I in the Air Force.
On Linda's side of the family the heritage is just as rich. Her Grandfather, Cornelius Bowling was a WWI Doughboy, his brother, Andy, was held as a POW by the Germans. Linda's father, Burgess, served under General Patton, taking part in invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy during WWII. Her uncle, William Smith, Jr, (a Marine) was the only family member to die while on active duty - although his death was not combat related. Linda also had several cousins who proudly served in the Armed Forces.
My brothers in law, Danny, Burgess Ray, and Bob Bowling were also veterans. Danny was an Airman, stationed in England and Langley AFB, Virginia. Burgess Ray (who later died in a mining accident) did two tours of duty with the Marines in Viet Nam and served for several years as a Marine Recruiter. Bob, also a Marine, was injured while on duty, just before his discharge in the early 70's. A couple of my nephews have also served - young Dan Bowling and Christopher Bennett also served in the Air Force. My younger son, Benji, enlisted in the US Marine Corps and faced enemy fire in Kosovo.
That's the way it has gone down through history. There have been a number of career military men and women during the history of our nation, but the vast majority of our veterans have been like those listed above - average Americans who give of themselves to serve their country. Many of them never returned to their families and homes. Let us never forget their great sacrifices on our behalf, nor the unimaginable loss suffered by their families.
All gave some, some gave all.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
- Our funding formula of 80/20% for many of our state convention staff salaries would collapse.
- NAMB would have the authority to unilaterally appoint people to work in WV and put them in place, with no cooperation with our state convention.
- A "new and liberated NAMB" would develop a strategy for West Virginia, apart from input from our state convention and it's churches (page 10 of the report) We presently develop mission strategy and confer with NAMB for approval.
In West Virginia, if the agreements ended today, we would lose major funding for:
- 9 of our 10 local association Directors of Missions
- The State Convention Director of Missions
- The State Evangelism Director
- The State WMU/Women's Ministry Director
- All three Campus Ministers
- Our Resort Missionaries
- 12 Church Planters
- Our State Missions Volunteer Coordinator
- 35% of our state convention budget
As you can see, this would be a true crisis for our state convention if it were to happen today. The report recommends phasing out the agreements over seven years. Even then this would be a difficult pill for the Mountain State to swallow.
Members of the Task Force have assured some of our state pastors, that we "don't have to worry about West Virginia. It will be taken care of." That is all well and good, but the report does not address how the agreements will be replaced. We are facing a lot of unknown out there and to some of us it almost smacks of the verbiage that we heard with "Obamacare". "Just trust us!"
We want to trust these men that we have long held deep respect for, but it is asking a lot, to just go along with the recommendations, with no firm answers to our questions anywhere in sight. Seriously, the whole thing is just open ended enough to cause concern, and that is why I say the jury is still out on this component.
These are my basic disagreements with the report. Many folks are in agreement with me on these points. That doesn't make us bad Southern Baptists, it just means we have a difference of opinion. Unfortunately I have already seen subtle charges that paint those who may disagree with portions of the report to be negative, and somehow opposed to "Penetrating the Lostness" in America and around the world. I can't answer for everyone who may have issues with the report, but I can say unequivocally that I love the SBC. I love lost people. I love the members of the GCRTF. I believe in the Great Commission, and I am committed to continue to lead my congregation in maintaining and growing in its 95 year history of being a Great Commission Church. We have planted other churches in the past, and we look for opportunites to do so in the future. We will continue to give 10% to the Cooperative Program We will continue to support our local association. We will continue to give to Annie, and Lottie, and Ola Cox. We will continue to be involved in Disaster Relief, and short term overseas mission trips. We believe in the Great Commission!
I'll vote my conscience on the seven recommendations from the GCRTF, but if I happen to vote "No" on two of them, don't tell me I'm not in favor of "Penetrating the Lostness".
That is one West Virginia pastor's opinion, "For What It's Worth".
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
- Page had won with 50.48% of the vote
- Floyd was a distant second with 24.95%
- Sutton, third with 24.08%
The reason for the upset? I believe it was twofold. The first factor in Page's favor was the tremendous nominating speech given by the late Forrest Pollack, pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Florida. Pollack's speech not only revealed much about Page, but also emphasised what I believe to be the most important factor in Frank Page's election over the other two well known candidates. Page pastored a church that gave more than 12% of its undesignated receipts to the SBC Cooperative Program. The other two churches led by Floyd and Sutton gave much lower percentages. Granted, these churches gave tremendous amounts of money to various mission works (as did FBC Taylors) but the Cooperative Program giving was woefully low in comparison.
Cooperation has long been the key word in Southern Baptist work. The giants of our Convention of the past understood the simple truth that we can all do more together than we can do individually. That is why local autonomous churches voluntarily join together to cooperate in local associations, state conventions, and the world wide work of the SBC. 85 years ago, the Cooperative Program of giving came about for the same reason. The concept was simple, but powerful in its scope. Each local church would give its own determined amount (usually a set percentage) of its undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program. That offering would be sent on to the respective state convention. The state convention would keep a self determined percentage for the mission work of that convention, and send the remainder of the local church's Cooperative Program gifts to the Executive Committee in Nashville, to be distributed among the various entities of the Southern Baptist Convention. The amounts sent to each entity, would be budgeted as determined by the local churches duly elected "messengers" to the SBC Annual Meeting.
Presently, here is how the Cooperative Program monies are divided among the various SBC entities in the SBC Allocation Budget:
- 50% to the International Mission Board for world missions
- 22.79% to the North American Mission Board
- 22.16% for theological education (with 21.9% being divided among the six SBC seminaries - in a formula based on full time enrollment and 0.24% supports the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives
- 3.4% for the SBC Operating Budget/Facilitating Ministries
- 1.65% to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
(LifeWay Christian Resources and Guidestone Financial Services are self supporting)
Part of the monies that go to the North American Mission Board are sent back to some of the state conventions as set up in cooperative agreements between NAMB and the state conventions to help with church planting, collegiate ministries, etc. The Cooperative Program has served this Convention well for 85 years as arguably the greatest mission funding program ever known to Christendom. It allows churches such as my own to support more than 10,000 missionaries at home and abroad as well as helping keep theological education affordable for the students in six seminaries!
Our church is larger than some SBC churches and smaller than others. Our Annual Church Profile for 2009 shows a total of $41,766. in total mission expenditures. Of that amount, $25,673 (10% of our undesignated offerings) go to the Cooperative Program. The rest is given to other causes such as 3% to our local association; along with designated offerings to "those three women" - Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, Ola Cox (State Missions); SBC Disaster Relief; regular support for two national pastors at SBC churches in the Philippines; as well as local mission projects in our state and city.
Let me say loud and clear that I do not believe that 10% Cooperative Program giving should be a litmus test for what should be considered as a "cooperating" SBC church, but I think it is a good place to start. In our personal giving, Linda and I start with 10% to our local church, and then add designated amounts for offerings for other projects or ministries. I share that vision in any church that I lead, and I believe it is a good pattern for our SBC giving as well. Baptist churches are indeed autonomous and can give however and wherever they choose to outside causes, but for my money there is much more "bang for the buck" through the Cooperative Program.
To me, the most odious (and I believe, dangerous) part of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Final Report is the language on Component Three- "Celebrating and Empowering Great Commission Giving". While the Task Force gives lip service to the Cooperative Program in this article (and also in Component Six) it coins a new moniker, "Great Commission Giving". This Great Commission Giving would encompass the Cooperative Program, but also ALL mission giving into the same category - for the purpose of "Celebrating" the amount given by local churches.
Pardon my cynicism, but to this pastor the only reason for such language is to divert attention from the paltry percentages given to the Cooperative Program by some huge churches, whose pastors often seek and hold high offices in our Convention. That is precisely what happened in Greensboro in 2006. The messengers looked at the Cooperative Program giving of the churches whose leaders were running for President, and Frank Page won overwhelmingly. As someone recently pointed out in a Baptist Press article, "What has changed since 2006?" Do we as a Convention of more than 40,000 churches think any less of the Cooperative Program than we did four years ago? I think not! As I pointed out in an earlier post, I am not qualified to judge motives, but one has to wonder. If it looks like a duck...etc.
Furthermore, "celebrating" the dollar amounts of "Great Commission Giving" is, probably unscriptural in it's very language. Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount regarding the dangers of flaunting our giving. Again, I don't believe that 10% to the Cooperative Program should be a litmus test as to who is a "good" Southern Baptist, but I do think it is a telling statistic, when churches with budgets 5 times larger than the budget of my own state convention give less than 5% to the funding mechanism which best exemplifies our historic commitment to cooperation.
At the Annual Meeting in Orlando next month, I will be listening closely as to how these recommendations will be presented to the messengers for a vote. It they are considered separately I will cast my ballot against Component Three. If taken as a whole for a vote, I will reluctantly vote against the entire report, and urge my friends and fellow messengers to do the same. I believe the Cooperative Program is THAT important to the continued success of the Southern Baptist Convention in carrying out the Great Commission. That is one pastor's opinion "For What It's Worth".
(I will address my concerns about Components Four and Five in an upcoming post)
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
- Component One - Getting the Mission Right
- Component Two - Making Our Values Transparent
- Component Three - Celebrating and Empowering Great Commission Giving
- Component Four - Reaching North America
- Component Five - Reaching Unreached and Underserved People Groups Within North America
- Component Six - Promoting the Cooperative Program and Elevating Stewardship
- Component Seven - The Call of the Nations and the SBC Allocation Budget
After the Components and the Recommendations to the Convention, the Task Force lists ten pages of Challenges:
- For Individual Christians
- For Individual Families
- For Local Churches and Pastor
- For Local Associations
- For State Conventions
- For LifeWay Christian Resources
- For the Seminaries
- For the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
- For GuideStone Financial Services
- For all Southern Baptist Leaders
In my personal opinion, the Challenges at the end of the report are the most valid aspects of the entire report, and are more in keeping with the concept of a Great Commission Resurgence than are several of the numbered components. Furthermore, I believe the challenges are more in line with the scope of the assignment and the limited authority of this Task Force.
I can only imagine the time, effort, and expense that has gone into the making of this final report. I certainly admire and appreciate those who have served, and I believe that the motives of most have been above question. Some of the recommendations, however, while not "evil" have to make one wonder - why?
Components 1 & 2 of the report are reasonable and something that I believe all Southern Baptists can back. However, I feel compelled to share my concerns on some of the other issues. In Part 3 of these series of posts I will share my concerns over Component Three - "Celebrating and Empowering Great Commission Giving". Other issues dealing with Components Four, Five, and Six will be dealt with in Part 4.