A lot of attention is being focused on NAMB’s funding of church plants that are being started by a number of Reformed church planting organizations. While this ought to be cause for alarm, I want to re-emphasize the point that this may not be their most critical mistake. In an article I wrote last week, I made the following statement, “Common business principles argue against focusing too much attention on new development and ignoring the core base that is financially responsible for the long term success of the organization.”
I personally believe that this is NAMB’s biggest mistake; it seems easier to go out and start new works than do the tough job of helping support works that are struggling but already viable and visible in our communities. Here is a suggestion: If a percentage of the funds that are being poured into new works, were made available to help struggling churches with additional staff members, or to help associations in conjunction with their state convention, hire people to help struggling churches with revitalization programs like the one the Florida Baptist Convention has, change could actually be beneficial in areas where it could impact communities where churches are already planted.
NAMB’s single focus of planting new churches is going to be an uphill battle to say the least. It is an admirable one. However here is the real problem I have with what appears to be NAMB’s second biggest mistake: the open practice of funding church plants that are confessionally associated with ANY church planting organization. Make no mistake about it, I am adamantly against the level of influence that Reformed Theology proponents have managed to gain in the entities of the SBC. I had no idea that they had managed to make the inroads that they have made. I knew it was coming; I had no idea the extent to which it was already here. This is the problem I have with today’s NAMB.
When I say that I am against NAMB’s funds being spent on church plants that are confessionally connected to any theological ideology that is what I mean. One of the unique identities of the SBC has been the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church. That has been usurped in the founding of these church starts. For NAMB to fund any church starts that do not have their own unique identity, is wrong. The statement has been made repeatedly, as long as church starts affirm the BF&M 2000 then they are eligible for SBC funds. This has become the Reformed battle cry of late.
It has been argued that there is little that the convention or any trustee appointees can do to curb this new trend as long as the BF&M 2000 is affirmed. That may be true where Seminary hires are concerned; it may hold true on a number of delicate issues with respect to the other entities, but it does not have to hold true in NAMB’s selection of church plants to fund. It is time for people in the pew to put a stop to this practice and reign NAMB’s open door policy back in. If any church plant has to sign a pledge to be reformed or non-reformed for that matter, then it ought to be ineligible for NAMB funds. End of discussion.
Here is another suggestion with respect to Lifeway’s new project, called “The Gospel Project.” I have voiced the plea for Lifeway to produce the project with the following name, “The Gospel Project: A Reformed Perspective.” That remark has gone virtually ignored, with the exception of a couple non-Calvinists who have acknowledged it and agreed with it.
Here is my take on that issue. Lifeway is in a tight on this one, if pressed. Their position is that there has been a “great need expressed” for a project of this magnitude. Ok. If that is true, then Lifeway ought to be willing to identify it as such so those who are supposedly “clamoring” for it, will be able to buy it. However, I do not believe that is the case at all. I believe those at Lifeway who have produced this piece have no intention of allowing the title to be changed and here is the reason why: “THEY KNOW IT WILL NOT SELL.”
If indeed this is the case, then the project ought to be scrapped before good money is spent to promote a product that has no business being in the hands of unsuspecting churches that do not want Reformed Theology literature in their Sunday School Classes. Lifeway knows the literature will sell because it is a product produced and promoted by Lifeway.
It is time to reverse the change that has already come without even a hint of permission from the people in the pew. The SBC is still a convention, a voting entity that needs to address the moves that Calvinists have made in the backrooms of boardrooms as they have managed to take control of SBC entities “without even firing a shot.”
May God bless the SBC and lead us in the direction we need to go!