This week I received Lifeway’s Leadership and Adult Ministry Resources And Events Promo for the Spring of 2012. Of course, The Gospel Project is the featured resource as expected and I have already spoken to that issue. If you have not read my comments on The Gospel Project, you may do so by clicking the following article titles:
The Gospel Project;
A Response to Kevin Wax’s remarks Concerning the Gospel Project;
An Open Letter to Drs. Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer and the Trustees of Lifeway; and more recently
Worried About The Gospel Project?
I looked at some of the other items that Lifeway was promoting and there was Courageous, which was an outstanding production from Sherwood Baptist Church. In the small groups class, there were a couple pieces written by the Shooks, one by Kerry and then a second by Kerry and his wife Chris. Kerry is a mega-church pastor in Houston and seems to have a lot to say about relationships and while there is some criticism, the Shooks do not seem to be lighting rods of controversy and neither do Les Parrott and Bill Donahue who have co-authored another small group option, Group Insights. All seems good.
I opened to the next session called Discipleship Groups and there were three curriculums highlighted. The first was titled, “Church Essentials: What is a Healthy Church” written by none other than Mark Dever. Dr. Dever has been the senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC since 1994. He is also President of 9 Marks. According to his church’s web site, he has served as a trustee of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a member of the council of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and a board member of The Gospel Coalition. From 1995 until 2001, he served on the steering committee for Founders Ministries. Dever believes in a plurality of elders that are given the task of leading the church to better health. Everyone is or certainly should be aware of the Reformed argument surrounding the ecclesiological issues that are being raised in the differing theological circles of the SBC today. Kudos to Lifeway in this production.
The second of three programs for Discipleship Groups in our SBC churches is titled, Explicit Gospel written by Matt Chandler, Senior Pastor of the Village Church in Highland Village, Tx. He was just named the new President of the Acts 29 church planting movement. Obviously Matt is a well-known Calvinist who cares very deeply about the “gospel”, what it is and is not and how that message affects people, both saved and lost. Matt has a book published with the same name by Crossway, a calvinist book publisher.
The third program is called faith Limps and is written by Matt Kelley, a young writer for Lifeway, who has learned a lot about God’s grace and His strength to persevere as he and his wife have been faced with a toddler and cancer.
So, while it can be argued that Lifeway is not exclusively a Reformed Curriculum Publisher, it is certainly obvious that they are not shying away from the more controversially Reformed writers and are promoting them to Southern Baptist Churches. Good luck with that!
This will not concern some but ought to be a continued source of irritation for those in the SBC who are tired of Lifeway continuing to promote this calvinistic influence in our churches. We can do one of two things about this. We can 1) continue down the current path and do nothing or 2) we can stand up and say “enough is enough” and we have had enough. This whole business of Lifeway catering to a vocal minority ought to be completely unacceptable to the majority of our churches. If the people in the pews of our Southern Baptist churches understood what is taking place here, they would not allow it. That time is NOW.