Friday, December 21, 2007

Could It Really Be This Simple?

I have contended for a long time that the Missouri Baptist Convention does not communicate effectively with the Pastors and Churches of the MBC.

This has been true for years and is still true.

The MoBaptistList, while we admit it is a rabble-rousing, wide open and almost unmoderated free-for-all, serves as the "only" technologically based public space where any and all Missouri Baptists can express themselves candidly and honestly.

To me this is just another example of how the MBC - the Bureaucracy - is out of touch.

Let me list a few new words and phrases that have come into our vocabulary in the last few years that apparently haven't impacted the executive board or the exec. bd. staff.

text messaging
internet polling

All of this is about the networking of people together using technology.

Some practical applications.

Assign every Missouri Baptist pastor in the state a gmail address. He doesn't have to activate it. He doesn't even have to use it. But if I'm sitting at 400 East High and want to get my official message out about anything this is where I send it - an email to every pastor in the state via his gmail account.

You send one letter to every pastor in the state outlining how the process is going to work and from then on you stick to the plan and go virtually paperless.

What about the pastors who don't have computers? That's up to them. This is the 21st century! But every DOM knows who does and doen't have email in his association. He can call or print and mail the communication to the computerless pastor if it is critical information.

Maybe some emails coming from the EB or Exec B. Staff simply asking beforehand "what do you guys think?" would alleviate some of the negative publicity and ill will that actions like the one of December 10th has generated.

Every staff person at the MBC has an email address posted at .
I suggest some of us need to also use these addresses more frequently to let these folks know what we're feeling and thinking.

The Nominating committee should make another policy - You must have an email account and be willing for it to be posted publicly to all Missouri Baptists before you can serve in an elected position in this state.

I cannot imagine an organization in the 21st Century being unwilling or unable to communicate electronically to all their "members" or "affiliates" critical and timely information in a matter of hours rather than days.

We simply cannot absorb many more divisive blows as a convention and survive.

Communication is the key.
Networking is the future.
It really is that simple.

Friday, December 14, 2007

MBC 1987 vs. MBC 2007

father time
Originally uploaded by zeelicious
Twenty years makes a lot of difference in today's world.

Change now comes at warp speed and in irresistible waves where as it used to come like gentle breezes of slight pressure to turn or change slowly and gradually.

Twenty years ago a personal computer was a luxury to most SBC Pastors, today it has become an indispensible tool for ministry, communication, networking and even continuing education. I don't know hardly any pastor who isn't connected to the internet. Twenty years ago a cellphone was a rarity. Today it is a necessity.

Twenty years ago most of us Missouri Baptists couldn't conceive of a world that did not include a Southern Baptist Convention, a State Convention and a local Association. We got 90% plus of our denominational news and promotional items through the mail. We depended on the state convention for most of our innovations and most of our instruction on how to do our ministries better. We regarded the local association as the district office of the MBC and the DOM as the denominational agent who could on good days channel our requests to headquarters and subsequently deliver to us the answers to our questions if any were forthcoming. Now Google gives us our heart's desire in seconds.

CP giving was viewed as our proper dues and responsibility. We wouldn't have dared to cut it. We wanted to increase it always because that was one of the ways we were judged and rewarded. If your church gave enough you could get recognized on stage at the annual meeting of the MBC! Today because of our own ability to network and gain information we are aware of pressing mission needs from around the world that seem to many to be a higher priority than maintaining a convention office building.

We were connected and proud of our connectedness. We had problems to be sure. Creeping liberalism was making headway in our state. A showdown was coming but this was our life and all we knew and we would fight for it.

Fast forward to the first split when the CBF'ers left and then later when the Missouri Baptist General Convention was formed. Baptists had never been used to anything except the convention model so it was natural that those disgruntled Missouri Baptists would gravitate to a similar organizational structure that they had left and so they did.

Now zoom forward to the end of 2007. Today's disgruntled Baptists are of a different breed. Their age spans all ranges of years. They are not interested in recreating a copy of anything they have been exposed to in their denominational pasts, especially not another state convention. Why? Because they have become disillusioned with all state conventions that are not rapidly adapting to this new and changing world. They see no need for a centralized office when cellphone and internet technology has become a way of life. A centralized office has an address. A centralized office sends out mail. A centralized office keeps files. A centralized office needs staff. A centralized office is a bureauracy that grows and consumes valuable missions dollars that are desperately needed on the cutting missional edges of our society.

When this new breed of disgruntled Baptists go, if they go, they will not form a competing state convention, neither will they join an existing state convention. Instead they will form loose partnerships with others who think like them. These partnerships will not be geographically restricted. Some will be formed within current associational structures - others will expand current associational structures. But one thing will be sure. They will not look back nor will they ever return to their past.

Will they abandon the SBC? Not likely at least for a generation. But unless conventions start at least talking about how to restructure and recreate themselves to match the passion of this new breed, they will only have themselves to blame when the current structure collapses around them.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Where All Baptists Are In Total Agreement

Thursday, December 06, 2007

It's Not About the Liquor, Stupid!

Right now in the MBC (Missouri Baptist Convention) there is a preoccupation with alcohol. Not that we're drinking it, because most Baptists I know in Missouri are teetotalers anyway. No we're fighting over it because that's the latest "hot button" issue certain Missouri Baptists are pushing.

Here's the agenda:

No Cooperative Program Funds to any Church who holds a regular announced religious discussion in a Bar.

No one serving the convention who will not sign a statement saying that he or she does not and will not consume alcohol as a beverage.

Disenfranchisment of any Missouri Baptist who maintains that the use of alcohol is a matter of Christian liberty and who will not conform to the position that abstinence is the only correct Biblical teaching.

What is still unclear is the following:

Will the MBC (Missouri Baptist Convention) still receive Cooperative Program funds from Churches that accept tithes and offerings from members who gain part of those offerings from the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages?

Will the MBC still receive CP funds from Churches that hold religious discussions in bars?

Will the MBC still receive CP funds from Churches that participate in Christian family day at Busch Stadium in St. Louis?

Will the MBC still portray Albert Pujols as a Christian example to Missouri Baptists via the Pathway when it is a known fact that his restaurant in St. Louis has a bar?

Will the MBC still hold Annual Convention meetings at Tan Tar A when it is known that a portion of their income is derived from the sale and consumption of alcohol ?

Will the MBC continue to promote usage of the Holman Christian Standard Bible published by Broadman and Holman Publishing Group, an arm of the SBC, at it's annual meetings because it contains the word beer?

My guess is NO to all of the above. I mean we want to be consistent. Right? Right!

The truth is that all of those things will continue to be SOP for the MBC, because it's really not about alcohol. It's all about control. It's all about being a "Better Missouri Baptist" than some other more "Liberal Missouri Baptists." It's all about "I'm right and you're wrong!"

Doesn't matter what the Bible says. What matters is what I say it says.

Sadly, that's the only way some Missouri Baptists know how to live.