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.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Paul Smith said...

Great post Jim!

12/14/2007 9:55 AM  
Blogger Marc Backes said...

Jim,

Great post...I've also shared my thoughts on the happenings of the last week...

Would love to hear your comments...

12/14/2007 12:46 PM  
Blogger Rev. said...

Jim:

Well stated. Many have been abandoning the SBC ship already, and I think a continuing exodus is likely.

1/02/2008 8:32 PM  

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