Monday, November 27, 2006

Posting Again

While many famous bloggers are participating in an intentional fast from the blogosphere, my lack of posting has been more the result of a lack of motivation to write about anything substantial or meaningful lately. I have continued to read and even comment occasionally on other blogs. In a previous blog I had commented on the irony of attending the West Africa Summit that was sponsored by the IMB and the Missouri Baptist Convention when our church was one of 19 that was ousted from the MBC that very week for not being singly aligned with the MBC. I felt obliged to leave a clarifying comment on John Stickley's blog about the MBC's action. John commented that MBC delegates voted to kick 19 churches out of the convention due to their violation of rules requiring “single-alignment” with the Southern Baptist Convention. The fact is that the MBC doesn't require single alignment with the SBC but single alignment with the MBC. Our church along with 18 others were excluded because in the exercise of local church autonomy, we have chosen to partner with groups in Missouri other than the MBC in missions endeavors.

While the exclusion was probably more symbolic in our case than in some of the other churches affected by the decision, given that we had decided as a congregation several years ago to designate the Baptist General Convention of Missouri as the default giving option among state groups, there was one casualty of the action by the MBC. For several months we had been hosting a Spanish Bible study on Sunday evenings in our facilities, led by an Hispanic pastor from Mexico. He was receiving a portion of his funding through the MBC and it was determined that since our church was no longer singly aligned with the MBC, he would have to cease his ministry with us. We are reassessing which direction to go with this ministry while our outstanding ESL program continues to function on Wednesday evenings.

I had the privilege of leading a young Hispanic couple to the Lord on successive Monday nights the past couple of weeks--the wife first as she came for some marital counseling and then the husband this past week as they met together with me. They are from a town some 10 miles southeast of Lee's Summit and I've encouraged them to attend the only Spanish-speaking services that I'm aware of at this point in the vicinity. I would have loved to been able to invite them to services in our church, but for the time being that isn't possible. The exercise of denominational politics certainly has some unforeseen negative consequences for kingdom work, but I trust that the Lord will continue to work in the lives of this young couple to help them grow in their new-found faith. The worship minister in the town where they live has befriended them, but her Spanish is extremely limited and the couple speaks very little English. I would appreciate your prayers on their behalf.

On a separate note, I'm trying to organize a group of BGCM pastors to participate in a missions trip to Guatemala the second half of January. That doesn't leave a great deal of time to finalize plans, but I'm confident that God will raise up those whom He desires to participate in a training event for leaders in 3 states near Guatemala's western border with Mexico. The trip will also coincide with a meeting hosted by WorldconneX with the leaders of the Guatemalan Baptist Convention and several entities that are currently working in or are considering missions opportunities in Guatemala.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good to have you back! I am not up to par on all the Missiouri Baptist politics these days, but why did the Mexican pastor have to discontinue the Sunday evening meetings at your church? What does alignment have to do with him continuing to serve? If it is a matter of money, couldn't your church pick up that portion that he was being paid to lead the Sunday evening service? Maybe I am not understanding all the political intricacies involved. Just curious!

John Stickley said...

Gary,

I appreciate the clarification you added on my blog. It was not my intent to mislead anyone... I focused on the other half of the equation in posting about the MBC's single alignment rules. It's my understanding from what I've read (I'm certainly no insider in these matters, nor do I want to be) that these rules require single alignment not only with the MBC (rather than other state conventions), but also the SBC (rather than other national conventions). I should have posted both parts in my brief description.

A detailed summary of the single-alignment rules (this is where I got my information) is found here.

I can't claim to understand the reasons behind this move, but from my rather uneducated viewpoint as a layman in an MBC church, this fracturing seems almost wholly political and is most regrettable.

(BTW, the link in your post to your comment on my blog should be to this post.)

Gary Snowden said...

Guy,

Thanks for your comments. In addition to receiving funding through the MBC, a part of his arrangement was also reporting to an MBC staff member working with new church starts among ethnic groups. I think that's where the conflict arose.

John,

Thanks for the correction on the link to your post. I somehow mis-copied it in the process of linking to your blog. I can understand how you came away with the notion of the MBC'S action requiring single alignment with the SBC after reading the article to which you linked. There is more of an emphasis in that document than in previous statements by the MBC about single alignment with the SBC as well as single alignment with the MBC. The truth of the matter is though that at least as of this date, a church can still be recognized by the SBC as a partnering church without being singly aligned with the SBC. It is only the MBC that has chosen to exclude those who are not uniquely aligned with their state convention.

John Stickley said...

I understand that the single alignment issue is solely an issue initiated and enforced by the MBC. I did not intend to convey or imply that single alignment was a current issue with the SBC in what I've written... I just tried to briefly describe the MBC's single-alignment policy.

Anyway, I'm grateful that the SBC has not taken such steps as of yet, but would not be terribly surprised to see this coming in the near future given all of the things SBCer's say and write about the CBF.

Whatever happens, it all seems too political for me to easily swallow. Much of what I've learned through blogging really makes me want to go back to the days when I was completely ignorant of everything happening in convention politics (whether MBC, BGCM, SBC, CBF, or other).