No...not a summary listing of what all happened. Not even an analysis of any single event. Instead, I want to give an analysis of the overall event.
Headline One: The System WorksThe mysterious cabal that we've all been led to believe is pulling everyone's strings obviously doesn't exist. Let me say it loud and clear: Not one thing has happened in the past 27 years that has not been under the control of the messengers to the SBC. Everybody who wanted to make a motion got to make it. Yes, committees canned several of them, but the messengers demonstrated once-and-for-all that it really isn't all that hard for messengers to bring these items right back out of committee if they so desire. The messengers also declined to do so over and over again. Thus, the messengers demonstrated once-and-for-all that these committees usually are right in line with the wishes of the majority. I say "usually" because the committees aren't perfect, but Greensboro has demonstrated that nothing is broken with the system, whiners notwithstanding.
Headline Two: Elections that Defy AnalysisFrank Page, Jimmy Jackson, and Wiley Drake. Do these three men have anything in common? Not that I can identify. Dissenters won the presidential election, but a strong factor in that was the respective CP giving of the three candidates. Were all of those folks trying to purchase a ticket on the Burleson express? Well, from the disposition of all of the other motions at the convention, I really don't think so. The mandate that the people gave was for CP support, not for "broadening the tent."
Headline Three: Cooperative Program ResurgenceWe have needed desperately to reemphasize the CP for a long time. Allow me to state clearly and publicly: Any church that gives less than 10% to the CP ought to be ashamed. They ought to give more. We ought to place a priority on winning the world to Christ rather than building our own kingdoms.
The problems with the 10% recommendation as attempted this year are as follows:
- The recommendation was self-serving to the recommenders. As I stated on the floor, it is no coincidence that state convention executives drafted a report setting new, more agressive standards for everyone else, but ignoring the 81-year-old standard that actually holds their feet to the fire. Someone said that if the CP is a sacred cow, it sure gives good milk. That is a fitting analogy coming from the group of people the most firmly and forcefully attached to the fattest teat. Hear me again: I affirm the independence of the state conventions to set their budgets as they see fit. What I cannot tolerate is their audacity in placing such bold demands upon the local church while they are shirking their own ancient commitments.
- The recommendation violated Baptist polity This is an implication of the first point. What kind of body offers such bold, aggressive ultimatums to the local church while at the same time beating around the bush with regard to the state conventions? Men formed the state conventions; Jesus established the church. The local church is the pinnacle of Baptist life, and if our convention ought to speak with deference to anyone, it ought to be to the local church.
- The recommendation ignores the single best method for generating excitement for the Cooperative Program. Lead from the top rather than demanding from the bottom. Let the SBC demonstrate that it is working hard to get as much money as possible to the main tasks and onto the fields of service. I believe that they are—they have to in order to survive on the pittance that the state conventions allow out of their coffers—but they can do more to demonstrate it to us all. Let the state conventions model sacrificial giving to us. They can't find a single argument to justify keeping 70% of their receipts in-state that I can't use just as effectively to justify cutting our CP giving. Let them lead by example. Then let us as local-church pastors rise to the challenge and give sacrificially to the CP. Our example will then serve as a model for the people in our pews.