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Posts from October 2009

Children, Heaven & the "Age of Accountability"

This question has come up much this week regarding children and heaven.  While some may not agree with what I state here, know that I have a peace about this. 

Rather than re-writing an answer, I thought I'd share the answer from the website www.gotquestions.org.

Question: "Where do I find the age of accountability in the Bible? What happens to babies and young children when they die?"

Answer:
Frequently lost in the discussion regarding the age of accountability is the fact that children, no matter how young, are not “innocent” in the sense of being sinless. The Bible tells us that even if an infant or child has not committed personal sin, all people, including infants and children, are guilty before God because of inherited and imputed sin. Inherited sin is that which is passed on from our parents. In Psalm 51:5, David wrote, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” David recognized that even at conception, he was a sinner. The very sad fact that infants sometimes die demonstrates that even infants are impacted by Adam’s sin, since physical and spiritual death were the results of Adam's original sin.

Each person, infant or adult, stands guilty before God; each person has offended the holiness of God. The only way God can be just and at the same time declare a person righteous is for that person to have received forgiveness by faith in Christ. Christ is the only way. John 14:6 records what Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, except through Me.” Also, Peter states in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Salvation is an individual choice.

What about babies and young children who never reach the ability to make this individual choice? The age of accountability is a concept that teaches those who die before reaching the age of accountability are automatically saved, by God’s grace and mercy. The age of accountability is a belief that God saves all those who die before reaching the ability to make a decision for or against Christ. Thirteen is the most common number given for the age of accountability, based on the Jewish custom that a child becomes an adult at the age of 13. However, the Bible gives no direct support to the age of 13 always being the age of accountability. It likely varies from child to child. A child has passed the age of accountability once he or she is capable of making a faith decision for or against Christ.

With the above in mind, also consider this: Christ's death is presented as sufficient for all of mankind. First John 2:2 says Jesus is “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” This verse is clear that Jesus' death was sufficient for all sins, not just the sins of those who specifically have come to Him in faith. The fact that Christ's death was sufficient for all sin would allow the possibility of God’s applying that payment to those who were never capable of believing.

The one passage that seems to identify with this topic more than any other is 2 Samuel 12:21-23. The context of these verses is that King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, with a resulting pregnancy. The prophet Nathan was sent by the Lord to inform David that because of his sin, the Lord would take the child in death. David responded to this by grieving, mourning, and praying for the child. But once the child was taken, David's mourning ended. David's servants were surprised to hear this. They said to King David, “What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” David's response was, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” David's response indicates that those who cannot believe are safe in the Lord. David said that he could go to the child, but that he could not bring the child back to him. Also, and just as important, David seemed to be comforted over this. In other words, David seemed to be saying that he would see the child (in heaven), though he could not bring him back.

Although it is possible that God applies Christ's payment for sin to those who cannot believe, the Bible does not specifically say that He does this. Therefore, this is a subject about which we should not be adamant or dogmatic. God’s applying Christ’s death to those who cannot believe would seem consistent with His love and mercy. It is our position that God applies Christ's payment for sin to young children and those who are mentally handicapped, since they were not mentally capable of understanding their sinful state and their need for the Savior, but again we cannot be dogmatic. Of this we are certain: God is loving, holy, merciful, just, and gracious. Whatever He does is always right and good.

This may be a controversial subject and some may never have an answer that fully satisfies.  I believe that Jesus is the way to salvation.  I also believe this is the case for any who have died.  If they could come back and say anything to us from eternity, they would say "Get your life right with Jesus today."


We're To Be United in the Faith as a Church, Yet We Keep Dividing People Up

I shared last night with our Bible Study group one of the things that God has been convicting and challenging me with lately.  It's still cooking in my head, so I don't have a "program" or even a plan yet as to what to do, but it related to intergenerational ministry.

Women (6) I shared with our pastors on staff this week about this conviction as well and admitted that over the years, though I always knew something just wasn't quite right, I too led ministries and planned events that encouraged the separation of generations rather than the coming together.

Here's where I am with this.  I believe that in our continually fragmenting society, there is a great need for people to interact with others from different generations.  It seems that society has built a norm for separating everyone.  It's pretty honest at first - preschools, schools, and youth clubs and then continues until you have lodges, and eventually senior adult centers.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I believe there are developmental stages and actually needs for children, youth and adults to have their own environments for learning and even for fun activities.  It's just that there seems to be no opportunity for the generations to come together.

Years ago, when it was common for a person to be born in a town and live with their parents, near their grandparents and with aunts, uncles and cousins nearby, the natural growth with others from different age groups happened.  Now, most people live in different cities, even states, than their extended family.  My children, for instance, have a similar connection with their grandparents that I did.  They get to see them and spend time with them about a week every year.  It's a good week, but it's still only a week.

I strongly believe that teenagers need regular interaction with senior adults, and vice versa.  Why?  Well, I believe in the biblical teaching on mentoring.  You know, the old women are to teach the young women and the same for men.  Yet, often in our culture that doesn't happen.  At least it's not common.

So, we have the church.  The church focused on worshiping God and reaching people.  We, like many other church, want to be known as a church where the entire family is welcome and loved.  So, here comes the family in the front door on a Sunday and immediately we split them up.  We put the children in one building, the teenagers in another.  Mom and dad meet somewhere else and if grandma comes with them. . .well, we have a building for her as well. Hmmm.  "Welcome to the family church."  I think we have work to do here. 

When I shared this last night, it seemed like folks in my study (from different generations) were giving me that "I've never thought of that before" look.  One lady afterward said "Well, that's just how we always have had church."  I responded by saying "But, does that mean that it's the best way or even the right way?"  She said "No.  It just makes it hard to think differently."  I agree.  Sometimes we do things so long the same way we begin to think that's the normal or best way.  It may not be.

I don't have an answer yet.  I'm not ready to throw away all our age-graded ministries.  I'd really like to work here a while longer.  However, I am ready for us to begin thinking of intentional ways for people of different generations to serve and learn together.

One of the best current examples is our Church for Men on Sunday evenings.  We have over sixty men coming regularly and they are of all ages.  Some guys are in their 20s.  Others are in their 80s.  It's amazing to see how they interact and learn from each other.  It's normal for any generation to think they are the first to encounter things or at least the best.  It's eye opening to see that, as Solomon said "there's nothing new under the sun." 

I was reading a  story by Jim Johnston, Director of Threads, the young adult division of LifeWay.  He was talking about this need for intergenerational ministry and used the illustration of Sherpas in Nepal.  Here's the story:

Sherpas are natives of Nepal who have served as essential partners for the climbers of Mount Everest for nearly a century.  They know where the dangerous crevasses lie.  They know where to camp on the mountain for the night.  They know when the storms are most likely to strike.  Do you have seasoned Sherpas in your church that can guide young adults through the tough times in life?  Do you have an intentional discipleship and mentoring process in your church where young adults can connect with older adults for friendship, help and advice?

It's vital, because too many young adults today have no one to turn to when it comes to the tough questions of life (faith, marriage, life and work) and also the practical questions of life (changing my oil, preparing my taxes, making my budget work, building a resume).  Churches that attempt to separate generations drive cracks into the foundation of the body of Christ.  But, churches that connect generations can be wonderful bodies of believers who respect each other in every facet of congregational life.

Wow!  I must agree with Jim. We have to be intentional.  Mentoring, growing together, learning from each other - these are all essential on the faith journey.

So many churches are nothing more than a collection of "little churches" that come together to hear a pastor each Sunday.  These "little churches" are called Children's Ministry, Youth Ministry, Senior Adult Ministry, etc.  Now, again, don't hear what I'm not saying.  I believe these age-graded and even gender specific ministries are vital, but they never come together other than to sit in a big room and sing hymns and hear a sermon, we're missing something.

Where is this division shown?  Other than the fact we have a building for every age group, it also is shown with the annual budget goes out.  Every person immediately looks to the line item of the budget for their "little church."  If their "little church" is getting less funds than another age group's "little church" then the Enemy uses that to create dissension.  You don't think this happens?  Get real.  It's human nature.  I've been here fifteen years and each of those years, questions have come up related just to this.  Funny though, as has been our practice, we have funded and adjusted as need be to make sure every ministry has all the resources they need to minister to and reach people.

Oh well, we forget that I guess when looking at the budget form.

Still, it's more than budget or Sunday School rooms.  It's a mentality.  Pray with me as we seek God's lead on this.  God created the family, the extended family and the church family to be multi-generational for a reason.  This is nothing new.  In fact, maybe it's just getting back to the basics of being church.


The Wizard Turns 99

Ucla-coach-john-wooden The very best college basketball coach of all time (in my opinion) turns 99 today.  John Wooden, the "Wizard of Westwood" led the UCLA Bruins to many championships and records that will probably never be broken.When I was playing basketball at Texas Wesleyan College (now University) back in 1986, Coach Wooden came to Arlington, Texas for a one-day coaches clinic.  Just about every high school and college coach in the D/FW Metroplex was there.  We were honored to be his "practice squad" for that day.  Coach Wooden used our team for a couple of hours as he showed these coaches how to organize and run a practice.  So, for a couple of hours, I can say I was coached by John Wooden.  Man, I wish I would have had a camera with me that day.  Still, I did shake his hand and get an autograph.  Coach Wooden's legacy will always be more than just a winning coach.  This man poured so much into the lives of his players over his career and truly let his love for Christ shine through in how he carried (and carries) himself.  The LA Times ran an article today called "On his 99th birthday, 99 things about John Wooden." These things are worth sharing. 

1. He was born in Martinsville, Ind., on Oct. 14, 1910.

2. Wooden led Martinsville High to the Indiana state title in 1927 and runner-up finishes in 1926 and 1928.

3. As a boy, one of his role models was Fuzzy Vandivier of the Franklin Wonder Five, a basketball team that dominated Indiana high school basketball from 1919 to 1922.

4. He was a three-time high school all-state selection.

5. Wooden met his future wife, Nell Riley, at a carnival in July 1926.

6. They married in a small ceremony in Indianapolis in August 1932. Afterward, they attended a Mills Brothers concert to celebrate.

7. Wooden and Nell were married 53 years before Nell's death in 1985.

8. After high school, Wooden enrolled at Purdue, where he won varsity letters in basketball and baseball his freshman year and earned All-American honors as a guard on the basketball team in 1930-32.

9. He was a three-time consensus All-American.

10. Wooden was captain of Purdue's basketball teams in 1931 and 1932 and led the Boilermakers to two Big Ten titles and the 1932 national championship.

11. While playing basketball at Purdue, Wooden was nicknamed "the Indiana Rubber Man" for his dives on the hardcourt.

12. Wooden is noted for his philosophical quotes about life and sportsmanship, such as: "Failure is not fatal but failure to change might be."

13. After college, he spent several years playing professionally with the Indiana Kautskys (later the Indianapolis Jets), Whiting Ciesar All-Americans and Hammond Ciesar All-Americans while teaching and coaching in high school.

14. During one 46-game stretch, he made 134 consecutive free throws.

15. His first coaching job was at Dayton High in Kentucky.

16. In his first year, the team went 6-11, his only losing record as a coach.

17. Wooden went on to coach basketball, baseball and tennis at South Bend Central High in Indiana and taught English for nine years. His 11-year high school coaching record was 218-42.

18. World War II interrupted his coaching career and he was a lieutenant in the Navy from 1943 to 1946.

19. Following his discharge in 1946, he went to Indiana Teachers College (now Indiana State University) as athletic director, basketball and baseball coach for two seasons before moving to UCLA.20. At Indiana State, Wooden also coached baseball, served as athletic director, taught and completed his master's degree in education.

21. Another quote from Wooden: "Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow."

22. In 1947, Wooden's basketball team won the Indiana Collegiate Conference title and received an invitation to the NAIB tournament in Kansas City. Wooden refused the invitation, citing the NAIB's policy banning African American players. A member of the Sycamores' team was Clarence Walker, an African American from East Chicago, Ind.

23. In 1948, the NAIB changed its policy and Wooden led Indiana State to another conference title.

24. That same year, Wooden guided his team to the NAIB final, losing to Louisville -- the only loss by a Wooden team in a college championship game.

25. Wooden was inducted into the Indiana State Athletic Hall of Fame on Feb. 3, 1984.

26. His top salary while coach at UCLA was $35,000.

27. Wooden turned down an offer to coach the Lakers from owner Jack Kent Cooke that may have been 10 times what UCLA was paying him.

28. The record Wooden is the most proud of? His Bruins teams won 19 conference championships.

29. Wooden's name was inscribed on Purdue's academic honor roll and he was awarded the 1932 Big Ten Conference medal for outstanding merit and proficiency in scholarship and athletics.

30. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame both as a player (class of 1961) and as a coach (1973). He was the first person ever enshrined in both categories, later joined by Bill Sharman and Lenny Wilkens.

31. Another quote from Wooden: "The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team."

32. At UCLA, Wooden became known as the "Wizard of Westwood," though he disliked the nickname.

33. He gained lasting fame with UCLA by winning 664 games in 27 seasons and 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons.

34. Wooden's UCLA teams won seven consecutive NCAA championships from 1967 to 1973.

35. His UCLA teams had a record winning streak of 88 games and four 30-0 seasons.

36. His Bruins also won 38 straight NCAA tournament games and a record 98 straight home games at Pauley Pavilion.

37. In 1967, he was named the Henry Iba Award USBWA college basketball coach of the year.

38. In 1972, he was honored as Sports Illustrated magazine's Sportsman of the Year.

39. Wooden coached his final game at Pauley Pavilion on March 1, 1975, a 93-59 victory over Stanford.40. Four weeks later, he surprisingly announced his retirement after a 75-74 NCAA semifinal victory over Louisville and before his 10th national championship game victory over Kentucky.

41. Another quote from Wooden: "Young people need models, not critics."

42. UCLA was Wooden's second choice for a coaching position in 1948. He had also been pursued by Minnesota, and it was his and his wife's desire to remain in the Midwest.

43. Inclement weather in Minnesota prevented Wooden from receiving the scheduled phone offer from the Golden Gophers. Thinking they had lost interest, Wooden accepted UCLA's offer instead.

44. Minnesota contacted Wooden right after he accepted the position at UCLA, but he declined because he had given his word to the Bruins.

45. His alma mater, Purdue, wanted Wooden to return to campus in 1947 and serve as coach Mel Taube's assistant until Taube's contract expired. Wooden declined, citing his loyalty to Taube, as it effectively would have made Taube a lame-duck coach.

46. At UCLA, Wooden had four undefeated teams. No other coach has more than one.

47. He also had seven teams that went undefeated in conference play.

48. He won five titles without Lew Alcindor or Bill Walton.

49. He coached 15 seasons at UCLA before winning his first NCAA championship.

50. His winning percentage in college and high school was .813.

51. Another quote from Wooden: "Talent is God given; be humble. Fame is man given; be thankful. Conceit is self given; be careful."

52. Wooden won his first national title in 1964.

53. In 1965, the Bruins became one of the few teams to win two NCAA championships in a row.

54. In the 1965 final, Gail Goodrich scored 42 points for UCLA as the Bruins defeated Michigan and Cazzie Russell.

55. The 1965-66 season was a down year for Wooden. His team failed to win the NCAA title, the last time that happened until 1974.

56. The 1966-67 season marked the beginning of the Lew Alcindor era and UCLA easily defeated Dayton in the final.

57. Wooden's Bruins had a 47-game winning streak before a 71-69 loss to Houston and All-American center Elvin Hayes on Jan. 20, 1968, in front of what was then the largest basketball crowd in NCAA history, 52,693.

58. That game was called "the Game of the Century." The same teams met again in an NCAA semifinal, where the Bruins routed the Cougars, 101-69.

59. UCLA defeated North Carolina in the 1968 final to become the only team to win consecutive titles twice.60. Wooden has called that team as good as any he coached.

61. Another quote from Wooden: "Ability is a poor man's wealth."

62. In 1969, UCLA became the only men's basketball program to win three consecutive NCAA titles.

63. In the final, Wooden faced Purdue, his alma mater, and won easily, 92-72.

64. With that 1969 championship, Wooden became the first coach to win five NCAA titles.

65. In 1970, Wooden won his fourth consecutive NCAA title despite the loss of Alcindor to the pros.

66. In the final, 6-foot-8 Sidney Wicks outplayed 7-footer Artis Gilmore of Jacksonville for another easy victory.

67. In 1971, Wooden won his fifth NCAA championship in a row; the Bruins defeated Villanova in the final.

68. The Bill Walton era began in the 1971-72 season, and the Bruins won a sixth consecutive championship with a victory over Florida State.

69. Walton starred, making 21 of 22 shots, as Wooden won his seventh consecutive title in 1973 with a victory over Memphis State in the final.

70. UCLA's record 88-game winning streak under Wooden started on Jan. 30, 1971, with a 74-61 victory over UC Santa Barbara.

71. The streak ended when Notre Dame upset UCLA, 71-70, on Jan. 19, 1974.

72. Notre Dame also handed UCLA the loss before the streak started, 89-82, on Jan. 23, 1971.

73. The Bruins' record streak included two one-point victories: 69-68 at Oregon on Dec. 12, 1971, and 65-64 at home against Maryland on Dec. 1, 1973.

74. Wooden won his last NCAA title in 1975.

75. In Wooden's last game as UCLA coach, the Bruins defeated Kentucky, 92-85, on March 31, 1975.

76. Wooden spent 40 years as a basketball coach.

77. He coached 27 years at UCLA, finishing with a record of 620-147.

78. Wooden's teams went 149-2 at Pauley Pavilion.

79. Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" has become an organizational and inspirational tool for coaches everywhere.80. The foundation for Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" is Industriousness, Friendship, Loyalty, Cooperation and Enthusiasm.

81. The peak of the Pyramid is Competitive Greatness.

82. Another quote from Wooden: "A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment."

83. Since 1977, the most prestigious postseason award in college basketball has been the John R. Wooden Award.

84. Two annual doubleheader men's basketball events are named after Wooden -- the Wooden Classic and the Wooden Tradition.

85. In 1999, ESPN elected Wooden the "Coach of the 20th Century."

86. The recreation center for intramural sports on the UCLA campus is named after Wooden.

87. A high school in Reseda is named John R. Wooden High.

88. In 2003, UCLA named the basketball court at Pauley Pavilion after Wooden and his wife, Nell. Wooden insisted the court be named the "Nell and John Wooden Court," keeping Nell's name first.

89. Wooden has his own website, www.coachwooden.com.

90. In 2007, UCLA announced it was planning to renovate Pauley Pavilion, while setting a goal of opening the renovated facility on Wooden's 100th birthday, Oct. 14, 2010.

91. Another quote from Wooden: "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

92. On July 23, 2003, Wooden received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

93. Wooden is a fan of women's basketball, because he says it often features more fundamentally sound basketball than the men's version of the game.

94. Wooden has written several books, including "They Call Me Coach" and a book for children, "Inch and Miles."

95. He has another book scheduled for release today called, "A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring with John Wooden." In conjunction with the book's release, fans can visit the website happybirthdayjohnwooden.com to send the coach birthday wishes.

96. On Wooden's 96th birthday in 2006, a post office in Reseda was named the John Wooden Post Office.

97. Wooden retains the title head men's basketball coach emeritus at UCLA and attends most of the team's home games.

98. On Nov. 17, 2006, Wooden was a member of the founding class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Others were James Naismith, Dean Smith, Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell.

99. One more quote from Wooden: "Don't give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you." 

Mike Penner of the LA Times put this list together.  It can be found at here.

This list of 99 things is pretty incredible, but there are so many other stories and facts about the Coach.  This list could just go on and on.  The fact that he led UCLA to 88 consecutive victories is astounding.  I remember hearing of how he would teach players to wear their socks. 

On the first day of practice, the coach would tell his hotshot recruits, “Gentleman, today we’re going to figure out how to put our shoes and socks on.” Some players would blanch. Wooden would calmly explain that most players are benched for blisters, and the easiest way to avoid them is to pay attention to the basics. He would meticulously show them how to roll up their socks and tighten their laces. “I wanted it done consciously, not quickly or casually,” he said. “Otherwise we would not be doing everything possible to prepare in the best way.”

Pure Wooden genius.  The basics matter.  Well, Coach Wooden, even though I know you're not reading my blog - "Happy Birthday."  I saw your interview on ESPN and you said 99 was no big deal.  Well, sorry to correct you, but it is.  Have a great one.


Strong Statements from Baptist Leaders

It seems everyday another quote comes out regarding the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Those who are not Baptist (and most who are) have no idea what this GCR is all about.  Hopefully, not based on fear, a task force was formed at this summer's SBC to pray, discover and recommend implementation to bring our denomination back to the fulfillment of the Great Comission.

Now, it's not that the SBC has ever intentionally drifted away from the Great Comission, it's just that as is the case with any organization, bureaucracy can develop and as a friend of mine always says "good becomes the enemy of best." 

In the past few months, some interesting statements and speeches have been made.  For those who have been Southern Baptist for many years, it's frightening to see that change is on the horizon.  My take is that the option to change is worse - that option being death.

Here are some quotes by Baptist leaders:

Dr. Danny Aikin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

  • I am not optimistic about the Southern Baptist Convention. But I am hopeful.
  • Any appeal to Acts 1:8 to justify not getting more resources to the ends of the earth is wrongheaded and shameful.
  • Our confession is a solid foundation for a sound theology that avoids the pitfalls and quicksand of a straightjacket theology.
  • Reaching Muslims will require men. This will demand a radical reorienting of lifestyles, priorities, commitments, and perspectives. Business as usual as a denomination and as individuals will not be an option if a real Great Commission Resurgence is to take place.
  • The future of the SBC depends upon the types of leaders we choose to follow. The need of the hour is for agressive, visionary leaders who are daring to attempt great things for God.
  • We are slowly dying, but we refuse to admit that the patient is even sick.
  • Are we distracted by doing many good things but not giving our full attention to the best things?
  • Saying “everything we do is missions” is not true. Quit saying it.
  • We need to kill and bury all sacred cows.
  • Money follows vision.
  • We must treat the United States missiologically and do so with the same seriousness that our international missionaries treat their people groups missiologically.

Dr. Ed Stetzer, President, LifeWay Research speaking on the future of denominationalism

  • There are some, too many I think, who are impressed with the denomination. It is their focus and their passion. But being consumed with the machine of the denominational machine can distract us from the mission for the church.
  • Denominationalism seems to be unavoidable, whether propelled by passion for the gospel and the Great Commission into missional cooperation or propelled by passion for maintaining tribal identity and stability in a fast-paced world of change.
  • The pursuit of relevance, as important as it may be, has dulled our sense of legacy and the value of heritage.
  • Where some see age, decay, and obsolescence in denominations, many others actually find longevity, maturity, and wisdom.
  • Whenever a church becomes institutionalized, there is a danger for that church to begin working hard at preserving its unique identity instead of being willing to sacrifice its identity for the sake of the lost.
  • Denominations that are effective for the kingdom of God unite in doctrine and diversify in methods.
  • Fifty years from now, what will historians write about us? That we were warrior children of the Conservative Resurgence, splintering into dozens of subgroups? Or that we were warriors for the Great Commission, spreading the gospel to the nations?
  • God’s mission never comes on a work-for-hire basis to a denomination.
  • A denomination is not just a place to get something; it is a place to give and serve.

Stetzer on why denominations have a future:

  1. Denominations are inevitable. (Whether positively – for missional cooperation, or negatively – for tribal self-preservation)
  2. Younger evangelicals are looking for a sense of rootedness in a fragmented society. (Young, Restless, Reformed / Emerging Church / Deep Church / Ancient-Future / Worship)
  3. Churches that belong to denominations have confessional systems and accountability that ground them in orthodoxy.

Stetzer on why he's staying in the SBC denomination:

  • I believe what we believe.
  • Churches that belong to denominations are the primary agents of global evangelization.
  • Diverse leadership environments stretch me.
  • Because God led me to.
  • Denominational affiliation is not just about me.

Dr. Al Mohler, President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

  • The identity question once loomed large over Southern Baptists. Every generation must ask those questions.
  • The media only knows “liberals,” “evangelicals” and “everybody else.” Southern Baptists are not “everybody else;” nor are we “liberals.” So… like it or not, we are “evangelicals.”
  • Baptists have come to understand it is best to be both “centered-set” and “boundary-set” regarding our doctrines.
  • The Southern Baptist Convention is currently experiencing the death of cultural Christianity.
  • A new slogan will not save us.
  • Many people who will hear the gospel preached by this generation will not respond with rejection, but simply a shrug.
  • Do not be a Southern Baptist because your grandmother is. Give yourself to the SBC because you will see, as you are faithful first to your local church, that this really can be a denomination that is transformed by a Great Commission passion for the glory of God.
  • I’m not imploring you to leave the SBC, but to save it.

Dr. David Dockery, President, Union University

  • The history of Christianity is best understood as a chain of memory, and we need to connect those chains.
  • Denominationalism as we know it is primarily an American phenomenon made possible by our freedom. But this development has resulted more in the Americanization of Christianity than the Christianization of America.
  • Fundamentalists were unable to discern the difference between those who denied the deity of Christ and those who engaged in card-playing.
  • The shift towards Transdenominational networks is the biggest change since the Reformation.
  • Most churches are found in rural areas while most people live in urban and suburban areas.
  • Denominations must have convictions and cooperation, boundaries and bridges, structure and the work of the Spirit.
  • I’m calling for Gospel commonalities that are more important and that supersede our denominational distinctions.
  • Let’s move from handwringing to hopefulness.

Jerry Tidwell, Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministry, Union University

  • We have always been tempted to draw a crowd through human persuasion rather than conversion.

There are quotes and comments flying all around about the future of the SBC.  Some are centered on the possible merger of the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board.  Others are concerned, rightfully so, about the future of some of our denominational servants jobs.

I am no where near the center of this movement but do believe the members of the GCR Task Force need our prayers.  The SBC is preparing for a potential reorganization or refocusing, but as good as many of these quotes and others are, there is more at stake here than just a few quotes and nice comments will solve.

The times. . .they are a changin'.  What must never change is the message.  I'm all for new methods and metrics for churches and ministries.  As the members of this task force would agree, I am not for compromising nor watering down of the message.

Who are these GCR Task Force Members?

  • Dr. Johnny Hunt, SBC President and Senior Pastor of First Baptist Woodstock, GA
  • Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Springdale & Church at Pinnacle Hills, AR
  • Dr. Daniel Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC
  • Tom Biles, Executive Director, Tampa Bay Baptist Association
  • John Cope, Senior Pastor of Keystone Community Fellowship, Chalfont, PA
  • Dr. David Dockery, President, Union University, Jackson, TN
  • John Drummond, Owner, DMG Development, Panama City, FL
  • Kathy Ferguson Litton, Pastor's Wife, First Baptist Church, North Mobile, AL
  • Donna Gaines, Pastor's Wife, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, TN
  • Al Gilbert, Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC
  • Dr. Larry Grays, Senior Pastor, Midtown Bridge Church, Atlanta, GA (and an Orange Park High grad)
  • Dr. J.D. Greear, Lead Pastor, The Summit Church, Durham, NC
  • Mike Orr, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Chipley, FL
  • Dr. Frank Page, Pastor, Taylors First Baptist Church, Taylors, SC
  • Dr. Jim Richards, Executive Director of Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
  • Dr. Roger Spradlin, Senior Pastor, Valley Baptist Church, Bakersfield, CA
  • Dr. Ted Traylor, Pastor, Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, FL
  • Dr. Simon Tsoi, Executive Director of Chinese Baptist Fellowship of the US & Canada
  • Dr. Robert White, Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Convention
  • Dr. Kenneth Whitten, Senior Pastor, Idlewild Baptist Church, Lutz, FL

You can keep up to date on this task force and let them know you're praying by going to www.pray4gcr.com.