Marv Knox has published (I am sure he wrote it as well) an excellent editorial on preaching, sermon preparation, and exposition with application which can be found on the Baptist Standard website. It is good illustrative material in reminding ourselves and those to whom we feed that our calling as pastors is to feed the sheep. We are gifted by our calling to do this. The flavor and nourishment of what is serve depends on our walk and our work.
Why do you not want to wrestle a pig in the mud? The pig will like it and you both will get dirty. This is what happens when we resort to power politics in the church and especially in the “cooperating” conventions we have created to “help” the local church.
For several decades now, Baptist conventions have been places of power struggles. What is sad is that it has not be a struggle against the powers and principalities, but against flesh and blood. What has been gained in these conflicts have been positions, power and profit. What has been lost has been servant-hood, spiritual unity, and our effectiveness in penetrating culture (it is now culture that seems to be controlling the church-i.e., the acceptance of homosexuality, entertainment based marketing, and secular business practices).
Yes, I too was a part of the seductive, political gamesmanship that has been passed off as defending the Bible from liberals or defending our Baptist heritage from fundamentalists. OK, I have admitted my ignorance and arrogance. God does not need to be defended. What has happened is that those who were best at “politicking” got positions that allowed them to live lifestyles that would grieve our Lord and a system that lives to serve itself rather than the kingdom.
The result has been a loss of confidence, trust, and willingness to support such evil. We need to move beyond the political and back to the doing what made Baptist strong, a willingness to connect and cooperate, but this time without the middlemen who have made a good living off thinking our job is to serve them.
We now have the ways and means to be connected without the salary heavy bureaucracy that has produced scandals and exclusion. It is never easy to change what has become entrenched, but our Lord made it clear that such challenges would come.
I don’t want to fight with the Baptist building. I don’t want to fight with fundamentalist. I want to join with people who love our Lord and want to grow stronger in our faith. I want to find leaders who are willing to model sacrifice and service rather than jet-setting and making sure they have the best suite in a Hotel. I want to find and help leaders who understand that huge salaries are obscene and an offense rather than one who hires a PR person to hide or justify such extravagance. I want to join with leaders who put integrity, truthfulness, and honor above being able to blackball or control. This is what will again make Baptist great.
I do not think we have to accept decline. I do not think we have to accept being force to join one side or another. I do think we can use the resources we have to effectively find new ways of doing missions and of equipping all believers to discover what Jesus said is true, we can do greater works if we do them as his presence rather than for our own profit.