Thursday, December 13, 2007

Missouri SBC Bites Hands That Feed It

I can't stop shaking my head at this new development. Bloggers in Southern Baptistland have been all over this story since Tuesday, and it is indeed a sad reminder that all is not well with some of our Christian denominational leaders. Scott Lamb, who works at MO Pathways, writes:

Members of the Executive Board presented and passed a motion during the
miscellaneous business session that sets down a “no-partnership with Acts 29″
rule for MBC church plants. I have not received the exact wording of the motion
yet, but it is a confirmed piece of news from an EC board member.

Don’t misunderstand, this does not mean that churches cannot be in
partnership with Acts 29, just that if they are so aligned then they will not be
able to receive MBC church planting funds. Never mind the fact that Acts 29
church plants in Missouri are thriving.

As part of the church (The Journey) and ministry (Midrash) that apparently tipped off this hostile bridge-burning, let me give readers an insider's look at what all the fuss is about. Midrash began as a movie night about four years ago as a way of encouraging thoughtful discussion about cultural issue touched on in particular movies. Features included films such as Gattaca, Bruce Almighty, and Million Dollar Baby.

Midrash added coffeehouse/bookstore discussion groups about viewpoint issues, such as the Terri Schiavo case, poverty, and the procreative mandate in marriage. The point of these discussions was to create an inviting atmosphere and gather Christians and non-Christians together and raise the level of thought and reflection on what these issues ultimately have to do with a Biblical worldview.

This gave rise to Theology at the Bottleworks (TATB), which would tackle bigger topics and should include more participants. The aim was a casual environment that encouraged the average non-churchgoer to attend. The local Schlafly Bottleworks (a brewpub) provided us with an accomodating space and food service that added incentive for people to come. Yes, that includes alcohol--afterall, it is a bar. Here is where the you hear the record needle scratch and stop.

Now, why my title is what it is: The Journey is A29 planted but also technically an SBC church, which means it donates money to the Cooperative Program, which funds the MBC. The Journey helps pay the salaries of the Executive Board that has just excommunicated it. I am most dismayed that MBC has decided to turn its back on fruitful ministry with all of Acts 29 over our TATB. Unless I miss my guess, this decision affects three other standing churches that share similar A29/SBC affiliation in the Metro area and a handful more in the process of gathering resources to plant all over the state.

Other bloggers have raised a relevant followup question: who's next? If they repudiate A29 over alcohol, is Reformed Theology next on the chopping block? Will other state conventions follow MO's example and give A29 the cold shoulder too? Will this literal brewhaha spill over into the national convention and result in a resolution vote there as well and possibly affect A29 plants everywhere?

I once had high hopes for much cooperation between the SBC and A29. I can only pray that this turns out to be a minor issue in the months/years to come.

Read Scott Thomas' response to the MBC decision. Thomas is director of the Acts 29 Network.

Thanks to Timmy Brister's blog for bringing this to my attention.

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