More Thoughts on the GCR

Here’s a novel  idea that I think just might be the answer the GCR is looking for.

Pastors – equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12), and do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2nd Timothy 4:5), and preach the Word (2nd Tim.4:2). Pastors, Missionaries and Laypeople – go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15), make disciples from all nations (Matthew 28:18-19). These are the commands of the Lord, if you love Him, then keep His commands (John 14:15). And let us love one another so that the world will know we belong to Christ and are His disciples (John 13:34-35). This love should be self sacrificing, if need be, to the extreme (John 15:13), but in loving, have no fear (1st John 4:18). If these things don’t take place then all the planning of the GCR will be for naught.

Secondly; demand the state and national conventions stop pushing numbers, (ie we need more people baptized, we need more people attending faithfully, we need more money) and start pushing right doctrine, because if right doctrine is preached and received, then people will be saved, and saved people are the church, and the church marches on. It is buildings that we call churches that are full of the unregenerate that we have mistakenly called Christians (much to our despair and their destruction), that are not doing the witnessing, not doing evangelism and not sharing the Good News of Christ, largely because they have never heard it themselves. They have heard a pragmatic gospel, a prosperity gospel, and a pluralistic gospel, but not the true gospel. True gospel results in true believers and true believers will produce the numbers you seek (more baptisms, higher church attendance, etc…).  I recently heard someone of prominence say that, “simply preaching right doctrine isn’t enough.”  And I say to that – BULL!  The Word of God is what makes all the difference.  Programs, exciting worship services, methodology, etc… they are all secondary, the correct preaching of the Word is what is necessary to change hearts and minds and cultures. 

Thirdly; recognize what went right and what went wrong. The shift towards conservativism was right the shift away from Calvinism was wrong. The shift towards conservativism is not what has caused the downturn in numbers, it was the shift toward a more Armenian theology that resulted in it. Calvinists are historically the greatest witnessing force for Christ the Church has ever known. (Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon, need I say more? Because I can if need be.) Armenian theology has created the consumer driven religion and consumer driven church, after all the call is not effectual in Armenian theology, thus we need to make the call more appealing.  Big mistake, acknowledge it, correct it, and move on.  Now I am fully aware that some were probably with me until this point, and that’s fine.  But I think that history shows that the less Calvinistic the SBC has gotten, the less evangelistic they have gotten as well.  I am aware of the hyper Calvinists who don’t witness nor share the Gospel, they are a minute number however.  What I believe has happened was that Armenian theology created the wrong belief that Christians had to pragmatize the Gospel and make it appealing in its presentation and meaning in order to make men “want” to come to Christ, and the Scriptural truth that it is the faithful proclimation of God’s Word alone that saves sinners and changes cultures. 

The fourth and final point: if the above changes are made, and things do not turn around within say four or five years, then I think we have a good indication that we are in a time when people would rather heap upon themselves teachers who will tickle their itching ears rather than listen to sound doctrine. The message needs not change however; it must be preached as Jeremiah did to his generation.  I think that Ed Stetzer already brought this point to light when he said, “The Gospel is sufficient in his report on the decline of the SBC: http://blogs.lifeway.com/blog/edstetzer/2008/04/the_end_of_the_beginning_1.html

Here’s the summary of what I’m trying to say.  In the SBCs goal to become more pragmatic and relevant, we have become less of both, we have forgotten the sufficiency of the word of God when faithfully and correctly proclaimed.  From the 1950’s to the 1980’s (and possibly beyond) we simply sought numbers rather than true conversions, and because of this the church was full of non-regenerate, evangelized sinners.  We wrongly fought battles against political foes, spending great amounts of money to combat same sex marriage, abortion, propisition xyz (or what have you), when we should’ve been faithfully proclaiming the Gospel to a lost nation.  We fought those battles in the courts, and by trying to get “Christian” politicians elected.  But no-where in Scripture does it say we change the culture by legislation or political activism.  We preach Christ and Him crucified, unapologetically.  Thus the Moral Majority fought the wrong battle, and though they won a temporary victory in some ways, we are seeing that on the larger scale we have nearly lost the war.  So this time of growth in the SBC was, in my opinion, not necessarily a healthy period, but a period when we captured the attention of a conservative, but not necessarily Christian majority.  We and they both adopted the old Arabic saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  And so those with conservative values, but not Christ changed hearts were joining churches and working hand in hand with misguided Christians, but now the paradigm has shifted.

When will we say, “We screwed up.”  Not with the shift to conservativism in th SBC, but in the shift away from doing the first things first. 

Again, I offer the disclaimer, that I am a nobody in the SBC… I have never even been to a state convention as driving 4 hours, renting a motel, and paying for meals on my meager salary is not a reality.  But I am a student of Scripture and until the model of Scripture is followed, then I doubt we will see any changes, despite what may be reccommended by the GCR or anyone else.  I support the GCR and what they are trying to do, I just hope that it is faithfulness to Scripture and Christ that drives them rather than just trying to maintain the status quo of large numbers and thus large bank rolls.

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