Wednesday, June 20, 2007

San Antonio A Bit Late

No good reason, just an excuse, but after we returned from San Antonio I had to hit it pretty hard at work in time to take our youth to Student Life Camp in San Angelo (TX). If you ever need to go to San Angelo just drive as far as you think you can across Texas and then go on another hour or so.

Sweetie and I drove home late Wednesday night and made it fine because there was plenty to talk about. A few highlights and a conclusion. We passed several silly resolutions. Why do we have to have a resolution to give our thanks and blessing to the city, the organizers and the people who decided what drinks to stock in the vending machines? It wastes time we could have spent doing something like, I don't know, perhaps debating some of the very timely and worthy issues of our Convention. Wouldn't a simple thank you suffice? Anyone within the Convention should have a grateful attitude about serving anyway. Anyone outside the Convention doesn't know the difference between a Resolution to thank them and a simple thank you. If it has to be formal put it on stationary and let Morris and Frank sign it.

We passed several good resolutions, especially the one regarding child abuse and sexual predators. This resolution was important in my opinion and seems to me to be something "doable" within Southern Baptist Polity. I am nervous about the details of the way names would be added to the list. I have read the online description of the BGCT's list and frankly it scares me. If the SBC does not act in a more careful manner I think it will add injury to shame (shame on us, not shame on the victim). In addressing the issue of "credible charge" of child abuse I heard one person say (not on the Convention floor)that even if someone happened to be falsely accused all they would lose is their career. Excuse me but that sounds like a pretty substantial loss. Destroying someone else adds another crime to the horrible one that has already occurred. It seems to me that a three step approach of 1) Using SBC resources to assist and educate churches on background checks and screening of workers, 2) a list of convicted sex offenders involved in church or ministry positions and 3) support of civil prosecution of churches and their leaders who knowingly and willingly cover up or fail to inform other churches of a convicted molester or rapist if it is within their power to do so.

I know some will legitimately disagree with #2 and say that we already have national and state agencies reporting these but a more narrow parameter of likely suspects is, to me, a more responsible and reasonable approach. Governmentally, we just need to enforce existing laws. Denominationally we need to support efforts like this to help our churches function in the best manner to protect our children. Personally, like many of you, I have to muster a whole bucket load of grace to minister to someone who has committed crimes against children. I can at least understand crimes driven by greed, selfishness, anger and bitterness. Crimes against children and any crime designed purposefully to hurt someone else I have a hard time digesting.

As good as this discussion was and as good as the Resolution is I still wonder whether it does us any good to pass Resolutions at all. My wife has been witnessing to someone she met while in San Antonio at the Convention. I don't know if this person developed their opinion from news media or scuttlebutt but they sent my wife an email asking why "Southern Baptists had refused to take a stand against child abuse". The strange sound you just heard was your jaw hitting the keyboard in front of you. I ask you to pray about making sure your church is doing it's best to do the right thing in protecting children.

The Global Warming Resolution: I don't think this Resolution will amount to anything but I voted for it anyway and was glad that a floor motion removed the support for more government funding and research. As if the science behind the Global Warming crowd were not shaky enough let's add a few billion dollars into the kitty. The National Weather Service only chases hurricanes during the warm months of the year, and then not the entirety of each month. That should leave plenty of opportunity to invest a little time and research into the matter. Additionally, it will offer some welcome relief to storm chasing and providing educated guesses to lots of people on TV with big hair and bad suits. I know I am being flippant (and very tacky!) but I just don't buy the whole concept.

The Resolution that did not make it out of Committee but was then brought back to the floor regarding integrity in church membership reporting was an embarrassment. By refusing to pass it we put ourselves in the sad position of voting against telling the truth. Way to go, Brothers and Sisters! The Resolution part of this may be meaningless anyway. Is there anything that would stop the denomination (Executive Committee?) from just reporting the Resident Membership of churches from the ACP rather than the total? At least this would be a step in the right direction. We could even turn it into a 12 step program and Lifeway could market it as a thirteen week Bible Study! I guess I am just not sophisticated enough to understand this.

I think the Resolutions Committee did us a disservice by refusing to bring the Gluttony Resolution to the floor. It would have provided no small amount of entertainment to the Convention. It would have been one of the most Biblically solid Resolutions we have ever passed. It would have served as an additional "non-binding" encouragement for me personally to exercise and lose weight. On second thought it might not be such a good idea because it very well could have destroyed the entire structure of no small number of churches. After all, they would not be able to "form a committee, table it and eat". Snicker, snicker.

One more statement just to get me in trouble with either side of the "aisle". I don't think it mattered one jot, tittle, iota or subscript whether Jim Richards or David Rogers won the 1st VP election. Both were excellent choices from everything I can tell. Neither seems to be off target in anything I have read. Richards' leadership of the SBCT has been noteworthy, especially in missions giving. Our church ha not yet partnered with the SBTC but I suspect it will happen. We are currently still in the BGCT but have bypassed the horrendous funding mechanism of the BGCT and instead designated our contributions on a 50/50 basis. David Rogers seems to be doing a phenomenal job on the overseas mission field. I just don't think there was a "bad vote" offered. If it makes anyone feel better they can put my name on the ballot next year and then people will really have someone to vote against!

This brings me to Ed Stetzer. Use the superlative of your own choosing and it would not be enough to express my praise and thankfulness of this man. I have not heard or read anything from him (I will admit to reading only two books so far) that I would consider off base. As a matter of fact I think most people hear him and they couldn't come up with an argument against whatever he said anyway. God has blessed us with this man, sort of a combination of George Barna, Rick Warren and Peter Wagner. If you don't like one or more of those choices I am sorry but just chalk it up to how messed up I am!

Last thought. There has got to be a better way to do our business. I don't know what it is yet but there has to be a better way. I agree with others that it is time to move from the model of "Olde Tyme" and into the computer, Internet, information age. Even if we maintain a system such as we have we could set something up with "assigned speakers" to motions we know will come up. The "assigned speakers" could state their affirmation or objection to the issue, perhaps even issuing their own pre-convention position papers. Then the debate could be opened up to the floor in normal parliamentary procedure. I love it when I have a good idea!

Enough of my drivel. Get back to work or go spend time with your family. There are any number of pursuits that would be better than reading this!

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