Monday, February 05, 2007

Ed Stetzer on Four Significant Theological Issues Confronting Southern Baptists

10. What would you say is the most significant theological issue confronting Southern Baptists in this generation?

I don't know if I can do just one. Let me throw out four that matter:

Cooperation: We have to decide that we have decided to work together. The promise of the Conservative Resurgence and the BFM2000 was that we would get to the point where we would trust each other enough to get on with our mission. So far, that has not happened. I think we need a biblical theology of cooperation and we need one quick!

Regenerate Church Membership: As a convention, we have a great sin that we have not addressed: most of our churches are filled with “members” who are not Christians. This is an unimaginable occurrence by scriptural standards. Members are not prospects. Prospects are lost people in need of a life-changing encounter with Christ. Members are believers in covenant community with each other. We need to get that straight.

Ecclesiology and Innovation: I recently wrote and presented a paper on biblical church innovation. We need to get a discussion going on what innovation is, why we do it, and what we should (and should not) innovate. Approaches to church have diverged in ways unimaginable twenty years ago—and the issue of how to innovate in biblical ways has been lost in the rush to be trendy. All the while a significant population of our churches think that any innovation which results in a loss of a perceived “Southern Baptist Culture” is to be avoided at all costs. We have an ongoing misconception that Biblical conservatism and cultural conservatism are synonymous. They are not. This is a major issue which we need to figure out together.

Missiology: We must drill down into our cultures here in North America and learn all we can about the people who live all around us. We must be willing to give the last full measure to take the gospel in the contextual heart language of these identified cultures. We must seek to stay biblically sound and culturally relevant. We must embrace those among us who are willing to take risks for the sake of the gospel. We must place more value on the command of our Lord to make disciples among all people groups, more than we value our “way” of doing church