Monday, February 05, 2007

Towards a Missional Convention with Ed Stetzer


Meet Ed Stetzer...

Dr. Stetzer has planted churches in New York and Pennsylvania. He has trained church planters across the United States and on five continents. A former seminary professor and the former Nehemiah Project director of the North American Mission Board, Dr. Stetzer is now the director of research and missiology for NAMB.

Towards a Missional Confession....

Ed Stetzer is a fellow at the Baptist Center. He is challenging Southern Baptists to thing biblically and missiologically about their contexts as they do ministry. We recently heard his views about a variety of issues in SBC life (see below for our recent interview). He has agreed to discuss his most recent paper here. Please read the paper here or listen to the audio here: http://www.uu.edu/events/baptistidentity/schedule.htm

Ed is answering questions in this thread... please post here.
POST YOUR RESPONSES BY CLICKING ON THE "COMMENTS" LINK.

54 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Lemke,

It is good to see what I looked like in the 80s again. Love that photo. Grin.

Thanks, Steve, for asking me to do this. I hope it helps. As you asked, I will jump in an answer questions as I can.

Thanks for your minsitry and all you do at NOBTS.

Ed Stetzer

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Rhyne Putman said...

Thank you for your most insightful comments, Dr. Stetzer!

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rhyne, be encouraged. The Lord is, and will continue to do, great things.

Ed Stetzer

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rhyne, be encouraged. The Lord is, and will continue to do, great things.

Ed Stetzer

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Lemke wrote: Dr. Stetzer has popularized the concept of "missional churches" in two of his books, "Planting Missional Churches" and "Breaking the Missional Code: Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community." What does he mean by a "missional church"?


Steve,

I brought your question over here so I can just answer in one spot. I will try to put all the questions here.

If Southern Baptists are to be, once again, the vibrant body that they have been in the past, they need not return to the methods of the past.

God has blessed radio preaching, Sunday School enrollment campaigns, and bus ministry. God used these indigenous and contextual methods in their time. But our task is not to pine for methods.

Instead, we must return not to the methods but to the motives of those times—- reaching the lost with the best practices of the day.

Every culture needs the Gospel to be explained fully at a different starting point (the context) but the same ending point (the cross).

Tim Keller, a pioneer in the missional church movement, gave the following five elements of a missional church.
1. Discourse in the vernacular.
2. Enter and re-tell the culture’s stories with the gospel.
3. Theologically train laypeople for public life and vocation.
4. Create Christian community which is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive.
5. Practice Christian unity as much as much as possible on the local level.

He is way smarter than me so I will leave it there!

Ed Stetzer

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marty Duren wrote:

"plurality of elders"

You've co-opted my phrase! I think it is an important distinction, though, and one that needs to be made.


Ed responded:

Marty, thanks for commenting. I moved it to this thread for ease of communication.

It is a good phrase-- but it has been around a while. I like the fact that I am part of a community of pastors who speak into my life and hold me accountable. I am way too much of a sinner to not have people to speak into my life. Also, I like the idea that the pastor is not so identified with the church that someone calls it, "Tom's church" or something like that.

Have a great day. And thanks for your kind words on your blog.

Ed Stetzer

7:15 AM  
Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Ed,
(You know I can't resist saying "Amen" about your being a sinner!)
What then would be the difference between a missional church and an emergent church?
swl

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think missional is a posture and approach to ministry. As I see it, emerging is a church expression that is appropriate in emerging culture. (Note: not everyone in the emerging church would agree, but I think that is part of the confusion.)

I think it would be odd indeed to pastor an emerging church in rural Alabama. But, a church that is focused on the mission of God in Alabama, being indigenous and incarnational there, is a missional church-- with brick, mortar, and lots of songs that we probably don't sing at my church.

If "missional" turns into a term that explains edgy emerging churches, I think it is misunderstood.

Missional is a posture, not a style. Traditional, emerging, contemporary, whatever can and should be missional.

The cover story of Leadership Journal does a good job explaining it. I did not find it online to link to, but it is worth finding.

I will also present some of this info at the upcoming Baptist Identity conference at Union.

God bless,

Ed

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt Snowden said...
Ed,
Thanks for posting and commenting on this blog. I appreciate your ministry and am grateful for your work. I would also like to thank NOBTS for this forum.


Matt,

I agree. NOBTS is doing great work. But they sure ask HARD questions. Grin.

Ed Stetzer

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Ascol said...

Ed:

Thanks for your insights here. I agree with you and hope that other denominational servants will follow your example and speak honestly and simply to the reality of our inflated numbers. Until we own up to this, we will simply go on deceiving ourselves.

Blessings,
tom ascol



Tom,

It is a big issue.

Honestly, I am unsure of the motivations. I am not sure if it is as much bragging we are "big" than that most churches are unsure how to get back to regenerate church membership when they already have given away the keys with members not in covenant fellowhsip with each other.

(Oh, that is an ugly run on sentence, but I gotta go back to work.)

Anyway, that is a tough one to get back once it is lost.

Ed Stetzer

11:05 AM  
Anonymous johnMark said...

Hi Ed,

It's good to "see" you again.

At the Resurgence Converence Tim Keller asked about "how to relate the doctrine we've got to the culture?" Which I tie into point number 3 about theologically training the laity. Which in turn helps us to "be the church" vs. just going to church. Then, it would be much easier for numbers 1,2,4 & 5 to work.

Now, if my presmise above is correct, how do we get there? Sorry, certain experiences have biased me when theology and laity are put in the same sentence. I.e. 20 people staring at one another when asked "What is the Gospel"? :-)

Regardless of the order of Keller's 5 points, do they start with the pastor? What can the layman do to engage this process in the local church?

Thanks,
Mark

Ps. Thanks for engaging the blogging culture.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mark,

Great question, indeed.

And Keller is way smarter than me so he probably had a better answer.

But, I am heading home for the day and will get back you you later tonight with my less qualified answer.

More soon...

Ed

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, JohnMark, let me take a swing at it. The kids are sleeping now.

First, I think we put way too much energy keeping people busy at church and not enough time putting them in community and teaching them scripture.

We are not perfect or the model, but we try to do that in small and reproducible ways at our church.

For example, I meet with two guys from the church every week. We formed an LTG (Life Transformation Group) with these particular guys because we are all frequent travelers. So, we plan around each other's schedule.

We meet, in person or by phone, and have our group each week.

We hold each other accountable for the normal stuff (prayer, family, lust, finances, etc.). Then, we talk about scripture reading and some books we have read.

We read scripture repetitively and in community-- for example, we are reading James 5 times this week.

As we are in the word and in each other's lives, we grow together.

Ed

6:28 PM  
Anonymous johnMark said...

Ed,
My wife is over-worked this week and went to be early so I get to "play".

This sentence sums it up for me, "First, I think we put way too much energy keeping people busy at church and not enough time putting them in community and teaching them scripture."

I am with you and it seems the next step is the how. Your group sounds interesting. Maybe I can find some like minded folks and try something similar.

I will pray and think on these things.

I appreciate it!
Mark

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed Jordan said...
re: Dr. Stetzer's comments on the SBC having an Identity Crisis, and his auxiliary article about why it is crucial to embrace the 2000 BFM.

The SBC is in crisis of identity.
Even Dr. Stetzer is confused as to what the identity of the SBC is. He calls it a denomination in his article on the BFM. His whole rationale for why we need the BFM is because we are a denomination.

The truth is the SBC is not, and never has been a denomination. Our official name (unless the new leaders have changed that, too) is the Southern Baptist Convention.

A denomination is a hierarchical religious body where the control and ownership of the religious group's entities (and properties) are owned and controlled by the denomination.

A convention is a loose confederacy of people who gather for a short period of time to make decisions, and then go back home to their autonomous business (or churches in this case). The convention does not own the messengers, nor micro-manage the lives of the convention attenders.

Part of our loss of identity stems from the new leadership of the SBC transforming a free Baptist convention into a tightfistedly controlled denomination. Becoming a denomination is foreign to Southern Baptist nature, polity, and doctrine. It is as confusing as a cat becoming a dog. It is not the nature of the beast.

The drive for power and control, and the use of the 2000 BFM as an enforcement instrument are the things that are confusing our identity, and changing our identity.

We Southern Baptists used to be a people of the Book. We had no creed but the Bible. Each State Convention was autonomous, each association was autonomous, each believer was a priest with direct access to God through Jesus Christ, and the ability to interpret the Bible for themselves because of the indwelling Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth. This was called soul-competency.

Now the SBC "denomination" is demanding that we use the 2000 BFM instead of the Bible as our instrument of doctrinal accountability. State conventions and associations are being compelled to sign on to the BFM as their instrument of doctrinal accountability. Soon it will become the creedal test for churches to qualify to be SBC and members to belong.

That is not Baptist, and certainly not Southern Baptist. It is not Biblical either. No wonder we don't know who we are.

I was a foreign missionary who was forced to sign the 2000 BFM, resign, or be fired. As a Baptist, that left me no choice. After 11 years I had to watch the people we serve amongst weep at the news that our group left us no choice but to resign. We would be leaving them. They couldn't understand it, because they knew we were conservative. We served among them for 11 years.

I am not a liberal. In fact I am so conservative that I resigned rather than let a man-written document usurp the authority that only Jesus and the Bible have in my life. So rather than caving in to embrace the teachings of men, I chose to stay with the Bible as my instrument of doctrinal accountability.

So, that's where the leaders are moving the Convention. They want it to become a denomination. Dr. Stetzer says that it already is one and that the fact that denominations need to have controlling doctrinal documents is his whole rationale for why the BFM is necessary.

The SBC has lost its identity, because it is no longer Southern Baptist in identity. And all of that has been purposely orchestrated by a few power-hungry folks.

Pity. Galatians 6:7-8

Dr. Ed Jordan
8:50 PM
spamthewunderdog said...
Amen Dr. Jordan!!!

I love Ed, I love the concepts he brings up...but his allegiance to a failing "budding neo-denomination" just makes me think that in spite of what he says, he has lost sight of things.
10:26 PM


Dr. Jordon (and spamthewonderdog),

Let me say first that I am sorry.

I cannot imagine the pain that you and others have felt. Any time you change a faith statement, there is pain and people are hurt. I am sorry.

But, I do not think I am confused. I think we disagree-- on a couple of counts. That's OK, but let me elaborate a bit and hopefully we can clarify our disagreements but also share our commonalities.

I think the distinction of convention and denomination is a semantic one for most, though I know it is not for you. However, regardless of how we view the churches (a denomination or convention), I think that you and I worked for the denomination as represented by its agencies.

Both of us drew our paychecks from agencies with trustees, supervisors, and standards. The theological part of those standards was the Baptist Faith and Message. Yes, the current BFM is more clear and more conservative than the former-- and that “contraction” changed some people’s lives. And, it is now being help as more of a standard than it was before.

But, I believe you when you say that you are not a liberal. Many great people love the Lord and the Bible but disagree with part of our faith statement. But, that does not mean we can or should work for denominational agencies if we disagree with what they believe.

It is impossible to have trust in the convention if the body adopts a confession that its employees do not hold.

My view may be colored by my own experience. When I went to an SBC seminary, I had many great and godly professors. But, one of them disturbed me-- he taught that the Bible had been corrupted by Hellenistic thought and count not be trusted. Did he have the freedom to believe that? Yes. But did I think he should be paid by Southern Baptist to teach such? No, I do not.

So, I think the confession serves several purposes, which I have elaborated in the article here in the article you mention:

----------

A denominational confession is a statement of biblical truths around which we rally, young or old, traditional or contemporary. A confessional statement serves at least five purposes, and each is essential. These purposes help illustrate an important truth—no denomination or fellowship of churches can work together long term without a confessional statement. The confessional statement of the denomination enables us to embrace biblically faithfully but culturally diverse churches because we stand together around the biblical essentials.

A confession is:

A Statement for the Denomination
I cannot tell you what every Southern Baptist believes, but I can tell you what Southern Baptists believe. That is the value of a faith statement—it says, “This we believe!” Some Baptists may act in racist ways, but Southern Baptists know that racism is a sin. Some Baptists may believe traditional worship is a command, but our faith statement welcomes diverse types of worship expression. A statement of faith gives us enough in agreement to work together knowing that we share a common theology.

A Standard for Denominational Agencies

Confessional statements give direction about who can serve at a denominational agency. Churches do this every day-- they make sure their staff believes what they believe. That might be the Baptist Faith and Message or something of its own design. But a denominational confessional statement gives denominational agencies the standard they need.

That standard promotes trust-- the churches are assured that their missionaries (whom they may never meet) and the churches they plant are adhering to the collaborative statement adopted by the churches.

A Source for Local Churches

There is no mandate that a local church adopt the SBC confessional statement. However, the SBC’s confessional statement can be a tool that aids local churches.

First, it can help a local church that wants to affiliate. That church can see what Southern Baptists believe and decide if they agree with those beliefs.

Also, as new churches are started, they may wish to look to the denominational confessional statement as a guide. In addition, established churches have a tool they can use to state their general doctrinal beliefs as well as a source for teaching theology.

A Sentry Against Moving Left

Our doctrinal statement says that Southern Baptists believe in certain things-- the authority of scripture, the deity of Christ, the sanctity of life, the standard of marriage, and much more. These statements define what we are and shield us from moving to the “theological left” by defining outer boundaries of what it means to be Southern Baptist. Young or old leaders outside of those bounds may be believers, but we think they are outside of our best understanding of biblical truth.

A Shield Against Excessive Distinction

A faith statement also shields a denomination from overemphasis on certain rules or distinctions. It defines the “inner boundary.” Some will say that we must dress a certain way, have a certain name, or use certain programs-- but these are not what define us. If the confession does not include it, it is not SBC doctrine. It may be a local church, an association, a state convention, or an unwritten distinctive, but it is not an SBC doctrine.
---------

But please know that I do not think that Southern Baptists are the only conservative evangelicals. This week I will speak at the Baptist Identify Conference about the future of the convention—sealing denominational reputation! Not everyone will like what I say.

But, before I get home from that trip, I will also keynote Assembly of God and Independent Christian meetings. I think they love the Lord and love the scripture, but it is no surprise that I think they are wrong on some things (as they should think I am), but I don’t think they should work for SBC agencies.

And, I think I understand that your position had to do more with the conviction of "not signing" rather than "not believing" and that is a tough one-- but I am glad you stood by your convictions. I did not have a problem indicating my agreement because of my convictions about the purpose of the confession (see above).

We differ-- but I appreciate so much your service to the Lord and his mission to the nations.

Thanks for your passion and your work for the Lord.

God bless,

Ed Stetzer

P.S. Sorry for the long answer.

4:58 AM  
Blogger centuri0n said...

Dr. Stetzer --

First of all, it is a rare honor to have a moment of time from a guy who, in my opinion, is in the game as far as the future of the church is concerned. Anyone reading this should be praying for you that the influence God has given you will be used to prepare the Bride for His return.

In that, I think there is an important context where the denomination/convention distinction should be most obvious: in the methods and motives of SBC leaders. That is, if the SBC is a "denomination", it has leadership which steers the member churches to a collective end for a collective purpose; if it is a "convention", the "leadership" are actually stewards commissioned to do work on behalf of the constitutant local churches -- and the position is by a long shot more about service than achievement or status.

In that, I think we need a robust BFM. But its robustness ought not to be for the sake of keeping the unconvinced out of cooperation: it ought to be for defining the demands of ministering to the CP in its many forms, keeping our eyes focused on Christ in the lives of people as the end.

Someone has name-dropped Tim Keller here (Mark, you toady), and I'll name-drop John Piper in this respect: his robust theology and Christology does not lead him to hyper-separationalists views of church or cooperation but leads him to seek to save souls from damnation by cooperating with any person who believes that Christ died for our sins, and who lives it by making a sacrificial commitment to the lost.

A robust BFM doesn't mean we have become a denomination, with a top-down orthodoxy: a robust BFM ought to mean that Christ is our Head, and we are calling men clearly and specifically to Him -- not to something else -- with the guidance and service of men who are willing to provide guidance and service rather than offical authority and pomp.

I think the reality is that this is not the case, and we are harmed by it as a convention.

May God have mercy on us so that we can do what it right for His sake.

F. Turk

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very insighful... and let me add this.

I am a local church guy.

The only reason that the denomination / convnetion / movement should exist is to serve the local church in doing and extending her God given minsistry.

Ephesians 3:10 says that God has chosen the church to make know his wisdom. NAMB exists to partner with churches in North American ministries of evangelism, church planting, and sending missionaries. The IMB extends the work of the churches to places most can never visit. The seminaries serve the chuches by providing prepared and godly leaderhsip. Etc.

It is all about the church--

The church is not the center of God's plan, but it is central to it... and all of us in denominational life would do well to remember that.

That is why I started a church last year-- I was simply gone too much telling others how important church was while not going to my own.

So... there ya go, I even confessed that I was not going to church (well, at least my home church... grin).

Ed Stetzer

P.S. Call me "Ed"

10:06 AM  
Blogger martyduren said...

Actually,

Call him Ed "Glamour Shots" Stetzer.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, that hurts.

I just don't even remember looking like that... that is probably 10 years old.

But since I am a "young leader" (at least in SBC life), it is nice to look young in the picture.

Grin.

Ed

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's just a shame that you are not as young as your co-pastor. Good job on all of your responses.
Philip Nation

1:49 PM  
Blogger centuri0n said...

Man. He tells me to call him "Ed", and then the subject of the glam shot on this blog comes up.

I just want the name and price sheet for the guy who took that picture.

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fine PR folks at SBTS took that picture when I was a professor there. They were geniuses and made me look, well, as good as they could (considering).

Ed

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Cleveland said...
I have to ask if there's biblical precedent for the congregation choosing the spiritual leaders. All I can recall is elders being appointed, but the people at large choosing the deacons.

I come from a Presbyterian background, and still see that form of church governance as biblical.


Ed answered...

Good question, Bob. Let me say first that I would always be careful to say that someone else's belief is not scriptural. In this case, good evangelical scholars differ and there are great God honoring churches that hold different views on this topic.

But, my best understanding of scripture is that the church is congregational.
Greg Wills does a good job providing a brief overview here: http://www.baptist2baptist.net/b2barticle.asp?ID=249

(By the way, Greg is freaky smart, so I believe whatever he writes… and his Democratic Religion: Freedom, Authority, and Church Discipline in the Baptist South, 1785-1900 is fascinating reading for a church history geek like me.)

The problem with most SBC congregationalism, is that it is based more on the American system of checks and balances than the biblical model. So, I am not talking about that crazy “vote on the wattage of the rest room lights” kind of congregationalism, but there are some things that are so important that they need the whole congregation to decide-- like its pastor/elders.

Where does that come from? There is strong evidence for congregationalism in places like Matthew 18 and 1 Cor. 5 (both deal church discipline) and the selection of the Deacons in Acts 6 included “select from among you… The proposal pleased the whole company.” But, one of the clearest references is 2 Cor. 2 where Paul indicates that the “majority” inflicted the punishment.

Since Paul appeals to the church and its leaders on big issues, even when speaking as an apostle, I conclude that really big decisions should be congregational. For us, that includes calling a pastor, buying a building, annual budget, and other things like that.

I have a lot of friends who differ on both sides-- but for us, our church is a pastor/elder led, not elder ruled, church, because the final seat of authority, under the Lordship of Christ, is the church.

Thanks for asking.

Ed

4:27 PM  
Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Ed,
I strongly agree with your call for a regenerate church membership. I agree with Tom (someone send him a EMS unit quickly!) that our overinflated numbers are a serious problem. One leading church used to claim 3,000 baptisms a year, and yet their Sunday School enrollment never really changed. I heard that the numbers were inflated by rebaptisms at a nearby children's home. These inflated numbers call into question the integrity of all the numbers.

Your call for a regenerate church membership would seem to correspond to some kind of entry-level discipleship and a continuing church discipline. What processes would you suggest for effecting the kind of regenerate church membership you are calling for?
swl

8:58 AM  
Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Dr. Jordan, Ed, and spamdog,
I appreciate your concern for an overly strong denominational hierarchy. You may be aware that at NOBTS we fought the "sole membership" issue all the way to the floor of the convention because of our conviction about the potential dangers of centralization in the SBC (see the articles by Dr. Kelley, Dr. Keathley, Dr. Harsch, etc. on the Baptist Center website). Dr. Kelley fought a courageous fight standing for that principle.

Having said that, I think that the word "denomination" does not necessarily mean a hierarchical organization. There are many types of denominations. Ours is still one that believes in church autonomy, and the center of authority in SBC life is still invested in the local church as it seeks to live out the will of Jesus the Head of the church. "Denomination" just means that like kinds tend to gather together. So we Baptist types like to get together.

Now, as soon as you start trying to do things together, some organization is required. For a Christian organization, some doctrinal parameters are necessary. While we would all affirm the sufficiency of Scripture, the truth is that people interpret the Bible differently. Pentecostals, Catholics, Presbyterians, and Mormons all affirm the sufficiency and authority of Scripture, but none of them believe what we Baptists do at some points. So we must necessarily write down what it is that we believe. It's not just ANY interpretation of Scripture, but Scripture as PROPERLY interpreted. So it's hard to escape some doctrinal statement.

The BF&M didn't start in 2000. There was another one in 1963. Another in 1925. I wonder if Dr. Jordan was reared in a church like I was that had a "Church Covenant" posted at the front of the church or in the front of the hymnal. It expressed what Baptists generally believed, and was, by the way, narrower than the BF&M in several areas, including use of alcoholic beverages. Before the first BF&M, each of the seminaries wrote their own statements of faith for their faculty to affirm. Before that, all the way back into the 1600s, Baptists wrote confessions to state what it was that they believed. This isn't something new. It has a long heritage in the Baptist tradition (and every other Christian tradition). Even independent churches write out a doctrinal statement. So, while I respect Dr. Jordan's acting on his convictions, I agree with Ed that doctrinal confessions are an inescapable part of Christians living in community.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Dr. Jordan, Ed, and spamdog,
I appreciate your concern for an overly strong denominational hierarchy. You may be aware that at NOBTS we fought the "sole membership" issue all the way to the floor of the convention because of our conviction about the potential dangers of centralization in the SBC (see the articles by Dr. Kelley, Dr. Keathley, Dr. Harsch, etc. on the Baptist Center website). Dr. Kelley fought a courageous fight standing for that principle.

Having said that, I think that the word "denomination" does not necessarily mean a hierarchical organization. There are many types of denominations. Ours is still one that believes in church autonomy, and the center of authority in SBC life is still invested in the local church as it seeks to live out the will of Jesus the Head of the church. "Denomination" just means that like kinds tend to gather together. So we Baptist types like to get together.

Now, as soon as you start trying to do things together, some organization is required. For a Christian organization, some doctrinal parameters are necessary. While we would all affirm the sufficiency of Scripture, the truth is that people interpret the Bible differently. Pentecostals, Catholics, Presbyterians, and Mormons all affirm the sufficiency and authority of Scripture, but none of them believe what we Baptists do at some points. So we must necessarily write down what it is that we believe. It's not just ANY interpretation of Scripture, but Scripture as PROPERLY interpreted. So it's hard to escape some doctrinal statement.

The BF&M didn't start in 2000. There was another one in 1963. Another in 1925. I wonder if Dr. Jordan was reared in a church like I was that had a "Church Covenant" posted at the front of the church or in the front of the hymnal. It expressed what Baptists generally believed, and was, by the way, narrower than the BF&M in several areas, including use of alcoholic beverages. Before the first BF&M, each of the seminaries wrote their own statements of faith for their faculty to affirm. Before that, all the way back into the 1600s, Baptists wrote confessions to state what it was that they believed. This isn't something new. It has a long heritage in the Baptist tradition (and every other Christian tradition). Even independent churches write out a doctrinal statement. So, while I respect Dr. Jordan's acting on his convictions, I agree with Ed that doctrinal confessions are an inescapable part of Christians living in community.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Bob,
In response to your question about scriptural references supportive of congregations choosing leaders (under God's leadership), see Acts 1:21-26; 6:2-6; 13:1-3; 15:22-23; 1 Cor. 16:3; 2 Cor. 8:22-24; and Phil 2:25. With regard to congregational governance to settle issues within the church, see Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:2, 12-13; 2 Cor. 2:5-6; Gal. 6:1; and Rev. 2:20.

Congregational governance is a bedrock Southern Baptist belief. It is grounded not just in these scriptural examples, but is based on belief in soul competency and the priesthood of all believers. We could cite dozens of Scripture references which (a) identify the individual believer's responsibility as a priest directly to God and (b) identify the church as the appropriate locus of the community in which believers come together and work together. The gathered church is thus the right group to sense God's leadership in selecting leadership for the church.

You didn't mention what kind of church you are currently attending, but if you believe in another church polity than congregational church goveranance and you're attending a Baptist church, you're probably going to feel like an abortionist at a pro-life rally.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Ed,
On the Emerging Church topic, we're having Scot McKnight on campus at NOBTS this week for some lectures, and as you know he has written quite a bit about the Emerging Church. In one of his talks, he sort of "dissed" your fivefold categorization of Emergents, in that it was putting them through a theological filter, and (he said) Emergents aren't "theological" in that way, but more praxis oriented.

His own fivefold description of Emergent Christians, by the way, (similar to earlier publications)was that they are (a) Prophetic/provacative, (b) Postmodern, (c) Praxis-oriented (Worship, Missional, and Orthopraxy), (d)Post-evangelical, and (e) Political. Your response?

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Steve Lemke, you know how to make an entrance. Grin. That is a whole lotta postin'.

Anyway, on to your last comment and question.

Scott is a good guy, and I think his categories have merit, but I think it is necessary and important to draw some theological distinctions as well.

So, I would gently differ with him on the usefulness of my categories.

What is funny is that I wrote that little article so that SBC folks would be able to discern-- I had no idea it would be blogged on, analyzed, and critiqued over 500 times. It was a good learning experience for me.

But, I think there is more than one way to look at streams within the movement. Many have agreed with my description, and some have disagreed, but that is the nature of good discussion.

Some agree (like uber emerging church blogger and all around nice guy TallSkinnyKiwi, AKA Andrew Jones):
http://tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/tallskinnykiwi/2006/01/ed_stetzer_gets.html

Mark Driscoll agrees, and then modifies my catagories (can he do that without asking?!?!?):
http://criswell.wordpress.com/files/2006/03/3,2%20APastoralPerspectiveontheEmergentChurch%5BDriscoll%5D.PDF

Some disagree like Tony Jones, director of emergent:
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2006/05/is_emergent_the.html

I think the one who did the best job taking me to ask was Stephen Shields:
http://faithmaps.blogspot.com/2006/06/are-there-emerging-church-shibboleths.html

(Man, if I were smarter, I would make these “hotlinks.” Maybe one of your folks can help with that.)

But, McKnight is freaky smart. So he probably knows the movement better than I do.

But, I think it is not all about praxis. It is MUCH about praxis. But there are some serious theological issues at work as well.

In hindsight, I would have worded some things a little differently. The analysis that others offered helped me to see a few things I missed or should restate. I am not sure how to say everything needed in 1000 words (the BP limit), but I think it has sparked an important conversation and an important distinction.

By the way, I thought this analysis was interesting:

http://www.westernseminary.edu/papers/Faculty/ETS%2006%20Allison%20C1.doc

Have a great day.

Ed

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed,

I am curious as to your ideas about congregational rule and the new trend among megachurches developing satellite churches. Is not the pastor of a megachurch with satellite campuses acting like a bishop presiding over a district?

We can argue the idea of congregational rule by stating that the pastor is "present" in the satellite campuses through broadcasts...but I think that is pushing the idea of congregational rule.

I don't think every megachurch will be able to purchase an arena for Sunday services like Joel Osteen, so I think the satellite campus strategy will be a major part of megachurch strategy for future growth.

I can see how someone would have to adopt the elder rule perspective in order for the theological development of satellite campuses to work.

However, I don't think many church growth people or megachurch pastors are too concerned about the theological foundation for this new trend.

So, are megachurches with satellite campuses "theologically sound" under congregational governance?

Dr.Lemke, I also look forward to your response to this question.

-Arnold Arredondo

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arnold,

Good question...

It seems they would have to work harder at it.

But, I guess I have not thought that much about it from that angle-- I prefer church planting and that is my default when it comes to new "sites."

Now you are making me think... and it is too late for that.

Dr. Lemke, new rule-- no more NOBTS students on this blog. Grin.

Ed

7:09 PM  
Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Arnold,

The satellite church model does present some new challenges to congregational polity. I think there are no easy answers -- we're just going to have to work through the issues and find out what it means to be truly congregational in this setting.

For example, there was a church that had a traditional and a contemporary church service. The contemporary church group began to assert its own autonomy and move in signficantly different directions from the traditional, "base" church. The leaders of the traditional church balked at this. So what does congregational autonomy mean when there are two pretty clearly defined and intentionally different congregations? Actually, it might be surprising if such groups with little communication DIDN'T move in different directions. Trying to pastor both might be like riding two horses with a foot on each horse.

The overall tendency in megachurches has been to move toward being staff-led rather than committee-driven, simply because it is impossible to get things done in a timely manner with the committee method. But some megachurch pastors have found out the hard way that without congregational authorization, well, they're not leading anybody.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Ed,
I found your categorization of Emergents to be very helpful -- as I did Scot's. I think both tell us something about who Emergents are. I think his only point was that Emergents might not self-describe themselves in the way you did, but then, that's not what you were trying to do, and it is often the case that movements are defined and described by others (sometimes more objectively?) rather than themselves.

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drs. Lemke and Stetzer,

I would probably categorize Megachurches with satellite campuses as a presbyterian model of church government. The "senior pastor" probably acts more like a "bishop" while the campus pastors are closer to "local priests."

I don't believe Andy Stanley would categorize himself in this manner, but he probably has the most successful satellite model. I think it is very easy to see a presbyterian model applied to his strategy.

I don't mean to pick on Stanley, but he just happens to be well known. Albeit, he is not Southern Baptist, but he is about as baptist as most I know.

The reason I bring this up is because Ed made a comment about innovation and ecclesiology. I wonder if the "innovation" of satellite campuses is outpacing the theological justification.

I realize that there are groups already out that align themselves by theology and by church government ie the Methodist Episcopal.

Baptists have generally scoffed at the presbyterian model, but it makes me wonder what is happening.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I forgot the sign that last comment.

-Arnold Arredondo

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You seem to be connected to a lot of people in the emerging church. Do you think that is a good idea for an SBC leader?

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

You seem to be connected to a lot of people in the emerging church. Do you think that is a good idea for an SBC leader?



Ed answered anonymous...

“Are you now, or have you ever been, a part of the Emerging Church?”

Well, I guess that depends. I consider many of the leaders as friends, but I also disagree with some of them. But, I think your bigger question is if it is right for me as an SBC leader to be involved.

Simply put: yes.

There are a lot of young pastors struggling and rethinking theology and ministry right now… and I want to be a voice for biblically sound ministry in that conversation. So, I am glad to be in some of those circles.

But, to be fair, most people in the emerging church would say, “Ed who?” My involvement is mainly in Acts 29-- which is on the “right” of the emerging church: inerrantist, complimentarian, reformed, missional, etc. So, I guess it depends on what you mean by emerging church.

But, I will teach and help anyone who wants to do biblically faithful ministry in emerging culture. That might be at an Acts 29 event, the Assembly of God Theological Seminary where I am speaking next week, or the Wesleyan National Gathering I keynoted in January. And, that does not mean I agree with everything they say-- nor do they agree with everything I say.

But I am honored that they would invite a Southern Baptist to encourage them-- and I hope that my encouragement causes them to reach more for Christ.

Ed

8:22 PM  
Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Arnold,
I think the "bishop" model is usually called episcopalian polity, not presbyterian polity. Presbyterians have a presbytry of ruling elders.

I don't know if large churches with satellite campuses use an episcopal model, but you'll remember that "bishop" (episcopas) just means pastor/overseer. I don't see that this necessarily violates Baptist polity, unless this leadership is without the consent of the church as a whole.

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about alcohol?!?!? There are a lot of people who endorse beverage alcohol in those movements. Do you? Does the Southern Baptist Church?

4:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm... Well, let me answer as best I can.

First, my view on alcohol is pretty simple. My dad is a recovered alcoholic, so I was raised around the devastation of alcohol. I would not promote a product that causes over 75,000 deaths per year. So, the churches I planted always had a policy that our pastors did not drink alcohol. It is a witness issue for us.

Second, there is not a Southern Baptist Church, but it is rather a convention of autonomous churches. The SBC has passed about a bazillion resolutions against alcohol so the convention would be solidly in the anti-alcohol camp.

I, personally, do help Christians who differ with me on the issue. But, that does not mean I endorse everything they do any more than I am endorsing everything that the Assesblies of God believes when I teach there.

I think we can help and encourage others to do biblical ministry and reach the lost without endorsing everything they do.

Ed Stetzer

10:32 AM  
Blogger centuri0n said...

Ed --

How would one get a copy of your paper from the baptist Identity conference? The MP3 was fabulous, but I'd like a copy for reference for some blogging I'm doing.

To build you up, btw, not to tear you down. It's important to clarify that because, well, you know how us bloggers are. :-)

3:14 PM  
Blogger centuri0n said...

And for the people reading this thread, I reject Resolution #5 as a massive waste of resources and good will. I am willing to defend that position to anyone who wants more details -- you can come find me at my blog if you're interested.

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Centurion, it is linked to on this site. I hope you find it helpful.

Ed

6:09 PM  
Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Ed,
Thanks for sharing your Baptist Identity paper, "Toward a Missional Convention," with us. A few questions for your help and clarification:

(a) Even though "Cooperation" was one of your 3 c's, you seemed a bit dismissive at times in your paper of a "traditional," "missions-minded" Baptist church. One of the distinctions you bring out concerning "missional" churches is that they do missions themselves, starting locally, while "missions-minded" churches tend to support the going of others. Here's a little push back from me, the "traditional" Baptist, to give you the opportunity to respond -- Is it not the "failed" effort of these Cooperative "missions-minded" churches that has produced and funded the largest missionary force in evangelical Christendom? If churches turn their focus toward their own individual and local "missional" activities without engaging with other Baptist churches regionally and nationally in coooperative missions, will the net result be better or worse? Do not such locally-focused churches tend to keep a higher percentage of their missions giving at home to fund their own programs, rather than fund cooperative missions ventures like associations, state conventions, NAMB (including personnel such as yourself), and IMB? Your assumption is that doing missions locally will inspire churches to give globally (p. 30). Do you have any evidence for the claim that "missional" churches give higher percentages to national and international missions outside their own communities than "missions-minded" churches?

2:34 PM  
Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Ed,
A second dialog point on your paper:

(b) I agree with you that we need to have a variety of church models to address persons in our diverse culture more effectively. The "one size fits all" approach will not reach many people. But is a church following the traditional "program-driven" model necessarily antiquated and ineffective? Is it not possible that a church that is roughly following the model Allen described might be the most effective way of reaching some communities? Is there a danger of a newer model being imposed as a new version of the one size fits all hegemony?

Permit me a tale of two churches --Two churches were planted in a brown collar area in a surburban area. One church copied the Willow Creek principles lock, stock, and barrel. Went to all the Willow Creek conferences. No invitation (because postmodern adults allegedly don't want commitment, regardless of what Jesus required). Sermons about overcoming personal dysfunctions. Choruses rather than hymns. Remove "Baptist" from the name. And, after a few disastrous years, this church went out of existence and was sold to a preschool.

But down the street was another church, ironically named Willow Creek Baptist Church, which pretty much followed the much-maligned "program-driven" model. It was one of the fastest-growing churches in the association. So, which of these churches was missional?

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm... my good friend Steve... I am not sure which paper you read. Grin.

But, I will have to respond later today. I am off to work to serve churches that supported NAMB through the Cooperative Program and AAEO!

Back soon...

God bless,

Ed

5:50 AM  
Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Ed,
Further reflections on your paper --

(c) In the past few days, I've heard our SBC President Frank Page, speaking to the SBC Executive Committee, encouraging Baptists to be more relevant and "missional." Then, today at our NOBTS chapel, we heard John Avant call us to be not just about "Missions" but to be "missional." Do you think this might be an idea that is catching on in SBC life?

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK. I am back.

I am not sure if there is anyone other than you or me reading this, Steve, but let me take a shot. I enjoy talking with you because you ask provocative questions.

First, I do believe that it is very easy to start calling "everything" missions and then you lose the historic outward heart of our convention.

In the paper, I wrote: "As mentioned previously, missiological thinking is not the same as missionary support. Simply put, being “mission-minded” alone does not mean that we are “missional.” Many churches that support cross-cultural missions do not carefully apply strategic missiological thinking or a focus on the mission of God within their own context. Unfortunately, some have confused missionary support—an important concern that needs more attention—with paying someone else to do missional ministries like evangelism and church planting, albeit on a foreign field. But this thinking precludes obedience to our Lord’s commission in our local context."

And, you are right, there is a danger here-- but one we have to face for theological and missiological reasons. We are on mission because of the identity of the church and the call of God. My call is simple: our home churches must utilize the missiological principles we previously assigned only to international missionaries.

My belief is that if the church gets on mission than it will be missional and mission-minded, and both are important. That is why the church I just co-planted gives 10% to CP, 3% to the Association, and 7% to direct church planting. We did all of this from our first day.

So, let's not let a missional emphasis detract from a mission-minded denomination-- I think that God's heart for the nations should come in loud and clear when we get on mission-- and more, not less, will go and give for the cause of world evangelization.

Now, on your comment regarding “mission-minded churches,” I would gently disagree. The Cooperative Program is not the failure (though it is in trouble, I think). It is our failure to engage our communities and do it cooperatively that is my concern. Thus, I would word it a little differently. I believe we must decide that a missions-minded church, unfruitful in its community for the gospel and unengaged from other churches, is not an acceptable alternative. God is not honored when we pay someone to do work on the other side of the world while we refuse to do His work on our side-- the answer is to continue to give (globally) and also start to go (locally as well as globally).

On to your comment about the traditional churches. The “agenda” of my paper is to “make room” for those who do things in non-traditional ways. We are a denomination of traditional churches and we would do well to remember that-- but I am not hearing (nor would I support) a pogrom against traditional churches. It seems that they are pretty safe in today’s SBC. I would simply encourage them to be on mission in their context and engage the community with the gospel (and that does not necessarily mean they need to be contemporary, emerging, cell based, house, Purpose Driven, or whatever).

Your “tale of two churches” is probably true. But my questions from a missional perspective is: what is the context? Who are the people living in that community? Did a planter come in with a preconceived church he wanted no matter where he was going? If so, he was not acting missionally.

Let me say that too many planters plant churches in their heads and not in their communities.

The call to break the "missional code" is to understand if you are ministering to the of Mars Hill (Acts 17), the religiously-heritaged of Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13), or the good ole boy piety of Lystra (Acts 14).

Please note this in the paper, “Traditional churches can and should be missional as well, which is why we affirmed such churches in Breaking the Missional Code.” We gave several examples in the book to illustrate that.

Regardless, I believe that if our churches don’t get on mission here and now, there will be no one to support missions there, now or later. So, it is not an either/or, it is a both/and.

Hope that helps… more tomorrow.

Ed Stetzer

4:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve wrote: >> (c) In the past few days, I've heard our SBC President Frank Page, speaking to the SBC Executive Committee, encouraging Baptists to be more relevant and "missional." Then, today at our NOBTS chapel, we heard John Avant call us to be not just about "Missions" but to be "missional." Do you think this might be an idea that is catching on in SBC life?


I hope so, Steve, I really do. But, I am less concerned with the terminology than the emphasis. I just hope our churches get on mission-- and we do it together.

God bless,

Ed

8:22 PM  
Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Ed,
Thanks for your thoughts. I definitely agree that we need more models than the traditional SBC church. We need at least "niche" churches that reach targeted groups. And we all need to make adjustments as we seek to minister to this new generation.

But I guess I'm a bit more optimistic that most churches are engaged in missional activities. Maybe they were missional before missional was cool. They help sponsor a food bank. They work with a hospital, nursing home, or police chaplain. They participate in disaster relief projects, and in Baptist Men, Baptist Builders, Habitat for Humanity, and World Changers building projects in new work areas. By the thousands they participate in mission trips nationally and internationally. They help support their associational youth camp. Sunday School classes do projects to help needy groups. They have a system to provide help for the homeless and the poor. Through their CP gifts and special offering gifts through their associations and state conventions they help fund a number of Christian social ministries across their state -- children's homes, homes for the aged, homeless shelters, collegiate ministries, hospitals, etc. So, that all sounds pretty missional to me.

But I do agree with you (and John Avant, Frank Page, etc.) that we do need to be more intentional about our own individual mission.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> So, that all sounds pretty missional to me.

I agree.

Ed Stetzer

9:03 AM  
Anonymous stuart said...

Drs. Stetzer and Lemke,

Is it possible for a church to participate in all of the local/regional mission/ministry programs that Dr. Lemke described in his last post and still not be missional?

I think so, and I'd like both of your inputs. The church described above can very well support all of those local efforts and still have a "functional ecclesiology" wherein "missions" is but one of several equal functions of the church. In which case, I'm not sure that the "missional" description fits, even though the church is obviously very missions-minded.

It's my understanding that one of the defining marks of a "missional church" is that "missions" (plural) is not just one of several functions, but rather that the "mission" (singular) defines the church and drives or informs everything else.

The gathered worship service, for example, becomes the place where the community is formed and reformed by the God who sends them out from the gathering on mission. "Missions", for example, becomes less of a program of the church to be funded, staffed, and worked...and more the church's very ethos as each member comes to understand his or her role as missionaries sent by God everywhere, everyday.

Some of the most generous and "missions minded" SBC churches around still implicitly operate from a position where the church is a "vendor or religious goods and services" (to borrow from Hunsberger) in its community. Their giving and going may be laudable, but are those churches really missional?

11:15 AM  
Anonymous stuart said...

Gentlemen,

One other question if I may...

I once had a professor ask us this in class. I'd like to know your answer, too. "Can a church be 'missional' if it is not involved in church planting/reproduction at the local or regional level?"

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Frustrated said...

Dr. Lemke,

What are your thoughts on accountability ? While we are ultimately accountable to God, aren't we supposed to hold our brothers in Christ accountable for the sin in their lives, and bring it to their attention? This issue has been festering in our church for some time, and we would appreciate any advice you have on this on how to approach a fellow Christian who refuses to be held accountable for his/her actions by their fellow believers.

8:41 PM  

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