Things I wish I’d said first

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Someone — he only left the name “Concerned Brother” — left a comment today saying something I wish I’d written first. Here’s the part I want to focus on for this post:

I am a nobody in the “Baptist Denominational world”…just a young man who wants to follow Christ. I just recently was made aware of this blog and after reading through it I am very concerned about our future. It’s not so much because of all the controversy and scandal that I have concern, but because that alone seems to be all that inspires and motivates many to respond and act.

John has presented post after post of awesome things God is doing in and through our convention and on those posts I most often find zero comments, but if there is any news regarding a resignation or difficulty many of you seem to circle like vultures.

The comments aren’t the only thing to back up what this person is saying. Nearly all the highest hit days of this blog are days when negative things have been posted.

I’ll be honest. Like “Concerned Brother,” this bothers me. I’ve heard, know and understand the old adage that “bad news travels quickly.” I also understand it drives people to articles. That’s why there’s so much bad news in the mainstream press. Like it or not, people tune in to watch it.

Before anyone jumps to the conclusion, I’m not singling anyone out. I actually like reading some of the blogs you write. But as the children of God, shouldn’t we be drawn to stories of where God is working? Shouldn’t we be excited about the things He is doing through Texas Baptists?

Like the commenter above, I’m not asking that we all agree on everything. There is room for disagreement within the body of Christ. Sometimes criticism is needed. In recent years, we have been and are dealing with serious issues. 

But what does this blog — its posts, comments, writers and readers — say about the body of Christ? Does it reflect what Christ wants it to reflect?

Hm. I wonder if that’s a challenge for anyone else other than me. Thanks for the comment, “Concerned Brother.” Drop by as often as you’d like.

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19 Responses to “Things I wish I’d said first”

  1. David Says:

    Dave started it.

    ;-))

  2. Ken Coffee Says:

    I agree with you that this concerned brother had a point. However, I am not sure it is a premise I fully accept. I can’t speak for others but as for myself, I only comment when I strongly agree with someone or strongly disagree. When people attack my friends who work at the BGCT I get animated in their defense. My own blog is an opinion forum. I started it to give my opinions. Some people choose not to disagree and some choose otherwise. Because for the last nine years no one at the Baptist Building seemed to care one way or another what I thought, I remained a silent observer, until one month ago when I began my blog. I agree maybe we should focus more on the work of God, but then I wonder if all this blogging, which is a forum for many others who are never asked what they think, may very well be part of God’s work. It appears to me that hearing what so many think should be helpful, even if we don’t like what we hear. I will always jump to defend persons I love and appreciate. That may be my only mission in retired life….to make a voice heard that disagrees with personal attacks on good soldiers at work in the denomination.

  3. wackypreacher Says:

    The cold hard reality is,if you want large blog stats, ya gotta have some “dirt” on people. Don’t really matter if it is true or not, just spit it out and see your blog stats skyrocket.
    Sad but true, the blogs that get the “hits” are the ones who seem to have the “dirt or goods” on other people. The problem is that it drags us all into the gutter with the dirt. We become people who stop to look at the carnage on the side of the road and then drive off doing nothing.
    Yet, at the same time these blogs have allowed people to “air” the problems and issues out in the open. Maybe too much so. Such is free speech.
    I pray we remember constantly the words do hurt.

  4. James Says:

    I agree in part with Ken. In order for a comment to be worthwhile it should further the conversation. I think it’s harder to further discussion when a post is simply reporting on something done well. People may chime in if its an issue that they care about but substantial discussions most often take place when there is a difference of opinions.

  5. David Says:

    I consider criticism–good, bad, or in between–to be “quality control”. Quality control statements in church or denominational life are OK (really!) and to be welcomed–even sought. But some folks in our churches, and in the BGCT, only provide those kinds of statements–all the time, no matter what; that gets very tiresome, whatever its basis.

    In the end, reasonable solutions which can be acted upon and sustained if possible will be needed. And, forgiveness will need to be sought and given where needed. We aren’t “cousins in Christ”–we’re brothers and sisters in Him, enabled to behave like it.

  6. Tim Dahl Says:

    I check out this blog every weekday, once in the morning and usually once in the afternoon. Most recently, I’ve either not commented, or just said “thanks” to things like the web streaming that you’ve been doing. Yes, I still *applaud* that!

    However, there is a reason I haven’t commented on the “Randle” posts that you’ve been making. I see it as an attempt to legitimize “Event Evangelism.” By nature, your posts are positive concerning these things. It is nice to hear about 10 kids “saved” here, 20 kids “saved” there, 30 kids making some sort of spiritual movement. However, thats been happening for years, and the reticency of kids that stay in church after high school is between 12-6%. I think your posts about our Evangelism’s evangelism events ends up keeping us from the real problem. Mainly that all of these events turn out absolutely not long term fruit. It is all a bunch of smoke.

    So, I’ve kept quiet about it. Yes, the stories make people feel good. But in the end, I see no adequate change to stem the tide of our faltering American Baptistic Christianity.

    Tim Dahl

  7. John Says:

    James, you drive me nuts when you make sense. But you and Ken make a good point on the conversation piece. Truth be told, comments may not be the best measurement for interest. It’s tough to truly have a conversation about some things. Those things just are.

    Tim, frankly, if you want to challenge every Randles post we put up, I want you to do it. One of the reasons we’re doing the posts is Randles believes the proof is in the pudding. He thinks what he sees proves events still work. If you disagree (and I knew you did), let’s talk about it. If you’ve got a question for him, call him or let me know somehow. I’ll put it to him. I promise he won’t back down from he thinks. And I know you won’t either.

    I’ll read your comment to him next time I talk to him. I was looking for something new for the weekly Randles post.

    Conversations about how to reach people or how to be faithful are healthy. More than that, they can help grow the kingdom. Being kingdom people is critical to Texas Baptists following God’s calling. I would like it if this blog reflected us being kingdom people, not the stereotypical fighting Baptists. In truth, I hope it already does.

  8. Royce Rose Says:

    The lead line of “Concerned Brother” is what struck me hardest…”I’m just a nobody in the denominational world…” because it reminded me of the vision I have tried to keep in front of me during my too many years in denominational life, working for the church, an association, two national entities, and a state convention. That is, the role of the denomination to serve the churches, helping them work together and find the resources they need to carry out the mission God gave them. The old story…too long to repeat…that ends with the pastor telling the receptionist at some Baptist Building, “Tell the executive director that Baptist Headquarters is calling” is important for all of us to remember. There are only two levels in our denomination, the local church and everyone else.

    That is hard for both church servants and denominational servants to remember and we must keep saying it and more importantly, living it.

    So “concerned brother” is a somebody in the denomination IF he serves his church and looks at those who serve the churches through denominational structures as his partners in the kingdom.

    I am happy to serve in Baptist foot quarters or servant quarters or, if you must, at times…hind quarters; but not when the “concerned brothers” and “concerned sisters” out there see themselves as “nobodies” in the denominational world.

  9. Concerned Brother Says:

    2 Tim. 2:23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth

    “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.” Blaise Pascal

  10. spiritualsamurai Says:

    Brother Royce,

    Your service to Texas Baptists is very much appreciated. May your tribe increase.

    Concerned Brother,

    It also tells us that the authorities are ministers. When we do not allow the laws that God has given and authorities he has created to do their job, then we have chaos. I have no quarrel with anyone who does what is right!

  11. Tim Dahl Says:

    John,

    I have no personal desire to challenge any “Randle’s post” that show up. I remember you email of concern, that my comments were taking a decidedly negative tone. I reread what I had said up to that point, and I would say that they were becoming “nasty” and “mean.” I have no desire to be that way, thus part of the reason that I stopped commenting. I am planning to be a part of the conversation in another, more positive way.

    In the advent of my latest bless (my new son), the Lord has also brought some clarity. What any particular employee of the convention does has little to no affect upon my ministry in Lake Worth. Any time I put into ranting against something is probably time wasted. The reason I’m writing this is because I know of your honest concern. Again, I will participate in the conversation in a manner that is more positive, and hopefully with more of an impact towards my community.

    And finally, the last reason I won’t post a comment about this is that I don’t want anything that I say to be (or to be interpreted as) an attack against Randles, himself. Most ministers that I know take their ministry very seriously. With that is also the tendency to take it very personally. I don’t want to contribute to any personal attacks, whether real or imagined. I wish our new Evangelism Director the best in his position.

    Tim Dahl

  12. Concerned Brother Says:

    Samurai, you wrote, “I have no quarrel with anyone who does what is right!”

    Then you will have a quarrel with everyone, because none of us always does “what is right”….especially by the standards of those who are bent on finding fault.

    Also, consider that verse 25 shows that Paul is addressing those who are not doing “what is right.” He is addressing those who “oppose him,” thus this counsel still applies in this circumstance.

    Again, I’m not attempting to say that we can’t disagree and even express our feelings. I’m just trying to bring a friendly reminder to fellow brothers from an outsiders perspective. It just appears to me that there is too much resentful quarreling and very little encouragement and love, which is how the world is to identify us. That is all I’m saying.

    Blessings to you all…

  13. David Says:

    Concerned Brother:

    Your insights are accurate, and your message is needed still. Thanks for sharing your concern in the tone that you do–that perspective is a helpful one and makes me want to continue to consider what you have to say rather than to be turned off by it. Keep up the good work!

  14. ellisoro Says:

    Concerned Brother:

    I appreciate your thoughts. I resonate with the heart of your message. Jesus said that if we say to our brother “Raca (fool)” … we commit murder. Period. No exceptions. He didn’t say … unless you’re right and he really is a fool. There’s a lot of murder being committed on the blogosphere (in the name of righteous indignation or saving the convention or whatever — we have a penchant for rationalizing unbiblical behavior) … I’ve been guilty of it myself. Thank you for reminding us …

    However, that doesn’t mean that we cannot be critical of the religious establishment. Jesus was. Frankly, it often needs critique. Even those on the inside believe that to be true. They may not like it. I know I don’t like it when church members are critical of my leadership. It hurts. Most things that make you better are painful (like dieting and exercise).

    I just don’t think that there is a place for publicly humiliating anyone with your words — Jesus called that murder. Period. There is a place for debating (sometimes passionately) ideas, vision, quality control, organizational systems, philisophical moorings, and theological differences. The trick is keeping it a battle on the field of ideas and thought. Not an attack on individuals.

    Hang in there … you’re thoughts are important.

    blessings,
    ellis

  15. spiritualsamurai Says:

    Dear Ellis,

    I am willing for you to point out to me how my “attacks” were unbiblical? I have not targeted anyone who was not involved in theft, scandal, or the cover up.

    I am more than willing to here how it would have been better to protect my own ministry and backed off on Otto or Becker or Wade or Guenter or Nabors or Currie. Please explain it to me.

    David Montoya

  16. Lee Says:

    The exchange of ideas on a blog that is read by people who work for the state convention is going to involve differences of opinion about what is done, how it is done and even who is doing it. And hopefully, the opinions that are offered about controversial things are heard, and have some effect. That’s certainly one way to achieve positive change.

    I read this blog at least once a day. I enjoy hearing about the positive things that are happening in the BGCT. I think this blog, in particular, is important, because it opens up avenues of communication that the bi-monthly edition of the Baptist Standard, with its staff and space limitations, can’t cover, and those same limitations make it hard to talk back, at least regularly. The things on which I comment are those which draw my attention, or on which I have an opinion. I don’t think mine is the only one that matters, everyone’s does. But if there is a difference of opinion, it seems to me that, on a blog such as this one, expressing it respectfully is the whole point. That way, it can be considered along with others, and those who have posted the information here can get a fair idea of what people might be thinking, and respond accordingly.

    For example, I think Tim Dahl has made an excellent point regarding “event evangelism.” And I’ve observed it for a few more years than he has, I think. We have an event at a particular location, bring in a speaker who is “hot” or “with it” and get the best music the budget can afford, and then evaluate it by the number of “decisions” that people make there, whether it is a youth event or adult. That goes into the product report that the corporate decision makers evaluate to see whether it gets a budget and a life for another year. But in the long run, the real measurements of their effectiveness don’t show up in the statistics that reveal declining baptisms and declining participation in churches.

    Rather than having the evangelism department at the BGCT “do” a few evangelism events for us, they need to be helping churches become more effective at doing it themselves. How many lost people from Houston are going to pack up in a car and come to an evangelism event in Tyler, or even one at a church across town? The evangelism department needs to consider adding some assistance and resources for churches who want to start a small groups ministry, which are a proven and effective means of both assimilating new members and reaching lost people. You would see baptisms rise significantly if just a third of the churches in the BGCT had a functioning, and fairly effective small groups ministry. The BGCT’s role, in providing resources and consultation, would help churches avoid some of the pitfalls that happen in a small groups ministry and be a nearby resource. In looking for resources to help me lead our church ministry in this area, I found the BGCT didn’t have any, and was directed, by someone in another BGCT congregation, to the Willow Creek Association.
    Something to think about, perhaps.

  17. spiritualsamurai Says:

    If you want to see some very innovative evangelism, go to Rick Davis blog

    http://www.aintsobad.typepad.com

    He has come up with a solid discipline focus that God is blessing…

  18. Tim Dahl Says:

    Lee,

    You make me proud. You are too kind, and give my way to much credit for cognitive processes. As your blog reminded us; we are all on a sinking ship to some extent, here in America.

    I was saddened with one thing that I perceive in your comment to this Posting. My understanding is that the BGCT wasn’t able to help you in the area of evangelism, when you called. Also, they (the person you talked to) recommended the Willow Creek Association as the place for your church to get the evangelistic help it needed.

    Did I get that right?

    When I first came to Lake Worth, I had the opposite experience. I called, and got directly transfered to the Evangelism Director (at the time it was Rick Davis). He was very helpful. I asked to schedule an appointment for a time that I knew I was going to be in Dallas, and even took a deacon with me. It was really a great thing. He introduced me to some others on his staff that also were more than willing to help put together a particular strategy for my church.

    We didn’t go with it. The deacon I took with me was also my sunday school director. We next went to the Bible Study department, and he was sold on one of their programs. No, it was not a good experience; but I did meet some wonderful people there that have been helpful in other areas. But, I digress.

    My point is that, there are some wonderful people in “the building,” that can be wonderfully helpful. I find it saddening that someone from the building would say that they were of no help, and that you should check with “X provider” for the services. True, some people are more helpful than others; but we’ll find that anywhere. I hope that you have a better experience next time you call.

    Tim Dahl

  19. John Says:

    Lee, I apologize for the delay. I wanted to check somethings out before commenting on what you’ve noted. First, let me apologize. I hope every interaction with a BGCT staff member is a positive one. We try to serve as best we can. Sometimes we can do better.

    In this case, you’re correct. The BGCT does not have printed resources for churches on small groups. Willow Creek has great resources and we urge churches to check out that material. It seemed wiser to point people to effective tools that reinvent the same thing. We can’t do all things, but still want to help churches. Reading your blog, I know you understand that.

    However, the person on the phone should have said we’re happy to help you however we can. We have a staff person, Mackie McCollister, who would love to talk to you about small groups and help you get off the ground. Mackie knows a lot about small groups and has helped a lot of churches with them.

    Randles has the same servant attitude in the evangelism team. The two of us have talked numerous times how he wants his staff out helping churches reach people effectivley. He wants his staff to be resources for churches. While on this blog the events have gotten some pub, Jon is pushing for his staff to be out in the state helping churches reach people in way that is culturally appropriate for that area.

    Lee, I always appreciate the way you express tings. It’s why I read your blog. Keep throwing ideas out there. They help everyone.

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