I hate conflict. I hate controversy. As a pastor I have seen the church torn apart from so much pointless and unnecessary strife. I have watched churches split over music, personality, and any number of other things. My earliest memory in church is watching votes be taken to fire a pastor.
Stepping into ministry I would face that same vote.
I hate conflict.
The devil wields church conflict as a powerful weapon. He convinces individuals and groups that their issues and priorities are worth dividing the church over. Church disunity is demonic.
As Southern Baptists we are seeing the swift decline of both our churches and our convention. This is in large part because we have ignored the loss of evangelism and abandoned belief in the gospel. We may give them lip service in our church services, but they are vacant in the lives of our membership.
Sadly in our convention we continue to ignore our failing and instead have distracted ourselves with controversy. In a time where we need to unify around the gospel, planting churches, and sending missionaries, we are busy fighting. I can’t remember a single convention where there was not a major controversy created to place a group of people into the power positions of the convention.
Yep, we Baptists use controversy to gain power. How sad.
I will admit that there are places where I have disagreed with the leadership of the SBC, LBC, and even my own association. When necessary, I have spoken directly to the leadership over those issues. I attend the SBC and LBC annual conventions to vote on behalf of my church. All that said, my differences are not so great that I am willing to create disunity which in turn prevents my church from cooperating with all churches in accomplishing the global gospel task.
My friends who work overseas for the gospel matter more to me than a secondary disagreement I have with the convention.
I write this blog because a new network has arisen in the SBC. It is labeled and marketed to stir the idea that the SBC has lost its biblical distinctiveness. I just graduated from an SBC institution. My education is evidence of the conservative and Scripture centered distinctiveness of the SBC. The SBC is a biblically faithful convention of churches who have agreed to cooperate for missions under the direction of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
I am always slow to join any new movement or group. Why? Just as a child is told not to get in the car of a stranger they don’t know, we must be careful to join a group we know nothing of. It doesn’t matter if the car is painted to look like an ice cream truck or if the group is labeled as the conservative of the conservatives. If you don’t know who is driving the car, don’t get in.
My plea to both my fellow pastors and church friends is to not let conflict, controversy, and strife derail the very reason the SBC exists: to accomplish the work of the gospel in our cities, nation, and world. Yes, we have a convention coming. Yes, we should absolutely do everything we can to hold the biblical foundation of our convention. No, we won’t agree on every detail, BUT our unity of gospel work matters.
I am a proud, biblically faithful Southern Baptist. Let us pursue the unity of our purpose and fidelity to God’s Word.
1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.
Ephesians 4:1-3 Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Philippians 2:2-3 make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.
1 Peter 3:8-9 Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.