In the SBC, Silence is No Longer an Option!

If implemented, Wright’s vision of “a radical change in priorities” — which also is the vision of many fellow megachurch pastors — will not only effect changes in leadership and strategy throughout the SBC, but will radically redefine what it means to be a “Cooperating” Southern Baptist church.  Instead of the bottom-up, grass-roots convention that we have been, we will become (if we’re not already there) a top-down, corporate denomination that tells suggests how autonomous state conventions and local churches should act.  That’s not the kind of hope and change that this Southern Baptist pastor wants to embrace! (Radically Reprioritizing and Redefining the SBC)

When I wrote those words on July 15, 2010 — on what would have been my dad’s 75th birthday — I did not realize just how quickly and thoroughly that the ruling elites would attempt to redefine the Southern Baptist Convention.  Regardless of what others might think is an overreaction to this week’s events within the SBC, the time has come for grassroots Southern Baptists to stand up for the values and principles that we hold dear before this great Convention is destroyed from the inside.

I perhaps have too much of my dad in me for my own good.  The antithesis of a “yes man,” the original Dixie Howell Scott would often be the burr in the saddle of the pastor who wanted to unilaterally and heavy-handedly implement “his” vision for a church that had been positively (although imperfectly) impacting the community and world with the Gospel of Christ since her founding.  It wasn’t that my dad did not respect the office of pastor.  In fact, one of his closest friends during my late middle and early high school years was Brother Don, the Pastor of our home church.

However, my dad had little respect or patience for pastors who felt that their office gave them the power to do whatever they wanted to do, even if it meant disregarding the rules that should otherwise apply to them.  My dad was a fair-dealing man who thought that everyone — including pastors –should abide by the rules.  When he saw pastors blatantly disregarding the policies and procedures that the church body had approved, he was not silent.  He would confront the pastor in the hopes that the pastor would see the error of his ways and begin to follow the rules that had been agreed to.

Funny thing though.  Pastors of churches of all sizes (our home church was a medium-sized one) don’t take too kindly to being challenged, especially by the “little people.”  In fact, some have even been known to ostracize “troublemakers,” sue “disgruntled” members or use state government officials in their efforts to destroy the credibility of members who ask too many questions.  Although there are notable exceptions (here), these tactics have been remarkably effective at shutting up any opposition to a power-hungry pastor.

And, because these tactics are tried and true, we see many churches which are destroyed from the inside-out because the pastor, through various means at his disposal, runs enough people off that the church finally collapses.  What once was a vibrant ministry is erased because an arrogant pastor foisted “his vision” on church in order to remake it in his own image.  I wish I could say that this is a purely fictional account, but most readers will know of far too many churches where this scenario has played itself out.

Why are churches or Conventions destroyed from within?  Because, despite the reputation that Baptists have, most of us simply do not want to fight.  The “fight or flee” instinct often surfaces in situations where leaders begin to unilaterally implement radical changes.  Some members, who have been a part of that local New Testament church for longer than the new pastor has been alive, are tired of fighting.  Instead of staying, many understandably leave before things get “really bad.”

Others try to reason with the pastor, but any negative criticism is met with overwhelming force, often in the guise of “God-language” (i.e., “It’s God’s will.”  “I have prayed about it and God has given me a bold vision for the future of this church.”  You can add others).  Even though most Baptist churches still enjoy a congregational polity, most members cannot stand up to the bully with and in the pulpit.  Flight is inevitable.  Before you know it, the church that you knew and loved no longer exists and the Convention that you knew and loved is but a memory.  (And, for those snarky commenters who will ludicrously point out, “You said you loved the church and the Convention, but you didn’t say that you loved Jesus, so I’m not sure if you love Jesus or are even saved” I will only say to you, “God bless you.”)

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I will speak for myself.  I will not be silent while those in power make up their own rules as they seek to implement radical changes which I believe will destroy the Southern Baptist Convention as we now know it.  I may not ever get appointed to any committees or boards within the SBC.  That’s okay.  After all, I am my father’s son.  And, that will always be good enough for me!

 

 

8 comments for “In the SBC, Silence is No Longer an Option!

  1. Lydia
    September 22, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    Oh, for the days of guys like your dad. That is the SBC I grew up in. They are pretty much over in most of Christendom. Now disagreeing publicly is taught as “gossip” and “divisive”. Or, they did not like the way you said it so they will not deal in content…etc.

    But we are not to show favoritism…. even with leaders for they are really servants. They should be the most transparent and humble.

    • September 22, 2011 at 6:14 PM

      Lydia,

      If my dad were still alive, we would have some interesting discussions about the abuse of power that is taking place within churches and within the SBC. When you read and comment upon the public words of the ruling elites within the Convention, you are dealing in facts, despite the weak defenses of “gossip” and “divisiveness” that are used to stifle debate. I’m no longer buying what the power structure is selling. When the GCRTF, with straight face, can recommend that we have transparency and openness within the Convention, but then move to unilaterally seal their records for 15 years, I am no longer willing to be quiet and ask questions later. Later is too late. Not gonna happen this time around. When the SBC establishment uses the same plays that Obama and company have used to take control of the health care system in America, there is a serious problem. It’s time to clear away the smoke from those who try to obfuscate with their words. Words are powerful and I believe that powerful and smart people — whether in government or the SBC — know how to use words to their advantage. I’ll have a piece up tomorrow giving a reading primer for grassroots Southern Baptists to use when reading the pro-Name Change proponents posts and articles. There are already several talking points that have been circulated and are now being used to advocate for a study name change within the Convention. Sometimes I think that the powers that be think that the grassroots are stupid and easily led. It’s far past time to prove them wrong! Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  2. Lydia
    September 22, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    I think part of wisdom is admitting such a tactic is wrong even if you agree with the direction. Because the next guy in power will be even more likely to use the same tactic for his agenda. But people like the direction so they ignore the tactic. I think this is very unwise.

    What makes this so sinister is that he did not think he could get the committee officially so he goes unofficial. Why are people buying it? Because they agree with changing the name. Next time it might be used for something they are really against but precedents have been set. They cannot debate process anymore. Because process does not matter.

    I would be just as concerned no matter who did this just as I was when Bush bailed out some organizations he should not have and now our current president took the bailout/stimulus out to a whole new staggering level. Bush set the precedent.

    How we do things says a lot about WHO we are. The ends do not justify the means.

    • September 22, 2011 at 6:38 PM

      Lydia,

      You are entirely correct that the ends do not justify the means, but I’m afraid we are in a “new” day within the SBC. The sooner that we realize that the elites are playing by their own set of rules, the sooner we will be able to stand up against this stuff. That was one of the reasons I went so hard against the Surry Baptist Association in Mt. Airy, NC for disfellowshipping Flat Rock BC for calling a woman as pastor. While I may not agree theologically with Flat Rock calling a woman to serve as Senior Pastor, the process with which they were summarily kicked out of their Association should have been vigorously opposed by Baptists everywhere. It wasn’t. Things like that and Wright’s unilateral naming of an “unofficial” Name Change Task Force will come back to bite us. When we succomb to an “ends justify the means” mentality, then we we like the ends, then we will bend our consciences like a pretzle in order to justify whatever means necessary. Truly a sad time in the life of our Convention. Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

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