Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What If?

I was recently with Dr. David Crosby, Pastor of FBC New Orleans, at a state meeting in Alexandria. Dr. Crosby expressed his concern for his city and in particular his hope that the North American Mission Board would honor its commitment to have 6 missionaries in New Orleans. At the time of our meeting, there were only 4 NAMB missionaries working in New Orleans. New Orleans would have all 6 missionaries, but one retired and the other resigned with neither being replaced. Having lived in New Orleans for five years, I certainly understand Dr. Crosby's plea for help. Later, a thought occurred to me: there are over 1,600 churches in the Louisiana Baptist Convention. If each one of those congregations sent one disciple to New Orleans to live and make other disciples, how different could New Orleans potentially be? Imagine with me . . . 1,600 additional missionaries living and sharing the Gospel of Christ alongside the current brothers and sisters who live in New Orleans. It was then that a second question occurred to me. How many of these 1,600 congregations have actually discipled and deployed members for the sake of the Gospel? As scary as it may be to learn how few are sending folks out for the sake of Christ, it might be even scarier to see how many are actually making disciples? That's for another post, however. Sticking to the topic at hand, I am praying that CrossPoint becomes a major disciple-making factory, where we see folks come to Christ, grow in Christ, and then go for Christ. What if CrossPoint never has 1,000 members at one time, but what if we plant 1,000 churches in our city, in other cities, and in other countries? What if we constantly discipled and deployed?

A final thought: If New Orleans needs 2 additional missionaries, then I believe the best place to start looking is in our 1,600 congregations. If we cannot find 2 that are both equipped and willing to move for the Gospel, then we might want to reevaluate exactly what we are doing from week to week.

A final, final thought: You might say and ask, "This is great, but where is the funding going to come from?" When Christ begins to reign over our family and church budgets, I do not believe funding will be an issue.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


In our service on Sunday, I read Matthew 9:35-38 during one of our corporate times of prayer. Every time I read verse 36 and see these words: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" I am instantly convicted because of my lack of compassion at times. If we were all honest, we would say that there are certain times and certain people with whom displaying compassion is difficult. When people are mean to us (like the kid who kicked my shin in kindergarten - but I'm not bitter!) compassion typically is not our first response. In other times, we may see a situation but not be moved with compassion to act. Here's the great news of the Gospel, it's not up to you to conjure up compassion from within. The good news of the Gospel is that as we are united with Christ, it is His compassion that flows through us. As our lives are focused on him and yielded to Him, His fruit will be produced in us. For instance, the next time you find a lack of compassion in your heart for a person who has treated you awful, then meditate on the cross. As you meditate on the cross, listen very intently as the crowd cries "Crucify." Listen to the crowd as their screams escalate "His blood be on us and on our children." Listen as their voices prevail with the cry "Release to us Barabbas." Then listen most to what Jesus says, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do." As we meditate on the cross constantly we will love others rightly. Then as His compassion is produced in you and through you, He also is the One who receives the glory! Your compassion = your glory and it being more about you than the other person. Christ's compassion = the gospel life produced from the inside out with Christ's glory above all. Father, please produce your compassion in us, especially for those we are least inclined to love.

A church by definition is . . .

Through the years, we've been asked to fill out church statement paperwork on candidates for the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (of which I am an alum - 3 times over). Something that has always intrigued me is the definition given for a Southern Baptist church on the form. The form contains these words: "A church is Southern Baptist by definition of (sic) it participates with the Southern Baptist Convention in at least one of the following ways: (1) gives to the Cooperative Program, (2) gives to the Lottie Moon Offering, IMB directly; (3) gives to the Annie Armstrong Offering, NAMB directly; (4) is dually aligned with the SBC; (5) is a member of a local SBC Association; or (6) gives to the SBC Executive Board directly."

None of this is meant as a slam on my fair alma mater (since the definition could be borrowed by NOBTS from another source), but as I noted there are some intriguing aspects in this definition. The first aspect that is intriguing to me is that the word "gives" appears 4 times while the word "believes" appears zero times. Of course some might say belief is covered in option #5 above, but it's a bit disturbing that what "defines" a SBC church could be where our money goes rather than what our heart believes. The second aspect that intrigues me with this definition is that if only 1 of the ways of participation is sufficient to be called a Southern Baptist Congregation, could a mormon ward qualify to be Southern Baptist then if they give money to NAMB or IMB? While I doubt the Latter Day Saints would give to the IMB (since many of their dollars are going to make "I am a Mormon" commercials), I do know of at least one non-denominational church that wanted to send money to the IMB. By the definition provided then, should that non-denominational church really be considered a Southern Baptist church?

I know some of you might say something about the Baptist Faith & Message. Good point, except you will note its absence in the above definition with the possible exception of it being implied in option #5. I, however, am not interested in silence or implied thoughts. If "believe" is more important than "give" perhaps that should be reflected in our definitions. Of course, with autonomy, friends, you are free to "believe" whatever you like about "giving." I, however, hope there is more to being a Southern Baptist church than what is listed above.