Archive for the ‘Great Commission Resurgence’ Category

Dr. Kevin Ezell, NAMB President

As a Southern Baptist pastor that believes in and supports the Trustee system, I fully support the new President at NAMB.  Dr. Ezell is the man the Trustees affirmed, reportedly by a 76% vote, to be the next President of that entity.  According to one report NAMB has a budget that consists of 17% for Church Planting. My question is simple.  Out of a $70 million budget, where is $12 million being used in church planting?  In NC we have set aside $4 million in our budget for church planting.  What part of NAMB’s $12 million is being used in cooperative agreements?  What part of that $12 million is being used in administrative costs?

Now the hard part begins for Dr. Ezell.  He will need to tie up loose ends in Kentucky and then he will be on his way to Alpharetta, Georgia.  Some question his ability to build the divide that is apparent between him and some state Executive Directors.  Will he simply dismiss those that have raised concerns or will he try to mend broken bridges?  Dr. Paige Patterson has issued a statement in favor of Dr. Ezell as a model of character and integrity.  So it seems that the entity heads are in favor of this latest addition to the Presidential Council.  It seems Southern Baptist are rallying around this newest entity president.

I have always been one that has spoken in favor of our trustee system.  I will not abandon that conviction.  The trustees have spoken and I will follow.  I will not stop questioning when there are legitimate questions that need to be asked.  I will certainly voice my concerns and not be afraid to do so.   I will not sale the call of God on my life to be a pastor for a denominational position because of political expediency either.  I will stand up and call on our denomination to do better.  I will stand up and call for our leaders to model the CP as central to their missions giving.  I will call on trustees of both missions organizations to be models for us in giving to the Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon offerings.  I will call on the nominating committee to look specifically at those giving items when placing names before us.  I will call on those leading Southern Baptist to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, without caveats.  This I will do because that is who we are as Southern Baptist, we trust God and tell the people.

And when the votes are cast and Southern Baptist have spoken.  I will call on all Southern Baptist to rally around our leaders and move forward taking the Gospel to the world.  Anything less will not be cooperative and certainly will not be what Southern Baptist have historically stood for.

Dr. Kevin Ezell, North American Mission Board Presidential Nominee

In a message to Highview Baptist Church this past weekend, Dr. Kevin Ezell made a statement that speaks volumes to the attitude of his leadership style.  It appears that Dr. Ezell’s position toward someone in disagreement with him is to paint their disagreement with a broad brush.  Thus, making the disagreement about the person instead of dealing with the disagreement.  In Dr. Ezell’s message he said concerning those that were issuing critical assessments;

“Typically those are bloggers who live with their mother and wear a housecoat during the day. Just ignore them, but I apologize if you are hurt by anything that they might say about me or indirectly about you.”

The apology to his congregation certainly reveals the heart of a pastor for his people. But, it must be pointed out that no one has attacked the congregation of Highview Baptist Church. Every article and blog I have read expressed the  great work that Highview Baptist was doing.  However, when one looks more closely at the statement one sees a clear tactic that certainly should be called into question.  First, I am one that has been critical and I do not live with my mother and I certainly do not wear a housecoat around all day.  Second, his attitude is to “Just ignore them”.  No dear reader you do not ignore legitimate concerns.  When legitimate concerns are raised one must address the concerns.  If Dr. Ezell would have addressed the concerns when it was announced he would be the nominee it would never have gotten to this.  However, Dr. Ezell has just raised the stakes by complaining that those who were critical are “living with their mothers and wearing housecoats”.  Excuse me, but I do not believe Dr. Hankins lives with his mother, nor does Dr. Emil.  These two men are Executive Directors of states that Dr. Ezell is supposed to be working with.


Whenever the US Congress says they made a budget cut they use a funny way to go about reporting it.  What Congress calls cuts we citizens call tax increases.  We find that Congress predicts that they may need $200 million for something and when they budget it they only budget $175 million.  When this is reported  it is reported as a $25 million savings.  Sounds good, but the problem exists that the predicted amount was not in the budget in the first place.  Thus, the $25 million savings, in reality is a $175 million increase added to the bloat of the bureaucracy that we know as the Federal Government.

“Bloated Bureaucracy” was a term that Dr. Akin used when he first spoke about the need for a Great Commission Resurgence. Using that term brought push back from many executives in various state conventions. When Milton Hollifield spoke about the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report, he expressed some of his concerns but overall he supported the recommendation. In an interview after the GCRTF vote Brother Milton said:


My father received salvation after I was born. I was so young that I cannot recall his salvation experience but I do recall his life certainly changed for the glory of God. After Daddy’s salvation he maintained his membership in the church in which he grew up. The church began to change in the late 60’s and early 70’s from being one that believed the scriptures were truth to one that believed the scripture contained truth. As a result, the church began supporting more moderate to liberal causes. When the Biblical Recorder, our state paper, became part of the church budget I remember a statement made by my father that was common throughout my life. He said, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” What that meant was completely foreign to me, but the result was that Daddy began negative designation of his tithe. He met with the finance committee and told them that he did not desire for any of his money to go to that portion of the budget.

The following paragraph was an OP that I first penned just before the Louisville convention, but never posted.

This brings me to the reason for this article. In a Baptist Press article, Dr. Hunt expresses his disagreementt with a letter sent to Executive Committee Trustees.  The letter was from Dr. Morris Chapman, and it appears that he desires this Great Commission Resurgence to be derailed before it gets on the tracks.  I believe Dr. Chapman is expressing publicly what state executives are expressing privately.  According to Dr. Nathan Finn, in this article, there seems to be private conversation behind the scenes in email circulars of state executives and and various other state convention employees that do not want to see Article IX take shape. I appreciate the desire of Dr. Hunt to lead us into a Great Commission Resurgence and I also appreciate the desire of Dr. Chapman to protect the integrity of the convention’s documents.  Because these two leaders are in disagreement, it presents serious issues for our convention to address as we move forward with a motion.

What happens if a motion comes back from a GCR committee requiring that a certain percentage of Cooperative Program (CP) funds be retained in the various state conventions? Let us say at Louisville that we elect a study group and that group returns to us a recommendation that the 1927 agreement, entered into by state conventions allowing them to determine the percentage, be changed to require an even 50/50 split of CP funds received from the churches? Will the state conventions leaders say to themselves, “There is more than one way to skin a cat”?


UPDATE: SBC Today has requested the use of this article.  I have allowed them to use this article over at that site.  Therefore, I have turned off the comments.  If you would like to comment feel free to do so at that site.

My late father would always offer me sage advice when I was growing up. Whenever I would come home telling him about a deal that was too good to be true he would respond; “If it is too good to be true, usually it is.” Or he would say, “In this world, the only thing worth having that you get for nothing is salvation.” On every occasion I would come home with various ideas and run them past him, he would always interject wisdom into my thought process. On one such occasion I was home after completing my military active duty requirement and had the availability of a GI loan through the VA. I was part of a group of five trying to figure out how to open a junk yard business. Each one, it was agreed would put up $10K and with the total $50K we would begin our own business. Neither of us knew anything about the car business or the junk business. We did not have a business plan and we certainly did not know anything about purchasing land and the restrictions that would be placed on us in the early 1980’s concerning the environment. Neither of the five of us did any research other than how we could come up with the money. I talked this over with my father and he gave some wise advice to me at that time. I can still hear his words ring through my ears as I write this article. He told me; “Tim, before you jump on a band wagon, you need to know where it is heading.” It is these words that I want to echo in this article.

In 2007 at the Union University Baptist Identity Conference, Dr. Tom Rainer delivered a paper on “Evangelism and Church Growth in the Southern Baptist Convention”. In the follow-up to this conference he wrote an article entitled On Building Bridges. His thesis was on how we as Southern Baptist needed to build bridges, I believe, to each other within the convention. I never saw where he advocated that we build bridges outside the convention. I did see two things in the article that did concern me a bit. Dr. Rainer stated there were defined groups at the conference and implied, by a personal story at the conference, that these groups did not desire to mingle or exchange ideas. I was at the conference and I went to a bloggers reception where I exchanged greetings and ideas with Brother CB Scott, Brother Ben Cole and Dr. Dwight McKissic. I left there and went to a reception in the SWBTS area and exchanged ideas with Dr. Malcolm Yarnell along with Dr. and Mrs. Paige Patterson. To be fair to Dr. Rainer, there were more than likely some that were afraid to be seen with others, but I did not get that feeling. I hung out with Brother Wes Kenney and Brother David Worley, gave a ride to the conference to Dr. Ed Stetzer, and had great dialog with Dr. Dwight McKissic. The other concern I had from the article was this statement; “But it seems as if we just can’t stop fighting even though the battle for the Bible is over and won.” I believe we would all agree that the battle for the Bible will forever be at our door. If we ever concede this battle is over, we certainly will have a bridge from Neo-Orthodoxy that leads back into the convention defined as something other than what it is.

In San Antonio we were greeted with a packet of material that contained the booklet, pictured on the left, that advocated Building Bridges. These bridges I cannot comment on as I confess I never have read the booklet. I only present this picture because it is something that some of our leaders are advancing and advanced hard at the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Rainer in his report, once again spoke about Building Bridges, but this time he referenced the foundation on which the bridge should be built. That foundation is something that we all can agree on. But, did he really need to advance the thought that we needed to build this bridge on the Bedrock of Christ? If, as he advanced in his previous articles, the battle for the Bible is over should we not presume any bridge built has as its foundation Jesus Christ? I am not questioning Dr. Rainer’s passion or his purpose. I want to be on that bridge that he desires to build. But, I believe there needs to be some reassessment from him as to his assertion that we throw caution to the wind because everyone in the SBC is a Bible Believing inerrantist. Dr. Rainer is a Godly man and each time I hear him in a presentation I am challenged and moved to seek more of God. He makes excellent presentations and does his research well. I would not be anywhere close to being able to carry his water. However, on this point of Building Bridges I believe he needs to reassess his position.

Enter the next Building Bridges stage. In November 2007 we had a Building Bridges Conference at Ridgecrest where Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The Founders Ministry converged to make presentations concerning Calvinism within the SBC. This was a wonderful time and I enjoyed getting to meet new people and also interact with others I knew. It was at this conference that I renewed my acquaintance and began a friendship with Brother Travis Hilton. Dr. Ed Stetzer had jokingly referred to this conference as “The Revenge of the Nerds“. We had scholar after scholar making presentation after presentation. Some you could follow and some I still go back and listen to the audio, but to no avail. It seems that this conference advocated Building Bridges to the Calvinist within our convention. It was at this conference that Dr. Danny Akin introduced his new baby, The Great Commission Resurgence. Thus, if I understand this bridge that he advocates we build, thi bridge is extended to the Calvinist and it will lead us to a Great Commission Resurgence. If this is what Dr. Akin means then I am 100% on board.  It was refreshing to see Dr. Malcolm Yarnell, Dr. Bart Barber, and Dr. Tom Ascoll stand shoulder to shoulder to put some teeth in Resolution #6 at this past convention.  I believe we cannot begin advancing the Kingdom of God until we stop fighting among ourselves. But if he means we build bridges outside the convention to join forces for planting churches because we want to plant more churches then I believe caution and clearly defined road signs need to accompany the traversing of this bridge.

Well, now we see another Bridge that a group of Baptist want to build. In the annual Cooperative Baptist Fellowship gathering, their platform is Building Bridges. What originality. Their bridge, I do not believe, will be built on the same bedrock as the other bridges I have directed us. According to this article a presenter at this conference has questioned the very Deity of Christ. I know that CBF has a statement that they do not promote ideas the individuals presenting promotes those ideas. CBF, for some strange reason, believes they share no responsibility when a presenter presents a heretical view. Smyth & Helwys has taken the BP reporter to task because he inadvertently presumed they were the publisher of the book. Why wouldn’t he presume such? Smyth & Helwys sponsored the workshop and promoted the book during the General Assembly. Smyth & Helwys also is hosting a book-signing for Killinger at its booth in the resource fair. All of this to ask; Where is this bridge going?  Will this bridge intersect within the cloverleaf of bridges already being built?

It seems that everyone wants to build a bridge to somewhere, but no one is telling us where the bridge is heading. Neither is anyone telling us what we are trying to connect by building this bridge. Let me add that I do not believe these various bridges that I have presented will end up connecting. I do not want to believe that the bridge Drs. Ranier, Akin, Dockery, and George has pointed us to will be connected to the bridge the CBF is advocating. However, with all of this construction going into Building Bridges, we need to be very careful that the band wagon we are on doesn’t get mixed up in a cloverleaf of bridges and we get confused as to what road the bridge takes us down.