Often we are questioned what we think about of all that is going on with the IMB and the SBC these days. It is a loaded question and hard to put into words. My own observations come from my perspective of the issues and are probably limited in their understanding of what are truly complex issues. What follows is an attempt to express what it is I feel about all that is going on with the IMB, BoT, and SBC in general terms these days.
Exactly, what are some of the broader issues being addressed and gaining public attention? There are many, but those that I relate to as a M, believing them to have influence upon the future of IMB-SBC missions are:
- the critical need of working together and partnering with other GCC's to reach the world for Christ (see David Rogers series on this topic here)
- closely related would be the needed harmony within a broadly diverse cross-section of God's people with their own convictions and beliefs (Phil. 2:1-4)
- policy changes that seek to go beyond things taught in the NT (in other words, "my interpretation" of Scripture is the only one that counts and it applies to everyone else)
- defintion of church-NT eccelesiology and church practice, ("New Directions", CPM methodology would fall under this category of issue facing us)
- who can serve or not serve based on extrabiblical criteria
- narrower definitions of who and what a Baptipst is and believes
- the role and function of church leaders in the Body of Christ
- true nature of the "priesthood of the believer" and how this principle is carried out in today's world
- the role of politics in denominational life, structures of power and accountability tightening the ropes for cooperation rather than loosening them for greater mobility amongst Kingdom partners
- the growing role of charismatic/pentecostal influences and its impact upon the global church and missions in general
- not understanding that the center of Chrisitianity is quickly shifting south and that the Western Church is no longer the predominant force in Christendom (In 1900, 80% of Christians were white, Western, northern hemisphere. In 2000, 80% were non-white, non-Western and southern hemisphere. --R. McNeil)
Will any of the above really affect what God is already doing in today's world?
No. I don't think so. Who can stop the mighty rushing wind of the Spirit?
I know this sounds contradictory to what I write above, but the bulleted issues are things having an impact on the future of "IMB-SBC missions." While each is important and weighty, I don't think any of these will be able to stop, or even remotely slow down the coming of the Kingdom of God and His purposes being fulfilled in today's world. God is moving in unprecedented ways in today's world. As Baptists, we are only a tiny percentage of the overall "Kingdom of God." My own observation is that God seems quite content to continue working all over the world through ALL of His Body in multiple ways, methods, denominations, manifestations, programs, using the weak to accomplish his purposes, etc. Who are we to tell the Spirit of God what He can or cannot do?
In order to be part of what God is doing, we need to understand something Tony Dale of House2House magazine writes,
"...it is more important to love one another than to be "right"...It is more important to "confess your faults to one another and pray for one another that you might be healed" than to argue over whether or not God heals today...it is more important to "in honor prefer one another" than to make sure we have all the issues of authority types in the church straightened out..."
Tony goes on in his article, but the point is made we need to focus on what Christ and Scripture commands specifically to do and submit our traditions and long-held church practices to the greater authority of Biblical commands and clear teachings. It is amazing to me how we can so easily confuse our traditions and practices with what Scripture really teaches, and then call our traditions and practices "this is what the Bible teaches!"
Jerry Rankin says in his "To the Ends of the Earth" ...
"It is not Christian organizations, denominations, or mission agencies that extend the kingdom. Only through a massive grass-roots force of believers functioning as the church, the body of Christ in the world, can an impact be made on a lost world."
This is what is happening all over the world. Isn't it time we lay aside our "issues" and simply join the Father in what He is doing around the world?
"When people and churches are mobilized and equipped to be all they are divinely designed to be in society and the world, the result will be growth--kingdom growth."
It is about "HIS Kingdom", not OUR kingdom.
"God is moving throught global events in unprecedented ways to make [the fulfilling of the Great Commission] possible as we have moved into the twenty-first century. to stay up with all God is doing has required making fairly radical changes in organization, leadership, and strategy..."
Yes, changes are very much a part of being on mission with the Lord. He is moving very rapidly in today's world. If we want to "keep up" with Him, we too must be willing to quickly change and adapt.
The truth of the matter is that there is a mounting tidal wave spreading all over the earth...a great final harvest of souls like never seen before...a spiritual awakening dawning all over the world...I for one want with all my heart to be a small part of this huge movement of God to bring Christ to the Nations and usher in the Second Coming of Christ.
So there, now you know what I think about all the IMB-SBC stuff taking place today!