If I Were the Baptist Pope

I know, I know, we don’t have a pope for several reasons – biblical, practical and traditional. But I still sometimes wish I had papal authority among Southern Baptists for a day or two. I could really make some significant, sensible and sure-fire changes that would forever change the direction of the SBC. Good changes? Bad? Not sure. But the SBC would change, that’s indisputable!

I realize some of these measures may sound harsh and extreme, but we live in extreme times. Here are some of the first actions I would take if I were the Baptist pope.

1) Excessive alliteration of sermons would bring public floggings. 

Dear pastor, I knew Adrian Rogers (well, I met him a couple of time). You are not Adrian Rogers. Dr. Rogers’ alliterations flowed flawlessly from his feverishly fertile mind, fascinating and faithful to the text as well as forthright in their meaning. But the alphabetic gymnastics to acquire and assign alliteration to sermon points has become asinine and annoying.

Under the Miller Papacy, first offense over-alliteration would draw a letter of rebuke. The second offense would incur a steep fine. And a third offense would necessitate a public flogging with a hardbound Roget’s College Thesaurus in the entryway to the display area at the convention. 

2) Those with extreme CalvOCD  would be publicly humiliated.

What, you ask, is a CalvOCD? It is a condition in which someone is obsessed with soteriological debates. Everything is about Calvinism – for or against. Some CalvOCDers link every problem to a lack of Calvinism and advance it as the panacea for all our maladies. Other CalvOCDers devote their lives to opposing the floral favorite of the Genius of Geneva. (If anyone takes the time to explain that Calvin did not actually construct the TULIP acrostic, he is likely a CalvOCDer.)  CalvOCDers can make every dicussion, debate or disagreement about the Institutes or the Statement regardless of what the original topic was.

I would issue a papal bull that the ten worst offenders from each side in this debate be used as examples. They would be stripped down to speedo swimsuits and be paraded through the convention center while messengers loudly read imprecatory Psalms and threw wadded up brochures from the display areas at them.

The extreme sufferers of CalvOCD would likely interpret their suffering as “for righteousness sake” and rejoice that they have some eternal treasure stored up. But as we make an example of them, perhaps others would get the message and move on. Granted, watching these guys in speedos would be punishment for all of us, but considering the horror of the constant stream of CalvOCD blogging it might be worth the pain.

3) Boorish Baptists who behave badly at Baptist meetings in Baltimore would be banished to BAMA. 

Any Baptist who treats locals (Baltimoreans? Marylanders?) badly will be banished to Alabama, a punishment that is cruel and unusual, but in this case necessary. Anyone who eats a meal at a restaurant and leaves a tip less than 15% (that is a minimum) will be Bama bound. Please remember Miller’s Rule of Restaurant Rectitude: “If you bow your head before the meal you leave a generous tip after the meal.” Those who treat locals with disdain or in any way exhibit brutish, boorish, bad-mannered, bellicose or belligerent behavior during our time at Baltimore will be subjected to “Roll, Tide, Roll” chants until their brains become broccoli.

4) Those who offer silly, annoying resolutions would be forced to mop the convention floor after each session. 

Okay, there is a problem here – annoying is in the eye of the beholder. But remember, I’m the Baptist Pope in this scenario, so the final arbiter of annoyingness is none other than me. But I can give you a few hints as to my likely adjudications:

  • Any resolution advocating a boycott of anything will be considered annoying. Plan to stay after and mop.
  • Resolutions designating Obama as the Antichrist or calling for his impeachment are de facto annoying. Get a mop, dude.
  • In fact the vast majority of politically-focused resolutions will earn you a date with a mop
  • Your resolution asking the entire convention to speak to some hobby-horse issue of yours that no one in the convention has a clue about – well, plan to mop.
  • Also, resolutions which seek to impose one person’s opinion on a minor matter on the entire convention are inherently annoying. Got a mop and bucket?
  • If you offer a Calvinism-focused resolution, see item 2. And stay to mop.

Of course, the problem here is that I find about 87% of resolutions annoying, so the convention hall is going to be VERY clean.

5) People who walk out of the convention hall during the closing prayer to get to the restaurant or hotel first should be ashamed of themselves, but that kind of offense is above my pay grade and they will answer to a higher authority.

Aren’t you glad I will never be the Baptist Pope?

On the other hand, if I were Baptist Pope, we would open the convention with the Hokey-Pokey and do the wave in the convention hall during one of the seminary reports (to be chosen by urim and thummim). Of course, the wave would move from left to right. A leftward direction is never acceptable.

I might be capricious and cruel, but I also want to be fun.


SBC Voices Contributors: Fire at Will!

I have been in Boston and New York this week. Hung out with my granddaughter. Caught a Yankee game (2-1 victory over Oakland) and saw the Lion King on Broadway. Saturday morning we are leaving NYC and heading to Baltimore. I never know what kind of internet access I will have.

So, if you have a post, put it up. If someone else just put one up, wait at least 4 hours.

I would suggest that you not put up more general interest posts at this point. We might hold off on those until the convention ends. Once the convention starts I will be tweets and posting regularly and any other SBC Voices contributor who is at the convention is welcome to do the same. Those posts might come hot and heavy without much gap in between.

I will be tweeting, using both the @sbcvoices handle and my personal twitter account @davemiller7.

We will try to be your source for “fair and balanced” (I’ve been called foxy) convention news and perspective. Sounds almost official, doesn’t it?

The SBC’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Engagement of Young Leaders, etc.

The SBC's Strengths, Weaknesses, Engagement of Young Leaders, etc.

Baptist 21 recently interviewed the three candidates for SBC President. The vote will take place next Tuesday, June 10 in Baltimore, MD. My interview is included below and was originally posted at B21. Ronnie Floyd’s interview can be found here. Dennis Kim’s interview can be found here.

1. Will you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what your passion in ministry is?

My name is Jared Moore. I was dead in my sin and God raised me to life in Christ Jesus. Because of Him, I will live forevermore. I’ve served in pastoral ministry in a Southern Baptist context for 14 years. I pastor New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, KY. My wife’s name is Amber. We have three children and one child due to arrive on October 30.

My passion for ministry is discipleship. We must take the gospel to the ends of earth, baptize the repentant, and teach them all that Christ has commanded (Matt. 28:18-20). Every ministry of the church must serve to fulfill this disciple-making commission.

2. Serving as the President of the SBC is a massive time commitment. Why are you willing to commit to such a task?

I am willing to serve Southern Baptists as President because an average voice can be helpful in the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention. I serve a church that averages around 60 people in attendance each Sunday. I am an average Southern Baptist seeking to represent rank and file Southern Baptists. Most Southern Baptist churches are small. Yet, most of the leadership in the SBC comes from large churches. I believe large churches should be represented in Southern Baptist leadership. But, small churches should be represented as well. It has been over 40 years since a small church leader was elected as SBC President. My prayer is that many more small church leaders will be nominated for SBC President in the future, and that many more will serve on the various committees appointed by the President in the future. If elected, I will appoint many faithful Southern Baptists to serve who have never served before. The appointments will represent the diversity of the SBC by being multi-generational and multi-ethnic, while also pulling from small and large churches in rural and urban areas.

3. How do you think your gifts & vision will help the SBC?

I think my gifts and vision will help the SBC because I am just like the pastor down the street pastoring a local Southern Baptist Church near you. In other words, my gifts and vision are not unique to me, but are possessed by millions of other Southern Baptists. My goal in being nominated for SBC President is not to be exalted, but to bring the Presidency to the average Southern Baptist. Pastor and lay person, you do not need to be a celebrity, or preach like past SBC Presidents, or be someone who Baptist historians remember in order to be qualified to pastor or serve at a Southern Baptist Church. You only must meet the biblical qualifications and remain faithful to your calling. I simply want to encourage Southern Baptists in their efforts to fulfill the Great Commission.

Furthermore, SBC Presidents should not pretend to be able to provide the answers to the problems facing thousands of local churches serving in different communities and contexts than they serve. Therefore, my goal is not to tell Southern Baptists “how” they should be doing ministry to get results. I simply want to encourage Southern Baptists to remain faithful to Scripture. The inerrant word of God is sufficient for all that ails the SBC as the BF&M2K confesses (Article I). Southern Baptists, continue to say what the Bible says, preach the saving gospel, baptize the repentant, and teach them all that Christ has commanded (Matt. 28:18-20). If no one repents, don’t give up. Pray and labor until God brings all sinners from death into life.

4. What is one of the greatest strengths of the SBC? Why?

The greatest strength of the SBC is her desire for all nations to be saved, and her appropriation of this desire into the various ministries of the Cooperative Program (IMB, NAMB, SBTS, NOBTS, SWBTS, SEBTS, MBTS GGBTS, and the ERLC) and other SBC ministries not supported through the CP (Lifeway, Guidestone, WMU, etc.). We not only desire the world to be saved, but we are attempting to save the world by training one another, and by sending one another to preach the gospel, plant churches, and fulfill the Great Commission.

5. What is one of the greatest weaknesses of the SBC? Why? How can we address it?

One of the greatest weaknesses of the SBC is that we are sometimes blinded by our desire for the salvation of souls. We long for the salvation of souls so much that we sometimes use questionable methods in our evangelism, and we refuse to practice loving and consistent Biblical discipline in our churches (Matt. 18:15-20). Yet, Scripture is sufficient. What separates the church from the world is not her toys but her intimate fellowship with God through Christ. What could possibly be greater than knowing the living God? Our hearers have the privilege of knowing the living God if they will simply repent of sin and trust in Christ for salvation! We must offer this good news to the world, and if the world had rather have the temporary common gifts of God (like toys and prizes) than eternal life in Christ, we must preach and teach and pray until they see the value of Christ. Christ is the ultimate gift of God (John 3:16)! We must win our hearers with the gospel, and they will continue repenting of sin and believing the gospel to the end as well.

6. What is one of the most encouraging trends right now in SBC life?

The most encouraging trend in the SBC is a growing desire to make disciples, not merely to make converts. More and more Southern Baptists are emphasizing Christ’s command to deny oneself, pick up one’s cross, and follow Him (Matt. 16:24). Praise God that Southern Baptists are willing to hand their hearers a cross, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for” Christ’s sake will find it (Matt. 16:25)!

7. What is one of the most discouraging trends right now in the SBC?

One of the most discouraging trends is that we have a tendency to think that using “the proper method” or “the proper contextualization” will produce our desired results. Then, we are discouraged when we do not get our desired results. Of course, we should be examining our ministries, always looking for other avenues to share the gospel, seeking to be more effective in our gospel presentation, but Southern Baptists must always remember that we cannot raise the dead. We may equip every Southern Baptist with the finest training, the most effectual methodology, and the most Christ-like contextualization, and still decline in baptisms and membership. Another Voice must be heard along with our voices. We must pray, preach and teach until our hearers hear His voice. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, “Look, Sir, you may study your sermon. You may examine the original of your text. You may critically follow it out in all its bearings. You may go and preach it with great correctness of expression, but you cannot quicken a soul by that sermon! You may go up into your pulpit. You may illustrate, explain and enforce the Truth of God with mighty rhetoric. You may charm your hearers—you may hold them spellbound—but no eloquence of yours can raise the dead . . . Another voice than ours must be heard! Another power than that of thought or persuasion must be brought into the work or it will not be done” (“Come from the Four Winds, O Breath!”)!

8. How can the SBC better engage and keep younger leaders?

The best way to engage and keep young leaders is to show them the worth of the Cooperative Program and her ministries. Also, we must involve young leaders in the decision-making processes of the SBC. Having been set apart by Southern Baptist Churches as leaders in pastoral ministry, young leaders are qualified to serve in SBC leadership as well. Let’s involve them more.

9. What 1 admonition would you give to younger SBCers about something that needs to change with them?

As a young leader, I want to share what I’ve learned from leaders who have come before me. Young leaders, we cannot reach the world more effectively and efficiently with the gospel on our own. We need to keep the “meat” and spit out the “bones” of those who came before us. The Cooperative Program is “meat” not “bones.” The Cooperative Program is still the best avenue through which to give in order to train pastors and missionaries for the sake of reaching the world with the gospel. If we try to create something similar to the Cooperative Program, It will take us many generations, and our “new missions endeavor” will be susceptible to the same weaknesses we may currently see in the Cooperative Program or her ministries. In other words, instead of spending many generations building something new that is susceptible to error too, let’s get involved in the local, state, and national conventions now for the sake of correcting the weaknesses we may see in the Cooperative Program or her ministries, and for the sake of learning from those who are currently laboring. What if the Cooperative Program and her ministries are capable of being all that we want them to be in our generation and in the generations to come, if we’ll come alongside of and sweat and bleed with other Southern Baptists today?

10. Recently concern has been raised that state conventions are not following through on the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force suggestions, especially moving more money to international missions. How would you address this problem, and how would you counsel younger Southern Baptists to think about it?

If church leaders in the states disagree with their conventions’ decisions, then they need to take their concerns to their DOM’s, State leaders, and State conventions. They need to nominate and elect state Presidents to help address their concerns.

Concerning younger Southern Baptists, we must be patient and consistent. We must understand that correcting whatever issues we see takes time. Plus, we need to hear the wisdom and reasoning of those who came before and those who are currently serving. The question is not, “Is the SBC everything we want it to be today?” The question is, “Are we willing to labor, sweat, and bleed with other Southern Baptists today so that the SBC can be all that we want it to be tomorrow?” Are you willing?

What Maryland Baptists Would Say about Dr. Dennis Kim (by Joel Rainey)

Joel Rainey is the Director of Missions at Mid-Maryland Baptist Association, an adjunct professor at Capital Bible Seminary and blogs at Themelios (Twitter - @joelrainey). 

These are exciting days for Maryland Baptists for many reasons, but next week marks one of those reasons as we welcome our larger Southern Baptist family to our state’s largest and most influential city.  We hope you enjoy Baltimore!

But several weeks ago, our excitement grew exponentially here in the “free state” when we learned that one of our own—Dr. Dennis Manpoong Kim—would be nominated for SBC President.  Many of the same things went through our minds that have probably went through yours—how great it would be to have an SBC President who actually lives in a region we seek to reach with the Gospel.  How great would it be to have an SBC President who is fluent not only in English, but also a dialect that represents a huge minority of immigrant peoples.  And how great would it be for our denomination—with its global aspirations—to be led by a truly global leader?

But for those of us who know Dennis Kim, what has gone through our minds the most is this: “How great is it that Dwight McKissic is nominating one whom we know to be a godly man of integrity—a man who has served his church and Maryland Baptists as well as we are confident he would serve Southern Baptist as a whole?”

If you have been keeping up with the press releases regarding Dr. Kim, you already know that he leads the largest SBC church in Maryland.  You already know that, though predominantly Korean, Global Mission Church is a model for multi-cultural and multi-ethnic ministry.  You already know that they have planted multiple churches, not only in our own region, but in other areas around our nation and the world.  And, you already know of Dr. Kim’s laser-focus on evangelism and disciplemaking that have made Global Mission Church the congregation it is today.  But since most of you don’t know him personally, I’d like to give you some insight from those of us who do.

For as long as I have known Brother Dennis, I’ve known he and his church to be people of intense, strategic, and intentional prayer.   You can learn much about prayer from listening to sermons on the topic, or by reading books on the topic, but I’ve never learned more about prayer than when I am with our Korean brothers and sisters at 5:30 AM—calling out to God and begging Him for spiritual revival and the continued extension of His Kingdom through our churches.  James chides us by saying “you have not because you ask not.”  As I observe Global Mission Church, and Dr. Kim’s leadership, I can’t help but think that the primary reason they have seen growth, maturity, and Kingdom multiplication is because they model for the rest of us how to ask for it daily.  We speak much about praying for revival in our denomination.  Our leaders call for it constantly.  Brother Dennis does it.

I also know Brother Dennis to be a consensus-builder and unifier.    I have a few pastors like this in my own Association, and I thank God for these men who love, not only their own church, but who love other pastors and other churches, and support them.  The last time Brother Dennis and I spoke face to face was about a month ago.  Korean Hope Church of Glenwood Maryland honored me by asking me to speak at their Constituting service as a new church.  When I got up to speak, I noticed Dr. Kim sitting in the front row to my right.  I would learn later that his busy schedule made his ability to speak at this event uncertain, but when he realized he could make it, he simply came to show his support. Here was the pastor of the largest church in Maryland sitting in a service where he would not speak, simply because he cared for this new church, and wanted to join the strong support that our Korean brothers and sisters always give to new churches when they launch.  That afternoon, he stayed to join the rest of us for fantastic Korean food, and a beautiful outdoor event celebrating this new church.  As always, he was “just one of the guys,” a pastor’s pastor if ever anyone could be given that title. This is the kind of humble, unassuming man I’ve always known Brother Dennis to be.  In Asian cultural contexts, it is not considered rude or inappropriate for someone of his stature to presume a certain position or recognition, but I have always observed Brother Dennis to have the heart of a servant-leader.  There is a unique unity among Baptists in Maryland, and much of that unity and focus on mission can be attributed to men like Dr. Kim.

But when you take the prayerful humility I’ve described and you wrap it in a globally-aware, bilingual, strategic thinker like Dr. Kim, the result is a man poised to lead our denomination—still a largely regional group of churches—into its future as a truly global Convention.  No one understands the world nearly as well as one who has lived on both sides of it, and we have in Dr. Kim a man eminently qualified to help us engage all of that world.

I am thankful to be part of a Convention that is able to present three good and godly people as Presidential nominees, and each will have his unique strengths described for our consideration during the nomination process.  But if I am asked who I think is best suited to lead us toward becoming the globally effective people we aspire to be, I have no doubt that the life experience, ministry expertise, and Christ-centered passion of Dennis Manpoong Kim make him the best choice.  I will be honored on Tuesday morning to cast my vote for a man whose leadership I have followed in Maryland for years, and whose leadership I would gladly submit to should our Convention feel the same way.