Saturday, September 24, 2005

DURABLE DATA

There were some problems with yesterday's material, which I am now reposting in its entirety. I will post again tonight regarding Saturday's events.

“A SUMMONS TO LEAD” CONFERENCE

FRIDAY REPORT

LOMBARD, IL

8:50 AM

An air of expectancy is evident as attendees arrive and fill the Linder Conference Center. The attendees are greeting each other and now have the agenda, which will include a message from Paul Cedar of Mission America (formerly president of the Evangelical Free Church and Senior Pastor of Lake Ave Congregation Church in Pasadena, CA).

9:00 AM

Had a quick hallway conversation with Al Fletcher, Exec from Maine and an old friend about Parchment Valley Agreement. He characterizes PVA as a promise among regions for a continuing promise of joint ministry, and a way for PSW to say that their problem is not with other regions, but with VF.

9:04 AM

Bill Nicoson calls us to order and prayer. Bill did a kind of roll-call of states showing the nationwide scope of the meeting.

Bill noted that the Linder Center is at maximum capacity. (See picture)

A profound time of worship followed. (See picture)

A video from Mission America, Paul Cedar’s organization, followed. It was a humorous take on faulty ways of evangelism.

Paul Cedar, who is a graduate of Northern (’68), spoke. Hurricanes Katrina, Rita: turbulent weather. We’re in turbulent weather as well.

The problem of forgetting the basics

John 17 on authentic spiritual unity. Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer”
John 17:20-23

Authentic unity is not organization or administrative; real unity moves the world to believe that the Father sent the Son.


Three ingredients of authentic spiritual unity

1. John 4:31-34. Jesus didn’t come to do His “own thing.” He came to do the will of His Father. That’s the basic foundation of Christian ministry. Not doing the “latest thing”, but doing the will of the Father. Call it Fidelity to God and His revealed word. That means denying yourself, taking up the life of the cross and following Jesus. You cannot have spiritual unity with people who are not following Jesus as Lord. Jesus also came to “finish His work”. That work was the cross—the heart of it all.
2. Next is Focus: the Great Commission. He turns to the disciples and tells them of their task: “the fields are ripe for harvest.” Unity is never an end in itself, but a means to the end of winning the lost who grows to become like Jesus.
3. Finally, the role of the Spirit—the Fullness of the Spirit.. Jesus says He will depart so that the Holy Spirit will come. John 13-17, Acts 1. The danger of having “church” without the Holy Spirit. Dead orthodoxy will not do!

Today has the potential of being a kind of Pentecost.

GL: I wonder what role Mission America may have in the emerging movement.

“Our Leader is waiting for us to ask us to lead us.”


Bill Nicoson thanked Paul: 15 minute break.

Another hallway conversation. A well-placed source from Ohio says that Ohio has 9 months maximum, based on the potential exodus of churches. A task force to facilitate actions after the December meeting of the General Board has been formed. (It is expected that the strong wording proposed by IND/KY on homosexuality will be defeated there.)

Back in session, Bill Nicoson introduced Bob Lindner of Cincinnati, America Baptist laymen, billionaire owner of the Reds. (He and his brother gave the money for this conference center, and have been big supporters of ABE.)

Bill introduced Larry Swain, Exec of OH and commented on the Parchment Valley Agreement.

Bill’s Message:

For me, a time of fear, anxiety as well as hope. Only five hours of sleep a night since calling this meeting.

What can we do collectively as well as individually? What’s the point of collective action?

A lot of pressure on this meeting…

“I don’t have a grand scheme, I hate to disappoint you.” But what bothers me is the reality of a world without Christ. Can we unite for mission?

Acts 6

The number of disciples was increasing

Bill’s hope:

“A group of Baptist congregations committed together to an orthodox, biblical and theological foundation that will result in the growth of the church of Jesus Christ as demonstrated by healthy congregations.”

A church that

• Thrives on persecution, not popularity
• Preaches Christ, not self-help
• Gives sacrificially

A Biblical church provokes a satanic counterattack.

The means: Persecution, moral failure, distraction and division.

“I don’t want to look back any more.” He’d rather reach Elliot, his dry cleaner.

Our DNA.

Doctrine

Solid, Christo-centric doctrine becomes a foundation for doing mission.

Nurture

The battle for evangelicals in Massachusetts—they just want to get on to ministry.

Accountability

• Relationships
• Confessing




Standards of effective leadership (from Acts 6)

1. Quick action, not bureaucratic red-tape
2. Dynamic interaction between leaders and the led
3. Priorities need to be established and honored; some things are more important than others; the apostles knew this, and that’s why the “deacon” task force was set up. “Leadership” takes a backseat to the preaching of the word and prayer.
4. Leadership selection was based on a unique set of qualifications. Not “personality type” but godly character.


“As we lead together, let’s do it Biblically.”


Lunch Break


Panel Discussion 1:15 PM

Basis of discussion: the ABC/USA is broken beyond repair.

Dr. Scott Gibson (ABE President, Professor of Preaching, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Dr. Vic Gordon (VP; FBC Huntington-Beach Fountain Valley, CA)

Bill Nicoson

Three questions for discussion sessions later:

1. Do we want to organize a new group?
2. What will the new group look like?
3. How do we get there?
4. What’s the desired outcome?

Comments from Scott Gibson

Reflecting on the birth of ABE in PA
The importance of Biblical authority
The issue of homosexuality is only a “presenting problem”; the real issue is (and always has been) Biblical authority.
The rebuffs from VF; especially at Denver (2005)
Now, a new tact must be taken.
Transition: now from renewal to a new beginning
New developments: PSW separation announcement
Parchment Valley Agreement

“We are at a sea-change.”

“That’s all I can stands and I can’t stands no more.” --Popeye

This is an “Esther moment.”

Comments from Vic Gordon

To continue from Bill and Scott
Ephesians 4: real unity
Concern: that we not split out in a thousand directions
Unity for the sake of mission

But, “These are dangerous days for us.”

Diversity can only be celebrated if there is an over-arching unity.
Imagine what 1,000 faithful churches can do compared to 5,600 churches in a dysfunctional system.

What about churches in regions that will not become part of the new movement?

The Panel Discussion

Q: Report on Parchment Valley.
A: Larry Swain (OH) and Al Fletcher (ME) took question

Al: What did ME to PSW? Nothing. PVA: a statement of continuing relationship.
Larry: Mid-West regions began meeting together a few years ago. Extend to other Execs in other parts of the country. “We need each other.” Need of authentic relationships with each other, especially a way to affirm Dale Salico.

It is obvious that Larry and Al are a bit “stuck in-between” and have to measure their comments. They are not to be blamed for this.

Q: Are they formulating a plan?
A: Only indirectly…this is going to be a long and varied process.

Q: (to Vic) What did the PSW Board do?
A: We are in the process of withdrawing from the budget covenant. Board must vote again in December. A special meeting of churches to vote on action will be called in March 2006.

Q: (to Mark Schipul) What will be ABCPSW become?
A: We don’t know…we want to be bold without being arrogant.

Comment from Lee Hamby (FBC Alhambra): the new name will be Pacific Southwest Baptist Churches.

Breakout Sessions 2:15

PSW Group

1. Do we need a new group?

Yes, but we don’t want to be a “denomination”
Better: a movement
Join with BGC (Baptist General Conference)?
Home is no longer home…we need to hold together
Logistics a problem for creating a new denomination
We need “something”

2. What would a new movement look like?

At this point, I floated the name “Baptist Churches in America” as a possible new name for the new movement.

Lean, mission-focused
Loose
Commonality
Organized
Doctrinal statement
Multi-ethnic/multi-cultural
Authority of Scripture
Accountability without “hard-edges”
“Classical Christianity”

3. How do we get there?

Maybe PSW could do a DBA of “BCA”
Any organization could do that: Green Lake, Northern, or WVBC
Via regions
The power of Big Mo
Convention
MI’s suggestion: abolish VF (General Secretary’s office)—that kind of model Manageable sub-group to do deal with new structure, values, doctrine, etc.
Need to empower a task force to deal with those issue
Use ABE as a shell
Bathe it in prayer!

4. What’s the desired outcome?

Positive
Multi-cultural
See people won to Christ—in an accelerated way

Need a vision? One articulated by Bill Nicoson

“A group of Baptist congregations committed together to an orthodox, biblical and theological foundation that will result in the growth of the church of Jesus Christ as demonstrated by healthy congregations.”

Special Report:

Sarah Day Cheeseman from M&M Board came to dispel rumors that M&M benefits will be denied to members from churches that may separate.

Report Back for Regional Group Discussions 2:35


Q1: New Group?

YES!

Q2: What will it look like?

Michigan Report
ABE: stay in there!
ABE: provide a new home for disaffected churches
ABE: a “region”
A few others: Stay in our region, join an existing denomination
Confessional/statement of faith

Northwest Report
Confessional/statement of faith
National footprint

Indiana Report
“Come, Lord Jesus”—a new organization with a new leader
Hope for Indiana Resolution that it might pass
Hope that Exec Ministers will lead the charge
17 execs are sympathetic (over 4000 churches)



Iowa/MN Report

Lean, missional organization
Decentralized
No politics

Northeast Report (NY, New England)

Need new organization
May have to dually aligned churches first

Kansas/Nebraska Report

Missional
Confession of faith
Coalition level
Dually aligned

PSW Report

Unite with existing fellowship: a minority report
Lean, doctrinal core
Without a doctrinal edges
Multi-ethnic

West Virgina Report

Many open possibilities
Must get rid of our will and find the Lord’s
Let ABE hold the banner for a time

ABC of the West

New organization
Association within ABC?
New denomination?
A network!
Let ABE be the organization network

Side-Report: the Great Commission Network (Kaiser, ABCW)

A time to take a stand
History, vision, mission, strategies
Robust doctrinal statement
Must embrace all four strategies (mentoring, coaching, consultation, opening)
Delivery systems
GCN also working with Presbyterians and RCA

See www.greatcommissionwork.net

Q3. How do we get there?

IA/MN: lean mean missional team
PSW: legal entity, empowered group
Have a Core group to work on vision, mission and values
Not an anti-ABC group
Northwest: this group is the core. Use the momentum generated in this room
MI: avoid mistakes of the past; we are in a different context because the regions a are leading the way

Q4: What’s the outcome?

IA/MN: Be on the cutting edge
NW: Support churches doing the primary work: seek and save the lost
Partner with like-minded entities (not just other Baptists)


An extended time of prayer followed before the dinner break. Bill Nicoson urged us to pray for Roy Medley and for the VF staff.


Evening Session 7:00 PM

– Time of worship
– Greeting from Chuck Moore, President of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary

Message from Charles Revis (Exec, ABC of the Northwest)

“Launch! What will it take to become a Missional Movement?”

1. We need Mission Clarity

Biblical, concise and compelling
Must be clear on the essence of the gospel
“The world has many religions, but only one gospel.”
John 3:16-18
Romans 6:23
Jesus’ death on the cross

2. We must believe that the gospel has the power to change the world
To affirm homosexual practice is to deny the life-changing power that is at the heart of the gospel
The power of the message to make converts
The power to create new life
2 Corinthians 3:17: transformation

What has happened to that missionary spirit? It was lost because we lost the reality of the life-transforming power of the gospel. We have lost ground in America!

3. We must believe that sharing the gospel is job number one.

The importance of Last Words (Matthew 28:19, Acts 1:8)
We must do the command that Jesus gave us.
When the body and Head are out of sync, it goes spastic—as we now see.
“A church that isn’t a missionary church will soon be a missing church.”
“There is a church because there is a mission, not vice-versa.”
We will not rest until the job is done…

Churches like that will find like-minded churches. Baptist interdependence was founded to enable us to carry out mission.

Imagine a whole tribe of missional churches linking arms together in Christ!

Revis’ experience in NW.

4. We must embrace NT practices that sustain the missional movement

1. New forms of connectionalism

Multiple networks
Parachurch style

2. Historic assosiationalism

Philadelphia Baptist Association 1707
The local church is incomplete
Associations made the churches healthier
Associations made mission stronger
Confession of faith
Disciplined theological stability
Problem solving

I’m happy to say that Revis cited my friend and member of my church, Dr. Howard Stewart…

3. The practices of the early church

Reflecting on Romans 15

-Mutual refreshment
-Sharing of resources
-Developing and supporting leaders
-Joined together for mission
-Joined together in prayer

Implications for now:

Fellowship
Mission together
Prayer

The example of FBC of Vida, Montana: vital renewal and evangelism

Bill Nicoson closed in prayer.

Tomorrow: we’ll do some work!

END OF FRIDAY REPORT