Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Dog Gets the Story

Tip o' the hat to Dennis McFadden for scooping me on new developments in WV and in the Cornerstone Church Network. (Hey, I work for a living; who knows what Dennis was doing?)

First, an except from his WV update:

This month's report from the WVBC "Working Group on Denominational Relationships" not only updates the rest of us on the progress being made but offers its own scoop for some of us in non WV locales. While many of us were expecting a final recommendation from the commission, they profess that was never part of their charter. Instead, they only see their task as exploring and explaining denominational relationships so that congregations and decision makers will have all of the necessary information available to them. Interesting.

From the report:

Some are anticipating a recommendation from the group. That will not happen. It is imperative that we all understand the Working Group is not responsible for making any recommendations. The group exists for the purpose of helping all of us to understand how we are related. What each individual, each church, each association and each region does with the provided information will be determined by the action of those bodies. Our aim is to help each make informed decisions.

But as all fleeing mammoths know, the Ice Age is coming and it looks like WV Baptists intend not be covered in glaciers (originating from near Philadelphia). Be patient!

On Cornerstone, we have this (edited) update:

What’s happening with the Cornerstone Church Network? Rumors have been flying. Frustrations at the silence have been voiced, and in some instances seemed nearly deafening. But where are we and what is coming?

First, the Lombard conferees commissioned Bill Nicoson to assemble a diverse group of leaders, dubbed “vision architects,” charged with working out the inchoate wishes of hundreds of evangelical Baptist leaders. A more ethnically, geographically, and gender diverse team one could hardly find. Hailing from every part of the ABC, representing most ethnic constituencies, and agreeing on the need to put actionable steps to the largely incomplete dreams expressed in Lombard, they have been hard at work.

Second, the effort has been much slower than anyone anticipated due to the complications of legalities, and the technicalities of birthing such an ambitious network. Bill freely admits that he should have communicated more and sooner. However, since so many of the details were in flux, he did not feel free to share much of anything for fear that rapid change would make it obsolete before it was even disseminated.What should we expect to come out soon?

* Bill and the Vision Architects are putting dates on calendars for several gatherings around the country to discuss what the team has done pursuant to the charge they received at Lombard.

* The overarching structure being proposed will center around themes of being Relational, Missional, and Global.

* The intention is NOT to invent another top-down or bureaucratic organization. Rather, they are proposing a nimble and lithe network, very similar to the pattern of computer networks. In order to keep it non-institutional and avoid top-heavy patterns of “governance,” the Vision Architects plan to create avenues of involvement that depend upon person-to-person contacts and resourcing, rather than running everything through a centralized office or power center.

* The resulting network will stress high commitment on the part of congregations. They are proposing annual membership so that a measure of accountability attaches to fidelity to doctrinal commitments shared by ALL members of the network. Congregations will function either as “mentoring” churches helping others or as churches receiving mentoring from another congregation. In some cases, a fellowship may elect to stand in both relationships.

Yes, this gestation has taken a long time. But, like the development of a human child, the time cannot safely be shortened. We do stand on the precipice of an exciting time, brimming with possibilities and potential. Those who have been privileged to catch glimpses of the new reality, even now moving from dream state into focus, are excited. I heard of one African American pastor who had tears in his eyes when he beheld what was being proposed. “At last, this is what I’ve been looking for in the ABC all of these years,” he said.

Comment: first, I'm happy that Cornerstone is making progress, but this cake is still in the oven. If I'd been there, I would have asked about the role of local associations--I think that's still the #1 venue of multichurch fellowship among Baptists.

Keep Bill Nicoson, the Architects and the Cornerstone Movement in your prayers, OK?

Thanks again to

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