Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Cornerstone Rolls Out in PSW Land
I attended the roll-out meeting of the Cornerstone Church Network for southern California at FBC Pomoma--yes the same church that was homebase for the key April 29 vote which sealed the separation from the ABCUSA. CCN is the continuation of American Baptist Evangelicals. While the director--Bill Nicoson--is a friend of mine, I write as an outside observer--not a spokesman or a "vision architect."
When the ABC unravel started in full force last fall, my perception was that we were about to witness a CBA like split as back in the 1940s. I have come instead to see that we are headed toward a much more chaotic and fluid future, in which nimble organizations rise up in the place of plodding denominational organizations. Dissaffected ABCers are in a unique place to lead this because of the non-connectional nature of our ties. The PSW (now Transformation Ministries) exodus is but a part of the overall pattern.
CCN is groping its way into this more chaotic and fluid future like the rest of us. As I listened to Bill's presentation, a new way of understanding CCN's role began to occur to me.
One way to understand CCN is to see it as a positive replacement for the diseased structure we call National Ministries (AKA the American Baptist Home Mission Society). If we were inventing NM from scratch in the 21st century, I should imagine that we'd come up with something like CCN.
I used to have friends in NM. They're been purged or replaced with party apparatchniks upon retirement. I agree with the assesment of an ABC regional exec who declared in my hearing that "National Ministries has failed as a missions organization."
CCN is NM plus and NM minus. Minus gets to go first:
Minus everything politically correct.
Minus a street fight ethos.
Minus race and gender as the canon of truth.
Minus a tolerance for wasting precious resources on marginally helpful (or even hurtful) programming.
CCN is NM plus:
Passion for God.
Passion for the lost.
All in all, a good exchange. CCN is still changing, more riding waves than building piers. Some unformed elements, in my opinion, need to come together pretty fast--and CCN must get very concrete about the value-added nature of the Network, and of the evangelical ABC roots and ethos of CCN. Presentation is another factor. I've always found Bill Nicoson a good presenter because of the way he opens himself to the listener--not just the facts he has to present. But, note Bill: for a guys who talks tech all the time, next time use PowerPoint!
Stay turned as CCN develops. Also note a nation CCN gathering is planned for Northern Seminary September 10-11. I hope I will be there to cover the event.