Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Duck & Cover Drill (It's SBC Week)

Well, it's Southern Baptist Convention week, which means I have some prayer requests. (Note for those non-Southern Baptists playing along at home - Southern Baptist churches are autonomous local bodies who may choose to send represenatives to the SBC meeting each June. A number of decisions are made in business sessions, but the stuff that occupies the most column inches in the national media are the non-binding resolutions, which are primarily about current issues.)

  • God, please don't let them vote on and/or discuss resolutions that don't reflect the truth of the Bible AND an awareness that the media is just waiting for us to do something silly.
  • God, please draw the Convention together around what You've done for us rather than what we can figure out for ourselves.
And finally...
  • God, please make me & my ministry cool... or at least more cutting-edge than most...
That last one is what bubbled out of me earlier this afternoon as I read about the Younger Leader's Summit earlier this week... two of the guys who spoke (Chris Seay & Kevin Schrum) I know from my church planting/"the church @ hickory hollow" days. (I'm still not sure why Kevin was invited - he definitely is "oldskool SBC" - though he has been very successful.)

I could just feel all the pain & anger & longing tumbling out of me...

God, I was cool once - or, at least, I thought I was. I had a church with rock'n'roll & candles & huge honkin' black curtains (that frankly looked like we were a coven rather than a Southern Baptist congregation.) I preached in shorts during the summer... and it was OK to try just about anything to communicate the truth about You! (One Sunday, we juxtaposed video from Prince's film "Sign O The Times" - the song "The Cross" - with footage from the Jesus film.)

I ran with the bigwigs in the Emergent church movement - long before they were bigwigs! I was one of the first "GenX" church planters invited in by NAMB back in December of '97, along with guys like Andrew Jones, Evan Lauer & Chris Seay. I ate lunch with Brian McLaren at a conference, and had him all to myself. I was on the bleeding edge of ministry.

So what happened?! Why did that have to end?Why do I spend more time now reading about Emergent stuff than actually doing any of it?

And, as you can probably guess, the pity party went on for quite a while in that vein. Double sigh.

At the heart of the matter, I'm not sure I want to be on the bleeding edge - what Erwin McManus calls a "mushroom eater." What I really want, when I'm honest enough to say it out loud, is to be cool.

Well, that's not really quite it, either - what I want is to be THOUGHT OF BY OTHERS as cool. Talk about chasing the wind - sheesh.

So, I'm writing this all out today... putting it out in the open so this stuff doesn't fester inside of me. I renounce my desire for coolness (ministry or otherwise) and instead just want to serve God in a culturally relevant & thoroughly Biblical way.

Somehow, I don't think it's going to be that simple. Dealing with this stuff (that I've long thought was "done" since tc@hh closed) isn't as easy as clicking my heels three times & saying "There's no place like home." It's going to be a long walk with Jesus.

Not that a long walk with Jesus is a bad thing. :-)


For more information about the Southern Baptist Convention & the Younger Leader's Summit, check out the Emerging SBC Leaders blog.


Anonymous said...

Chris Seay spoke at Ecclesia (CrossRoads) this past Sunday. It was great.



Anonymous said...

congratulations! The SBC has lifted their ban on Disney World. You can now attend without shame. ;-)


Bigger than Me said...

Mark, thank you for your invigorating and inspiring enthusiasm! I'm a "Creeker" and it has always meant so much to me that I've been able to be part of a church that has grown with me. I was pretty much born and raised at Willow, through Promiseland, Sonlihgt Express (now Elevate), Student Impact, Axis, and now "big church" (as we've always called it in our house!) and the one thing that has kept me there to this day is the "coolness factor!" I can worship my heart out to music that literally rocks, know that my kids are having "the best hour of the thier week" (part of the Promiseland mission statement), and listen to pastors that feel completely free to reach me in this day and age, with real stories of hope, humor, honesty, and humility (and he can do it in jeans, no less! Yay Mike Breaux!) I have been so blessed to be a part of a church that is willing to meet me where I am, where we ALL are, and I pray for folks just like you, folks that would catch the vision of the Church today, and run like mad towards it. Keep rockin', Mark. We're praying for you, for your family, and for your gift of leadership to be used to the absolute max that God intended it to be!
Katie (and Tommy, Denver, Maya, and Isaiah!)

Anonymous said...

Been there, done that. Lived through a church dying. Lived through being in a "cool concept" church that bit the dust when our pastor's foibles boiled over. Been there, done that.

Also have been there career wise. Used to be "important", whatever that was. Had an office, lots of staff, wore makeup every day. Now I drive a kid that isn't mine to school for thousands upon thousands of miles in that great old car of yours (I put that civic through a workout!!!).

It's a hard, hard climb. Or, since someone mentioned Willow, it would remind one of
ole' Hybels' book entitled "Descending into Greatness".

It's hard to be what feels like "small" in the world's economy. It's even harder, I think, to feel "small" in the American church economy. I went to one of the early Willow Leadership Conferences (before they put 'em on satellite all over the place) and they said "okay, we're having a lunch for churches with at least XXX average Sunday attendance that have been in existence less than five years. Well, that brands teh rest of us guys as losers, I guess. I remember the way the attitudes seemed to go in the casual conversations between sessions. It was mostly focused on what Jim Cymbala calls "ABC": What's your ATTENDANCE? Are you doing a BUILDING progam? How much CASH is in your budget? Didn't seem much different than the posturing one sees at the many, many secular trade shows I have attended over the years.

But in God's economy things are upside down. Makes for some significant discomfort here on earth, but later on I have faith that either things will even out, or that I won't care any more. Either way will be good!

But I bet you smell really good from God's perspective...
14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. "