The news out of SBC-land continues on a path of question and confusion. What is going on with SBC leaders?
Here is a quick recap:
1. Yesterday, the head of NAMB (North American Mission Board) and 3 of his top associates resigned under pressure.
2. The Executive Committee in Nashville likewise witnessed the recent forced resignation of the Executive Vice President. This came after the head of the Executive Committee went on an unwise rant against Calvinists.
3. The IMB (International Mission Board) trustees engaged in an ugly running feud that included the suspension of a trustee.
4. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has been involved in a lawsuit from a former professor.
5. New pastors at mega churches, First Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Bellevue Baptist Church succeeded former presidents of the SBC and are making news for all of the wrong reasons.
This list is merely institutional news. I haven’t even said anything yet about issues regarding theology or renewal initiatives. At the annual convention in Louisville, observers would think that all was well except for those being influenced by Mark Driscoll and the Calvinists.
So what are we to make of this? Is there a connection between the declining membership numbers and giving to the Cooperative Program? I will leave the answers to these questions to others. Here is what I think about some of this.
1. Leadership and Communication Skills
When we have Jesus as a model of leadership, why do we seem to be so lacking in these basic skills? I hear and read of people lamenting the CEO style of leadership in church life. Let me be clear — this is not the problem. A business CEO can either possess solid leadership and communication skills are he can not. Business CEOs have not exactly been in the news for providing great leadership.
I have worked for men and women with tremendous leadership and communication skills. They drew the best out of me. They instilled the proper values and direction of the organization. I have also worked for those that lacked basic human decency in communicating with others. The type of leadership they demonstrated was detrimental to the life of the company of the people of the company.
Good leaders come with various styles and personalities. An individual’s style of leadership will need to fit his/her personality. We need to be learning from great leaders. Ultimately, this will mean that we need to learn from Jesus and biblical teaching.
I do know this — we have a failure of leadership preparation, selection and/or expectation when we are hiring executive coaches for those who are already leading one of our largest agencies. This is reportedly what the trustees of NAMB did in an earlier attempt to work out the issues at NAMB.
2. The SBC is in dire need of renewal. This renewal must include the following:
Theological Renewal – the overriding goal of all that happens should be that of being centered on Jesus and the Gospel.
Spiritual Renewal – we need repentance and a fresh reliance on the power of God.
Organizational Renewal – we need wise leaders who care only about the advancement of God’s kingdom. These leaders need to demonstrate the character of Jesus in providing purposeful direction.
Unless the SBC gets this right, we will continue to see the erosion of leadership and resources. Those desiring to extend the kingdom of God will find other avenues for doing so.
We should be mindful of much that is good and right about the SBC. Amazing stories are being told of God’s work around the globe. I want to get the ship righted so that we do not lose these amazing stories.
Your comments and suggestions are welcomed.