In the last week, three things have drawn my attention.
1) The CBF Illumination Project proposal and outcome.
Others have submitted articles and feedback on this subject. Jim Somerville (who I shared a wonderful conversation with on the phone last week), Bill Leonard, Cody Sanders, Haley Cawthon-Freels, and Steve Wells have already offered their voices ranging from heartache to uncomfortable contentedness. I encourage you who are outside of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship circles to read these responses and Google more. I could spend the next several paragraphs outlining what the Illumination Project was called to do, how they did it, and what the results were…but again that has already been done (seriously, click on the above links). I will tell you that all of this centers on the question of CBF’s role as a “denomi-network” being a space of inclusion of those identifying as LGBTQ. The policy, and especially the implantation of the new recommended statement, has resulted in congregational findings that suggest “no.” While local Baptist churches still hold the autonomy to call who they want into positions of leadership, field personal and other leaders considered for “CBF Global” positions will have their sexuality questioned as part of the hiring process. So many emotions run through this outcome. Those I have spoken with about this are all over the spectrum. Some wanting to stay and fight from within while others are looking to walk away from CBF (much like those who started CBF walked away from the Southern Baptist Convention 25+ years ago over the inclusion of women in ministry). While all of this is troubling, here is what hit me the hardest as a local pastor; the CBF Governing Board members were just relaying the message of what they heard from local CBF churches…that most local CBF congregations are not ready.
That means that I, and pastors like myself, have not done enough to bring this issue to our congregations. That we have not shared the Gospel message of a God who “so loved the world…” That we have not been prophetic in calling to attention the needed question to those in our pews; are we as a people ready to accept, affirm, and accommodate God’s people who are LGBTQ into our midst? All the while being aware not to coerce, but encouraging true Soul Freedom.
And as much as it might be easy to stand around and point fingers at those on governing boards, the fact of the matter is it’s my fault this outcome happened. G.K. Chesterton said it best when answering the question of “what’s wrong with the world today?” he answered simply “I am.”
As Baptist, we should remember this; our dissent was not brought about from the top-down, but from the ground up. If changes are going to take place they need to happen first in our congregations. Approached from this angle, those on the governing board would have had no choice but to offer a different outcome. While some church leaders have done a great job in shepherding their congregations, I know I have work to do. Maybe you do to?
2) The shooting which took place at Parkland High School in Florida.
29 mass shooting in 2018, this one leaving 17 dead.
To this I will say...
Yes, keep praying. Also pick up your phone and call your local representatives in order to change legislation surrounding the ability to purchase fire arms like the AR-15. Hunting rifles and handguns are one thing, but I cannot fathom the reasoning of citizens needing to purchase AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons.
We have a gun problem “Murica.” Admit it. Repent of it. Take steps to reconcile it.
People are dying, My God, children are dying.
3) And then there’s this…
So much could be said, but all I could come up with is this,