Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Ed Pettibone » Sat Jun 28, 2014 12:14 am

Sandy wrote:
Ed Pettibone wrote:These efforts in many cases are still fulled by the false Idea that these areas "have no evangelical christian witness".


That's not a false idea. There are a lot of places where there is no "evangelical" Christian witness in large segments of major Eastern cities. I just finished a week of working with church planters here in Pittsburgh, and in one of the most densely populated areas of the city, the only "evangelical" church, which I would define as one that preaches the gospel message and ministers with the intention of reaching people for Christ, is the SBC church plant. The United Methodist church in the neighborhood closed at the end of May, and the few remaining members merged with a Methodist church several miles away. The ABC-USA congregation, Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church, put its building up for sale in April, and disbanded. The Presbyterian church affiliated with PCUSA disbanded a year ago, their large, well appointed facility sits empty. There's a Catholic church in the neighborhood, but I don't consider them "evangelical", nor the Lutheran church in the neighborhood, which is mostly an elderly congregation in a maintenance mode. The SBC church plant, a congregation of about 50 that is about half African American, will probably lease the old Methodist building because it has more space than their current facility.

Sometimes existing congregations do not have the energy, or the ability, to be evangelistic in their neighborhood, and they are in maintenance mode. That's not evangelistic.


Ed; Note Sandy I said "These efforts in many cases are still fulled by the false Idea that these areas "have no evangelical christian witness". There may be places where there is no evangelical Wittiness but I have not seen them in any Northern city or area where I have lived and been a part of Baptist life. Fort Wayne, Indianapolis & MArion Inn Indiana, Cincinnati Oh., NY Capital Area, (Albany, Schenectady, Latham, Clifton Park Troy and Rensalear sp ). I would say the same for the Southern cities and towns where I have lived Birmingham, Meridian Mississippi, Arkadeliphia, Ark., Fort Myers & Tampa Fl., Louisville, Ky.

Your anecdotal narrative about the area where you recently "..finished a week of working with church planters here in Pittsburgh, and in one of the most densely populated areas of the city, the only "evangelical" church, which I would define as one that preaches the gospel message and ministers with the intention of reaching people for Christ, is the SBC church plant", leaves me unconvinced, due to the lack of substantive information that can be verified.

Here are are nine pertinent questions your narrative raises for me.

A. How large is this area? Is it in any way distinguished from surrounding areas? How many zip codes are covered?
What are those zip codes.

B. Where is the population data that confirms the claim that this area is "one of the most densely populated areas of the city" ? What is that density? Are there distinct demographic groupings?

C. How stable is the population? How many have lived there more than 2 years, 7 years, 10 years, i5 years.

D. What is the median household income? What is the employment status of residents under age 65.

E. How many residents attend churches outside of this area?

F. Who is financing this SBC plant? And how long is their financial commitment?

G. What is the furthest distance a resident of the area would need to travel to reach a church that meets your standard for an evangelical witnesses?

H. Are the Church planters with whom you worked indigenous to the area? How about the members they have gathered.

I. Has any effort been made by the SBC planters, to coordinate with the local ABC-USA or any other Baptist denominational entity already present in the environs of Pittsburgh ?
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Sandy » Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:27 pm

I'm fairly certain that the data given to me by the church planter in that area is accurate. Most of your questions aren't really relevant to the issue of planting a church. Church plants tend to reach people that established churches don't reach. In a city where several population surveys and data bases, including Lifeway's, and the Census Bureau, show consistently that 85-90% of the population doesn't have any kind of "religious background" or connection to any local church at all, as the figures for Pittsburgh in both of those surveys show, does it really matter who plants a church, or how many there are in the same neighborhood?

It's relatively easy, in most parts of Metro Pittsburgh, for a church plant to locate a nice building, since most Protestants of just about any kind, have disbanded and merged churches regularly, even in the 'burbs. It's an open field for church planters here. Other than a handful of mid-sized megas out in the burbs, no church plant under SBC support is encroaching on anyone else's turf. The only thing I've observed from ABC-USA is closures and mergers here.
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Timothy Bonney » Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:51 pm

I'll be honest Sandy, I don't trust Lifeway's stats because I don't trust the theology behind the stats. Will Lifeway assume everyone who wasn't Baptized as an adult is a fair target for a church plant? Will Lifeway do as the SBC did when it broke the commity agreement with the ABC (Then NBC) and say "there is no Baptist witness" where there is clearly a non-SBC Baptist church around the corner?

Southern Baptists have a pretty narrow definition of what constitutes church and at times it is a pretty self-serving definition.
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby David Flick » Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:47 pm

Timothy Bonney wrote:I'll be honest Sandy, I don't trust Lifeway's stats because I don't trust the theology behind the stats. Will Lifeway assume everyone who wasn't Baptized as an adult is a fair target for a church plant? Will Lifeway do as the SBC did when it broke the commity agreement with the ABC (Then NBC) and say "there is no Baptist witness" where there is clearly a non-SBC Baptist church around the corner?

    I agree completely... It was absurd that Southern Baptists declared Kansas (and states above the Mason-Dixon Line) to be areas of "no Baptist witness" when there is an ABC church in nearly every town in Kansas.

1Southern Baptists have a pretty narrow definition of what constitutes church and 2at times it is a pretty self-serving definition.

    I agree... On both counts...
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Sandy » Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:31 am

Lifeway's stats match up pretty well with just about everyone else who does the same kind of survey work. I don't know if either of you were involved in SBC work at the time that they began planting churches in Kansas, or anywhere else in the area that was part of some sort of regional "non-encroachment" agreement, but if it wasn't a problem for you until you became involved with ABC-USA, then complaining now is superfluous.

It seems that there's been plenty of available people for new church plants for any denomination that wants to actively work the field, regardless of where it is. And that's the key, "actively work the field."
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby William Thornton » Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:18 pm

It's sort of a trigger for some when NAMB or whomever says that there is "no Gospel witness" in a community with churches. I would admit that often there is a valid objection to that bit of overreach; however, NAMB now allocates funding on party by using a SBC church/population ratio. Those places with high ratios get less (or no) funding. If there are ABC or CBF churches present...why not offer an alternative?

Comity, Timothy? What comity? There ain't no stinkin' comity in this bidness. Two baptist, one Southern Baptist, and one nondenominational church have located within blocks of my former church.

Even in my SBC church rich state there are deliberate church plants, mainly because established churches are doing little to reach certain segments of the population. I'm among those who fully recognizes that while they may be loving, serving congregations, many churches care little about making an effort to bring an authentic Gospel witness to their community, unless you define Gospel witness as having a Sunday AM service for whomever wishes to show up.
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Sandy » Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:11 pm

Having a building with a sign out front designating it as a meeting place for a Baptist church, with "everyone welcome" tacked on at the bottom, conducting a Sunday morning worship service, and maybe a Sunday School does not define a "church," nor does it define a viable "Baptist witness." I've seen a lot of churches, SBC included, that exist, but are not Biblical communities, and are not a "gospel witness."

Overall, within the American population at large, the number of people who identify as Christians, regardless of the stripe, is declining. I do not believe there is a place anywhere in the country where a new church plant would not have a viable ministry among unreached people, if it deliberately targeted that kind of an audience. Most people these days, if they leave an established church, are attracted into mega churches with inwardly focused smorgasbord ministries. It's not likely that a church plant would proselyte members out of existing churches. It's too much work, and not enough money.
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Mrs Haruo » Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:50 pm

I think there is a lot of room for church plants reaching out to different populations. There is one down the street from us that meets at 2:30 on Sunday afternoons. I have visited several times, and a lot of the congregation do outreach to prisons or nursing homes in the morning. Other members are disabled and need a lot of help or time getting ready to get out of the house or work odd schedules and find it difficult to make a morning worship. Just this morning I heard about a small congregation of artists in another city that meet for a Bible lesson, then proceed to do sculpture or paintings or other artwork to express what they have just been studying. Refugee populations who wish to enjoy the foods and customs and music of "back home" while learning the ropes of living in the US are a natural outreach for many churches. A LOT of people of my generation and younger have been turned off by traditional church settings for one reason or another and often can be reached by something a little different. I know I am not the only one who finds the "Mega-Church" scene to be too big and impersonal and "whiz-bang" for my taste.
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Timothy Bonney » Mon Jun 30, 2014 11:11 am

Sandy wrote:Lifeway's stats match up pretty well with just about everyone else who does the same kind of survey work. I don't know if either of you were involved in SBC work at the time that they began planting churches in Kansas, or anywhere else in the area that was part of some sort of regional "non-encroachment" agreement, but if it wasn't a problem for you until you became involved with ABC-USA, then complaining now is superfluous.

It seems that there's been plenty of available people for new church plants for any denomination that wants to actively work the field, regardless of where it is. And that's the key, "actively work the field."


Sandy, I've been super busy this weekend with church services and a wedding. Sorry to be slow to respond.

Actually I was concerned about the "no baptist witness" baloney when I was a Southern Baptist in seminary in Kansas City. At one point I did some supply preaching in Kansas and was preaching at a little store front church in one community. Each and every week I drove by a very large brick ABC/USA church on the way to this little store front startup church. Finally I asked the DOM in the area why they were doing a new church start in this area when there are so many other churches in the area. The answer I got, "there is no baptist witness in this area." Again, balony.

It isn't the statistics and data I don't trust Sandy. It is the SBC's interpretation of the data. It has already happened to me only being a United Methodist for four years that I have had church members told by evangelical Christians in the community that they really aren't Christians because they didn't profess faith and walk the aisle in the same way they did.

I agree there are a lot of areas where there is plenty of room for another church. But I also see areas where evangelical Christians plant churches right down the street from very active and viable churches of other denominations. I've seen this happen in some newer neighborhoods in Des Moines where 3 or 4 denominations, without having any conversations with each other, all try to plant a new church in the same area only to find that they are now dividing up the available prospects 3 and 4 ways rather than one or two new churches having a viable chance at growth.

One of the worst things about denominationalism (any denomination) is that at times we are more intersted in promoting our franchise than being a part of the whole Church of God.
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Ed Pettibone » Mon Jun 30, 2014 5:46 pm

Ed; Tim I agree with much of your post immediately above Sandy's. But being my picky self I would re word the comment where you say "One of the worst things about denominationalism (any denomination) is that at times we are more intersted in promoting our franchise than being a part of the whole Church of God", to read the body of Christ, rather than the whole Church of God.

And Sandy when you say that most of my questions listed have nothing to do with church planting, I believe you are being short sighted. But I think it is you who knows little about church planting if you do not see the validity of those 9 major questions with some additions to explain them.

How is wanting to know the zip code of the area where you recently did a week of working with a church planter not pertinent? You presented that experience as a counter to my comment that I have never seen a a significant geographical area on a major U.S. City with NO evangelical witness as SBC Church planters often claim in their pleas for funding. AND SBC pastors frequently quote to encourage greater giving by their congregations. You say you believe that stats the Church planter you worked with are accurate. How can that be if the area covered is not well defined? You talk about ABC Churches Closing and consolidating as if it where some sort of shame. I am glad to here it because I have advocated such a strategy for nearly three decades. It is not an anti evangelistic nor evangelical idea.

In all honesty I believe one reason denominations of many stripes are shrinking is is that the people in the pew are not convinced by a lot of the fund raising hype, given to support the perceived needs of people building resumes. I think you are reluctant to del with my questions because you recognize that honest answers weaken the arguments for SBC church plating in "eastern" cities north of Baltimore.

As I have said before If the SBC is going to tell me about the needs of Northern cites, they are first going to have to show me significant improvement in stats on crime, hunger and family unity in their own cities, and how it relates to their ministry. I would like to see what would happen to Louisville, New Orleans, and Fort Worth if for five years the SBC spent half the funds that they now spend on church planting outside of their traditional area on addressing, the triplet problems of Family degeneration, Poverty and Crime led by Local church programing, with the assistance of the three major SBC Seminaries located in those cities., and perhaps a boost by the other three.
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Timothy Bonney » Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:35 pm

Good points Ed. I'm afraid I've gotten into the connectional church habit of referring to the "Body of Christ" as the "Church" with a capital "C" while the local church is the church with a small c. I think we mean the same thing.

You've hit on a real problem with all these churches all wanting to build a brand new building, etc. Are we spending more money, as Christians, each building our own individual churches rather than finding new ways to work together? I'd love to see more churches considering sharing a building or agreeing to consult on church plants so that new churche are not right on top of each other. I'd also like to see people admit that just because different denominations use different language and terms for their faith walk it doesn't mean that other Christians aren't saved. I always have appreciate the ecumenical nature of the ABC/USA and also what I know of the CBF that I never saw in the SBC.
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Sandy » Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:25 am

Timothy Bonney wrote:
Sandy wrote:Lifeway's stats match up pretty well with just about everyone else who does the same kind of survey work. I don't know if either of you were involved in SBC work at the time that they began planting churches in Kansas, or anywhere else in the area that was part of some sort of regional "non-encroachment" agreement, but if it wasn't a problem for you until you became involved with ABC-USA, then complaining now is superfluous.

It seems that there's been plenty of available people for new church plants for any denomination that wants to actively work the field, regardless of where it is. And that's the key, "actively work the field."


Sandy, I've been super busy this weekend with church services and a wedding. Sorry to be slow to respond.

Actually I was concerned about the "no baptist witness" baloney when I was a Southern Baptist in seminary in Kansas City. At one point I did some supply preaching in Kansas and was preaching at a little store front church in one community. Each and every week I drove by a very large brick ABC/USA church on the way to this little store front startup church. Finally I asked the DOM in the area why they were doing a new church start in this area when there are so many other churches in the area. The answer I got, "there is no baptist witness in this area." Again, balony.

It isn't the statistics and data I don't trust Sandy. It is the SBC's interpretation of the data. It has already happened to me only being a United Methodist for four years that I have had church members told by evangelical Christians in the community that they really aren't Christians because they didn't profess faith and walk the aisle in the same way they did.

I agree there are a lot of areas where there is plenty of room for another church. But I also see areas where evangelical Christians plant churches right down the street from very active and viable churches of other denominations. I've seen this happen in some newer neighborhoods in Des Moines where 3 or 4 denominations, without having any conversations with each other, all try to plant a new church in the same area only to find that they are now dividing up the available prospects 3 and 4 ways rather than one or two new churches having a viable chance at growth.

One of the worst things about denominationalism (any denomination) is that at times we are more intersted in promoting our franchise than being a part of the whole Church of God.


I think you have to look at an area a little bit more closely than just observing the size and kind of church buildings in the neighborhood to determine whether there is a need for a church plant. I believe that with regard to NAMB sponsored church plants, the formula that is examined from the demographic data focuses on the number of survey responses which indicate no church affiliation. The church plant I worked with here in Pittsburgh last week is in a very densely populated neighborhood in which the census bureau data and Lifeway's survey stated that 85% of the population did not specifically identify any church affiliation at all, and only 7% had attended church within the past year. The student ministry team that also conducted a survey for the church plant found the stats to be right on target. The neighborhood is dotted with church buildings, but in a two square mile area, with a population of almost 30,000, only two Catholic churches, an SBC church plant with a Vietnamese and a Slavic mission, and a United Church of Christ congregation were still meeting. This past winter, four churches in the neighborhood called it quits. Churches do get to the point where they fall into maintenance mode or a "fortress" mentality, but it is an indication of a serious disconnect when they are in an area where there are plenty of unchurched people, and they're not reaching enough people to pay for the heat, or fix the furnace.

Southern Baptists are having a measure of success in the North and the West because 1) their new church plants are very outreach oriented, and the pastors are trained with outreach in mind, 2) they are new, and new churches grow faster than older, established churches do, and 3) they establish autonomous, independent, congregational churches that are Biblically focused, which has much more appeal than established Christian traditions in connectional and hierarchical churches. On the other hand, I can point to lots of places in the South where SBC churches have withdrawn into a fortress mentality, and are failing to reach the people around them.

And I think, Timothy, you'd have to admit that some denominations, and many local churches, think that a "presence" in a community is enough, and aren't pro-active when it comes to outreach and evangelism. They don't teach their people to be "on mission" outside of the two hours of their presence in the pew on Sunday morning, and they disdain, and look down on groups like the SBC, or Pentecostals, because of their pro-active approach to witnessing.
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Ed Pettibone » Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:57 am

Ed: Sandy when you write
"Southern Baptists are having a measure of success in the North and the West because 1) their new church plants are very outreach oriented, and the pastors are trained with outreach in mind, 2) they are new, and new churches grow faster than older, established churches do, and 3) they establish autonomous, independent, congregational churches that are Biblically focused, which has much more appeal than established Christian traditions in connectional and hierarchical churches. On the other hand, I can point to lots of places in the South where SBC churches have withdrawn into a fortress mentality, and are failing to reach the people around them."


what are you seeing as a measure of success? I would suggest that with the same investment of financial and human resources some of those extant churches would also show "a measure of success by being very out reach oriented. While it is somewhat true that new churches grow faster than older established churches. it is also true that many new plants plateau at between 75 and 125 for a short time and then fall into rapid decline, when weaned off of the outside money and manpower. That is why I asked "Who is financing this SBC plant? And how long is their financial commitment" it is a very pertinent question

And when I asked "How stable is the population? How many have lived there more than 2 years, 7 years, 10 years, i5 years." Experience has shown that different answers require different strategies.

BTW what ever came of the Mega Church that NAMB sent the former President of Midwestern to Chicago to build. I am sort of like some other folk here I simply do not trust much of the hype put out by the SBC in the past 15 years. I have seen some of their slight of hand math in person.

As for the plant where you worked recently I wish them luck. But since you won't answer questions I guess we will never know how successful it is or isn't.
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Sandy » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:20 am

The amount of time and resources put into church plants varies among state conventions. NAMB works through them to coordinate church planting efforts and to provide local leadership. There are benchmarks for when a church plant becomes an independent church, in attendance and financial stability. Right now, in Greater Pittsburgh, there are seven related to SBC work, four that get state convention and NAMB assistance, three that are sponsored by local churches. There are also various types of support that they receive. Three of them applied to Lifeway to participate in their P-2 Missions program, and had teams come in and do specific projects over the summer to help with the outreach. And the local association coordinates the work of several dozen mission teams from churches all over the place who come to Pittsburgh in the summer to assist with church planting. The survival rate is pretty good around here, as it is across Pennsylvania. The number of churches in the state convention has doubled in a decade, mostly because of the church planting work.
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Timothy Bonney » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:34 am

Sandy wrote: they establish autonomous, independent, congregational churches that are Biblically focused, which has much more appeal than established Christian traditions in connectional and hierarchical churches.

And I think, Timothy, you'd have to admit that some denominations, and many local churches, think that a "presence" in a community is enough, and aren't pro-active when it comes to outreach and evangelism. They don't teach their people to be "on mission" outside of the two hours of their presence in the pew on Sunday morning, and they disdain, and look down on groups like the SBC, or Pentecostals, because of their pro-active approach to witnessing.


Sandy, I have to disagree with part of the above. I know a lot of refugees from "autonomous, independent, congregational churches..." who have intentionally sought out connectional churches after getting burned by idiosyncratic independent congregations. This includes a lot of laity and quite a few clergy. Connectionalism is appreciated when your experience has been that autonomy can lead in some very negative directions.

As to just being a "presence." Yes, there are churches like that. I pastored one church like that years ago that wanted to do nothing but Sunday worship with their own kind. But it was an SBC church.

I've found American Baptists and United Methodists both to have a strong DNA of being involved in their community because of a belief in social justice that I never saw in the SBC.

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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Mrs Haruo » Thu Jul 03, 2014 3:04 am

Tim- I agree on you about Methodists tending to be much more involved with trying to solve community social problems than many SBC churches. I am not a cradle Baptist- in fact I was unchurched for the most part till I was in High School. One Christian influence I had was Girl Scout leaders who were from the Methodist church in the neighborhood. In the month of March, the Scouts observe Girl Scout Week, and you are encouraged to wear your uniform to church or temple or wherever you worship that week. Our leaders explained this to us and always said "If you don't have a church your family goes to you are welcome to come with me, and that was the one time I went to church each year through most of elementary school. As an adult, when I was a Girl Scout leader in another state, and the church I had been a member of for quite a few years had a new pastor and his wife seemed determined to stamp out something called "secular humanism" I thought having my troop meet at the church instead of the elementary school might be a great outreach, but she sneered at me and said "Oh yes, you have become involved with that SECULAR organization. They had a fortress mentality too, and discouraged public schools, books about dinosaurs, etc. After awhile I got tired of being expected to hang my brains at the door and dropped out. The art museum near my home put an announcement in the local paper that the were wanting volunteers to train to give public tours and being an arts major, I went to their training sessions. The museum was across the street from the Methodist church, and many of the volunteers who staffed the front desk and did fundraising activities for the museum and gave tours were women from the Methodist church. I was relieved to find out that it was possible to be educated and also be a Christian.
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Ed Pettibone » Thu Jul 03, 2014 10:55 am

Mrs Haruo wrote:Tim- I agree on you about Methodists tending to be much more involved with trying to solve community social problems than many SBC churches. I am not a cradle Baptist- in fact I was unchurched for the most part till I was in High School. One Christian influence I had was Girl Scout leaders who were from the Methodist church in the neighborhood. In the month of March, the Scouts observe Girl Scout Week, and you are encouraged to wear your uniform to church or temple or wherever you worship that week. Our leaders explained this to us and always said "If you don't have a church your family goes to you are welcome to come with me, and that was the one time I went to church each year through most of elementary school. As an adult, when I was a Girl Scout leader in another state, and the church I had been a member of for quite a few years had a new pastor and his wife seemed determined to stamp out something called "secular humanism" I thought having my troop meet at the church instead of the elementary school might be a great outreach, but she sneered at me and said "Oh yes, you have become involved with that SECULAR organization. They had a fortress mentality too, and discouraged public schools, books about dinosaurs, etc. After awhile I got tired of being expected to hang my brains at the door and dropped out. The art museum near my home put an announcement in the local paper that the were wanting volunteers to train to give public tours and being an arts major, I went to their training sessions. The museum was across the street from the Methodist church, and many of the volunteers who staffed the front desk and did fundraising activities for the museum and gave tours were women from the Methodist church. I was relieved to find out that it was possible to be educated and also be a Christian.


Ed: Surprise I think both of you are being rather my-optic . While I have credited the Hyde Park UMC in Cincinnati for doing a great job of ministering to singles and having a number programs for helping people in many ways. Before discovering them I had visited and been disappointed by enough churches of varied brands Baptist (ABC, SBC, Independent) Methodist, Presbyterian, Wesleyan, Lutheran. Non-denominational that where all over the board in the areas of hospitality and service. I have been privileged to be a part of some Baptist churches that where pretty ideal.

Trying to avoid generalities I do feel compelled say that in (My experience) across the board I found larger churches 200 to 500 to be the most hospitable and often very involved in social justice issues and needs based programs. Small churches tend to be the most introverted (but often very generous with finical gifts for missions) and Mega churches have great parties and entertainment, some times services but thin on compassion. To explain that 'lack of compassion" I liken them to medical specialist who have great personality and bed side manner but don't seem to remember your name and are simply doing her or his job?
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Sandy » Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:21 pm

Timothy Bonney wrote:Sandy, I have to disagree with part of the above. I know a lot of refugees from "autonomous, independent, congregational churches..." who have intentionally sought out connectional churches after getting burned by idiosyncratic independent congregations. This includes a lot of laity and quite a few clergy. Connectionalism is appreciated when your experience has been that autonomy can lead in some very negative directions.

As to just being a "presence." Yes, there are churches like that. I pastored one church like that years ago that wanted to do nothing but Sunday worship with their own kind. But it was an SBC church.

I've found American Baptists and United Methodists both to have a strong DNA of being involved in their community because of a belief in social justice that I never saw in the SBC.

We each have our own lenses which we are looking at the world with.


I've had my own conversations with fellow Baptist church leaders and pastors about how beneficial it would be if we simply established Methodist polity, and kept our Baptist doctrines. If you've been in any kind of ministry in a Baptist church, you've encountered idiosyncratic congregations in which a few established, self-appointed autocrats have taken hold of the reins of power and attempt to run the church. On the other hand, in the Baptist churches where I've served on staff, bi-vocationally or full time, some of those leaders who were the least autocratic, and most understanding of how congregational polity works when Biblical principles are respected, and self-interest is put aside, were individuals who came from churches in connectional denominations, where their use of spiritual gifts and God-blessed talents were frustrated, and their personal freedom of expression suppressed by clergy and elder rule. Those individuals did not take the free expression allowed by congregational polity for granted.

I can't really think of any aspect of my personal ministry that hasn't involved some sort of social justice issue, or what Southern Baptists refer to as "Christian Social Ministry." And every bit of that has been through a Southern Baptist church, or a denominational agency related to the state convention, local association or the SBC. I cut my teeth in the inner city of St. Louis for two summers during college hauling food boxes up the steps and elevators of the Darst-Webbe housing projects, working with kids who came to the church building for the free breakfast and lunch that they couldn't get at their school during the summer months. Southern Baptists do a whole lot more of that than they get credit for, largely because the churches are independent and autonomous, and most of that kind of ministry is done through the local church.

As to where and when to plant churches, I just don't believe that there are very many places in this country today where there would not be plenty of people for a new church plant to reach that existing, established churches aren't reaching, either because they're not focused on it, they don't see that most of the people around them are no longer Christians, or they are too busy with their own ministry to worry about them.
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Re: Dennis Kim would be a good choice for SBC president

Postby Timothy Bonney » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:22 pm

Ed Pettibone wrote:Ed: Surprise I think both of you are being rather my-optic . While I have credited the Hyde Park UMC in Cincinnati for doing a great job of ministering to singles and having a number programs for helping people in many ways. Before discovering them I had visited and been disappointed by enough churches of varied brands Baptist (ABC, SBC, Independent) Methodist, Presbyterian, Wesleyan, Lutheran. Non-denominational that where all over the board in the areas of hospitality and service. I have been privileged to be a part of some Baptist churches that where pretty ideal.


Ed I agree that the are churches of all kinds that do (and don't) reach out to their communities. But some denominations such as the ABC/USA, the UMC, and the UCC as some examples have specific emphases in their doctrine and/or distinctives that social justice is a part of the gospel. There are churches in denominations that don't emphasize social justice that still of their own seek to be socially active. But it is harder to do so when you don't get any support to do so or, even worse, when you are in a denominatoin that teaches that the only important ministry is "saving souls" and that helping the poor isn't part of the church's mission.

Trying to avoid generalities I do feel compelled say that in (My experience) across the board I found larger churches 200 to 500 to be the most hospitable and often very involved in social justice issues and needs based programs. Small churches tend to be the most introverted (but often very generous with finical gifts for missions) and Mega churches have great parties and entertainment, some times services but thin on compassion. To explain that 'lack of compassion" I liken them to medical specialist who have great personality and bed side manner but don't seem to remember your name and are simply doing her or his job?


Ed, I'd not thought about commitment to community as a function of size. But I think you may be right, with some exeptions. Megachurches and small churches both can be very inward focused for different reasons.
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