NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

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NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Gene Scarborough » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:12 am

http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/BPnews.asp?ID=37583

The NAMB can't seem to get its act together:

In the March 6 video, Ezell largely focused on NAMB strategy for increasing the birthrate of Southern Baptist churches, redeploying missionaries and shifting the board's budget.

The Ezell videos come at a time when several state convention leaders have expressed concerns with NAMB's direction. Other leaders, meanwhile, have voiced support for the mission board's strategy.

"Our mission is to penetrate lostness. We feel like the stronger churches are in North America, the stronger our overall mission will be throughout the world," Ezell said in the March 6 video conference. "The International Mission Board is supported by churches in North America, so the stronger the churches are here, we will penetrate lostness literally around the world."


I am wondering if the NAMB leader is focused on where their ministry is----in the US or around the world? Around the world is the mission of the IMB! :?

If Ezell can't find a focus, how can State Conventions cooperate?
Is the NAMB trying to take State Convention work under its direction and what they want them to do?

In January, leaders of the California Southern Baptist Convention distributed a report detailing how changes at NAMB will impact their work. The report contained seven specific concerns stemming from NAMB acting "unilaterally," and most of the concerns were about funding. Also included in the report were NAMB's responses to the concerns.

"CSBC is now functioning in an unknown relationship with NAMB that, in many ways, has abandoned cooperation," the report said at the outset. "The current relationship with NAMB is now a top-down decision-making relationship where NAMB dictates its mandates, strategy and financial support outside a formal, cooperative understanding of relationship."
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby William Thornton » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:10 am

Gene, you need to read my blog to get up to speed on this controversy. I'll give you the short course here:

1. The SBC voted to recommend that NAMB have control of their own budget, rather than kick back millions to existing state conventions for various positions and projects through what was called "Cooperative Agreements."
2. The SBC voted to recommend that NAMB take steps to put 50% of their budget into church planting.
3. NAMB trustees voted to implement the expressed recommendations of the SBC and is moving money from funding state convention infrastructure to church planting.
4. State conventions don't like the changes because they defund certain positions and shift money from some state conventions to others.
5. Many state conventions would like to move back to the status quo ante with NAMB. No one likes for their budget to be cut.

You are vastly underinformed here. The problem exhibited has is rooted in the reality that NAMB and Kevin Ezell DO have a focus, church planting, not that they do not.

The state conventions are autonomous, as is NAMB, and the former have no claim on the budget of the latter.
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Gene Scarborough » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:55 am

William---

I am more up to speed than your think. Both my father and I worked for the HMB with a great new ministry to the Juvenile Courts. That ministry is now gone because it was sucked into Christian Social Ministries and those workers did not care enough to minister to "criminals in the making" and their families. Both my father and I approached that ministry encouraging local churches of all types to encourage their member families to adopt and mentor a child and his family with deep troubles---and crime creeping in so "little criminals became adult criminals" since the official system of juvenile crime was badly overloaded with children in trouble with the law.

The major concern I am reading is how a "top down" approach to missions is being now employed.

On a practical basis let me share the story of my venture to Binghamton, NY, back in the 80's. It was one of the first Partnership ventures by the HMB. I went with the understanding from the HMB that the Southern Tier Association was in a "lost land" of NY and Pennsylvania.

What I found was a strong single church (Lincoln Avenue) in Binghamton, NY. It's success was due to many IBM employees up there from the south. They found a good home and were about to build a new large sanctuary when IBM decided to move their operation to Texas and return them to their briar patch for Baptists in the South. At the time the foundations were dug and building materials were sitting on the lot----but the congregation could not get enough money together to proceed to a conclusion.

What I really found was that Southern Baptists were viewed as a "cultic group" akin to Jehovah's Witenesses and Mormons. There were multiple churches all over the town. They went from more traditional Methodist / Presbyterian / Catholic to small congregations practicing tongues and emotional worship akin to the other small Southern Baptist churches planted across the Association. Our churches were viewed as "strange" and the kinds of pastors leading all but Lincoln Avenue pretty much lived up to the expectations of the public.

Now---here is the real problem: if we viewed ourselves as cooperating followers of Christ rather than "the answer" to "mislead other groups," I believe we would be much wiser. The problem is not in the Gospel message! It lies with the arrogance of Ezell and his mega-church mindset. He is no longer a dictator Senior Minister for his old church. He is in an area where COOPERATION is the main concept for any good and wise Executive Leader.

In days of wiser Home MIssions work, we provided missionaries who went where churches did not thrive---poor neighborhoods / jail ministry / Baptist Mission Centers / language missions / etc. Now we are on a "church planting" mode---and we are not as welcome as we think. Other denominations are already there and what makes us think we have all the solutions to spiritual needs? :?
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby William Thornton » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:33 am

Gene, I love you bro, but you don't have a clue about this. [I do, however, hereby designate you as SBC News and Trends Official Expert on the old Home Mission Board.]
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:36 pm

In talking with an individual whose job has been under a cooperative agreement, NAMB provided medical, disability, life insurance, and retirement. Now the agency to which he is assigned must pick them up. It leaves NAMB more money, but it means there will be less on state and local levels, or that some personnel will be serving without insurance and retirement coverage which is most of what NAMB has provided. Am I correctly informed?
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Sandy » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:27 pm

I don't see that NAMB has curtailed any of what it used to call "Christian Social Ministries" support from its budget. Mostly the cuts have been in the money that they sent, lump sum, back to state conventions. At that point, they had no way to tell to what it was applied or how it was spent, and whether or not it was consistent with the reason it was given. This way, it is either going directly into their social ministries, or into church planting support.

There's no way the state convention here in Penn/South Jersey could sustain the kind of church planting effort that NAMB has supported over the past couple of years, nor could they have engaged in the kind of work that NAMB is doing in the inner cities, particularly in Philadelphia, but even here in Pittsburgh. And if the churches are there, and they are reaching people, they are providing the kind of ministry that is needed in their community.

The paternalistic attitude of the old HMB, that only Southerners really know how to do home mission work on behalf of their own denomination, didn't work too well in most places that weren't culturally attuned to the way "Suthun Babdiss" did things.
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Gene Scarborough » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:13 pm

Sandy and William:

You have both avoided my question/observation: Do we need to be in places where churches and ministry are plenteous and we are viewed as "strange?"

I told it just like it was in 1980. If you are calling me a "liar" then I might just have to visit with you!!!! :brick:
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby William Thornton » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:27 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:In talking with an individual whose job has been under a cooperative agreement, NAMB provided medical, disability, life insurance, and retirement. Now the agency to which he is assigned must pick them up. It leaves NAMB more money, but it means there will be less on state and local levels, or that some personnel will be serving without insurance and retirement coverage which is most of what NAMB has provided. Am I correctly informed?


One of the legacy funding items NAMB has carried is that they pay all of the health insurance for any position that they even partially fund. They kick in a mere $200 per month on some positions and then are expected to pick up the entire health insurance bill. They have declared that they will no longer pay health insurance for any position where they provide less than half of the funding. This is more sensible, IMO, although it puts the cost on state conventions. To ameliorate that, they have offered to transition the change over several years.

NAMB is changing how they fund stuff under the Cooperative Agreements. There are budget winners and losers in all this. You can find a good bit more on my blog.
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby William Thornton » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:30 pm

Gene Scarborough wrote:Sandy and William:

You have both avoided my question/observation: Do we need to be in places where churches and ministry are plenteous and we are viewed as "strange?"

I told it just like it was in 1980. If you are calling me a "liar" then I might just have to visit with you!!!! :brick:


I'd love to visit with you Gene any time you are down here. I recognized that you told it like it wuz in 1980. I've never called anyone here a liar.

My view is that NAMB should prioritize their spending on places which lack Gospel witness.
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Gene Scarborough » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:56 pm

William---

Please define "lack Gospel witness."

I didn't find such in the Southern Tier Association and Binghamton, NY. Maybe you have been places I have not :)
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby William Thornton » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:14 pm

Gene Scarborough wrote:William---

Please define "lack Gospel witness."

I didn't find such in the Southern Tier Association and Binghamton, NY. Maybe you have been places I have not :)


If I were NAMB I'd find cities and populations where there was a relative paucity of gospel preaching, bible believing churches.

I've been to Pocotaligo, GA and Hot Coffee, Itta Beena, and Aligator, MS. I doubt you have been there, bro. :D
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Sandy » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:56 pm

If you examine the record, and look at the church planting with which NAMB has been directly involved, it is not taking place in areas where, as you say, "churches and ministry are plenteous and we are viewed as strange." If that's the case in Binghampton, NY, then that city is quite unusual in terms of any similarity to other cities of the same size in the Northeast. The county seat of the county in which I live in Pennsylvania has a lot of churches, and a number of large church buildings, but in most cases, the congregations have dwindled down to a handful of older members. On any given Sunday, you'd find more empty pews than you would people, and many of the churches have drifted far away from preaching the gospel. The First Baptist Church is a viable, gospel preaching, Bible-believing congregation affiliated with the GARBC, but doesn't have the resources to meet the evangelistic, discipleship or ministry needs of this city of about 30,000 people. The few other evangelical, gospel-preaching congregations include an Assembly of God, a large CMA church, two small SBC congregations, and a PCA church. I know the pastors of most of those, and they would be very open to another SBC church plant, or another evangelical church of any kind starting up.

I've worked with World Changers through NAMB, and now Lifeway, for a number of years, and they had a project in Binghampton this past summer. Word is that there is very little ministry going on there, and this NAMB project was welcomed with open arms by all kinds of churches of differing denominational backgrounds. My wife and I visited at the Buffalo, NY World Changers and I know that it was extremely well received by the churches of the community. From what I saw, the inner city of Buffalo is a wasteland of disbanded, abandoned church buildings, with few viable churches. But there are several thriving SBC church plants there, and more to come.
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Gene Scarborough » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:10 pm

I will take your word for it BUT I live in Bath, NC, where the Church of Christ is as prominent as Baptists elsewhere in the state. The reason is that there is a school at Elizabeth City graduating students who pastor these churches.

Someone suggested my wife and I start a new Baptist church here.

Immediately I ask, "What's the point? We have enough chuches to accomodate every religious desire from the formality of the oldest Episcopal church in the state to the new somewhat charismatic non-denominational group."

Frankly, I see no point in adding another entity to the plethora of churches here :)
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Jerry_B » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:51 am

NAMB is such an unmitigated disaster, just wow!

Churches no longer need worry about planting churches, NAMB will take of it. Associations need not worry about their working together with other churches in their local community, NAMB will take of it. Now it NAMB doesn't take of it or pulls your money for taking care of it, well it's because it's no longer worth being taken care of.

BTW this situation highlighted in the article has already happened in New Mexico and Alaska, conventions too small to do anything other then bend over and grab their ankles "Thank you sir may I have another!"
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Ed Pettibone » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:59 pm

Sandy wrote:If you examine the record, and look at the church planting with which NAMB has been directly involved, it is not taking place in areas where, as you say, "churches and ministry are plenteous and we are viewed as strange." If that's the case in Binghampton, NY, then that city is quite unusual in terms of any similarity to other cities of the same size in the Northeast. The county seat of the county in which I live in Pennsylvania has a lot of churches, and a number of large church buildings, but in most cases, the congregations have dwindled down to a handful of older members. On any given Sunday, you'd find more empty pews than you would people, and many of the churches have drifted far away from preaching the gospel. The First Baptist Church is a viable, gospel preaching, Bible-believing congregation affiliated with the GARBC, but doesn't have the resources to meet the evangelistic, discipleship or ministry needs of this city of about 30,000 people. The few other evangelical, gospel-preaching congregations include an Assembly of God, a large CMA church, two small SBC congregations, and a PCA church. I know the pastors of most of those, and they would be very open to another SBC church plant, or another evangelical church of any kind starting up.

I've worked with World Changers through NAMB, and now Lifeway, for a number of years, and they had a project in Binghampton this past summer. Word is that there is very little ministry going on there, and this NAMB project was welcomed with open arms by all kinds of churches of differing denominational backgrounds. My wife and I visited at the Buffalo, NY World Changers and I know that it was extremely well received by the churches of the community. From what I saw, the inner city of Buffalo is a wasteland of disbanded, abandoned church buildings, with few viable churches. But there are several thriving SBC church plants there, and more to come.


And Sandy I read some of the propaganda put out by NAMB and BP about the great success of the "Crossover" effort in Indianapolis in 1992 in conjunction with the SBC Annual meeting, and know it to be unsupportable hype. I know that from follow up to the Church planting Praxis in which I was involved in the summer of 91 under the auspices of the HMB.

Also I am very familiar with some very viable work in ABC-USA churches in Binghamton, NY. Also, come up to visit us at the BFNE meeting in Swansea Mass, May 6th and 7th and I will introduce you to some folk who initially came to the NE as Home Missionaries and found out the truth about the "vast Gospel Wasteland". And I would invite you to Central Baptist church in Binghamton on Sunday the 6th, (Tell them I sent you). I Could meet you there in the evening, as that afternoon I will be in Oneonta 60 mile up the interstate, at The Holiday Inn for the celebration of our Interim Associate Regional Executive Director of ABCNYS's retirement, and will be heading through Binghamton toward the Montrose Bible Conference Center near Montrose PA. for The ABCNYS Ministry Enrichment/annual meeting, on the 9th., with Dr. Timothy Pratz of Palmer Seminary located in St David''s Pa. Might even be able to introduce you to a couple people worked with G.S. when he was in Binghamton on an SBC summer mission program decades ago. Unlike Gene, they stayed in the area and became American Baptist.

See http://www.usachurch.com/new_york/bingh ... urches.htm

Also what ever horror stories you have heard can be accounted for largely by the fact that today's Binghamton population is down around 40,000 from it heyday in the mid 1950 at 85,000 to today's 44,900 due to the elimination of a great deal of railroad traffic through the city.
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Gene Scarborough » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:04 am

Thanks for the Binghamton update, Ed.

I gather you are seeing our SBC egotism as a sham when there are many evangelical Christians already there!
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby William Thornton » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:18 am

Gene Scarborough wrote:Thanks for the Binghamton update, Ed.

I gather you are seeing our SBC egotism as a sham when there are many evangelical Christians already there!


Gene, would you mind telling us about your church membership and attendance? I don't recall your having volunteered, though I may have missed it. I'm asking because it would seem odd for you to be so harsh in criticism of just about everything about the SBC and the refer to it as "our SBC" as you did above.

Thanks.
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Gene Scarborough » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:05 am

William---

It is still the group in which I grew up and served as pastor and HMB chaplain. However, as currently run, it is no longer mine to enjoy and support.

My official membership is at Lakeside Baptist in Rocky Mount which left a few years ago when the ordination of women issue became so fixed. Lakeside has had women deacons for years and will not change it to meet the new rules. It is total CBF now. The 2000 BF&M is mostly unacceptable!

My actual attendance is at New Bern First Baptist which is bi-Baptist and heavily leans to CBF. When my wife is through working and commuting and we have energy to go the hour to New Bern, we will be attending often. Now we worship via their lovely TV presentation at 11:00 of the only formal worship on any channel here. No praise courses or swaying---just good sermons of intelligence and choir doing mostly traditional music.

If the SBC ever saw the mistake of the destruction of Autonomy and becoming so Jerry Faldwell in theology that he would join, I might return. At present they have forsaken me more than I have left them!

Clear??????????
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby William Thornton » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:39 am

Gene, have you visited any of the churches, Baptist or otherwise, where you are now living? Just asking.
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Gene Scarborough » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:56 am

I am friends with all the Ministers here in Bath and nearby. We are too tired and too traveled to dress and go on most Sunday mornings.

With limited time and energy, I visit often during the week with Dr. Steve Fitzgerald of New Bern First---mostly via email and phone and an occasional visit to New Bern when I can afford the fuel to travel outside of work needs. We mentor one another and I applaude his church's efforts to reach people and grow. They are active in mission adventures both overseas and at home.

When I go to church---I go seeking inspiration and fellowship. I also go wanting to offer myself since I have little money these days of hard economics and sparse earnings. I have offered my pastoral and preaching skills to all the local churches--including the local SBC Association and UMC District Superintendent.

I think we all have our place in sharing the Good News. Many of my tree customers get ministerial counsel as they reveal their personal problems after I gain their trust by removing a dangerous tree. That is actually more sincere and effective than when I toted my Bible and wore my suit and tie as an "official Pastor." God is still using me and I hope the same is true for you in your retirement days.
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Sandy » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:56 pm

Gene Scarborough wrote:My view is that NAMB should prioritize their spending on places which lack Gospel witness.


From what I've seen, that's exactly what they do.

I didn't have much of a concept of SBC work in the Northeast until we moved up here. Here in Western PA, it is certainly not "adding to the plethora of existing churches" in any way, shape or form, since there is not a "plethora" of churches of any kind. In the city of Pittsburgh and its inner suburbs, most SBC churches are language congregations. Other than perhaps a Catholic or an Orthodox church with a large building and a very dwindled, aging congregation, Southern Baptists are the only Christian group on the scene putting resources into starting churches in ethnic neighborhoods in this area. Over along the Ohio River, some of the newer SBC church plants are occupying church buildings that once belonged to congregations of other denominations which either disbanded, or relocated away. In some places, you can observe a "plethora" of church buildings, but the congregations inside are tiny and aged, and not doing ministry any longer.

The NAMB construction ministry that my wife and I have volunteered with for 21 years does not arbitrarily choose the cities in which it works. Local people must apply to get on the schedule and utilize the volunteer help and in places like Binghamton, NY, it is generally churches of other denominations who work together with the volunteers, and make the request for the ministry to come there. What I heard from the staff members who were there last summer was that Binghampton is, indeed, a place which has a great need for a Gospel witness, and that the few churches there which do preach the gospel are struggling with lack of resources and ability to cover the entire community.
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Gene Scarborough » Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:19 pm

It has been since the 80's that I was in Binghamton so I have no current take on it.

I'm just concerned when we get the picture of a "lost land" and it's really not lost at all!

Perhaps a big part of the problem is organized religion vs. authentic faith and work. If you take that into account, there are lots of places which lost the pretense of following Christ to the reality of ministering and sharing the Gospel.

The one thing I do know is that we tend to be arrogant in assuming no one is a Christian but a Southern Baptist :)
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Sandy » Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:03 pm

Gene Scarborough wrote:I'm just concerned when we get the picture of a "lost land" and it's really not lost at all!


With fewer than 35% of Americans gathering in a church of any kind on any given Sunday, and with an ever increasing number of unchurched, non-christians in the total population, there is no place in this country that couldn't use another church, especially if it is one that is willing to get up out of its pews and do some evangelizing. It's not as easy as you think to find one that preaches a Biblical gospel message, either.
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Ed Pettibone » Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:58 pm

Sandy wrote:
Gene Scarborough wrote:I'm just concerned when we get the picture of a "lost land" and it's really not lost at all!


With fewer than 35% of Americans gathering in a church of any kind on any given Sunday, and with an ever increasing number of unchurched, non-christians in the total population, there is no place in this country that couldn't use another church, especially if it is one that is willing to get up out of its pews and do some evangelizing. It's not as easy as you think to find one that preaches a Biblical gospel message, either.


Ed: Sandy I have another invitation for you. If you will come up this way I will show you 8 Baptist churches that preach the Biblical Gospel message, that are within two miles E or W of a 25 Mile stretch of NY 50 which runs through our community. 6 of them are pastored by men 2 by women. Non are officially Welcoming and affirming although I think all would welcome whosoever comes to attend, while being restrictive on membership although I am not sure of the 1.5 SBC groups in this count. That 1.5 is for a church that is dually aligned ABC/SBC, and the one full SBC. Of the 8 you have 5 that are fully ABC, 1 is the ABC/SBC split, another reformed is "Reformed Baptist". The other is independent. At least 4 are growing and 3 maintaining and one struggling

In that same area there are at least four Gospel preaching Presbyterian churches and at lest 2 Episcopal churches and 2 Catholic Churches where I have heard the gospel during community services. There are also several Gospel centered Methodist Churches. There are at least two Lutheran churches and I am not not sure how many of other stripes. There are also two professedly gospel preaching mega entertainment centers called churches (please excuse my cynicism) in rented space, within 8 Miles SE, and they both have land options within 3 to 5 miles of us. Some 10 or 12 miles east there is a similar situation along the Hudson River. And then there is the Extension of Mid America Seminary which is about 14 miles SE. This is not a gospel wasteland. More churches would barely put a dent in the number of unchurched. The popular Megas (one of which is affiliated with Joel Osteen) draw in large part from smaller churches.
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Re: NAMB in Dilemma with State Conventions

Postby Gene Scarborough » Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:46 am

I think people pick and choose what to attend and honor.

Some simply want to be left alone and with their family. Others have seen something which turned them off from organized religion. No one is drawn to a mess of fussing and fighting among the members.

I share your view of mega churches as theatrical and entertaining while costing much to build and maintain. The fall of the Chrystal Cathedral is a first indicator that their time can be limited. The Robert Schuler personality could not be replicated by his children anymore than Franklin Graham is taking his father's place.

I think much of the religious scene has more to do with the wants and desires of the individual. Just because they don't do what we think is necessary in no way "proves" they are "lost." For me, the "joy of salvation" is a key to real relationship to God.

How many angry and unhappy people do we know frequenting our own church buildings going through their penance :?
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