Religious Fundamentalism: Governance Needs to Change

Opinions expressed here are my own, not those of the church I serve or any other person.  

 By governance, I mean the way we relate to one another, we way we make decisions, the way we evaluate decision making, the way we spend money. I fully realize it is absurd (from the French, meaning "without hearing") to write of these issues in the singular. There are so many ways we relate to one another, so many ways we make decisions, evaluate and spend money, the social dynamic is a giant, double helix, a loop of constructional, determinative, characteristic forming genetic information.

   What we now do in governance does not work. We lose ground on the associational level, on the state conventions and national conventions levels daily. The para-church organizations that once may have "come alongside to help" (para-kaleo, from the Greek, the same word used to describe the Holy Spirit) simply cannot be afforded any longer, in terms of time or money.

   The local association to which my congregation nominally relates is a bad joke (in my opinion), repeatedly perpetrated on the local churches in the interests of traditional practice. The state convention we relate to is doing little more than paying salaries and benefits just now because their revenues are so low. The ripple-down effect on real ministries, like the colleges and seminaries, is potentially devastating.

   The way we do governance right now is simply impractical. A one or two day meeting of messengers, more poorly attended each year, representing fewer and fewer churches each year, will not suffice to right the ship. Placing semi-retired pastors in executive positions as life-time achievement awards will not suffice. 

   In fact, there has to be a change in governance and it cannot come from some para-church apparatus. In fact, it cannot come from the increasingly feeble local congregations themselves.

   Our change in governance has to come from the preachers and staffers. The professional clergy is dying and the churches will (and are) suffering as  a result. 

   Ministers, called men and women, have to change the way we govern our vocation (from the Latin "vocare," a holy calling, usually associated with the divine). We have to do this in addition to and not in place of our local expressions of calling, we have to work harder, we have to do it in a way that counts but no one gets paid and it has to be a royal pain to participate in it, so that people run from this office, not to it. 

   So, let us start.

4 thoughts on “Religious Fundamentalism: Governance Needs to Change”

  1. Rick,
    In resposne to your comment about your local Association — I regret that you are not able to receive positive vibes, support, encouragement, assistance, or help (if needed) from them.
    Personally, at this time I am very thankful for the DOM in the RRVBA where I serve/pastor if for no other reason than for the support he offers and the encouragement he provides. Of course, some Associations are too large for that to happen on any kind of a personal level.
    I PTL for DOM Mike C and the work he does. Sure, some view the local Associations as a mere horn-blower for the State guys, but at the RRVBA it is much more than that. I would hope that all pastor could have a positive experience like I do. Hang in there Rick, and perhaps you can be and provide the positive influence some of those other pastors in your area are looking for during these challenging days.

  2. Bobby,
    Please be assured of my love, admiration and respect for you as a person, as a pastor and as a friend. You are one of those fellows who has repeatedly been knocked down. You have always gotten up with the same plucky grin on your face. You are more than a mere survivor. You are a man of real perseverance
    If I write anything in the rest of my reply that registers as cognitive dissonance with the paragraph above, please put my first paragraph in its place.
    I, too, sometimes still long for the good old days. They are gone forever. Our churches do not have the money or time to pay someone to be an encouragement to us and that is simply not the place of an associational apparatus anyway.
    Bobby, I am not wishing for the destruction of state conventions or associations. I am simply aware they are dying. I could spend my time wishing or hoping for some kind of resurgence but the simple fact is these are the ways we once related. Now, they are mostly passe. Some large associations function as a state convention once did but they are few and far between. Their stance toward the state conventions was often stated to me when I worked at the now defunct BGCT. It was, “A pox on both your houses.”
    I could spend my time looking back but that is only good for old men who cannot or will not change. It is our responsibility, instead, to look ahead. What happens when the over 65 crowd is not here to go to associational or convention meetings? Why did TBC have to appoint a committee (the baptist response to all things) to study why no one comes to their meetings now?
    And before we point to the other convention as the reason, please acknowledge that adding their number to the TBC number from lst year would still not come close to the number of folks who once attended the united convention meeting. Israel and Judah parted; both are suffering.
    None of this would matter if there were no need for relationships. When the old unions die, as they are doing, what will take their place? More squabbling, more scandal, more dissension? Who will join? If no one joins, what happens to the institutions and ministries that could be succored?
    Bobby, you and I have lots of friends. We really do not need a professional pal. The little encouragement and support that could come for such a source indicates there is less need even than I have mentioned.
    We need to look up ahead, not just behind. The old relationships are dying. The next generation will need new ones. Do we wait until after the last funeral, or do we lay some groundwork now?
    Again, be assured of my personal affection and professional respect for you and your ministry. God bless you, Bobby.

  3. I couldn’t agree more – somethning needs to be done to lay ground work NOW fo the future generations of Texas Baptist work. If attendance at certain events and interest in convention work continues to spiral in the wrong direction, where will we be in the future?
    This one thing is for sure: It has become increasingly obvious that the attendance at the Annual Meetings is only going down and not up. As a member of the BGCT, I am concerned as I look ahead to McAllen and the attendance number I expect to be there at the next BGCT Annual Meeting. Unless there is a controversial topic come up (and I do not hope for that) the number of people who can afford to or are willing to travel to McAllen are going to be LOW. Let’s face it, if people were not willing to drive to the DFW or Houston areas the past two years, WHO will go to the edge of the world in McAllen? It’s a great city, but a long ways from other Texas population areas. We’ll see come November.
    So, we’ll keep praying for GOD to give us the methods to reach our lost State for Christ. It does appear that the way we used to do it is not going to work in the future. But, isn’t that the way with every generation? Yes. We have to change the methods while keeping the message the same.

  4. Bobby,
    If one factors out the people paid to go to TBC meetings, or representing TBC groups at TBC meetings, the number would be much lower. If one discerns the number of churches represented, I think we would all be embarrassed. Blogs are not causing this. We are just watching it happen.
    Godspeed you in your work.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.