Monday, August 4, 2014

Are we as a denomination in trouble?

"Having given ourselves to God, by faith in Christ, and adopted the Word of God as our rule of faith and practice, we now give ourselves to one another..."  Recognize that statement?  It's the opening line of our covenant - a document expressing the desire of our forbearers to work together for the greater good of the kingdom.  Our covenant calls us to lay aside petty differences voluntarily... for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission on earth.  As a fundamental denomination tracing it's roots deep into church history, we have had our fair share of disagreements and divisions that threaten our success.  Still we continue to affiliate, we continue to work cooperatively, convinced there is strength in numbers and that the good accomplished by our collaboration far outweighs the bad we've tolerated.

Is that fellowship on the verge of failing?  Are lines being drawn in the sand, are powerful personalities forcing brothers to 'choose sides' demanding 'uniformity' rather than unity?  From my perspective, we have arrived at a critical crossroads as a denomination.  I do not boast special insight or great wisdom or to have so much respect in our movement that I can effect change.  But I do see trouble on the horizon - and the things that threaten our success and survival have nothing to do with Biblical Doctrine.  Our denomination isn't suffering from worldliness as much as our unwillingness to love one another.

We have two camps who have dug in their proverbial heels in our denomination that threaten our success as a movement.  The first group looks for things to be disagreeable about - things that divide, so that they may further marginalize our denomination through infighting and separation, pulling support, forming their own movement within a movement.  To them, disunity seems a badge of honor.  The smaller the pond, the bigger fish they can be. The other group consists of those with little courage, who think greener pastures await them elsewhere, who have no stomach for the fight or enough love for the denomination to stick around for it.  I read a former FWB pastor's blog about why he left our denomination and how we need to modify our position on alcohol if we want to be successful.  DUDE! FIX YOURSELF!

When I look at our denomination, I see a looming crisis.  Veteran leadership retiring, fewer men answering the call, churches closing their doors because they can't pay a preacher a livable salary and too proud to unite with other struggling fellowships.  I see a leadership crisis - young men coming out of college ill-prepared for awaits them but expecting to have good churches given to them on a silver platter just the same.  Men who are too pragmatic in their thinking - grasping at whatever passing fad available to save their dying work.

Can anything be done to stop this pending implosion?  I think its time our pastors quit being so selfish and prideful and started thinking about the bigger picture instead of only focusing on their church, their control, their power.  We need a grassroots, bottom up change in our movement.  We need guys who are successful in ministry mentoring young men.  We need leaders who are more interested in helping, building, and reaching than in receiving big paychecks.  We need power in the pulpit.  We need a zeal for souls.  We need a commitment to work together regardless the trivial things that divide us.  Do we have it in us to do the right thing?  I certainly hope so.

I prefer to be us than any other denomination I know - even WITH our problems.  We are not of those who spend their national conventions arguing whether the Bible is inspired or if we should ordain homosexuals to ministry.  Whew!  I'm glad we are not them.  But that doesn't mean we should tolerate our own failures as a movement.