(Left to Right)
Logan, Rachelle, Wade, Charis, Kade and Boe.
There is an anonymous gentleman that goes by Matt2239 who has felt the freedom to make a few comments on a blog site called SBC Voices about me and my involvement in the SBC. Though he says he's never met me, he opines on what he feels are my views of the SBC. He writes that I have “a deep-seated animosity toward anything SBC." He further surmises that my "agenda and that of CBF’ers" is to destroy the SBC. I just have to scratch my head in wonderment when I come across someone who feels they have the ability to speak for someone they have never met. It's a little like being a food critic without first tasting the food you criticize.
I would like to help Matt2239 and a handful of others get to know me a little better. First, my family is pictured above. I've been married to Rachelle for 27 years, and we have four great kids. Charis (23) is getting her real estate license in Florida after graduating with a business degree, Kade (21) is in the Business School of the University of Oklahoma, Boe (20) is in college at Northern Oklahoma and interning with Oklahoma's next Lieutenant Governor, and Logan (16) is going to be a junior at Oklahoma Bible Academy.
I pastor a Southern Baptist Church in Enid, Oklahoma that gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to mission work every year, including our support of the Southern Baptist Convention's Cooperative Program. We have twelve International Mission Board missionary units who are members of our church, with two more IMB missionaries in Russia joining this past Sunday and another two soon to join our church. We self-support two massive mission efforts in Niger, Africa and Bangalore, India, including hospitals, schools, orphanages, and water well drilling. Our church is about to launch a mission to West Africans who live in Harlem, just north of Central Park. This year our church will be directly ministering in Guatamela and Poland, as well as our continuing work in the aforementioned countries. Our church is situated in a town in northwestern Oklahoma that has just 50,000 residents, and a little under ten percent of the city's population is affiliated with our church in either membership, attendance or ministry.
I have been pastor of Emmanuel for over eighteen years. We continue to make the transition from seeing church as being three worship services on Sunday morning to worship, ministry, missions and small groups every day of the week. Our theme this year is "Together in the Journey" and our goal is to ensure that nobody who is touched by the ministries of Emmanuel feels isolated or alone in their walk of faith. We are not a perfect church, nor do we claim to be perfect. We value people, truth, freedom, worship and missions. The corporate worship involves various styles of music, but the teaching is expositional in nature. We have been privileged to see over five hundred people baptized upon their profession of faith in Christ over the past five years. These numbers are meaningless except for the fact each number represents a person with an incredible testimony of God's grace and it helps dispell any notion we are not "evangelistic" because we hold to the doctrines of grace.
Our church believes that half the priesthood is comprised of women, and we do everything in our power to ensure that females who have been touched by God's grace are used according to the gifts they have received. We emphasize unity in the body of Christ that extends far beyond the walls of our church, and believe that Christians accomplish more together than we do divided. We do not mind cooperating with other churches and Christians in missions and evangelism, even though we may not agree on every doctrinal point with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We believe in the supremacy and exclusivity of Christ and feel we must show Christ's love to others, even our enemies. We will not hesitate to address issues, but we try very hard to never make any issue personal. We love those who disagree with us, and we encourage freedom for all to disagree, even with church leadership.
We are Christians who have chosen to affiliate with Southern Baptists. We affiliate with Southern Baptists because of the world-wide mission work that our Convention participates in. My forefathers were Southern Baptists in Texas in the mid-1800's, and I am a third generation Southern Baptist preacher (my maternal grandfather, my father, myself). I, and the people of Emmanuel, are Southern Baptist by choice and involvement. Contrary to Matt2239's assertion, my goal is not to destroy the SBC. My goal is to save the SBC from falling into the trap of superficial religiousity. Before there was a Cooperative Program, there was Christ and His church. Before there was the Southern Baptist Convention, there was Christ and His church. Christ and His church supercedes everything about who we are as a Convention. Yet, we love the Southern Baptist Convention, and participate in her mission work.
I freely acknowledge that some of my writing has been critical of the SBC and the silly, unbiblical decisions we have made in the past (i.e. "boycotting Disney," "restricting missionary appointments over tetiary doctrinal issues," "the tight, political control of all boards and agencies by a few leaders," etc...), but my criticisms come from within the Southern Baptist Convention--not outside the SBC. One of these days Matt2239 and others like him will realize that internal critics keep an organization as large as ours humble, pliable, and missional. Were we only surrounded by people who always patted the SBC on the back, we would get complacent, lazy, and possibly even incompetent.
It's the friends who criticize you in love that you remember. Too many make the tragic mistake of thinking (or saying) that if someone is ever critical of the SBC, he ought to leave. Not at all. He's the one displaying real love. Even worse, some like Matt2239, who disagree with the criticism, will try negate what is being said by attempting to make others think the critic is not even a part of the SBC. Attempts to do such things only ultimately reveal the lack of knowledge in the one who feels free to opine on a person he's never met.
On my way to speak to our kids at Youth Camp at Falls Creek.
Blessings to all,