Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Southern Baptist Convention's Major Problem

SBC Executive Committee (Morris Abernathy/Baptist Press)
In 1840, five years before the creation of the Southern Baptist Convention, Baptists from across America met in New York City and listened to an Address to Southern Baptists by Elon Galusha, a lawyer by education and a Baptist minister by vocation.

Mr. Galusha appealed to the Baptist ministers of the American South to give up the institution of slavery. The Southerners who listened to Mr. Galusha would five years later break away from the loose association of American Baptists called The Triennial Convention and form the Southern Baptist Convention (1845).

It's obvious Southern Baptists didn't accept what Mr. Galusha said in his address by their reaction to it. Here are the highlights of Galusha's appeal given to Southern Baptists on Saturday, April 18, 1840, at the McDougal Street Baptist House of Worship in New York City:
"It is our firm conviction that the whole system of American slavery, in theory and practice, is a violation of the instincts of nature, -- a perversion of the first principles of justice,--and a positive transgression of the revealed will of God."
"We believe that God only has the right to take away the health, the wife, the children, or the life of men guilty of no social crime. When man, single or associated, uses his power for such ends through slavery of another, he appears to us to arrogate to himself the prerogative of the Almighty, and to assume a responsibility under which an archangel would stagger."
"We behold, in all Scriptures a virtual and total condemnation of American slavery."
"American Calvinistic Baptists have been hitherto regarded by the Christian world as responsible for the sins of Baptist Slaveholders, and the sufferings of one hundred thousand slaves." 
"And if we fail, as many do, to testify our abhorrence of a system that allows a fellow-Christian to sell his brother, or his brother's wife or child, or to dissolve the marriage tie at pleasure, we see not how to escape the merited contempt of mankind, the reproaches of conscience, or the displeasure of God." 
"Finally, --if you should, (which Heaven avert!) remain deaf to the voice of warning and entreaty, --If you still cling to the power-maintained privilege of living on punpaid toil, and of claiming as property the image of God, which Jesus bought with His precious blood,--we solemnly declare, as we fear the Lord, that we cannot and we dare not recognize you as consistent brethren in Christ.
"We deplore your condition; we pray for your deliverance."
Five years later in Augusta, Georgia, Southern Baptists dissolved their alliance with Baptists who held to Mr. Galusha's convictions about slavery and formed the Southern Baptist Convention, a Convention which supported their pastors, missionaries, and leaders being slave-holders and deemed the institution of slavery as "God-ordained."

America fought a Civil War from 1861-1865. The North and the South fought, often brother against brother, for the future of the Union called the United States of America.

After the South lost, Northern Baptists sought to reconcile with their Southern Baptist brothers. In May of 1888, 23 years after the end of the Civil War, the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Richmond, Virginia. A few days later, Northern Baptists chose to meet in Washington, D.C., just outside Richmond, in order to "perfect a more perfect union" with the "brethren from the South."  In other words, Northern Baptists wanted to reunite with Southern Baptists.

The union attempt utterly failed, with great satisfaction of leading ministers of the Southern Baptist Convention. Six months later, in November 1888, the Baptist Congress met at Richmond, Virginia to take another step toward reconciliation of all Baptists in America. Even though it was the Southern Baptists who broke from Northern Baptists over the issue of slavery, the Northern Baptists continually sought reconciliation "like our Lord did, the aggrieved going to the offender."

This final attempt at Baptist union was met with "stern rebuff at the hands of Southern brethren." What was the cause of the rebuff? According to the Richmond Herold, the newspaper which reported on the Baptist Congress, the Southern Baptist rebuff of Baptist reunification"could be traced to its source. Far behind all the trivial and petty differences will be found the insurmountable --- the Negro."

Fast forward one hundred years.

In 1988, I was a young Southern Baptist pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Southern Baptist Associational Missionary who supervised Southern Baptist Churches was known for a statement he would make for the "standards" he expected in the Tulsa County churches he led. I quote:
"No slacks, no tracs, no blacks."
The Tulsa Baptist Associational Southern Baptist Missionary believed that women should wear dresses, music in churches should be live, not recorded; and attendees in Southern Baptist churches should not be African-American. It was my observation that SBC had not changed much in 100 years.

The writer of the country song  Take This Job And Shove It,  David Allan Coe, once made this observation.
"It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; its the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time."
The foundation of the SBC was built on the corrupt soil of authoritarian racist theology.

I've been affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention my entire life. I've served as President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (2002-04). I've been a pastor of the same SBC affiliated church for the last 27 years. Southern Baptists have done, are doing, and will some great things.

But we cannot hide from our past, nor should we excuse our present. The SBC was built on a fractured foundation. We will not stand the test of time. We'll collapse.

Unless we remove the foundation of authoritarianism, racism, and patronism.

Its time for some corporate repentance in the SBC.

On Monday night, February 18, 2019, SBC President J.D. Greear spoke to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, proposing a 10-step strategic plan to address sexual abuse within our ranks.

The next Saturday, the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention rejected J.D. Greear's impassioned plea that the SBC change regarding its past silence and cover-up of cases of predatory sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Similar to Southern Baptists in 1840 who separated from the Northern Baptists who were advocating for the cessation of slavery among Southern Baptists, the 2019 Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention distanced itself from the SBC President who advocated for transformational change in how Southern Baptists deal with predatory sexual abuse.


What's similar between Southern Baptists in 1840 and 2019?

The answer is found in Mr. Galusha's phrase from 1840. Southern Baptist leaders then - and today - cling to "power-maintained privilege."

SBC leaders, which include pastors, denominational employees, institutional presidents, Executive Committee members, board trustees, and a host of other Southern Baptist people in positions of leadership must boldly and unequivocally distance themselves three unbiblical and corrupt practices:
Patronism, which is defined as a practice or a culture in business and society that is based on personal relations for advancements in position, income, and exposure. Under a system of patronism, prominent or powerful people determine or influence decisions based on their own criteria or interests.
Racism, which is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.
Authoritarianism, which is defined as a form of radical, totalitarian leadership, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and the strong regimentation of followers.
Abuse thrives and abusers hide in organizations built on the cracked foundation of patronism, racism, and authoritarianism.

It's time the Southern Baptist Convention repent of our unbiblical and harmful views of racial superiority, gender inferiority, and spiritual authority in the church, the home, and society.

This patronism, racism, and authoritarianism of the past SBC form the systemic problems we face today.

The Southern Baptist foundation of power-maintained privilege must be changed.

Monday, February 25, 2019

"Adam Greenway Is The Right Choice for SWBTS"

Guest Post by Lee Enochs, Alumnus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr. Adam Greenway
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Timothy 5:17).

As an alumnus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and as a Southern Baptist, I am grateful to God that Dr. Adam Greenway will be the next President of my beloved seminary Alma Mater. 

I learned many great things while I was a student preacher at Southwestern Seminary and my heart rejoices in Jesus Christ our savior that the trustees of that venerable Fort Worth institution will entrust Dr. Greenway with this solemn stewardship and that “Seminary Hill” will be placed in good hands moving forward.

Though my journey after graduating from Southwestern Seminary has taken me far from the good people and those country roads of North Texas, I will always be a “Southwesterner.”

While a graduate student at Princeton, I often thought of all my professors and classmates at Southwestern and prayed that one day I could come back to my beloved seminary home. Southwestern Seminary will always be a part of me.

For in the immortal words of the incomparable poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson,
“I am a part of all that I have met. To much is taken, much abides.
That which we are, we are --One equal temper of heroic hearts Strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
Without a doubt, the task set before Dr. Greenway in restoring Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to its former prestigious and elevated academic and ministerial heights is monumental and fraught with peril. However, I believe Dr. Greenway is up to the challenge and he can rebuild what has been torn asunder.

Under Adam Greenway, Southwestern can begin again. I believe God has raised Dr. Greenway up to be God’s man in this time.

For such a time as this, the good Lord of the good Book has called Dr. Greenway to restore Southwestern so it can once again be a light to the nations.

While it is true that Southwestern Seminary has fallen on hard times of late, it can once again become the training ground for Southern Baptist ministers envisioned by B. H. Carroll and it’s founder.

For the Gospel Work must go on. The Word of God is true. The Southern Baptist Convention and all its churches and Seminaries will endure, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against Christ’s church.

I and many Southern Baptists across the country are now praying for Adam Greenway, God’s man for Southwestern Seminary and for this hour.
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).


Lee Enochs is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary and writes regularly for newspapers and magazines across the country.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Ordination and 'Getting in Order' Church Disorder

I've written for over a decade that the Southern Baptist Convention has made a massive biblical mistake by basing church "leadership" on gender and not gifting

In the New Covenant Kingdom of Christ, leaders are servants who've been gifted by the Spirit to guide others and are qualified for this service to the church by their humility, character, and personal relationships. 

Authoritarianism has no place in Christ's kingdom, but unfortunately, authoritarianism is the major problem faced in the Southern Baptist Convention and evangelical churches today. 

Is authoritarianism as big of a problem as sexual abuse in evangelical churches? Absolutely. It's even bigger. 
Abuse is the predatory practice of crossing appropriate boundaries through inappropriate behavior by the powerful against the powerless. 
You take away the concept of spiritual power or authority over someone, and you begin to get a handle on dealing with predatory abuse in religious settings. 

Southern Baptists, we have a problem with ordination

The practice of ordination in local evangelical churches is not an exact reproduction of any New Testament or early church practice. The New Testament gives no comprehensive instructions for ordination, nor is the concept of ordination (as practiced today) even presented in the New Testament. The doctrine and practices of ordination have evolved over the centuries, resulting in a variety of forms with a multiplicity of meanings among denominations. 

If Southern Baptists are indeed "people of the Book" and if we truly believe in "local church autonomy," then we should drastically change the practice of ordination.

Ordination - The Attempt to Obtain Order 

The word "ordination" is not found in Scripture. It comes from the Latin ordo which means to "set in order" and the Latin nasci which means "a large group of people with something in common." We get our English word nation from that second Latin word.

In the early beginnings of the Roman Catholic Church, church and government became one in Western Civilization. The Roman Catholic Church was the authority over European nations and the peoples' faith. In an effort "to get in order the large group of people" under the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, ordination in the church was born. 

The ancient Roman government practiced "setting in order by rank" (ordination) in the government setting, but the Roman Catholic Church brought the custom into its ranks. "Church ordination became "the investiture of clergy” or “the act of granting pastoral authority or sacerdotal power.”

People of a common faith or nation (Roman Catholic or the Holy Roman Empire) were made accountable to priests ordained with "authority over" people by the Roman Catholic Church. In turn, priests were accountable to bishops ordained for such a position of authority over priests, and bishops were accountable to ordained archbishops with authority, and archbishops were accountable to the Pope.

Ordination, then, turned into a system of order for power over people in terms of nations and the Church. 

When America became a nation, the Founding Fathers separated church and state as a practice of American governance.  America, therefore, experience a unique problem among all the nations of Western civilization. 

How does the American government recognize someone with "authority" in a local church? 

The answer isn't as easy as one might imagine. The United States government eventually determined that there must be "sincerity of religious belief" (U.S. v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1944). By the mid-1960s, the United States government departed from its longheld belief that a "church" must be defined by Judeo-Christian standards. The U.S. government now recognizes that any sincere belief is defined as "religion" if that belief exhibits religious practice in time and over time and those practices are in obedience to a deity and work for the common good of a community of adherents


Don't be. Just remember this one point: In America, the United States government declares whether or not your faith practice qualifies as a "religion." 

That's why any "religious institution" in the United States with legal standing must be incorporated by the state and declared a "501-C3 religious entity" by the government to receive charitable donations. No matter the deity, no matter the religious practices,  no matter the sacred texts followed, any institutional religion of legal merit in the United States must be incorporated and its leaders licensed.

Licensing Ministers Is the U.S. Government's Practice

The word "license" means "formal permission from a governmental or constituted authority to do something, as to carry on some business or profession."

The state licenses plumbers, electricians, doctors, accountants, and every other occupation one can imagine... including religious ministers. 

If a "religious minister" wishes to receive recognition from state government in the United States of America, he or she must obtain "a license" or "ordination certificate" from his or her religious institution.  A license gives the "religious minister" the right to officiate weddings, lead "religious services," and claim exemptions in America's tax code, just like the "ordination certificate" grants those same privileges. 

The United States government makes little distinction between ordaining and licensing. You can receive both as an individual religious minister, but only one is needed by the state.

Unfortunately, licenses and ordination certificates for ministers can be obtained over the Internet by non-profit organizations who "license or ordain ministers" as part of their virtual faith reality. Fraudulent ministerial licenses are as rampant as mail order educational degrees. 

Southern Baptist churches often "license" young, prospective ministers, and then in a "formal ceremony of ordination," they set those young ministers aside as "gospel ministers." Southern Baptists wrongly think that the ordination is something broader, more important, and far more comprehensive than "licensing." 

The government doesn't make that distinction. 

The problem of ordination in Southern Baptist churches is three-fold:
1. Southern Baptist churches don't understand that a license or ordination is for the state, not the church, and will keep a minister in complience with state statues and tax laws.
2. Southern Baptist churches assume that the Bible mandates "ordination" for pastoral ministry, defining ordination as "spiritual authority over others." The Bible teaches just the opposite. The leaders of the church should be servants of humility who persuade others to follow by their character, personal fidelity, and gracious spirits.
3. Southern Baptist churches wrongly believe that a "license" or "ordination" should travel with the minister from one church ministry to the next church ministry. 
As a result of these wrong beliefs and practices, ministers "fired" from one church for sexual impropriety (inappropriate behavior of the minister never reported by the church) to another church. Because that pastor is "ordained" or "licensed" to ministry, the new church just assumes that pastor is a man of God, capable of leading a religious institution.

This must change.

A Solution to the Problem of SBC Ordination 

In some coming blog posts, I will offer what I believe to be a biblical solution for the rampant problems associated with ordination in the Southern Baptist Convention.

My solution will be different than what you will hear from other leaders in the Convention. Rather than going into detail now, I will give you a brief overview:

1. Give up the unbiblical notion that "ordination" invests spiritual authority over anybody, which may also include giving up ordination ceremonies. 
2. Local Southern Baptist congregations "set aside" by the biblical "laying on of hands" gifted men and women for specific areas of service in the local congregation (teaching, serving, administration, etc...) after an exhaustive investigation of character,  giftedness, and current and past personal relationships. This examination should include multiple background checks using existing databases. 
3. Those "set aside" for specific areas of service in the local congregation are never given a "lifetime" certificate of ordination that passes from one local congregation to another. Each autonomous congregation must be responsible for investigating the person called to a particular area of service or employment. To be "set aside" for service in a local, autonomoous church is a process that is repeated when service moves from one church to another. 
4. To satisfy requirements of state statutes, a church Leadership Team - composed of mature men and women set aside for admistrative service in the local congregation and held legally liable by the state for the church's actions - is elected by the church congregation to oversee the licensing of the employed "religious ministers." Licensed local church ministers officiate weddings, qualify as "religious ministers" under the United States tax code, and are deemed by the government "religious ministers." The insitutitional church sees itself as a 501-C3 government non-profit and never synonymous with the Kingdom of Christ. Independent non-profits (institutional churches) are established for cooperative causes of God's people in local settings. Licensed ministers must pass the rigorous examination of life and character by the local congregation (see Step 3), and they are given temporary licenses by the legal authority of the church (the Leadership Team). In the Southern Baptist Convention, the word "pastor" or "minister" should always be considered "a verb of service" to a local congration, not a "noun of status" in a national denomination.
5. Once a licensed religious minister leaves the employment of the local church, the state license is revoked, and a new license must be obtained when a "religious minister" moves to another religious non-profit, undergoing (once again), a rigorous examination of life, character, and relationships (with exhaustive background checks).
I'm sure this overview raises many questions. I hope to answer some of them in upcoming blog posts.

The answer to the "ordination" problem is not investing more "spiritual power and authority" in religious leaders.

The answer is in taking it all away.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Southern Baptist Convention, James MacDonald, Spiritual Authority, and the "Kiddie Porn" Threat

James McDonald/Facebook
In 2014,  I wrote a lengthy article about the extreme authoritarianism of James MacDonald, an unchecked power that is based on MacDonald's unbiblical theology that he has been invested by God with "spiritual authority" over people.

Toward the end of the article, I posted a PDF paper on what the Scripture teaches about Christian authority. Anyone who assumes "spiritual authority" over people, the kind of authority that James MacDonald believes in, is actually assuming a Fraudulent Authority acting completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the New Testament.

I have long pointed out that the problem in the Southern Baptist Convention is a prevalent view that pastors possess some kind of mystical "spiritual authority" over people.

I wrote in 2014 that MacDonald's belief in his "spiritual authority" over others led to serious damage in ministry and relationships in his church, the Harvest Bible Church.

One year after I wrote that article,  James MacDonald petitioned Harvest Bible Church for membership into the Southern Baptist Convention (Read about it here).

Since 2012, James MacDonald has been invited by leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention to speak at least 4 times at the Southern Baptist Convention's Pastor's Conference.


Yesterday, February 12, 2019, the elders of Harvest Bible Church fired Pastor (dare we use that title?) James MacDonald after a radio show host aired several vulgar and inflammatory audio clips made by James MacDonald (read the Harvest elders statement here).

You can read what Southern Baptist pastor James MacDonald said, or you can listen to the disgusting audio by clicking on Mancow's radio broadcast entitled "Elections, R. Kelly, and Church Scandals, Oh My!)). Below, courtesy of one of my heroes, Julie Roys, are the relevant points of the radio broadcast.
1:08:25 – James MacDonald discussed his desire to put "kiddie porn" on Harold Smith’s computer. (Harold Smith is President and CEO of Christianity Today). 
1:09:03 – James MacDonald speaks of “frickin’ Julie Roys "riding around on a tricycle with a midget on her shoulders," a statement designed to show how Roys is certifiably crazy. (Julie Roys deserves a medal for her tireless efforts to confront and correct the abusive behavior of James McDonald). 
1:09:20 – James MacDonald makes a slanderous reference to Mark Galli (Christianity Today) and Julie Roys having an affair, and vulgar reference to Ed Stetzer (Ex. Director of Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College). 
1:19:12 –  James MacDonald makes an additional vulgar reference to Harold Smith
1:20:25 – James MacDonald makes up a fabricated story (according to Julie, its fabricated, and I believe her) that Julie Roys is approaching the houses of people who were victims in an official investigation into McDonald's alleged misconduct.
1:21:45 –  James MacDonald calls Mark Galli by another vulgar name.
1:29:30 – There is a classic megalomaniac statement by MacDonald about Christianity Today (this statement alone is worth listening to the audio).
The root problem in the Southern Baptist Convention is a proliferation of pastors, church leaders, and denominational leaders who believe in their inherent spiritual authority. Males have a false belief that they have power over females, and pastors falsely believe they have divine "spiritual authority"  over church members because of their "ordination."

Abuse of any kind, whether it is sexual, physical, emotional, or mental, begins when the powerful intentional cross boundaries of the powerless for personal gratification and gain.

The problem in the Southern Baptist Convention is the problem of power.

It's called Fraudulent Authority.

In the coming weeks, I examine how "ordination" in the Southern Baptist Convention is built on false premises, sustained by wrong assumptions, and leads to the abuse we are seeing in SBC churches.

James MacDonald is a prime example of the problem we face as Southern Baptists.

And those who stood and applauded his entrance into the SBC are complicit in perpetuating the problem of fraudulent authority and the abuse of power in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Southern Baptists and Our Needed Transformation

The Houston Chronicle delivered a punch to the gut for anyone who claims affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention.

In an article titled "Abuse of Faith," three investigative reporters uncovered over 700 documented cases of sexually predatory behavior by SBC pastors and leaders.

I'm a Southern Baptist pastor. Though the word "Baptist" is not in the title of the church I pastor, we affiliate with other Southern Baptist churches for the purpose of global missions, disaster relief worldwide (the SBC has the best disaster relief ministry in the world), and a host of other reasons that all revolve around evangelical cooperation and the concept "we get more done together than separate."

But this article is gut-wrenching.

I've spoken with Robert Downen and John Tedesco, two of the three investigative reporters for the Houston Chronicle, on multiple occasions during the past year. I've found them to be intelligent, thorough, and extremely fair.

Nobody can blame the media. This isn't "fake news."

It's maddingly, and sadly, all too real.

But I would like to offer some hope.

Don't give up on the SBC.

Keep staying involved. I know from experience that transformative change is slow. It requires patience. And, you can't be concerned with your personal reputation.

Think only of His Kingdom.

In 2005, the trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board passed two doctrinal policies that exceeded the BFM 2000 and violated the Convention's constitution and spirit of cooperation.

In 2005, IMB leadership sought to remove me from the IMB trustee board because of my principled and respectful opposition to the board's leadership and their unwise decision to implement the new doctrinal requirements that exceeded the BFM 2000.

In 2006, the IMB leadership reversed their recommendation to remove me from the board when they realized that the entire Convention would have to vote on their recommendation and that I would be given the opportunity to speak to the Convention before the vote.

In 2007, SBC leadership rejected my proposal at the Southern Baptist Convention to implement a database to track sexual predators in the Southern Baptist Convention, a database that would be designed to prevent predators moving from one church to the next without being identified as sexual predators. After the motion was denied, I continued to write about the importance of any effort to hold accountable criminals in our midst and those who wish to cover for them.

In 2015, the (new) trustees of the SBC International Mission Board reversed the 2005 doctrinal policies.

In 2018, Southern Baptist Convention leadership received (again) my proposal to establish - or facilitate the establishment of - a database to track sexual predators in the SBC. This time, SBC leadership funded an investigation committee (a committee that is still working).

In 2019, the Houston Chronicle, in a broad, months-long investigation and report, documented at least 700 victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by Southern Baptist pastors, workers, and leaders since 2007.

Moral of the Story: Transformative change in any organization takes patience, time, and a willingness to do the right thing regardless of what others say about you or threaten to do to you.

Never give up.

In 2020, the SBC may indeed realize that "hindsight is 2020."

Transformative change is coming.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Churches that Meet Needs or a Social Government?

Building a Women's Shelter and Community Center in Enid
"Imagine," wrote John Lennon, "no need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man."


What a world that would be.

Unfortunately, Lennon wrote in the first verse of his hit song, " religion, too." 

Sorry, John. You can't have it both ways. 

It's either God or government; His people or a nation's politics; voluntary charity or mandated socialism. The only way your imaginative dream turns into inspirational reality is through God's plan or the government's plan. 

What's the difference between the two?

God empowers His people internally to voluntarily and sacrificially give of our resources to meet the social needs (food, shelter, income) of people around us, impacting the cities and communities where we live. 
"I was once young but now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread" (Psalm 37:25). 
On the other hand, the government demands outwardly that its people forcibly and personally pay taxes to meet the social needs (food, shelter, income) of all citizens, impacting cities and community where citizens live.

The government is indeed needed for the common good of all citizens (building roads and bridges, the nation's defense, etc...), for as Abraham Lincoln once wrote:
"The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves — in their separate, and individual capacities."
However, the dream of  "no greed or hunger" pertains to an individual and his or her social needs (food, shelter, income).

In God's plan, God's people are at the forefront of providing for the poor, giving shelter to the homeless, and assisting people to work, providing a minimum standard of living. 

Unfortunately, institutional churches who profess to have members that have been captivated by the love of God have abdicated our missional purpose.

American churches have turned to the government to meet the needs of broken individuals. 

The rise of social government in America parallels the level of self-absorption in the churches of America. 

When we who lead churches are more interested in pot-luck dinners to feed ourselves than we are shelters to feed the homeless, we abdicate our missional purpose. When we who are members of institutional churches care more about musical performances that we do unwed mothers, we abdicate our missional purpose. When we who cite membership in a local church aren't actively involved in building, staffing, and funding shelters for the abused and abandoned;  when we aren't pursuing improvements in the societal conditions of the overlooked and underprivileged; and when we aren't visiting those in prison and providing jobs for them when they get out; we are abdicating our God-given missional purpose. 

Members of conservative evangelical churches have no right to complain about the spread of socialism in our government unless we're doing something about the social needs in our country.

The problem with politics is that liberals want the government to do what their churches are supposed to be doing and conservatives don't want the government to do what their churches refuse to be doing. 

So, what's the solution? 

I suggest that there's coming a day, sooner rather than later, when churches will have to separate from the government. There will be no "incorporation" status. There will be tax deductions for donors to churches. The government will be unable to dictate what churches believe, and churches will have not any tax advantages typically enjoyed by non-profit organizations certified by the state.

Then we'll see churches motivated by the love of God to go about the business of their Master, refusing to play politics or complain about the government. It seems to me churches are confused about who really rules them. Jesus said: 
"I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.’
And they said, "When did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? When did we see You seck or in prison and visit you?
And the King replied, "Whatever you did for one of the least of did for Me." (Matthew 25:31-35)
Jesus is King.

He's sent us on a mission independent of any government.

I recently heard from a country where our church is heavily involved in all kinds of missional work, including drilling for water, establishing hospitals, providing education for the impoverished, farming clinics for the men, as well as shelters for the disabled and poor, etc... It was said to me by church members who have gone to work in that foreign field that "mosques are being built all over the country, especially in those places where our church is making an impact. The government funding the construction. But the government mosques aren't seeing converts. People are coming to faith in Christ all over the country because they Christian people caring for the sick, educating the underprivileged, providing career opportunities (small business and career training) for the citizens, and drilling for water to quench the thirst of entire villages. Mosques not on mission mean nothing."


Christian churches not on a mission also mean nothing.

What are you as a follower of Jesus Christ doing for your city, in cooperation with other Christians (that's the definition of 'The Church') to feed the hungry, house the homeless, providing instruction and training for the impoverished, and visiting prisoners in their time of need?

If we spent more time on our missional purpose as Christian people we'd have less time to complain about the government that we created by the abdication of those responsibilities that our King gave to us.