Thursday, September 29, 2005

Patiently Growing

Patiently Growing!

…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Col 1.11)

Joshua was known for almost 40 years as "Joshua, servant of Moses." God's preparation for him required years of selfless service, training in the desert, and tests of faith. Those preparation years were long moments of patient endurance designed to move Joshua into each new phase of his spiritual formation.

God allows each of us preparation times to lay a foundation that He is building on. Some of those foundation times appear to be laborious and meaningless, even painful. Yet these varied experiences are what God is using to frame your life for the message He plans to speak through you. Without these foundational experiences, the Jordan River can never be crossed and we cannot enter the Promised Land.

Embrace the times of seeming inactivity from God with patient endurance. This is a mark of spiritual maturity. God is preparing you for the next adventure in your joyful journey of faith.

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Lombard Meeting in Brief

Lombard Meeting in Brief…

This momentous gathering at the Lindner Conference Center in Lombard, IL, for the "Summons to Lead" conference was an awesome experience! The Conference was announced following the determination of the Board of Directors of the American Baptist Evangelicals (ABE) that any further effort or expenditure of resources directed toward renewal of the ABC-USA denomination was futile. A decision was then made to disolve the ABE organization.

The purpose of the Conference was to query the membership to see if a new beginning should be attempted as a new organization with a new vision and mission. In attendance were at least 350 individuals, including American Baptist Evangelicals member pastors from local churches across our nation, ABE officers, at least three executive ministers representing ABC-USA Regions, as well as officers and representatives from Mission America, Green Lake Conference Center, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board, the newly-formed Great Commission Network, and Saddleback Church's Purpose Driven Ministries.

There was a full spectrum of positions and perspectives exhibited by the conferees, ranging from those that were, although uncomfortable and desirous of renewal, still feeling closely bound to the ABC-USA; those that were on the verge of deciding to disassociate from the denomination; and those from the ABC-Pacific Southwest Region who had already virtually disassociated. This spectrum required great skill and sensitivity on the part of the ABE Executive Director Bill Nicoson to successfully navigate us through the potential points of difference and concern toward a new and mutually-agreed-upon vision of a missional future together.

Bottom line:

  • Yes, there will be a new organization to follow as ABE ceases.

  • It will focus on networking churches that...

  • Have left the ABCUSA

  • Are getting ready to leave the ABCUSA

  • Have not left the ABCUSA, but want an evangelical network for purposes of fellowship, accountability, and shared ministry

  • The working vision piece is…
A group of Baptist congregations committed together to an orthodox, biblical and theological foundation that will result in the growth of the church of Jesus Christ as demonstrated by healthy congregations.”
Core Values
  • Biblical authority

  • Healthy churches

  • Relationships

  • Confessing (that is, a clear strong statement of faith)

  • Transformation (of churches and of individuals)

  • Reproduction (Evangelism and church planting)

  • Mission

  • Authenticity (of relationships)

  • Accountability

  • Leadership

A subcommittee will put the mission/vision/values piece together over the next several weeks.

Evangelical's move away from ABCUSA


'Evangelical' American Baptists Ponder Future

Bob Allen (09-27-05)

More than 350 American Baptists attended last weekend's meeting at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary to begin to chart a future course for "evangelicals" frustrated in their efforts to force American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. to adopt a stronger stance against homosexuality.

According to notes from breakout sessions reported on the American Baptist Evangelicals Web site, participants support a new organization for conservative Baptists but not a new denomination.

Suggestions included organizing a non-geographic region around theology, including opposition to homosexuality, or gradually building an alternative body with churches dually aligned.

Earlier last week, executive ministers from eight ABC/USA regions across the country met at a conference center in Parchment Valley, W. Va., to forge an agreement for cooperation in mission based on "mutually held core values."

The eight regions--American Baptist churches of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana/Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania/Delaware, New Jersey, Maine and the Pacific Southwest--represent more than 2,300 churches, 40 percent of ABC/USA congregations.

The executives identified "core values" as biblical authority, "associational integrity and accountability among regions," leadership development and "equipping our churches to impact the world for Christ."

"As American Baptist leaders, we foresee a bright future of mission and ministry together," they stated.

One of the eight regions, the Pacific-Southwest, has initiated a process to separate from the ABC/USA because of differences over homosexuality. Another, the West Virginia Baptist Convention, is expected to discuss similar action when it meets next month.

Larry Mason, executive minister of the ABC of Indiana and Kentucky, told that the agreement by executive ministers at Parchment Valley "was in no way an attempt to create, or even suggest, the formation of a new denomination."

"It was an agreement to work together and, with other like-minded region executives, to share resources for leadership development and the equipping of local congregations for ministries," Mason said. "We want to continue our work within the ABC/USA to facilitate change in what we understand to be important issues of biblical authority."

A petition from the American Baptist Churches of Indiana and Kentucky received a first reading in June. It would forbid churches dismissed from a region for membership in the pro-gay Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists from remaining American Baptist by joining another region.

The petition also would amend a document entitled "We Are American Baptists" to include a description as people "who submit to the teaching of Scripture that God’s design for sexual intimacy places it within the context of marriage between one man and one woman, and acknowledge that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with biblical teaching."

The ABC/USA General Board will give the petition a second reading in November.

The American Baptist Churches of Rochester/Genesee Region are collecting signatures on a counter proposal, which would set up an appeal process for dismissed cooperating churches. Supporters hope to have a required 200 signatures from five regions in time for a first reading in November.

Bob Allen is managing editor of