I am sitting in my office after spending the last day and a half at the Baptist State Convention of NC. I witnessed a historical moment, and it breaks my heart.
The Baptist State Convention has, for about 18 years, provided 4 giving plan options for churches to contribute their missions giving through the state convention. One of those plans, plan C, provided for 10% of our total giving to the state to go to CBF national. For years now, the multiple giving plans have been under attack, with the primary focus being on plan C. In the last couple of years, the state had determined that the 10% apportioned to CBF would not count as NC Cooperative Program giving. Last year, the state formed a committee to investigate a single giving plan that would preserve multiple options. That committee brought its recommendation today. There would be a single giving plan, and churches could check a box on their giving form if they desired a portion of their proceeds to go to CBF. An amendment was brought from the floor to remove this check box. After a secret ballot vote, the amendment passed. After years of efforts, plan C was officially dead.
This isn’t what broke my heart. Anybody with a brain has been able to see this handwriting on the wall for years. There are going to be those who argue, as there were today, that churches can just send their money directly to CBF and negatively designate the SBC out of their missions giving. CBF churches are still welcome in the Baptist State Convention of NC, they will say.
They are lying.
Those who spoke in favor of the amendment based their arguments on 2 points: CBF doesn’t affirm the inerrancy of Scripture, and CBF isn’t true Baptist. There were calls for the convention to “take a stand”. And so they did. They thought they were taking a stand against some faceless organization. Instead, they took a stand against Christian men and women I serve and work with every day. They called me, my church members, and my peers in ministry enemies. They demonized us.
That is what breaks my heart. They made people I love and respect into demons in order to get what they wanted. I could have lived with a decision that said, “We are SBC, and we want a plan that says we are SBC only.” I would not have agreed with it, but I could have respected it. I can’t respect this. Especially when I know it is going to be followed by somebody saying, “We aren’t kicking you out. You can still send your money to us.”
When the announcement of the vote was made, there was no comment or response. A couple of folks clapped, though not as many as I honestly expected. The President just moved on to the next item of business. The convention moved on and left behind Christ-loving, Christ-serving people who had just been accused of not being true Baptist or even true Christians, people and churches who have been a part of the state convention for decades. I’m sure some will say it was just an example of the convention saying, “Get behind me, Satan.”
Funny, Jesus said those words to Peter, the rock upon which he would build his church.
To those CBF pastors, laypeople, and churches who winced at being made to feel like demons, my heart hurts with you and for you. My prayer for all of us is that we will be able to put aside the hurt and anger that rises in our belly at being called a demon so that we might fully concentrate on being the rocks upon which Christ will build His kingdom.