Growing Pains

Growing pains. I can remember when I was a little boy my legs would hurt especially just before going to sleep. My parents’ diagnosis was “growing pains.” Whether that had anything to do with growth, it is virtually assured that growth causes stretching. Although there has not been too much pain, some areas of ministry in the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention are being stretched. We now have the joy of addressing these challenges.

When the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention was founded in 1998, the churches clearly communicated that they wanted to be a new model for the 21st century. One of the core values places missions and evangelism in the forefront. As a corollary there was a pledge of “no bureaucracy.” This philosophy has remained constant for the nearly four years of the SBTC’s existence. The largest segment of the budget continues to be missions and evangelism. Church planting is the largest one single line item.

The Business and Financial Plan of the SBTC caps institutional budgeting at 15% of the in-state budget. By giving ownership to the local level and the people carrying out the ministry, the SBTC can be a viable partner, but not the total director. We want to extend a helping hand.

Institutions are important to the work of the Kingdom. The Southern Baptist Convention has seminaries and other ministries that could be called institutions. The Criswell College is the only institution currently affiliated with the SBTC. Some state conventions have not only schools but children’s homes, adoption services, retirement centers, and other ministries as a part of an institutional system. This has been a productive expression of denomination work for many years.

The Executive Board has approved the creation of two areas of ministry that directly relate to institutional type work. Human Care and Family Ministries will address adoption services, child care issues, retirement centers, just to name a few. In keeping with being a different paradigm for a state convention, the SBTC will partner with local churches, associations and consortiums of churches to provide the ministries. The SBTC is not interested in being “big daddy” to the local churches or owning a large number of institutions. It is our idea that local control and oversight is by far the best approach. It is not what we can do for you or you can do for us, but what can we do together.

Permeating everything we do is the core value of our Missiological Activity. Missions Services can be accomplished by working with associations, churches and individuals as we build a network for disaster relief, volunteer construction and men’s ministries. It may take time to build these networks completely, but we are busy about the work.

In February 2001 the SBTC extended a private invitation to Baptist institutions in Texas to partner in an affiliation or fraternal relationship. There is a strong qualifier, theological agreement. Core value number one remains the basis for all we do. There are voices crying against institutional accountability. The SBTC remains stalwart in the affirmation of a high view of scripture as the foundation for a working relationship.

The Affiliation and Fraternal Relationship Policy outlines the definition of a high view of scripture. It states,

“Institutions or organizations should hold a high view of scripture. A high view of Scripture would include but not be limited to the position that the Bible is factual in character and historicity in such matters as: 1) the supernatural character of the biblical miracles which occurred as factual events in time and space, 2) the historical accuracy of biblical narratives which occurred precisely as the text of Scripture indicates, and 3) the actual authorship of biblical writings as attributed by Scripture itself.”

While we stretch and grow, we will not waver from our commitment to the inerrancy of God’s Word. Here we stand, we can do no other!

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