Monday, March 24, 2008

Too Critical or Expecting Accountability?

Some folks have accused me of being too critical. I apologize for giving that appearance. So let me ask you a question. If someone asks you to be accountable, to be honest, to do the job right the first time, why is that being critical?

Our intentions are not to be critical, but to expect Christian Morality and Integrity when dealing with thousands of dollars given by the congregation.

I quote the church web page which says:
"It is the responsibility of each believer to endeavor to live in fellowship with
each member of the congregation."

If only that were true. If only that were true for the staff as well as each believer. When the staff purposely ignores church members, that is not a good sign. And it is happening.

Again, I quote from the church web page:
"It is further the responsibility of each member to bring all gossiping and
backbiting to an end."

Gossiping and backbiting? Yes, that should not be happening in a congregation. Healthy discourse and challenging of hidden agendas by church leadership? Sir, that is not gossip. That is not backbiting. That is exposure. And some things should be exposed to the congregation. When facts and other things are hidden from church members who seek information, that is not gossip, nor is it backbiting. It is shining a light.

I know basically our church leaders are probably good folks, overall. But honesty has taken a back-seat to personal agendas over the past six years or so. Long-time church members have been insulted pushed aside while others attempt to "have their day" and override common sense. Things have grown to a slow crawl.

It is amazing how, at this point, it seems "God" must have changed his mind, or at least postponed his plans. It is amazing how we as Christians can spin a financial crunch into spiritual words by putting a "God Overlay" on top of common financial (or otherwise) setbacks and making it look like we know what God is allegedly doing with the situation we screwed up. So we spin it a few times, then talk the deacons into buying our spiel, then we present it and try to sell it to the congregation.

Me, too critical? Is it too critical to expect honesty? Is it too critical to expect serious accountability and integrity? Is it being too critical to expect Christians to actually be like Jesus instead of just talking about him?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Centrally Located For Residents of Alamo! Why Not?

If you are a member of First Baptist Alamo, why aren't you reaching lost people now?

Several years ago the Southern Baptist Convention got this idea for Baptist churches to become "regional churches" serving a region, as opposed to local or neighborhood churches. Pastors who wanted to move up the corporate ladder and pastors who envisioned evangelical starhood hooked on to that little publicity stunt as a way to reach their carnal dreams.

Some pastors move up the ladder with graduate degrees and books. Some do it with building programs.

One of the members of First Baptist Alamo accurately pegged the idea of a regional church as what it really is...a "Walmart church" for the way they evangelize. A Walmart Church simply steals members from other churches and rarely does any actual evangelism.

Several studies in church growth have already demonstrated this error in the church growth movement by discovering that church growth was more church member movement than evangelism. The vast majority of those flooding the mega-churches or regional churches were NOT new converts, but had actually just moved from the church down the road. First Baptist Alamo recently held a cattle-car evangelixtic rally and followed it up with a cattle-car baptism Sunday, just sign-up and be baptized or re-baptized as is popular with some folks feeling guilty about not living right or something. The web site even promoted people leaving their home church to come join this regional church. That is Walmart Evangelism.

The whole "building program" is driven by this "regional church" idea and nothing more. The web site proclaimed it as a way "to reach lost people" yet nobody realized at the time that nobody was reaching lost people where they were sitting now. So that error was removed from the web site.

So WHAT does the web site say to give away the REAL MOTIVE for moving the church, the "regional church" motive for moving? That is easy to spot. On the "location" page:

"We are centrally located for residents of Crockett, Gibson, Haywood and Madison Counties. "

1) Why would anyone who lives in Humboldt want to drive to church at Alamo?
2) Why would anyone in Brownsville want to drive to Alamo to go to church?
3) Why doesn't the pastor and staff of FBCA reach lost people IN ALAMO first?
4) Why doesn't the web page say something like "We are centrally located for residents of Alamo and Crockett County" and promote the church that way?

Why? Because the pastor is not interested in reaching the people of Alamo. He hasn't done it so far. Because the pastor wants to build a regional church at a more "regional" location.

Why? Because the staff and members of FBCAlamo are not interested in actually reaching lost people in Alamo. Alamo...where the church is located.

Why? Because even with pastors and church staff and, unfortunately with church members, bragging rights come with big Sunday Morning Numbers. Bragging rights come with offers from other churches offering more money to "come to our church and do what you did there." So, when you don't live the "great commission" lifestyle, when you don't reach lost people (for whatever reason,) then you must justify your salary by "APPEARING" to do spiritual things. Thus, the idea to build a new church "to reach lost people."

If you are a member of First Baptist Alamo, why aren't you reaching lost people now? If you are a member of First Baptist Alamo, why are you trying to justify a move to the country under a false motive of "reaching lost people" when you are not doing that already?

Inquiring minds want to know why you are not reaching lost people now?!?


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sweet People Who Believe Their Own Publicity

First Baptist Church of Alamo has some really sweet church members. FBCA has some folks who really do want to do the right thing. I have known many of those sweet people for several decades and through the ministries of several pastors and several church building programs.
I read recently about a singer who was very popular in the 1970s. He was featured on some website. At the end of his interview, he gave a quote that I thought was something we should all remember:

"Don't Believe Your Own Publicity"

Another quote by Demosthenes from an earlier post on this blog was similar:

"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true."

Every time someone talks about the new building, I expect to hear their concern about and desires of "reaching lost people" since that's how the church website promoted the new church building. I was surprised and disappointed when, instead of talking about evangelism, I hear church members say things like like:

"...this building is 80 years old"
"...this building is falling apart"
"...we need more room"
"...we need more parking"

To this day, I have NEVER heard even ONE person tell me:

"We need the new building to reach lost people."

Never! Not even one time! Not from the pastor. Not from any person on the church staff. Not from even a single church member. Not one time.

Several years ago, someone (and I know who) began a publicity campaign (their own publicity) claiming the building is old, claiming the building is falling apart, claiming we need more parking and claiming the ONLY solution is to move away and build a new building. The publicity campaign seems to have convinced many non-critical thinking members, who believed the stories and half truths instead of looking more objective as to the motive behind the campaign.

Thomas Paine once said:

"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry."

So why have so many sweet church members stopped investigating other solutions? Why have so many sweet church members decided to believe that publicity campaign instead of the truth? Why have so many sweet church members decided to go along with the "herd mentality" instead of walking the streets, knocking on doors and actually reaching lost people?

I agree 100% with Susan B. Anthony who said:

"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."
Unfortunately, the person with the strongest desires is often the one who can convince the most people to follow his ideas. It is often the person with the most passion who can convince the most people that HIS DESIRES are actually "GOD'S WILL" apart from truth that proves otherwise. That person convinces the people to follow his ideas not based upon the truth of the situation, not based upon facts, but based upon their own passion on an issue.

Facts be ignored and truth be tossed away or split in half.

You can can see how it works in a presidential race. You can see how it works in a church building program. Passion wins over truth almost every time. That's why there is MORE PROMOTION of the building fund than of reaching lost people. That's why there is more talk from the pulpit about raising money for the building than talk from the pulpit about personally reaching lost people for Christ.

The banners in front of the church tell how much money we have raised, don't they. The banners in front of the church DO NOT TELL HOW MANY LOST PEOPLE HAVE BEEN REACHED, do they? Do you believe the publicity? Do you believe two to four million dollars are needed "to reach lost people?"

Do you believe it will take two million dollars "to reach lost people?" Can you say FBCA will NOT "reach lost people" without spending $2,000,000 to $4,000,000?? Do you believe that? Do you REALLY believe that?