Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Silent Witness

Update: Unbeknownst to me at the time, the whole "Don Lumley" fight story and the blog linked below were hoaxes perpetrated by a former Bellevue member named Rickey Green who spent several months carefully earning my trust. His motives are still unknown. I apologize for my part in publishing this deception.

If this doesn't infuriate you, I don't know what will. Read one staff minister's account of the state of things at Bellevue today.

Here's an excerpt:

"I am one on staff who does not agree with the current direction of our beloved church home. I want everyone to know that there are a small group of us on staff, ministers and staffers alike, that are working to get a heart to heart meeting with Dr. Gaines to have our say about how we feel concerning the recent issues concerning Bellevue Baptist Church. We are encouraged that this may be happening in the near future.

"However, we have recently been informed that we are not allowed to have any meetings with Dr. Gaines alone. We have been informed that Mr. David Coombs must be involved in any meetings concerning the direction and future of Bellevue Baptist Church. Most of us do understand this from a managerial standpoint, as Mr. Coombs is Administrative Pastor. It is still somewhat of a strange consideration as we reflect on our past experiences with Dr. Rogers and his ministry."

Remember to sign the Petition to Call Bellevue Baptist Church into an Open Business Meeting and forward the link to your fellow Bellevue members.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

If He Comes... ?

When God Shows Up

In his new book When God Comes to Church (B&H Publishing), Steve Gaines asserts that the great need of the church today is a renewed sense of God's presence. He writes: "I once heard an old-time preacher speaking about God sending fire from heaven onto Mount Carmel during the prophet Elijah's day (I Kings 18). He said that the manifest presence of God is 'when God shows up, and He shows off!' He comes in not to take sides but to take over. When He arrives in splendor and glory, it is obvious to everyone that He is present and He is in charge. The human agendas fade away in the overwhelmingly awesome presence of the King of kings."For years now this has been my primary prayer for every worship service in the churches I have served. The longer I live, the less interested I am in how many people we have in the sanctuary. What is far more important to me is how much of God we have in the place. If He comes, we will have a wonderful service, no matter if there's only a handful. I know some preachers who think if a thousand people come to their morning services, or fifteen hundred, or two thousand, they've had a great Sunday. Not necessarily. I say to them, 'You haven't had a great Sunday unless God shows up!'"

Learn more.

The motion to adjourn the "business" meeting could have been

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


On March 25th we were told that over 1500 people have joined Bellevue in the past year. I have obtained the monthly numbers of decisions for 2006 and the first three months of 2007 that include professions of faith, transfer of membership by letter or statement, and "other," which includes all the other reasons people might come forward during an invitation without joining the church. While that 1500+ total for last year is correct, are this year's numbers showing the same trend?

Comparing the first three months of this year to last year we have these numbers -- the total of all decisions for each month:

January 2006 - 174 (POF-52, Letter-80, Statement-27, Other-15)
January 2007 - 67 (POF-26, Letter-22, Statement-16, Other-3)

February 2006 - 126 (POF-43, Letter-44, Statement-28, Other-11)
February 2007 - 80 (POF-32, Letter-18, Statement-18, Other-12)

March 2006 - 104 (POF-43, Letter-34, Statement-20, Other-11)
March 2007 - 29 (POF-11, Letter-9, Statement-6, Other-3)

Every decision for Christ is cause for celebration, and we should in no way minimize any decision based upon total numbers. Numbers can sometimes be one factor in measuring the health of a church. Often they're not, but the leadership of BBC seems to like to use numbers to make the point that all is well at Bellevue. So what can we conclude from the numbers given above?

Hangin' On

It would be interesting to know how many members we've lost -- those who've moved their membership as well as those who haven't but are attending other churches or fulfilling a commitment to a volunteer leadership position (teaching a Sunday School class, working in the nursery, serving in the music ministry, coaching, etc.) until the end of the semester. Judging by the sizes of the Sunday worship service crowds, Bellevue seems to be losing significantly more members than it's gained.

Here are some questions for those who find themselves "just hanging on" or recently departed to consider and discuss:

1. How are you handling the situation? Are you planning to leave when your commitment is fulfilled? Are you serving but not attending worship services?

2. If you have children, how are you explaining it to them? For example, if you're attending Sunday School but not worship services, are you going back home or traveling to another church to attend worship services?

3. If you've already left, whether you've moved your membership or not, how did you arrive at that decision? Was it a difficult decision for you?

4. Do you continue to have fellowship with other BBC members?

5. Do you know of others who have resigned their positions of service because of all this?

6. Do you think there's hope for reconciliation and healing at Bellevue? If so, what will it take?

Thanks to "feelingblue" and "concerned" for this topic idea.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

ABC News "20/20" Report: Preacher Predators

A producer for the ABC News program "20/20" sent the following press release regarding a story that will air on tomorrow night's broadcast. While Bellevue's story was not included in this episode, the producer stated that they may use it if they do a follow-up report.



Child sex abuse by Catholic priests has been headline news in recent years, but is the same abuse happening within Protestant churches? In a six-month investigation, ABC News' "20/20" found preacher predators in every corner of the country, including several affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) -- the largest Protestant denomination. Jim Avila's exclusive report airs on "20/20," FRIDAY, APRIL 13 (9:00-10:00 p.m., CT), on the ABC Television Network (Channel 24 in Memphis).

Avila's reporting finds that the SBC, an organization of 43,000 independent churches and 16.3 million members – has an overall structure that makes it difficult to police preacher predators. One example includes a profile of a SBC pastor who abused kids in Kentucky and then moved on to do the same to eight boys in Missouri before he was finally sent to prison. In an interview with Avila, the SBC president concedes that there is a problem with tracking predators.

"20/20" lists numerous SBC preachers who have been convicted or charged with child sex abuse, including pastors still identified on the SBC's own website of ordained ministers.

Avila also interviews a preacher who admits, in his jobs as Southern Baptist preacher and teacher in East Texas, that he molested more than 40 boys. For the first time, Ken Ward speaks publicly about how he manipulated families and churches as he targeted and molested children in his care, and how the church is actually a magnet for predators. "I wanted them to love me and that was part of the strategy," Ward tells Avila. He also gives insight to parents about how to spot a predator.

"20/20" is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and John Stossel. David Sloan is the executive producer.

Here is a video preview.

Monday, April 09, 2007

A Tale of Two Churches

This is a look at some of the things that happened at Germantown Baptist Church last year. Click on "The Book" to see all the links. Who would have thought that Bellevue would be facing a similar situation one year later?

Fortunately for GBC, they had a good set of bylaws, and BBC does not.

Obviously there are differences in the two churches, but there are many similarities as well. Compare and contrast those here.

Remember to sign the Petition to Call Bellevue Baptist Church into an Open Business Meeting and forward the link to your fellow Bellevue members.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Please Sign the New Petition!

There is a new Petition to Call BBC Into an Open Business Meeting.

This means a legitimate business meeting, not the "dog and pony show" we were subjected to on March 25th. It means:

1. Adequate childcare for those who need it for the duration of the meeting.
2. Voting on all motions by written ballot by verified members only.
3. An independent third party to moderate.
4. An independent third party to count and certify the votes.
5. No time limit on the meeting. If it runs too long, the meeting can always be recessed and continued later.

Please sign, then forward the above link to your friends so they can sign, too!

Now please continue...

Our New Church Logo?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Two Great Passion Plays

At Bellevue:

Memphis Passion Play

Sunday, April 1st
3:00 p.m. (Sold Out)
6:30 p.m.

Monday, April 2nd
7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, April 3rd
7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, April 4th
7:00 p.m.

At Germantown Baptist:

Germantown Passion Play

Sunday, April 1st
5:30 p.m.

There are several Bellevue members participating in this year's GBC passion play which is directed by Dr. Jim Whitmire.