Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Spending God's Money

From the FBC Jacksonville blog come these reviews of the book Spending God's Money - Extravagance and Misuse in the Name of Ministry by Mary Kinney Branson.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

What's Wrong with this Picture?

In an attempt to illustrate how Bellevue has changed, can you describe the atmosphere at Bellevue when you first joined (if you can remember that long ago!) versus how it is now or how it was before you left? Did you ever "sense" anything wasn't quite right but couldn't put your finger on it?

Thanks to "lynn" for this topic idea.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Not the Right Timing, Huh?

Well, the $64,000 question has finally been answered! For weeks people have been asking why the March 25th "business" meeting was adjourned so abruptly. Now we have the answer... or at least an excuse.

"Seekinghiswill" wrote:

"Brothers and sisters in Christ should be able to express their views and there is a proper place and time for a calm, peaceful meeting but it was obvious that the business meetings was not the right timing because there were rising tempers from both sides which would have produced no good fruits. For this reason we were for the meeting to be dismissed. I look forward to the time when we all can sit down and have a meeting with the Judge."

Oh, really? You know, I wholeheartedly agree with the first part of that statement. Church members should be able to express their views at the proper place and time, but I would hope that time and place would be sometime and somewhere this side of heaven!

I can only assume "seekinghiswill" is referring to the March 25th "monkey business" meeting. If so, I must have missed all those "rising tempers." The meeting I attended was quite calm, and the people participating in the meeting (bringing motions, etc.), from everything I saw, were always respectful of each other. There was that ugly little display by Donna Gaines' sister at the very end and the woman heard praying loudly during the opening "prayer circles" for the Lord to "deal with those... who would divide... our... church," but I digress.

Let's take a look at the rest of the motions (of which I'm aware) that members were poised to make:

1. Motion on Non Disclosure Agreements for the Staff

I move that staff members of Bellevue Baptist Church shall discontinue the practice of requesting or requiring staff members to sign any kind of non-disclosure agreement in regard to their employment at Bellevue Baptist Church; and that any staff member or former staff member having signed such a non-disclosure agreement shall likewise be released, in writing, from said agreement.

2. Motion on Disqualification of Ministers For Sexual Misconduct

I move that we affirm our belief in the scriptural authority of I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 for the qualifications for ministerial service, and that we affirm to our larger community, committees and staff, that sexual misconduct is a reason for disqualification from ministerial service within the authority of scriptural qualifications set out in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

Remember, this is the one that Steve Gaines said is "only a guideline."

3. Motion on Committees - Membership

I make the following motion regarding committee membership:

No church member may serve on more than one committee, elected or ex officio, including ad hoc committees, unless serving on a second committee or ad hoc committee in only a non-voting capacity. Laypersons should not serve more than three years on committees, followed by at least one year without serving on any committee, similar to the deacon rotation.

No member shall chair the same, or different committees more than once in any three consecutive years. For example, if chairing Committee A this year, the member cannot chair Committee A or any other committee the next year or following year.

No member may serve on the same committee for more than 3 years in any 10-year period. This does not restrict the member from serving on other committees during the ten years.

4. Motion on Financial Expenditures

I move that any financial expenditure will be subject to review by any member of Bellevue Baptist Church, upon request, at reasonable times and with reasonable notice.

5. Motion On Congregational Meetings Seeking Reconciliation

I move that Bellevue Baptist Church conduct one or more fair and impartial congregational meetings, to include our Senior Pastor and ministerial staff, as necessary to give its members the opportunity to hear both sides of the issues that continue to divide the church body and with the first meeting to be held within the next four weeks.

And the one that was actually brought to the floor and passed...

6. Motion on Committees – Conflicts of Interest

I make the following motion regarding conflicts of interest for committee membership:

1. That potential committee members shall disclose any conflict of interest, real or potential, in regard to the committee for which they are nominated. Such statements should disclose:

If the committee nominee, or member(s) of the nominee's immediate family have business relationships with, or are a partner, officer, or key employee of an enterprise doing business with Bellevue Baptist Church, or the officers or key employees of Bellevue Baptist Church, or the immediate family of officers or key employees of Bellevue Baptist Church.

2. No member shall be allowed to participate in a committee review or decision that would have a financial impact upon the member or member’s immediate family.

Conflicts should be avoided by the Committee on Committees or other nominating entities when proposing committee members. The intent of this motion is to avoid conflicts or potential conflicts, for example:

A member, doing business with the church, should not be placed upon a committee that is materially related to the business being conducted.

The important question is, have we seen any changes in committee memberships because of this motion being passed by the congregation?

Can anyone explain why "no good fruits" would (or could) have come from these motions being brought to the floor in a calm, respectful manner?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Running to Win or Running from the Truth?

On Sunday, April 29, 2007, Dr. Steve Gaines preached a sermon in the morning services entitled "Running to Win." He began by saying his family had attended the 7th Annual Country Music Marathon and 1/2 Marathon in Nashville the day before.

During the sermon they showed these photos of the men's and women's winners on the IMAG. He mentioned this year's wheelchair winner was a man from Germantown.

Unfortunately, there are several "problems" with this story. For one, it was the 8th Annual Country Music Marathon, not the 7th, but that could have been an honest mistake. If that had been the only error I'd have thought nothing of it. However, there's more.

The two individuals represented on the IMAG as this year's winners were actually the 2006 winners. Their photos and information are here. The 2006 wheelchair winner was indeed from Germantown.

However, this year's winners were a man from Kenya and a woman from the Ukraine. Their photos and information are here. This year's wheelchair winner is from Hoschton, Georgia, not Germantown. See articles from The Tennessean.

I figured I might have to explain this to someone, and one person has asked, so here's the point. The point wasn't that he didn't do his research on this particular issue but that if he isn't concerned about adhering to the truth in a situation as inconsequential as this, how can he be trusted in matters of greater importance? It really doesn't matter if his research assistant (if he even had one) is stupid or lazy (a 6th grader could have done a better job), or he didn't stay until the end of the event to see the winners (which means he is being willfully dishonest or at the least negligent), or that he doesn't do his own research -- the point is he didn't get the most basic of facts right, and that tells me he's not any more believable when he says anything else.

Personally, I think the sermon was prepared (by him or someone else) before Saturday, so the winners weren't known and that he (or someone) was just lazy and pulled this stuff off the internet thinking no one would notice. I think when he said it was the 7th annual event this was further evidence that the information came from the internet rather than firsthand knowledge.

So call it "nitpicky" or whatever. In the grand scheme of things it's not important that Steve Gaines was in error on this particular issue. It's the much bigger issue of which this is a symptom.

"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much." Luke 16:10

You may watch the video of that sermon (and others) on Bellevue's site. To get to the sermon archives on Bellevue's site, go to the main page, click on "Watch Now" (under the "Bellevue Media - Live On Demand On the Go" logo is), and if you click on "Launch On Demand Player" you'll get a list of past sermons on video and audio, and the titles and Scripture passages are listed. You'll also see two little links in the upper righthand corner, one for "Dr. Adrian Rogers Archive" and the other for "Sermon Notes Archive." There's another link for the latter in the middle of that page where it says "Download Past Sermon Notes."

Friday, May 04, 2007

Unfinished Business

Here is the two-part motion that was on the floor when the March 25th "business" meeting was abruptly adjourned. What about either part of this motion was so objectionable that the meeting would have to be shut down?

Motion for Quarterly Business Meetings
Mr. Chairman, Bellevue leadership, I want to express my sincere gratitude for the effort you have made to have an open line of communication between yourselves and the Bellevue congregation. There are obviously many positives that will come out of this openness between the leadership and the congregation of Bellevue. With that said I move to begin having quarterly business meetings on any Sunday night of the last month of each quarter.
Motion on the Sexual Integrity of Ministers
I move that Bellevue Baptist Church affirm and adopt as its own, the June 2002 resolution of the Southern Baptist Convention entitled On The Sexual Integrity Of Ministers, as stated below, and the scriptural basis upon which the resolution stands.

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