I’ve really enjoyed blogging from time to time and hearing feedback occasionally on issues related to Baptists and the church is general. This medium of communication has really opened Baptists up to a whole new world of dialogue. The potential benefit in engaging in constructive discussion, disagreement, and debate really is unlimited. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened with the SBC “controversy” had this kind of format been available to get information out to one another.
While that is a moot issue, it remains to be seen how churches will be affected by members who choose the internet to air their grievances against staff and pastors. It appears Tennessee has a corner on the market regarding this matter. Three prominent congregations. Bellevue Baptist, Two Rivers Baptist, and Germantown Baptist are going through turmoil and have had church members putting their gripes on the internet. I won’t put links for these websites, but these are readily available for anyone to check out the latest episodes.
One website in particular related to Bellevue Baptist Church caught my attention the other day. Apparently there are those within the fellowship who are at odds with the pastor, Dr. Steve Gaines. This man has the unenviable task of following Dr. Adrian Rogers, a titan in Southern Baptist life for sure. I don’t know all the details nor do I care to find out. Commenting on the particulars of that situation is not my purpose. While checking out a series of Baptist blogs, I noticed this one and saw what appeared to be a transcript of a conversation between the pastor and deacons. I guess someone recorded the exchange in order to make this possible.
Bellevue is like the White House to many Southern Baptists, so just about anything that comes out of Cordova makes the news. I don’t know any of the people involved, but express sadness that any church would have to go through this kind of dissension. Not only that, but there would be those who would have to resort to creating a website to air their dirty laundry. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent, or guilty as the case may be. There must be a different dynamic church polity wise when dealing with a megachurch, but Baptists should be able to find a way within the context of the local church to deal with their problems.
In Acts 4, it appears that the early church was devoted to, among other things, the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship. The fellowship and health of the church is so precious, and can be fragmented in more ways that I can mention. Attacking staff and other members is only one way for this to be accomplished. There are times when church leaders need to be confronted, but it should not be done on the internet for the whole world to see. Maybe some kind of password or code could be installed on the blogs to ensure that persons get this information on a “need to know” basis.
I won’t be visiting that site again, and that of course is the simple solution to this problem. However I am curious how others feel about expressing frustrations about their church on a website. It’s impossible to please everyone in the church, and at least in a Baptist congregation there is a congregational form of government. This should mean that the majority opinion, while not always the correct one, carries the day. If there is one positive aspect to seeing these disgruntled blogs, it is recognizing the challenges I face aren’t nearly as sizable as they could be. I become more grateful to be where I am and remind myself once again that being the biggest church in the neighborhood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.