Messengers at the Missouri Baptist Convention meeting in a few weeks will be asked to vote on using Cooperative Program monies to continue the lawsuits against several Baptist entities. Those who attend the gathering in Raytown will be given options of whether to use CP money for this purpose or “opt out” by voting on a plan B version. Churches are supposed to be given the choice of whether their money goes for this pursuit or not.
I’m in an interesting position in that our church is not in the state convention (anymore) yet the lawsuits do affect our people. We support these entities currently being sued and are greatly saddened by the fact that fellow believers in Christ would spend millions of dollars (literally) in this way. In turn, these entities are having to come up with large amounts as well to defend themselves. Just think what those millions of dollars could have used for, especially in this economically challenging time.
The one redeeming point in this whole deal is Windermere’s victory over the MBC, despite repeated appeals by the latter. Windermere was supposed to be overmatched and outgunned and a quick and easy target. Justice prevailed, however, and my hope is that the other entities will share the same result. If the lawsuits continue, there’s a good chance that it will. Bob Perry has a good overview of the lawsuit impact that is found here.
I’ve developed some friends in our local association who care a great deal about the future of the state convention. I really feel for them, because they are leading churches who love missions but don’t want their money going to sue people. I’m also glad not to be in the bind they are in. They are not supportive of the lawsuits and are aware of the countersuit against the MBC, which if successful, could bankrupt the convention. It means a lot to me to hear that there are those with these sentiments in the state convention. It would mean even more if these persons and others would rise to the occasion and speak out and often against this waste of Baptist resources.
I’m asking for common sense and courtesy to prevail in calling for an end to these lawsuits. Too much money has already been spent on control of these earthly institutions. This doesn’t seem to be a “liberal or conservative” issue to me but rather a realization that there are higher and more important things on which to invest the church’s Cooperative Program dollars.
I grew up in Southern Baptist congregations and that CP percentage was as sacred a cow as there was. It would have been unthinkable to use these funds for legal means rather than spiritual ones. I do hope and genuinely pray for the state convention this year and for leaders with convictions to speak them and bring an end to these lawsuits. I’ve been to my share of state conventions through the years, and there hasn’t be a single one that had as it’s lead story line whether or not to use cooperative program money to sue uncooperative people. There ought to be a higher and nobler purpose for the Missouri Baptist Convention. It’s time to get off this path of diminishing returns and on to better things. I hope the actions of messengers in Raytown inspire all of us toward reconciliation and building up the Kingdom of God.