CBF General Assembly asks us to “Imagine”

They are proud of their air conditioning in Ft. Worth.

That’s not what I would have expected to lead with in remembering last week in the Lone Star state, except the reminders of “I’m cold” came from the mouths of my precious children so many times that I lost count. It was far better than the alternative, and I had been told about how low the thermostat would be, and even I felt a shiver every now and then.

For all the coldness of the thermostat, however, it did not chill the mood of the General Assembly. I’ve been to a few of these, and this one was one of the most meaningful I’ve ever attended. I don’t know the exact numbers, but of course as a preacher I have to note that there were about 1,800 in attendance. There’s always a hope that more people will attend, but these days fewer families are willing to pay the price time wise and money wise to attend meetings of this nature. It is encouraging to note that the sessions were webcast, so I would expect many others participated in this way as well. You can find more info here

The 2012 CBF Task Force report was well presented in a thoughtful, creative manner. We all had “takeaways” to look at during the session and I”ve brought a few back for our own people to see. Downsizing the organizational chart is a good move and allowing churches to intentionally identify with CBF with a letter is a good thing. I do not expect this development to really change how things work from a money stand point, but it does allow those churches who choose to do so to take the necessary action as a church to make a statement about their identity. It also will significantly change our numbers in terms of how many churches actually belong to CBF, compared to how many churches merely allow their members to designate money to the CBF.

I attended a worshop having to do with websites, blogging, facebook, and twitter and felt like the information was very helpful. There are good ways and destructive ways to use these tools, so having a reminder that they are important in reaching those outside the church was good. I’m still fond of using my 3×5 index card to keep my daily schedule and tasks in line, but the main thing is to find an approach that works for you. Old school.

Another workshop I attended dealt with a report on the conference relating to Sexuality and Covenant held in April.  Having not attended the conference, I wanted to get an overview of the topics and presenters and was not disappointed. One statement that I found particularly helpful related the purpose of the conference, in that there was no correlation between the conference and the existing statement of organizational value as put forth by the CBF.  CBF has an organizational hiring policy which calls for an affirmation of the biblical sexual ethic that marriage is between a man and a woman, and  celebate singleness for those who are unmarried. I found this statement particularly instructive because I along with many others thought the conference was a precursor to a shift in organizational policy. My thinking here was influenced by remarks made by the outgoing moderator regarding the current policy.

The high point of the Assembly, for me, was Daniel’s message. He focused on the glory of God and how we must never lose sight of our goal and purpose for being. What struck me particularly was the idea of being able to “imagine” what God can do in our world. This isn’t about another program, chart, or ministry plan, but keeping our minds open to the vastness of the Infinite God and the dynamic way He works in our lives. The recognitions of Daniel’s service were very appropriate and it meant a lot for my family and I to get to see him in the reception.

The youth at the assembly went to see the Dallas Cowboys stadium. Cally enjoyed her tour very much and took some great photos. Their leader told me he hoped to take them to mid-field and have them look up and around at the incredible vista and see what human beings can do. Then he would ask them to think about how much greater God is and what God is capable of doing. That tie in to the the assembly theme was perfect.

I think we are in good hands with our new moderator. Keith Herron is from Holmeswood in Kansas City and will show great leadership and wisdom during this transitional period. We are in the land of “in between” which is a critical time in any organization. He will be given the task of implementing the changes brought forth by the Task Force.

Despite these wonderful images of the Assembly, I cannot help having some concerns about CBF moving forward. I guess some of this relates to the uncertainty of who will be the next Executive Coordinator and how our missions endeavors will be funded and who will lead them. We are beginning a third decade of CBF life, and my hope is that we will be focused on missions and telling people about Jesus and encouraging our churches to fund our missionaries. There is a possibility that other agendas will rise to the surface and if this happens, we could find ourselves in a similar situation that the SBC did in 1979 when Bold Mission Thrust was thrwarted by the fundamentalist movement.

I doubt very seriously that our millennial CBFers care or know about such things, and I also am not invested in dwelling on the past. But, if we forget the mistakes of history we may be inclined to repeat them.

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