Monday, August 3, 2015

About this maxed out SEND Conference in Nashville

I'm at the Send Conference in Nashville. It is a joint IMB and NAMB event and it's maxed out. The arena seats 13,500.

Reminds me a bit of the days when the SBC annual meeting attracted tens of thousands but that ended two decades ago (attendance around 20k in Atlanta) and these days around 5,000 is the number.

SBC annual meeting = yawn
Send Conference = wow

There are similarities and differences.

Why are all these people toting backpacks? Oh, they're younger, hipper. Got all that hipster stuff packed inside, I guess.

Where is all the gray hair (aside from mine, that is)? Oh, this is inspirational (a rally) rather than aspirational (looking for that bigger church or better denominational job connections).

And all these people pay to attend this? Yep.

There are no silly motions to be dealt with, no elections, no parliamentary procedures, no ballot flashing. Seems my younger colleagues haven't much interest is such things.

About the only SBC metric showing an increase these days is the total number of churches. It's up slightly. Part of the reason must be that NAMB has tapped into something, church planting, that has generated the interest and energy of the post-boomers.

It's hot here. Not Houston absurd hot but hot. There is the matter of dealing with a big mob: lines, noise, and the like. Yep, just like the old days in New Orleans, Dallas, or Atlanta. I did see Elvis down on the live music/party/bar/restaurant strip. Had a bbq sandwich and glass of augua myself. Not too bad. Way too loud.

Glad to see something clicking in the old SBC. If the music is too loud...I've got the earplugs I take to my church every Sunday...and I know how to use them.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

10 things you probably didn't know about Lottie Moon

Lottie Moon, missionary to China from 1873 to her death in 1912, is the most famous person in Southern Baptist history. Our largest offering, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, is named for her.

In time, her life came to be mythologized by Southern Baptists and her name invoked in order to raise money for missions. To counter this, here are ten things you probably did not know about Lottie Moon:

1. When funding from the Foreign Mission Board was not sufficient to provide additional workers for Moon's lonely and arduous mission in Pingtu, China, Lottie loaned the Board $1,000 to help support a new missionary. The sum is equivalent to about $25,000 today.

2. Moon's home in the seaport city of Tengchow was once hit by a shell from a Japanese warship. Moon was not home at the time. The bombardment was part of the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905.

3. At the 1890 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Ft. Worth, Texas, it was said Lottie Moon: "She is the greatest man among our missionaries."

4. The Christmas offering later named for Lottie Moon was an idea copied from the Methodists.

5. Miss Moon was the first single female missionary woman sent out by the SBC Foreign Mission Board. No, not Lottie but her sister Edmonia (Eddie) who was one two single ladies appointed in April, 1872. Lottie followed soon thereafter in 1873. Eddie was often sick and left China for good in 1876.

6. Lottie Moon's uncle once owned Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's plantation, post Jefferson, of course.

7. When Moon arrived in China in 1873, she found that there was serious personal conflict among missionaries in the mission. This would cause difficulty for decades. She had to contend with and endure this constantly; whereas, the wars, famines, and plagues were just sporadic.

8. Among other things, Lottie endured at least two outbreaks of bubonic plague. She would simply close the school she was operating at the time and wait for the plague to pass.

9. When a new missionary asked Lottie in 1909 what the secret was to her long success in China (she had been in the country for 36 years at that point), Lottie answered, "Early to bed and do not worry."

10. Since she died while on a ship in a Japanese harbor, Lottie was cremated. The ship's captain was concerned that an embalmed body would not be allowed entry into the United States.


These are from "Lottie Moon: A Southern Baptist Missionary to China in History and Legend" by Regina D. Sullivan.

The photo of Lottie Moon is from the WMU. Although not the first to do so, Lottie was among the first to dress and live in the custom of the Chinese.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Anyone fact check your sermons, pastor?

Chances are, someone will, perhaps in real time. You likely have bored listeners sitting in the pew who can quickly google "pastor jailed in Vermont for refusing to perform gay wedding".

Didn't happen. Snopes it, bro. As a fallback position, you can say that you meant to say that a preacher was arrested and locked up for saying that homosexuality is a sin. Just say that it happened in the United Kingdom, not the States, and that it was five years ago. Hey, first the UK, then Nashville or somewhere, First Amendment be doggoned.

If you want to make a point about America going to Gehenna in a hand basket you can use current, relevant facts. There's no need to grab something from Sweden, something several years old. People could say as they leave church and you greet them at the door, "Pastor, intriguing point about the country declining in morals. Could you expand on that by noting that we once had slaves in this fair land; that we once denied women the right to vote? Stuff like that."

You have a right to offer a subjective opinion. You have a right to noisily declaim from the pulpit, facts or no facts. You might like the instant feedback from heads nodding in approval, a few hearty "Amens!", and perhaps a burst of applause.

The guy who fact checks you is probably just a troublemaker anyway, right?

"Let him preach 100 or so times a year and see if he can come up with stuff to make it interesting," you sniff.

You might be tempted by what is sweeping social media that seems to fit your sermonic hobby horse. How about this breathless recent comment:

Did you hear that Walmart refused to make a cake that had the Confederate flag and the words "Heritage not Hate but did make a cake with the ISIS flag"?

You have truth here. Walmart did make an ISIS cake after denying a customer a Confederate Flag cake. Not many cake makers read Arabic and would recognize the ISIS flag but almost all of us recognize the old stars and bars Confederate battle flag.

No need to confuse your congregation with context that works against your righteous indignant pulpit posture. Walmart apologized for the cake. Pity the poor hourly worker that has to sort out all this stuff.

Sooner or later, truth will come out and pulpiteers who are uninformed buffoons will be exposed. Why not just presume that someone intelligent will hear your stuff and might even google it?

"Facts are our friends," sayeth Ed Stetzer and fake news had a pretty good week recently.

Scripture has an abundance of great narrative passages. The Bible has stories you couldn't make up. Preach on some of those and shock your congregation with genuine Truth.