Monday, June 21, 2010

A limit I can live with

Small church guy Les Puryear made the motion below which was referred to the Executive Committee.

that Article IV of the SBC Constitution be amended to require that on each board and committee 40 percent of members come from churches with fewer than 200 people in Sunday morning worship, 35 percent come from churches with between 200 and 1,000 and 25 percent come from churches with more than 1,000, submitted by Les Puryear of Lewisville Baptist Church in Lewisville, N.C.

He plans to attend the XComm when it is taken up and discuss it. The Executive Committee should ask Les if he is after any more seminary professor's job like he was earlier this year. After that they can pronounce his motion unworkable, unnecessary, and unhelpful because (a) The SBC doesn't need a quota system for messengers, (b) the logistics of the thing is doable but complicated (Do you count just one or all Sunday morning services? Do we trust the churches to submit accurate counts? Why should a church of 100 be alloted greater value than a church of 1500? Does that church contribute more? Baptize more? What about trustees whose church slips below or moves above one of the arbitrary thresholds? Do they have to resign because the mix is messed up?)

I would offer a simpler, more reasonable alternative. Limit the number of individuals from a single church (of whatever size) who can be elected as active trustees on SBC entity boards. I don't know what number that should be but there is no reason to concentrate the hundreds of trustee and committee positions in a handful of megachurches.

A few years ago Ben Cole, our former Baptist blogger who is now a Roman Catholic, did a piece on trustee inbreeding that showed just how concentrated key positions are in a very few churches.

There are plenty of qualified, quality people among the millions of SBCers. I hope Bryant Wright recognizes this and stops the practice of relying on a few megachurches for key people. I also hope the Nominating Committee stops shuffling the same people from board to board when their terms are up.

Drop kick the Puryear quota system but embrace a limit on trustees from a single church. That's a limit I can live with.


Lee said...

The only real problem with that kind of proposal is getting it passed through the "inbred" trustee and committee system. The ExComm is just as "inbred" and any such motion proposed on the floor of the convention is going to wind up being referred to them.

What Cole found out about the SBC holds true through the state conventions as well, at least, it did in the BGCT. Prior to my church's departure, I had intended to propose similar rules. I had written constitutional amendments which would have limited the total number of terms any individual could serve on any convention committee or board combined to two, limiting the number of members from any single church on any convention board or committee to one at a time, and prevented spouses from serving concurrently. Over a relatively short period of time, about six years considering how tightly controlled the boards and committees were in Texas, these proposals would have increased participation by more than 70%. I got a lot of response, especially from within our local association, 90% of it favorable. However, the hoops that I would have had to jump through to get it into the constitution were pretty complicated, and the effort would have required two thirds votes at two consecutive conventions.

The SBC desperately needs this kind of change in the way the leadership is chosen. Fresh ideas for dealing with the myriad of denominational issues are in very short supply and the idea that the SBC is anything more than a provincial, backward oligarchy is laughable. If this doesn't change soon, it will not have much of a future, at least, not in its current form.

William Thornton said...

I share your views generally here, Lee, if not your pessimism.

Norm said...

William: "... there is no reason to concentrate the hundreds of trustee and committee positions in a handful of megachurches."

Norm: Yes, there is a reason. It is not a conservative or liberal thing; it is typically a power thing absent higher-order reasoning and moral functioning. Any change would be for appearance and not at the level to compromise the dominant coalition (assuming its dominance has not been severely weakened); but, in time, there will be a change of the dominant coalition, which will protect its power as long as it can with the same or similar methods. While the Christian has hope and confidence for the future in which the Spirit will move unhindered, it does not follow that ‘the future’ will be manifested in his or her lifetime. In the meantime:

"Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss"

(Translation of Matthew 20.24 and 1 Peter 5.3 by The Who)

foxofbama said...

More specifically do you think Donna Gaines was a wise choice for the GCR committee or just another example of the inbred culture you, Lee and Puryear take exception to.
From STeve's tribute to his wife at the Bellevue Website it appears Donna may be more tha capable to add insight and value to such a committee.
Still who is to say LesPuryear doesn't have a wife or cousin just as capable.
In the bigger picture as far as the SBC world goes, Bob Terry's preconvention oped in the Alabama Baptist pragmatically frames the GCR implementation process using the analogy of Baseball Innings. The Orlando convention he accurately predicted was just the first inning.

Anonymous said...

Not sure that Ben Cole is now a Catholic. Burleson has produced an e-mail, clearly written by Ben (not sure of when), that states he was "received into the Roman Catholic Church." Yet, Ben was apparently at the SBC in Orlando and apparently told several that he did not convert to Catholicism; that was simply a "rumor" according to Ben.

So, who knows....


William Thornton said...

I dunno, BDW. He is an odd bird.