Can SBC churches be considered 'autonomous'?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by MRCoon, May 7, 2006.

  1. MRCoon

    MRCoon
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    Rbell made this statement in another thread that was talking about the SBC, their resolutions and its leadership and it got me thinking about what I thought I understood about how the SBC worked and of course what may in fact be reality.

    First, I'm not Southern Baptist so excuse me if I'm off base here but are SBC churches considered 'autonomous'? Does the SBC decide the location and building of its churches? Does the SBC handle/assign Pastors to its churches? How does the present day SB Convention "control" SB churches?

    Forgive my ignorance and please know I mean no unkindness nor am I attacking any SBC churches, people or policies. My parents were saved in a church that left the SBC in the 60's because of lost of autonomy both financially and leadership wise...so maybe this has tainted me. And now as an adult and a very conservative IFB I've often had my own conceptions of the SBC but have very little interaction with any SBC people or churches. So just curious and would appreciate your thoughts and input.

    [edited by me]
     
  2. whatever

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    SBC churches choose their own pastors, and each decides the location for its building and all. The convention does not control the churches at all. It takes direction from the churches, not the other way around.

    I spent a few years in an IFB church, and I was always surprised at the amount of misinformation presented about SBC churches. :(
     
  3. rbell

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    Right on.
     
  4. MRCoon

    MRCoon
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    What about missions? Does a lcoal body control it's own missions or does the convention pick and collect money for missions? What about the convention leadership passing a resolution or law (or whatever you call them) and then a church not abiding by it...does the convention take action? Do they remove the church leadership? Do they remove the church from the convention? Is the convention 'majority rule' based so that if 51% or more churches want a certain resolution then the whole convention must abide by it? If none of this is true then what is the purpose of the convention?

    Maybe most importantly...What is the advantage of being in the convention? What is the disadvantage of being in the convention?

    Curious minds want to know!?!
     
  5. Karen

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    Cooperative missions is the purpose of the convention. My church decides how much to give to the Cooperative Program.

    Many churches give nothing or very little. Some of them are even megachurches with members in Convention roles.

    Resolutions are non-binding. They merely express the majority thoughts of the messengers present at that convention. Note "messengers" not delegates.

    If you give money to a specific fund at the Cooperative Program and you do not designate it, then that board spends it according to how they decide. Lots of churches including mine give to international, national, state, and local associational missions. We also raise a lot of money for other missions projects.

    My church just sent 5 people overseas for a missions trip. Not the first time, not the last time. It was completely planned and carried out internally in my local church.

    Karen
     
  6. whatever

    whatever
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    Karen explained it well. The CP is just a mechanism where various mission boards, colleges and other agencies get funding. A church or individual can give to the CP to be divided among those agencies, or a church or individual can give directly to those agencies.

    One big practical difference between the CP and what you might be used to is that missionary candidates (or colleges or orphanages or whoever) don't have to spend years and dollars travelling from place to place to try to raise support. I think it is a huge advantage to get someone with a mission call to the mission field as soon as possible, especially if the someone would be an asset to a mission effort but is not particularly gifted at selling himself. I know others would disagree, and that's one reason we have so many variants of Baptists in the good ol' USA.
     
  7. whatever

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    Oh yeah, one advantage to being in the convention is that lots of churches together can do more than any church alone. One disadvantage is that some of those other churches are nuts, an dpeople tend to use large brushes when painting others. When we left the IFB church the pastor there asked how we were going to explain to our kids why our church had women pastors. :( Yes, it is possible that we support missionaries who are also supported by churches with women in pastoral roles. But what would an IFB mission board do if a church with a woman in a pastoral role wanted to give?
     
  8. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Mr. Coon,

    I addressed some of your questions, I think, here on this thread.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  9. mcdirector

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    wow! Great explanations!

    This may be perfectly clear from the answers already given, but we as a church can also give additional support to specific missionary families through a variety of gifts -- time, money, on-site service, special gifts like school supply packs to hand out. Our church has several missionary homes and cars for missionaries on sabbaticals. We also work with the International and North American Mission boards to send out teams of people to help missionaries in the field.

    When I was a girl and even through my early years in church work, we used to teach what Southern Baptist was through training union and during Vacation Bible School. We don't seem to do that much anymore.
     
  10. MRCoon

    MRCoon
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    Wow I guess I could have read that thread but it seemed to be more an internal SBC talk than an 'open discussion' because I neither know/care who Mr. Hunt is and how he fits into the SBC hierarchy so I ignored the thread. Thanks for the link and yes it does answer some questions.

    Here are a few more.

    Who decides where the CP money goes?
    Who decides which missionaries/projects to undertake?
    Who decides who sits on these various boards/committees?
    Who does church planting? Can a SBC Pastor just start a church anywhere or is there limits of how many SBC churches can be in an area or how far apart etc. Does the SBC support Pastors who start new churches with salary or do they go to work full/part time? Does the SBC have a say in building construction or provide financial support in a church construction program?
     
  11. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    Mr. Coon, let me take a stab at your questions:

    The Convention, at its annual meeting, approves a budget that contains the allocations of CP money. These are representatives of local churches telling the denominational leadership how it wants the money spent.

    The International Missionary Board and the North American Board screen missionary candidates who apply. Each board, operated by trustees from local churches, decides on mission projects.

    One of the first acts of a newly-elected SBC president is to appoint a Committee on Committees. This committee selects two people from each state convention--a layman and a pastor (or denominational worker) to serve on a Committee on Nominations. This committee is elected by the convention in June, and goes to work recruiting people from their states to serve on the boards such as the IMB and NAMB, seminaries and other SBC agencies. The committee meets in March in Nashville to select the nominees to present to the convention the following June.

    Re: church planting, both mission boards have church planting programs. However, an SBC pastor may start a church anywhere he'd like. The mission boards probably have some criteria that guides their planters, but they are not binding on an individual who decides to plant a work.

    I'm assuming that the mission boards support the church plants. Somebody associated with the mission boards can speak tothat question better than I.

    As a general rule, the SBC has no say in church building construction, and does not provide financial support. Exceptions? You folks who know the answers, help out here, please.
     
  12. Rhetorician

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    To all who have an ear:

    The CP or Co-operative Program was begun here in Memphis in 1925. It came about b/c we can all do together what we cannot do personally or congregationally. The money is disbursed and set at the annual SBC national convention. The true "SBC" is only in session 2 days per year. We have officers who are elected to take care of the business for the rest of the year and are accountable to the entire convention from year to year.

    Our "messengers" are called that and not delegates. They are allowed by their sending congregations to vote their conscience as God would lead. There is no binding autocratic or institutional ropes on any one particular local church, in this we are just like the IFB churches.

    What we believe or motions made or Resolutions sanctioned are all just for the messengers who have done that during the two day session and cannot be brought home to be made law on that congregation. Although, most try to assent to the plan and program givne while the convention was in session. But still, there is no incumbency on a local pastor, person, or congregation.

    FYI, the other two reasons for the SBC and its Co-Operative Program's exsistence is:

    Education, we have one of the most extensive educational programs on the graduate (seminary) and college/university semi-systems of any denomination outside of the Roman Catholics. The colleges and universities are generally controlled by the several state Baptist Conventions.

    Benevolence, to help with disaster relief, food distribution, etc., et al.

    I hope this adds to the mix; if I have duplicated anything above please forgive.

    sdg!

    rd
     
  13. Rhetorician

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    To all who have an ear:

    Just a short follow-up.

    After reading Tom B. and my answers above; I can see why you non-SBC folk are confused about what we do, how we do it, and who we are!

    I hope the answers given have cleared up the muddy stram somewhat.

    sdg!

    rd
     
  14. preachinjesus

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    awesome answers!

    SBC churches are indeed autonomous, anyone who tells you otherwise needs to check on their facts. Here are some replies to MRCoon's questions:

    Who decides where the CP money goes?

    denominationally elected and positioned people with oversite by appropriate trustee boards that are made up of memebers and pastors from the local churches that comprise the SBC

    Who decides which missionaries/projects to undertake?

    see above answer

    Who decides who sits on these various boards/committees?

    recommendations from various people put in at the state level and during the annual meeting and ratified by the messengers at that meeting

    Who does church planting? Can a SBC Pastor just start a church anywhere or is there limits of how many SBC churches can be in an area or how far apart etc. Does the SBC support Pastors who start new churches with salary or do they go to work full/part time?

    the NAMB sponsors many church plants in the US and Canada. They have a thorough screening process and help out with fund for the first couple of years (under the "old" Nehemiah Project) in collaboration with local churches and state conventions. Anyone can technically plant a church anywere, and many get funding and support from NAMB but NAMB leaves up the polity and operation of the particular plants to the planters themselves.

    Sort of the same with IMB appointees.

    Does the SBC have a say in building construction or provide financial support in a church construction program?

    NAMB will help with some basic funding, but I have not heard of an instances where they've paid out everything for a new church. Now potentially if NAMB sold off their premium building and moved to more modest quarters a great surge in funding to planters could result...but that is not going to happen anytime soon ;) (I'm a stinker)
     
  15. mcdirector

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    The SBC also has programs like retirement (for staff) in which churches can choose to participate. My retirement has always been through SBC. They also have services like plans for building programs. There are consultants in a variety of areas. All of these are optional.
     
  16. Joseph M. Smith

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    One thing that may lie behind the question about how much congregations give to missions through the Cooperative Program is the lingering notion that some sort of quota is set for a local church. It is not. Unlike some denominations, which have "apportionments" or "askings" based on the size of the congregation in question, there is no attempt to collect anything like a per capita assessment. Just an ongoing encouragement to be as missionary as possible. When I was growing up .. age alert coming! .. there was a lot of encouragement toward a local church giving half of its budget income for missions. Some made that goal, most did not. But again, no one could or would "come after" a church that did not meet a target.
     

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