Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Case Study in Southern Baptist Ministry

I will be heading out tomorrow for the final installment of the FBC Jacksonville Pastor's Conference with Dr. Vines as host. Jerry Vines is retiring from pastoral ministry and this will be his send-off in many ways. I have attended the conference only once before - last year. I was only partly aware that they had a conference until my church sent me down to look at their music ministry.

I have generally had a high opinion of Jerry Vines over the years. I have heard many of the legendary stories about the man and he definitely is one of those larger than life characters. His daughter and son-in-law are now staff members of our church and the chance to verify some of these stories through Joy has been rather fulfilling. Overall, the conference itself is a fun event and a good break from the everyday toil of music ministry. The singing and music are out of this world (even if it is Southern Gospel). However, the speaking schedule has its hits and misses.

The speakers named at this year's Conference are David Allen, Mac Brunson, Jerry Falwell, Steve Gaines, Junior Hill, Johnny Hunt, David Jeremiah, Al Mohler, Paige Patterson, Bailey Smith, and John Sullivan. I think you can probably guess who I might list as a hit. As for the rest, I am wholly unexcited to hear what they have to say. I do suppose that, just like in recent years, we will hear some rousing rhetoric aimed at the much-aligned "calvinist". Seeing that there are very few reformed brothers who attend this conference, I imagine I'll be one of the few squirming in my seat.

I will take time to blog this conference and give you my take on what is said. The only reason I think this is worth the time is that I believe it may yet be another indicator as to the direction our Convention is heading. Jax has long been a widely-used model in Southern Baptist ministry and this conference is basically a cross-section of what they do. This will also be another passing of the baton, as it were. Our current and emerging (no pun intended) leadership seem to be rabidly attacking brothers within their own convention. Older leaders had, at the very least, an ability to work with Reformed Baptists.

I have heard that within our own State Convention, there have been meetings with the staff concerning "Calvinism" and know for a fact that they have been promoting, at least in part, a book by Fischer Humphreys entitled "God So Loved the World: Traditional Baptists and Calvinism". I have said it now for a couple of years: this will be a boiling point issue very soon in our Convention. I just pray that everyone at the Jax Conference will spend their energy celebrating the grace of God through Pastor Vines rather than railing attacks at the Calvies.

No comments: