After attending our national convention a few weeks ago I posted some thoughts on changes that are going on in our Fellowship of Baptist churches. I appreciate the comments that I received right away, but there have been a few more today. Our national president, John Kaiser, took the time to answer some of my questions in that post (follow the link to Watching the Fellowship and read the comments, if you wish). Thanks for that Dr. Kaiser, and thanks to all of you who commented. If you missed this post on the first go-'round, feel free to join the conversation with a comment here or at that "Watching" post.
These are not simple issues. I have long thought that being the leader of a group of churches - particularly Baptist churches - must be a very difficult job. Like herding cats, I suppose. Because of our conviction regarding autonomous local churches, many Baptists have been suspicious of increasing centralization, a.k.a. "leave my church alone." By the way, no one in the Fellowship leadership is proposing an interventionist solution to the problems with our association - I'm just pointing out the nature of Baptist groups.
What, then, are associations for? The way I see it, we can do more together with like-minded churches than we can do alone. Leadership training (including the support of schools), missions, accountablity to a larger group of churches (including sharing a common affirmation of faith and receiving help in crisis situations) and encouragment in ministry. These are good things and I am all for Baptist churches in fellowship.
I am going to be an armchair quarterback in the coming weeks and post on what I think should be priorities for our Fellowship. I believe that the need for reform extends far beyond Fellowship into evangelicalism as a whole.