About Me

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New Orleans, LA, United States
Family from South Africa, Born in New Orleans, Lived in South Carolina. Married to Annabeth since May 2004. We have three boys (Bolt, Mack, and Birk). Currently living in Uptown NOLA and serving as Lead Pastor of Vintage Church and Camp Pastor of Student MissionLab.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"The New Methodists"

Growing up in New Orleans as a professor's kid at NOBTS had many bonuses. I loved living near a gym, I loved living with other kids that were PKs and MKs like me, I loved messing with the campus police (that still hasn't stopped). On top of all that I loved getting to grow up with adopted Uncles and Aunts like the Stevens, Corvins, Taylors, Foleys, Pounds, Kelleys, and many more. Drs. Chuck and Rhonda Kelley have always been like family. Below is a picture of them with Bolt. They are two of the most incredible people I have ever known. Both of them serve NOBTS with everything that they have. They have invested their lives into this institution and city for the cause of Christ.
I haven't been on campus much this Spring because God led me to take a semester off in order to focus on planting Vintage Church. This past weekend I got a text from "Auntie" Rhonda asking me to pray for Dr. Chuck and his message on Tuesday morning. This has never happened so of course I wasn't going to miss it.

This morning I went to chapel and listened Dr. Chuck Kelley pour his heart out to his seminary, denomination, and Christian brothers and sisters. Dr. Chuck delivered this message with great passion, conviction, brokenness, and humility. It was truly an inspiring and prophetic word. The title of his message was "The New Methodists: A Look at the SBC Today". The following bullet points are some of the notes I took from this message. In defense of Dr. Kelley, not all of these points are exact quotes. I tried my best to write as accurately as possible. You will probably find this message soon at http://www.nobts.edu/chapel/Archives/Spring2009.html. I will follow these notes with a few personal reflections of my own.

  • 1940s and 50s was a time of great harvest in the SBC. Salvations and Baptism increased significantly.
  • Farming Analogy (Old McBaptist had a Farm) 1) Farmers matched the climate with the land. (indigenous church planting) 2) Farmers planted the seed in the soil. (intentional Gospel planting in communities) 3)Farmers cultivated after planting (Sunday School was intended for discipleship and outreach) 4)Farmers harvested when the crop was ready (Revival Meetings). SBC had a GREAT farm!
  • The key to all of the above was the genius of the SBC, not the methods. Programs were not the drive of the success.
  • Since 1955, the SBC has never baptized more than 450,000 people in a year.
  • We are more like gardners working the window boxes, than farmers working the fields.
  • What happened? Money IS NOT the crucial issue. Message IS NOT the crucial issue. Discipleship IS the crucial issue.
  • We are not anointed by God. Conversion and Revival are a work of the Holy Spirit. Neither are found in the SBC. We are so not anointed that we think it is normal.
  • We have become atomized. Our focus is upon methods and programs instead of the process. Sowing and reaping cannot be separate.
  • We are becoming the "New Methodists". There was a time when the Methodists were a leading part of a worldwide movement of God, but today is a different story. Methodists have set records for decline.
  • Proof that we are the "New Methodists": 1) Universalism is setting in 2) Tolerance is overtaking conviction 3) Behavior is blending with culture 4) Plateau has become Decline
  • 11% (which is generous) of SBC churches are growing.
  • Biblical worldview inspiring evangelistic discipleship has DROPPED b/t SBC generations.
  • We need DISCIPL-ISTIC (Discipleship and Evangelistic) churches!
  • We, the world, and our neighbors...do not know who we are.
  • WRONG FIGHT: teaching people how to witness. RIGHT FIGHT: teaching people how to live and be like Jesus.
  • The Lesson: Aggressive evangelism without discipleship will eventually undo itself.
  • God is calling us to 2 Chronicles 7:14-15, 19-20.
  • Western Wall Illustration - people daily longing for the restoration of the Temple
  • If we do not repent...to what wall will our children return to weep and remember what the SBC was.
  • I don't know what God would do in anyone of us, but anyone of us is what God needs.
  • As for me, the war starts here.
Dr. Kelley concluded his message by inviting Dr. Nix to lead our seminary in prayer. He was so moved that when he finished his message he left the chapel stage. A lot of people came to the front in humility before God.

My thoughts and reflections:
  • Dr. Nix put it well. I believe that we witnessed an historic message. Dr. Kelley was obviously broken before God and obviously spoke exactly what God had called him to speak.
  • I was blown away by Dr. Kelley's message. He battled through every word showing amazing poise and passion, yet displaying true transparency and humility. He wasn't preaching at anyone, he was simply delivering a God-sent message.
  • I agree with Dr. Kelley on his emphasis upon starting first with personal repentance and renewal. The future hope of the SBC is dependent upon the individuals and the local church. That is the beautiful thing about being Baptist.
  • The Western Wall Illustration was extremely powerful. He showed a picture of the Western Wall in Jerusalem and asked us what kind of wall our children will be wailing at in a couple of decades. The generational discipleship process has dropped off.
  • I completely support the fact that the lack of Evangelistic-Discipleship is a major problem in the SBC. We have become so focused upon the programs and events that we have neglected the process of making disciples.
  • One point of difference would be upon Dr. Kelley's assessment of blending with culture. Contextualization plays a vital role in the advancing of the Gospel. What are the standards of holiness (being in but not of the world) is determined by Scriptural leading of the Holy Spirit within a particular culture. I feel like the SBC is not suffering because they are too much like the culture. I believe that a main reason why they are suffering is because they don't have a clue on how to connect the Gospel with a particular culture. This especially applies in the urban settings of North America. With the world flocking to the cities, we better learn how to connect the Gospel to a culturally diverse world. Just like the churches in the 40s and 50s learned how to connect the Gospel to the suburbs outside the city.
  • I am reminded of a statement by Ed Stetzer at the convention a few years back. I'm paraphrasing. The SBC idolizes Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong yet refuses to follow their example on our own soil. I believe that we need indigenous Christian leadership for every culture around our country and the world. I am praying for a mighty movement of God's Spirit through indigenous church planting.
  • One element that I felt could have been added was the element of "servanthood". Those of us in Katrinaville especially understand this. I believe it connects with what Dr. Kelley emphasized in regard to living and being like Jesus. We have found in NOLA that if you serve someone physically they will listen to what you have to say spiritually. The typical SBC church has developed a sinful "come to me" mindset. We just finished walking through a sermon series called "Be The Church". Throughout the book of Acts, the early church went out as the church. Too many churches in our convention sit back and watch their ministers do all the work. And unfortunately, most pastors encourage this mindset. Pastors, we need to get over ourselves. We are not that important. This model is unbiblical at its roots. All who have been saved by Christ have been called to "make disciples of all nations". This is not an option, it is a command.
  • How do we encourage "servanthood" throughout the SBC? I agree with Dr. Kelley. We need to emphasize true discipleship. We need to pastor our people through what it means to "Be the Church".
  • Lastly, God used Dr. Kelley's message in a powerful way to bring a personal conviction upon my life. "As for me, the war starts here." It has been like a broken record player in my life lately, but God continues to show me that I need to humble myself before Him. The only hope for our lives, our families, our churches, our denomination...is a dying to self in order that Christ might live. This past weeks text had us in Acts 28. Paul says in verse 20, "it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain."
  • God, may we be a people that are chained to the "hope of Israel" Jesus Christ. May we repent of all our plans and ambitions, and may we surrender to you alone.
Thanks Dr. Kelley for being faithful to God. I am praying that this message will spread to all Southern Baptists and that through the power of the Spirit true revival and reformation will result for the glory of Christ.

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