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Family Mission Statement

“Just do it.” “Don’t leave home without it.” “Think Different.” “Reach out and touch someone.” “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”

Can you guess which companies developed those taglines? Some taglines are merely advertising ploys but others are actually tiny snippets of what a company believes about itself. In other words, tag lines are a type of memorable vision/mission statement that can be clearly articulated.

For instance, when the United States Department of Transportation came up with “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” they appealed to the moral conscious of the consumer. Perhaps one night when a few guys have had too much to drink that slogan will pop in one’s head and they’ll remember that if they are truly a friend then they will not let their friend drive home drunk. Sometimes it can help to have a vision memorized.

The vision of SBC Witness is to encourage Southern Baptist cooperation and faithfulness. Therefore, whenever we post or engage in conversation we have a tag line reminder that the point of this blog is to encourage and cooperate faithfulness to the convention. This vision helps the writers of this blog stay focused. Focus is good because without focus, things become blurry.

Companies for years have understood the importance of vision and focus. Recently, churches have noticed the importance and have followed suit. However, perhaps the most important group of society has largely failed to adopt this practice and that group is the family.

If I were to ask you what your family vision statement is what would you say? Take a few minutes and think about that…it’s kind of hard isn’t it? What your answer will be will determine what you think is the most important aspect of your family’s life. Should your family vision statement be, “To glorify God”? How about, “To live our lives for Jesus.”? What about, “To be ambassadors for Christ.”? Or maybe you came up with, “Love God and love others.”

I’m sure that our family vision statements will differ. Every family is different and is composed of many different personalities. However, if we expect our families to be successful in life then we have to be intentional about doing just that. By giving them a simple and clear vision statement that can be articulated we can help our families maintain focus. But before we can establish what type of vision statement can help make our families successful, we must ask ourselves what our definition of success as a family is.

I am in interested in your responses as well as your family vision statements.

Children and Parenting

As we approach the final week of class here at Southwestern, I am about to lecture on the final topic of the semester—children and parenting. Now before you say that I can’t cover that in three class meetings, trust me that I know I am giving it merely a bit of lip service. However, that is the life of being a professor. Unlike Dr. Finn (my illustrious SBC Witness co-contributor) who deals with topics like history that don’t change, technology and culture bring up new challenges for ethicists to face every day. Anyway, back to the subject of my post…

I want to consider the issue of children and parenting, especially as it relates to discipline. In Christian circles, there are a number of various approaches to discipline that may be considered, but I want to focus on two. The first is the “spare the rod, spoil the child” crowd that considers discipline to include physical punishment at times and suggests distinct obedience to the wishes of the parents. The second group is the “keep it positive and build little Johnny’s self-esteem” crowd. This group believes that parenting should be a positive endeavor and avoid any possibility of bringing shame or reproach upon a child. Of course, there are extremes on both sides of these positions, but I want to consider the moderate, sensible versions of both positions.

The first group is best characterized, in my opinion, by Tedd Tripp in his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart (2nd ed., Shepherd Press, 2005). Tripp’s basic approach believes that behavior is an overflow of the heart. As a result, it is the parents’ responsibility to use discipline in such a way as to address matters of the heart and in so doing to direct the hearts of their children to God. This viewpoint suggests that parents make their expectations clearly known and encourage obedience without challenge, without excuse, and without delay. Sometimes the discipline required to shepherd a child’s heart to God may require the use of the rod, but Tripp strongly warns against distortions of the rod that are unacceptable. At its essence, Tripp considers the rod to be a parental exercise, an act of faith, an act of faithfulness, a responsibility, physical punishment, and a rescue mission.
The second group is best characterized by a positive take on the training of children that involves the building of self-esteem in the child. They are represented by a number of recent books and authors I have read and heard of late (but I don’t have their book info handy to give proper publication information). In essence, they believe that the self-esteem of the child should be built up greatly in opposition to any form of negative discipline. For example, if a child has not obeyed the wishes of the parent, the parent should not point out the disobedience, but should praise another area of the child’s life where he did meet parental expectations. The thought is that the child will be self-motivated through positive reinforcement to do the things that he has not previously done.

In my study of Scripture and teaching in my class, I find the second approach to be disconcerting in light of the biblical evidence. If Scripture is to be our guide and the best example of parenting comes from our relationship with our Heavenly Father, then self-esteem/positive reinforcement “discipline” seems to be lacking. Don’t get me wrong, I desire to praise my children both for what they do and who they are. They are made in God’s image and are inherently valuable as a result. However, I also see in Scripture where God chastens his own children and then instructs us to use discipline appropriately to direct the hearts of our children toward him. For example, Proverbs 29:15 states, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.” In addition, Ephesians 6:1-3 teaches that a child’s obedience to his parents is actually an act of obedience to God.
With all this in mind, how do you think we ought to address this issue of discipline?

Back to the Bible at Willow Creek?

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Came across this article about Willow Creek Church in Illinois. Willow Creek, which has spearheaded and made famous the modern “seeker-sensitive” movement has sense “rethunk” their strategy and is going more Biblical….wow. Thanks Craig, for the link.

Check it out

I’d be curious as to what percentage of churches in the SBC have been affected by the Willow Creek movement…

Oprah: What to do with her?

If you have even a tiny part of your ear turned toward secular media then you have heard of Oprah Winfrey’s latest belief system, which, essentially is merely a culmination of her spiritual journey over the years. Because of this there has been a lot of talk about boycotting Oprah among Christian circles. I’m not sure that boycotting is the route that we should take. I think pastors and Christian leaders, among others, need to keep a keen eye on who and what Oprah endorses because of her tremendous influence and power. We need to educate our people as to why who and what she endorses are wrong. Believe it or not, there are many housewives and stay-at-home moms that watch her daily. Take a few minutes to watch this video. The beginning and ending is a little corny but the middle part is well done. After watching it, finish reading this post below the link.

This is what Tim Keller calls our ‘self-salvation project.” (The Reason for God, p.234) The bottom line in this belief system is that people do not want to believe that they are sinful. Additionally, they would like to believe that they can earn their salvation through themselves. This belief shouldn’t surprise us since we live in a culture of “earning.” Most everything that we have “earned” is ours, our society believes. This is especially true to the unbiblical, hard-working, self-sacrificing American person. This belief, and way of life, is completely antithetical to what the Gospel teaches. The Gospel teaches that man is sinful and that we cannot earn our salvation through ourselves – not that man is good and we can save ourselves.

Oprah is essentially teaching what every human being deep down desires – to “put God in our debt” as Keller states, and to earn our way to Him. That way He is in our debt and deserves to give us the sinful desires of our hearts. Oprah’s heresy is not just something that we should casually pass over. It is something that we need to interact with, pick apart, and educate to our people because the core of her belief system slaps God in the face and spits at Jesus while he lays stretched out on the cross.

Here is the question to debate: How should we go about educating our people about Oprah?

What Are the Most Pressing Issues Facing the Southern Baptist Convention?

According to our header, SBC Witness is about “encouraging Southern Baptist cooperation and faithfulness.” The contributors to this blog believe these two things to be virtues that ought to be cultivated among the people called Baptist. If I may combine the two, one could argue that the reason we are a convention of autonomous churches rather than Independent Baptists is because we believe in the value of “faithful cooperation.”

Faithful cooperation is increasingly difficult to maintain in the SBC. While the convention enjoyed substantial theological unity in the mid-19th century, that was already beginning to change in the decades after the Civil War. The Landmark controversies, the decline of doctrinaire Calvinism, the rise of theological liberalism and later neo-orthodoxy, the hardening of fundamentalism, the bureaucratization of the convention, the Civil Rights movement, the ecumenical movement, the neo-evangelical movement, the gender revolution, rise of the New Religious Right, the charismatic movement, The Controversy, post-denominationalism, the seeker-sensitive movement, the emerging church movements, the so-called Reformed Resurgence, resurgent Landmarkism, Catholic Baptists, revivalism in all its forms–each of these movements, for better or worse and to varying degrees, has contributed to the diversity among contemporary Southern Baptists. And that diversity has often led to intra-denominational conflict.

So here we are in 2008. The SBC is a divided house, and that’s without even counting churches that for any number of reasons dually align with both Southern Baptists and moderate Baptist, African-American Baptist, Reformed Baptist, or missional groups. In recent years we have fought about more things than I care to think about. There have been statements and counter-statements, blogs and counter-blogs, conferences and counter-conferences, candidates and counter-candidates. The differences in the style and even theology of different SBC public personalities is at times pronounced. Some glory in all this diversity. Some fear we are too diverse. Others pronounce a pox on both houses. And for all our conservative resurging, moderate purging, Republican voting, and program promoting, we remain considerably more divided than most folks will publicly admit.

I am curious: what do you think is the most pressing issue facing the Southern Baptist Convention in 2008? What is that one thing that most precludes us from faithful cooperation? What is our biggest problem? Share your thoughts with us by dropping a comment. I am genuinely curious as to what “normal” Southern Baptists think are the greatest threats to the ongoing viability, let alone vitality, of the convention.

Before you comment, please do a couple of things. First, think before you post. Second, try to stick to the one most pressing issue–two issues at most. Third, remember that whatever you say is being read by a couple dozen other people, mostly the contributors and their wives, so try to be kind and Christ-like. Fourth, do not attack any personalities. Finally, if any of you dialog with each other in the comments, do so respectfully. We want this to be a place for mature Christian reflection, so we will not hesitate to delete nasty comments.