Friday, February 16, 2007

Note from the Baptist Identity Conference, pt. 2

Thom Rainer and Mike Day were the 2nd and 3rd speakers on Thursday. Dr. Rainer spoke on evangelism and church growth and said good things about both. I especially appreciated his call for humility at the end. He demonstrated that for which he pled. He also called attention to the serious problem we have in the SBC with unregenerate church members, citing the sad fact that while we claim more than 16 million on our roles only 7 million come on Sunday morning. The repeated admission of this reality--including by more and more prominent SBC leaders--bodes well for the future. The first step to dealing with a problem is admitting that it exists and is serious enough to address. I think we are rapidly getting to that place.

Mike Day is the DOM of the Mid-South Baptist Association in Memphis. I have a confession to make. When I saw that a DOM was scheduled to speak on "The Future of Baptist Associations and State Conventions" I was, shall we say, less than excited. Boy, was I wrong. His talk was worth the whole conference. I encourage everyone who cares about the future of the SBC to order the CD from Union with his message. Dr. Day offered a very fine analysis of these two layers of Baptist organizational life, calling attention to their redundancy and need for change. He mentioned the need for a new way of thinking associationally, that takes some hints from the history of Baptist associations in America. He mentioned "affinity associations(!)," and called for them to be regionally based but not limited by strict geographical boundaries.

I was fully engaged by his words and could not believe that a DOM was actually saying them. The SBC is changing and needs to change for the better. Dr. Day gets that. This type of thinking can help move the denomination forward in very healthy directions.

Timmy Brister, Steve McKoy, Joe Thorn and Art Rogers are all blogging about the conference. Their observations are worth reading.


solagratia said...

Dr. Ascol,

Are you familiar with the Spurgeon Baptist Association? I wonder if Mr. Day's mention of "affinity associations" is an acknowledgment of what is happening in the Spurgeon Assoc. The Spurgeon Assoc. is recognized by the Kansas Nebraska Convention of the SBC but is not a traditional geographic association. Member churches are located in both Kansas and in Iowa. For more info on them, visit their website:

Ben Hedrick

Tom said...


I think so. This is the wave of the future, I am convinced. The Spurgeon Association is doing a good job and is paving the way for others.

J.D. Rector said...

Tom: For someone who wanted to go to this conference, but was hindered from doing so, thank you so much for your insight and perspective on the speakers.

Indeed, Dr. Day sounds like a refreshing DOM. I have long thought that the traditional way of "doing associations" needs serious evaluation. Hopefully, Dr. Day's comments will put some action into those who desire to approach our local associations in a new and effective way.

Thanks again!

J.D. Rector

Brian Hamrick said...

any possibility these messages show up for free on mp3? It seems I have gotten old conference messages that way in the past...

Thank you brother for your reporting.

G. Alford said...


I have been praying for "affinity associations" for many hears now... Of course you and I both being from the same state of Florida I do not have to tell you of the urgent need…

I have just finished an article on “Coerced-Conformity”. If you get time (yea I know) let me know what you think?

Grace to all,
Greg Alford

Chris Bonts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GeneMBridges said...

It seems to me that, because we live in the age of "local church autonomy," that is to say an age where all you to do is invoke that phrase to excuse just about anything a local church and its leaders are doing or have done, we've neglected the theology of the association. Our forefathers did not do this. I'm thinking specifically about the Charleston Association's recommendations here.

Perhaps we should encourage Dr. Rainer to follow up with the DOM's and, for that matter draw on some of the thoughts of others in history to develop a book on this issue. I wouldn't mind seeing some thoughts on the Association appear in the Founder's Journal.

Gone, it seems, are the days of the circular letter and the questions with their answers. Gone are the days when associations could reign in churches. I'm reticent to see the denomination do that sort of thing, but an association, where everybody (should) know(s) each other is the place where that sort of thing can happen. I live in NC, where we've just witnessed the state convention draw a line in the sand over the issue of homosexuality. There are, I think, 16 churches that will be affected. Many here seem upset the convention would choose to exclude them, all in the name of "local church autonomy." But we wouldn't be in this position here if their associations hadn't let them off the hook for so long, all in the name of "local church autonomy."

This also relates to the issue of church discipline and the concept of a regenerate church membership. The work of a local church, church discipline, associational interaction, and even conventioning are all meaningless without a regenerate church membership.

GeneMBridges said...

BTW, is there a way for the rest of us to hear these messages? I'd like to hear both of these, particularly the one on associations.

wayner said...

MP3 audio of some the Baptist Identity conference can be found here I assume the rest will be added in time. Other conference audio can be found on this page, along with audio from the 2004 Baptist Identity conference.

Gary Fore said...

Dr. Ascol,

Our church (Wray SBC, Wray,CO)ministers out on the windy prairies of Eastern Colorado. Through various Providential encounters with the Spurgeon Baptist Association these last 2 years, we have been greatly blessed. Wray SBC has recently officially joined the association due to her commitment to our understanding of true Baptist and Southern Baptist history and doctrines, as rooted in the Scriptures. I would encourage other truly doctrinally like-minded churches to join us as the Lord directs you. It has been a breath of fresh air for me as a pastor of a small church.