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Caucus Meeting in Indy

03 Jun

Earlier, I mentioned some of the issues facing the SBC that I am sure will not be adequately addressed at the Indy 2008. Number 5 was the question about why we are going to Indy in the first place. I have never visited Indiana, and I am quite sure it is a great place, and I look forward to the visit. The question is not about the host city but about the concept. Why do we still caucus?

According to the dictionary, a caucus is a “closed meeting of a group of persons belonging to the same political party or faction usually to select candidates or to decide on policy.” In other words, a caucus is a meeting where members must be physically present, where decisions are made that affect the whole group, and where officers are elected that will lead the group by setting policy and nominating persons for trustees and committees.

The following scenario is quite ridiculous, is it not? The SBC has 16 million members. OK, we all know those numbers are fictional, so let’s consider the actual attendance numbers as closer to the truth (6 million). There are over 44,000 churches who are each able to send up to 10 messengers to the annual meeting. Let’s say that Indy has a whopping turnout and 10,000 messengers actually attend. This meeting will represent only .16% of the membership of the SBC (and that is using the 6 million figure) and only 2% of the possible number of messengers! So, less than 1% of those who are members of SBC local churches and who support the CP with their tithes and offerings will actually be able to have any input in the decision making process of their denomination. That is not exactly a formula to encourage participation!

We live in an electronic age, and there must be some way to arrange the annual meeting that would enable the messengers from all 44,000 plus SBC congregations to vote for candidates or on policy. We can still have the annual meeting if we want a feel good moment to hear the annual reports from the various agencies, but we must find a way to open the decision making process up to all of the member congregations. The days of “packing the bus” need to come to a close. Surely a denomination that has learned how to put a missionary in the most remote corner of the globe can find a way to register up to 10 messengers from each congregation and to count their vote for candidates and policy via the Internet. This can be done and should be done by the year 2010.

Todd Pylant

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2 Comments

Posted by on June 3, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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2 responses to “Caucus Meeting in Indy

  1. Lee

    June 3, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Amen! I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been on this same idea for the BGCT.

    Here’s why it won’t happen.

    The “caucus” that now exists is largely made up of individuals from churches that have a vested interest in the SBC. These are the churches from which trustee boards have been selected, or that are close to the seminary campuses, or have high numbers of employees who work for SBC entities nearby, generally individuals that the current power structure and control group, i.e. the “Conservative Resurgence” or the “Patterson Pressler Coalition” helped to get their position. The larger the constituency at the convention, the greater the chance that their circle of leaders will be replaced by fresh new faces and perhaps, by people from a differing denominational ideological or theological position. The narrow theology of the Conservative Resurgence has influenced what is being taught in the seminaries, and how missionaries are chosen, but by and large, they are a minority perspective across the SBC. If electronic voting and monitoring were allowed, potentially increasing the participation in the SBC annual meeting to ten times what it is now, it would take the leadership out of the hands of the people who run it now.

    Likewise, the BGCT will never consider it because it would do the same thing there. Baptist conventions and organizations are an oligarchy of the privileged, prominent, pedigreed, self-important, self-appointed leaders, most of whom have worked their way to the royal level of importance in a Baptist church organization because they couldn’t make it in secular politics.

    I’m going to Indianapolis because our church has a vested interest in what the SBC does, not because we have any individuals involved in leadership, but because we support the CP with our dollars, and our prayers, and we want to see it succeed. If something happens and change occurs, so be it, but I have never expected it from an SBC gathering.

     
  2. tpylant

    June 3, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Lee,

    Thanks for dropping by.

    While I agree with you, I abhor what we are in agreement of. We are basically saying that we have a denomination where a few people rule and work to keep the rules in place so that the masses can’t impact their faith group.

    This basic issue needs to be a rallying cry from young leaders. Those in power who keep asking (or who should be asking) “where did everybody go?” need to hear at least one of the answers is “to a place where the people are allowed to influence their faith group.”

    Todd

     

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