I’m new to the world of blogging. For the most part, I don’t think my life is nearly interesting enough for other people to read about. However, I have been interested in the rise of Southern Baptist blogs. For those of you who only know about Southern Baptists from our crazier pronouncements we make every summer or our shameless electioneering for the republican party—I apologize for us. I’m really sorry those things are what most people see of a valuable part of the Christian faith. I wish we did a better job of presenting our charity hospitals, clinics, mission volunteers or the disaster relief we are still doing from hurricane Katrina. The boycotts of Disney and public schools and our deplorable escapades into partisan politics catch us at our very worst.

For those of you who have stumbled across this space—please allow me to give you my thumbnail sketch of the politics of the Southern Baptist Convention before I lay out my purpose in cluttering up my own slice of the internet. In 1979, Southern Baptists began a struggle with themselves that continues to this day. A group of very conservative Southern Baptists decided that the denomination had gotten too liberal. These conservatives were particularly worried about our six graduate schools for preachers (seminaries). These conservatives found that if they could elect a like minded man to the presidency of the denomination, then they could take control of the entire denominational apparatus. With enough successful elections, the conservatives could appoint like minded people to the heads of all SBC agencies, schools, mission boards and commissions. The conservatives began a campaign of selecting only people with reliably conservative credentials and a commitment to moving the denomination further to the right. The strategy worked.

By the early 1990s the SBC had taken a sharp move to the right. Most of the losing side left the denomination and formed their own schools, agencies and mission entities. Suffice to say, the exodus and left the SBC with depleted numbers and money. I won’t deal further with “the conservative resurgence”. However, I thought it might be helpful to know that there was a big fight and now the winners of that fight need to figure out what the new SBC will look and operate like. In particular, I’m interested in the role of bloggers in shaping the new SBC.

By my observation, the blogging preachers such as Wade Burleson, Marty Duren and Art Rogers are sort of modern pamphleteers. The well read blog is similar in impact to the printing press that aided the protestant reformation. Pastors Burleson, Duren and Rogers are, at their best, working as a sort of reform agent to temper the excesses of 15 years of denominational warfare. The end result of “the conservative resurgence” has been a great desire for control. Examples abound demonstrating control of institutions, personnel, money and even ideas. By my reckoning, the Baptist blogosphere provides a valuable check on an unhealthy desire for control. I also hope that the important bloggers have begun a dialogue about the present and future of the Southern Baptist Convention. With luck, we can be a denomination defined by the message of Jesus and less about control, power and money. In particular, the blogging Baptist preachers are responding to a denominational leadership structure more eager to kick people out than invite people in.

My experiment in the Southern Baptist blogosphere is tied to a comment made by Danny Akin, president of one of our graduate schools, the other day. One of the school trustees asked Akin to give his thoughts on the blogging trend. In response, Akin stated that bloggers are an outlet for out of control egotism with little accountability among blog writers. He also mentioned that bloggers tend to smear the reputations of other, more virtuous, men. Further, Akin mentioned that he “didn’t give a rip” about what the blogging preachers think. For Akin, blogs are created by “little men with little ideas and little agendas”.

Akin would have made me mad if he hadn’t so perfectly expressed a denominational leadership out of touch with its people. I’m just a layman who has grown up in the Baptist church. It’s nice to know that a guy who makes a better than average living on the tithes of millions like me can’t be bothered by little people with their little ideas. To immediately dismiss the ideas coming up on blogs seems to close us as a denomination from becoming better or more effective for the kingdom.

So here I am—just one little layman. I’ve also got one little idea: Christians ought to spend more of their time trying to live up to the message of Jesus. I’ve also got one little agenda: to be part of the conversation going on about our future as a people of faith. I’m choosing to remain anonymous for the time being for two simple reasons. First, people close to me are deeply involved in SBC life and I don’t wish to cause them grief. Sadly, I believe that reprisals and character assassination are the rule rather than the exception in our denominational conflict. Secondly, I don’t want ego to get in the way. The ideas are what’s important anyway. I just want to offer helpful, encouraging and truthful ideas that reflect some of the lay perspective.

Now we see if anyone finds this. Take care.

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