Control instead of Cooperation

November 19, 2007

A growing trend in Baptist life these days seems to be attempts by conventions to gain more control over other ministry organizations, instead of merely cooperating together for the sake of the Gospel. In Louisiana, the state convention voted to change the charters of various state ministry organizations in order to clearly stake out the convention's ownership and control of them. This should not be too surprising since the Louisiana Baptist Convention's executive director, David Hankins, has continually pushed for greater control and hierarchy in Baptist life. For more information, see my Ethics Daily column (An Expert on Baptist Polity?) critiquing Hankins.

In North Carolina, the state convention decided not to give funds to the state's Woman's Missionary Union because the group would not (graciously) submit to the convention's control. If the WMU has become a ministry that you are unwilling to support, then there is something wrong with you. The North Carolina convention also moved closer to ending its relationship with other state ministry groups whom the convention will not fund unless it has control over them.

Other states have taken similar actions over the past few years. But why must we seek greater control over ministries? Why is that path being taken even though it is destroying our cooperation? Why do we think we have to control a ministry before we are willing to fund it? Personally, I give money to various ministries that I have no control over. I do not give in order to gain control but because I want to support the great ministry work they are doing. It is time for our conventions to get refocused on supporting and cooperating with ministries instead of focusing on trying to control them.