Thursday, October 28, 2004

My Call, Part 3

As I stated earlier, CBF was a life changing experience for me.

I think a little bit of an explanation of CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) is appropriate here. I think many people think of the CBF as being a moderate version of the SBC. While the CBF is composed primarily of moderate Baptists, its organizational structure is entirely different.

The CBF is primarily a networking and missions organization. Unlike the SBC it does not have a publishing division, a Christian ethics division, etc. Rather, CBF partners with other organizations who perform these functions. For example, Smith and Helwys publishes the Sunday School literature used by many CBF churches, but CBF neither owns nor controls Smith and Helwys. Likewise, the CBF does not have seminaries like the SBC, they simply partner with new or existing divinity schools and seminaries. An interesting, and, in my opinion, very beneficial effect of this arrangement is the fact that there are CBF partners that are not Baptist For example: CBF partners with Upper Room Ministries, which is a Methodist organization. A complete list of CBF's partners is available here.

The CBF does not issue the kind of position statements the SBC does, such as the Disney boycott or the call increase evangelism to Jewish people. CBF believes in the autonomy of every local church, so these kinds of decisions are left up to the local church. There are, of course, many beliefs that are common to CBF churches such as the support of women in ministry, but local churches are also free to disagree. There are state and regional CBF's as well.

It is possible for a church as well as an individual to be a member of CBF, and there is plenty to do at annual CBF Meetings for either church staff or laity. I have enjoyed both of the CBF annual meetings I have attended. There is a worship service every night, and there are also "sample worship services" of many different styles offered throughout the conference. There are workshops for pastors, workshops on Baptist history, workshops on prayer and dozens of others on a wide variety of topics with a variety of speakers both Baptist and non-Baptist. Many people think that the national CBF convention is only for church leadership, but that is not the case. If any of this sounds interesting to you, I certainly encourage you to go to the next CBF annual meeting. More information can be found here.

Without CBF, I wouldn't still be Baptist.

Here are some great links for more information about CBF:

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Homepage
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida
Baptist Faith and Message 1963 & 2000 - CBF Follows the 1963 version
CBF and the Baptist Faith and Message
Differences Between CBF and the SBC - By CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal
Fundamental vs. Fundamentalist
Who We Are - Brochure from CBF
Truth about CBF

A lot of the above links are from this page on CBF's website.

I'll get back to my personal experience in the next post. But I decided I needed to talk about CBF a little before I continued. I am very passionate about CBF and the work it is doing right now. They are starting a NEW CBF church every month right now, and that is very exciting.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gil,

I'm interested in your comment "Without CBF, I wouldn't still be Baptist." I hate to sound obtuse, but "so what?" You'd still be saved and serving in the kingdom of God, right? You'd still be contributing in a number of ways to the furtherance of the gospel. You'd be giving of your time, talents, and treasures to bring the message of salvation to the unsaved, wouldn't you? So what does being called a Baptist (or Methodist or Presbyterian or anything else) have to do with your personal relationship with Christ or your call to the ministry?

Just trying to get your juices flowing. ;)

Love you!
Julie