Saturday, March 26, 2005

OBU fires PR Director

Tim Sean's latest blog discusses one of the neglected costs of discipleship. An earlier blog is also helpful.

There was a time when Baptist churches grew uncomfortably large and deliberately called out members to leave and start new churches in their community. That was in the 1940's and 50's and 60's when ministers were more concerned about building God's kingdom than their own.

Today, many Baptist ministers just seem to be interested in building bigger barns. To human eyes, money spent on brick and mortar seems more durable than resources invested in transient and fragile flesh and blood.

OBU's former PR Director seems to have suffered from an attack of truth-telling. He asked whether it was healthy for the community-at-large for an established, influential church to abandon an inner city. He questioned the value of spending more than ten million dollars to build new facilities in an affluent neighborhood and wondered whether it would drain scarce resources that might best be used improving the spiritual atmosphere of an impoverished neighborhood.

Shawnee is not the first city to see it's churches abandon the impoverished neighborhoods where the needs are greatest. This is not the first truth-teller to lose his job for failing to hold his tongue. Many moderate Baptists will find the truth he tells as offensive as do Fundamentalist Baptists. We know how to follow the money as much as they do.

Still, we ought to be wondering whether this former PR Director is not right for pointing out the foolishness of our churches. What does it profit if we gain the whole world, and lose our own souls?


TammyJo58 said...


I see this situation as another indication of how "The least of these..." have taken a back seat in the religious right's quest for power. It is not uncommon for Christians to justify their actions by claiming that people who are jobless, homeless, sick, handicapped, etc. are that way by their own choice. Instead of Christian love, we show them distain. Our pastor implores us not to "vote our pocketbook." It is very telling that he cannot conceive of a Christian who places their vote because of "The least of these."

God Bless,

Myles said...

irony. Brister is my former pastor of my childhood. so sad to see my worlds collide.

Anonymous said...

I would hardly call the south edge of Shawnee (population 35,000) the inner city. And wouldn't a church have to move more than a few miles a way in order to abandon an impoverished neighborhood? Give me a break.

What arrogance : to second guess a church's earnest and prayerful intention to grow under God's leadership.

Dr. Bruce Prescott said...


Social distance has little to do with geographical distance and suburban sprawl has little to do with population density.