Under the table, or out of the house?
August 23 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Under the table, or out of the house? | Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Under the table, or out of the house?

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

Finding a Baptist who admits being opposed to missions is a rare thing these days, when mission drives such as the current North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) are a recurring part of the church calendar, and even confirmed Calvinists are eager to assist the chosen in discovering their (pre)destiny.

But historians of Baptist life would be quick to remind us that there was a time when anti-missionary Baptists regarded themselves as the guardians of authentic Baptist life, and the burgeoning missionary movement was seen as a corrupting influence on the "true" New Testament church.

For example, as local associations in Georgia debated whether to join the state's newly forming "Baptist General Convention" back in 1822, some Baptists wanted to be sure they didn't get involved with those troublesome advocates of missions.

Several years ago, a Georgia educator recalled what happened when a motion was made before one Baptist body, calling for the extension of the gospel through missions. "A motion was made to lay the matter on the table," he quotes an unnamed historian, "amended by a motion to throw the matter under the table, and then by another, to kick the bearer of the motion out of the house."

Reportedly, the amended motion was carried by a standing vote, with some of those present leaping to their feet to escort the motion maker to the door, "threatening physical harm if he ever again pronounced the word 'missions' in the presence of that body" (R. Kirby Godsey, "The Baptist Journey of Faith and Learning," in Christian Ethics Today [March 1996], p. 7).

I have met few contemporary Baptists who would vote to kick someone out of the church house for promoting the cause of missions.

I have, however, known many Baptists who are perfectly happy to leave the motion on - or under - the table. They may publicly applaud others who give of themselves to the cause of Christ as career missionaries or in volunteer mission work - but they extend a personal vote against the cause by remaining firmly seated when there is a call for volunteers, or by guarding their checkbooks against unwanted appeals for missions giving.

It's time again to bring the cause of missions out from under the table, and lift it high, and recognize it as central to the teaching and call of Christ.

The North Carolina Missions Offering is an ideal way to support missions because it not only provides needed funds for important mission programs, but it also helps to finance the coordination and promotion of volunteer missions projects.

The Woman's Missionary Union of North Carolina relies on the NCMO for most of its budget, as does N.C. Baptist Men.

Mission projects from Grifton to Ground Zero depend on the NCMO, as do strategic partnership efforts from Sitka to Singapore and back around to San Pedro Sula.

Age-graded missions training support and mission camps for boys and girls are supported by the NCMO.

N.C. Baptist ministry to the deaf and to people with other special needs gets funding from the NCMO, as do N.C. church planting efforts and many ministries of local associations.

When the call goes out in your church to support the NCMO, I pray that you will rise to support it, leaping up to give freely of your money and to escort yourself out the door and into the fields, which are ripe unto harvest.

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8/23/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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