Jeff Iorg Blog
A Wave of Change
May 20 2013
A recent news article about Millennials, people born between 1980 and 2000, caught my eye. The gist of the article was the coming wave of political change this generation will create as they assume leadership in our country. Millennials are characterized as a “get-it-done” group who eschew ideological polarization in favor of creating coalitions to solve political and cultural problems. Sounds good – at first hearing.
More people working together for the common good sounds appealing. Rancor and divisiveness are wearisome. Results are often delayed or denied. Building bridges and getting things done means progress. So what’s the problem?
The problem is defining the “common good.” Many Millennials seem intent on defining the common good as what the majority believes, based on in-the-moment social media tracking. After all, shouldn’t the majority rule? Shouldn’t the people have their way? Well, not in America!
The common good, for 200+ years, has not been determined by popular vote or political polling. It has been determined by deliberative process, based on sound reasoning leading to laws enacted that really were for the “common good,” not just for what seems good in the moment. Yes, the process has made mistakes. By and large, however, it has worked to create a nation ruled by law based on Truth.
My concern about the coming generation of leaders is not their intelligence or passion or even their political positions. My concern is they believe Truth is whatever you believe – not what is objectively True for all people everywhere at all time. If Millennials can bring a new level of cooperation to our nation (and to our denomination, for that matter) based around Truth – I’m all for the changes they will introduce. Old leaders like me will need to get out of the way and let the improvements help us all.
But if Millennials intend to create coalitions around truth as they define it in the moment, my support evaporates. They are not smarter, more enlightened, or more morally insightful than people in the past several millennia. Millennials who grasp this important fact can lead us to new heights of achievement. Those who don’t, will help dismantle our nation from within.
Let’s pray for and train the next generation to be the right kind of “get-it-done” leaders.
May 13 2013
A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle (5/8/13) reported on the growing problem of gonorrhea becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. California and Hawaii are the first states to report the problem. More specifically, San Francisco Bay Area counties have the highest infection rates in California. Why?
The same article reported 2,200 cases in 2011 in San Francisco County, a rate of 278.7 cases per 100,000 people – the highest rate in California. The rate increased 21.5% over the previous year among men, while decreasing 22% among women. So many more men are infected than women; however, the overall increase is still more than 15%. One study reported 60 % of the cases in men were among men who have sex with other men.
The same article reported a request by directors of the National Coalition of Sexual Transmitted Diseases for $53.48 million in additional public health funding from Congress. Let me be sure you got that - $53+ million of your tax money to pay for treatment of gonorrhea. And on another note, what does it say about our country that we have a Coalition for STDS that has directors!
The article made no mention of any moral dimension to this problem. The assumption is people want to have sex. They can have sex with any willing partner. Then they get a disease only transmitted through sexual encounters. And, all of us are responsible to pay for the treatment.
Public health care is a moral responsibility in a compassionate society. People who can’t afford treatment for mental health issues, post traumatic stress disorder, or other diseases or afflictions they acquired through no fault of their own deserve compassionate care. Failure to do so is an affront to all of us. Whatever tax money spent to help people like this (particularly children), is money well spent.
But why is it also a public duty to pay for treatment for a disease that can be completely contained with better moral choices? Monogamy with a healthy partner, even in relationships which by biblical standards are immoral, would still stop the problem! Personal responsibility, however, is not part of the equation on providing public health care – and all of us get to pay the price.
A new church was chronicled in our local newspaper this past weekend. You can check it out at www.jerkchurch.com
. On the other hand, don’t bother. This so-called church is a group that gets together to sing, eat, and do nice things for each other. They claim to be a church without all the baggage of divisive religious convictions. Judging by the lyrics in their online hymnal, what they apparently believe in is vulgarity and perversion.
In a weird way, there is one thing I like about this church. At least they are honest! One of the members said of their church, “It has all the things we like about going to church, without the religious doctrine that doesn’t resonate with us anymore.” The jerks, as they call themselves, have created church in their image – without any frustrating doctrinal standards. They get to determine what is right and wrong, moral or immoral.
Many people, including some Christians, do the same thing but aren’t nearly so frank about their position. The growing rejection of doctrinal, moral, and ethical standards taught clearly in the Bible saddens me. Either you follow Jesus and submit to his Word, or you don’t. If you do, it doesn’t mean you always get everything right, but at least you’re trying. You recognize biblical authority and make a good faith effort to submit to it.
The Jerk Church brazenly rejects biblical standards. Two-faced Christians who do the same, while claiming not to, frustrate me even more. Both groups are self-deluded, thinking they can follow “their God” – defining him in their terms and selectively obeying the parts of his Word they find acceptable. Both groups diminish the gospel and undermine the fulfilling life God would really like for them to have.
What saddens me most is people missing out on God’s best because they redefine, rather than submit, to his standards. Don’t fall prey to that temptation! Stay strong in your determination to honor God and live according to his Word.
Apr 30 2013
This past month has included several ministry opportunities with Korean Baptists. I have spoken at a pastor installation service, a memorial service for the founding pastor of the first Korean Baptist church in the U.S., a major church planting conference in Georgia, and a church revival in Washington. These four events have included about a dozen messages, along with countless conversations about ministry strategies and leadership challenges.
These events are the result of more than 20 years of developing significant friendships in the Korean Baptist community. We have shared ministry and meals, trips and conferences – all while learning how to work together as partners to advance God’s kingdom. During my time in the Northwest, the Tacoma Korean First Baptist Church became a favorite partner. I have spoken there several times, including this past weekend, and have marveled at their graciousness and receptivity to my ministry. They facilitated so much of my understanding of Korean culture and helped me learn to enjoy Korean BBQ. Thanks for serving me this way!
After moving to Golden Gate, my relationships broadened to include pastors and other leaders around the Bay Area and across California. These new friends have helped us expand our seminary’s ministry to include bilingual degree programs – from our most basic diplomas to doctoral degrees. We now have more Korean students than at any time in our history.
Recently, I was asked to participate in a strategy session with leaders from other schools about improving multicultural educational strategies among Southern Baptists. Step one, as I communicated to the work group, is simple. Stop thinking of ethnic groups as objects of mission and start thinking of them as mission partners. That means they get a seat at the table and a voice in the decision-making processes.
While recent immigrants may still need a missionary focus, established churches in many groups now have hundreds – if not thousands – of members. The SBC has several ethnic mega-churches that receive little to no denominational recognition – but they are healthy, strong, influential churches. They are no longer “missions,” but thriving enterprises with multi-million dollar budgets, beautiful facilities, and highly trained pastors. We will be a better denomination when we learn to be better partners with these awesome churches.