info and faqs about the baptist convention of iowa
For nearly the last year, our church has been in a season of focused prayer and counsel as the pastors have considered a future association or denominational affiliation for Walnut Creek. As shared at Member Meetings in May, the Futures Committee chose six organizations for closer examination and consideration based on four areas of criteria. At that time, the pastors presented their recommendation to join the Baptist Convention of Iowa and asked the church to take the next six weeks to consider this recommendation. All of the pastors of Walnut Creek are excited to announce that we will be officially moving forward with joining the BCI this month.
You can read the official update here.
We have answered some frequently asked questions about the BCI below. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact one of your location pastors, or you can send an email with your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Benefits & initiatives of the Baptist Convention of Iowa
Safe Churches Report
Key findings from the Sexual Abuse Advisory Group in response to sexual abuse allegations within the SBC
Frequently asked questions about the Baptist Convention of Iowa (BCI)
What is the BCI?
What is required of WCC to join the BCI/SBC?
There are three requirements to join the BCI:
- Agree with the Baptist Faith and Message (their functional Statement of Faith)
- Give financially to the SBC’s Cooperative Program. This is the program through which all giving flows to the various organizational arms of the SBC.
- Identify with the BCI relationally and publicly in some capacity. This could include things like:
- Attending events and conferences
- Identifying with the organization on our website
- The church board voting to join the BCI
What has the BCI/SBC done in terms of evaluating WCC? What has that process looked like?
As WCC evaluated the SBC and BCI to determine whether or not they were a good fit for our church, the BCI leaders also spent time evaluating WCC. That process of evaluation has largely been conversational and relational. Several WCC pastors have spent considerable time discussing core doctrine, mission and methodology, relational expectations, and stewardship issues with the BCI leadership. Our collective assessment has been that there is a very high degree of alignment in those categories. The BCI leaders have expressed excitement and enthusiasm about partnering with WCC.
If WCC joins the BCI/SBC, what practical changes will individual church members experience at the local level?
Similar to being a part of Great Commission Churches, being a SBC member church should not greatly impact day-to-day life in the church. WCC’s strategy, structures, and calendar will remain largely unchanged. The only changes that our members may notice are new opportunities to attend trainings and conferences organized by the BCI, to collaborate with other BCI churches, and to be equipped and resourced in the areas of church planting or post-secondary education, if they are led to pursue those things.
If WCC joins the BCI/SBC, will we officially be a part of a Baptist denomination?
Yes. WCC will be an SBC member church, and the SBC is a Baptist denomination. However, that does not mean we are in any way affiliated with other Baptist denominations such as General Baptists or American Baptists.
Similar to the concept of “evangelical” churches, “Baptist” churches are a very broad category that require further qualification to properly identify. Each “Baptist” denomination is very distinct and carries, in some cases, significantly different theological and methodological views.
To avoid public confusion about Baptist churches, WCC will publicly identify with the Send Network, the church planting arm of the SBC.
If WCC joins the BCI/SBC, will we maintain autonomous authority for the evaluation and recognition of church elders?
Yes. Our process for pastoral evaluation and recognition will remain unchanged. The only exception would be concerning planting a church through the Send Network (the SBC domestic church planting arm). In that case, the SBC would not have authority in terms of pastoral recognition, but the church planting pastor would need to submit to their application, evaluation, and (if approved) equipping process. This process partners heavily with the local church, giving it the final authority for recognizing and sending church planters.
What is the advantage to joining a denomination? Why is it beneficial?
There is safeguard in having close relationships with other churches. We do not need to join a denomination or network to be united with other local churches. However, the SBC provides structures, rhythms, and opportunities for us to be practically more united with the greater Body of Christ in our city and to learn from them. Also, the SBC provides access to valuable resources which will enable us to further the mission of Christ.
Are there any drawbacks to joining the SBC?
If we join the SBC, we are choosing to identify with them. There are over 45,000 churches in the SBC, with a variety of differences in methodology and theology, as well as sin. The bigger the organization, the more sin, news, and negative publicity will most likely be generated.
For example, in recent years, there have been numerous reports of sexual abuse within the SBC. In response to these instances being brought to national attention, the President of the SBC, JD Grear, commissioned a Sexual Abuse Advisory Group. He tasked the group with considering how Southern Baptists at every level can take discernible action to respond swiftly and compassionately to incidents of abuse, as well as to foster safe environments within churches and institutions. The work of that group can be viewed at www.caringwell.com. A thorough investigation of the state of the SBC and what changes needed to be implemented at every level was carried out. The work of the Sexual Abuse Advisory Group is transparent, impressive, and reflective of the type of posture we want to have toward fostering a safe environment of integrity and accountability in our own church.
Download the Safe Churches Report
What are some non-negotiables that would result in WCC leaving the BCI/SBC if we do join?
We cannot be assured that the SBC will move in the right direction, however, we do not anticipate the SBC heading in the wrong direction. Our reasons for leaving would be doctrinally based, not because of methodology or relational issues. For example, some doctrinal issues we would not agree with would be the denial of the inerrancy of the Bible, preaching a false gospel (i.e. prosperity gospel), or recognizing women as pastors.
What will happen if there are significant hesitations or concerns from church members about joining the BCI/SBC?
Our desire is for the church to weigh in on the process and our recommendation. Our commitment is to move forward in unity. If there are major concerns or hesitations throughout the church, we will counsel together as elders, work through those concerns with members, and seek the Lord in terms of how to proceed.
What other organizations have been seriously considered? Is there a second choice other than the SBC?
We seriously considered all six organizations listed in the recommendation document. Those included Acts 29 Network, Evangelical Free Church of America, Great Commission Churches, Presbyterian Church In America, Sojourn Network, and The Southern Baptist Convention. Based upon initial conversations and doctrinal comparison, some organizations received more attention and time. The goal from the beginning was to determine where God might lead, which impacted our process. That being the case, the mindset was not to rank these organizations, but rather to identify a clear best option, which we believe is the SBC.
What differences in theology do you see between the BCI/SBC and WCC?
The SBC is intentionally broad in their Baptist Faith and Mission. The Baptist Faith and Mission is not designed to prescribe all the theological positions every church should have but rather establishes foundational beliefs churches should hold. The SBC gives room for differences of opinion on certain issues like eschatology, spiritual gifts, and Calvinism versus Arminianism. WCC fits within the range of beliefs stated in the Baptist Faith and Mission.
One difficulty with this broadness is that when you get in relationship with another SBC church, their theology could be quite different on a variety of topics. However, what we have found is that the Baptist Faith and Mission establishes a very healthy common ground between churches.
Will WCC need to adopt the Baptist Faith and Mission as our Statement of Faith?
No. SBC member churches need to agree to the Baptist Faith and Mission, but churches are able to hold their own Statements of Faith.
What amount of money will WCC give to the BCI/SBC?
The BCI does not designate a specific percentage to be given, but WCC is required to give to the BCI as a member church. Fifty percent of what we give will stay with the BCI for church planting, training, and conferences. Of that money, 50 percent will then be distributed to the SBC to help with IMB, NAMB, ERLC, seminaries, and administrative costs. Historically we have given to Great Commission Churches, and we will continue to value giving financially to help other churches.
What will our relationships look like with other Des Moines churches in the BCI?
We already have relationships with many of these churches in Des Moines and joining the BCI would simply strengthen and affirm those relationships and the Body of Christ. The BCI would provide more opportunities to partner with those churches for conferences, training, and prayer times.
Will WCC missionaries be affected in terms of funding and sending?
Our current workers on the field and those preparing to go will have no impact. Forward looking, there may or may not be impact. We will get to decide as a church if we would like to work with the International Mission Board or with other agencies. The IMB is the missionary agency of the SBC that helps support, send, and fully fund missionaries that come out of SBC churches. Not all missionaries in SBC churches go out through the IMB.
Would there be any opportunities for ministries within the church to get further training?
The BCI opens up a wide variety of opportunities for pastors, leaders, and church members to be trained and equipped. Some examples include: youth conferences, men’s and women’s retreats, and counseling and evangelism training. The SBC also has six seminaries throughout the country, and any member of an SBC church receives 50 percent off tuition.
Would joining the BCI/SBC impact WCC's plan to plant churches?
Hypothetically we would be able to plant churches more quickly. One aspect of the SBC we really appreciate is their clear process to assess whether a man is qualified to plant a church. The SBC not only provides intensive training prior to planting but also continues to provide support even after the church is planted.
Who will make the final decision to join the BCI/SBC? What is the due date?
Our church is elder led, meaning decisions like this come back to the plurality of pastors. As pastors we have and will continue to receive counsel from the church and listen to your thoughts and concerns. Our heart is to make this decision as united as possible as pastors and as a whole church. We want the church to be informed and included, but ultimately, the final decision will lie with the plurality of elders.
We don’t want to do this unless we believe this is the best thing for advancing the Kingdom of God, glorifying God, and making authentic disciples of Jesus Christ. We hope the BCI/SBC would move this cause forward. As pastors we feel united in this decision and feel God leading us in this direction. If there are significant concerns brought up, we are willing to reconsider the direction we’re heading.
Will Walnut Creek Church have to change its name?
No, we would remain Walnut Creek Church.
Click here to access the Denominational Recommendation document given after the May 2020 Member Meetings.