Dooming the Great Commission Resurgence

The following is a guest post by Ryan Hutchinson, who serves as senior vice president for business administration at Southeastern Seminary. In addition to his duties at SEBTS, Ryan is a member of the First Baptist Church of Durham, where he serves as an elder and teaches adult Sunday School.


I have been working on a plan. The plan is how to doom the Great Commission Resurgence to failure. It is simple and brilliant, and most importantly will prove effective. What is it you ask? I am working hard to make sure nothing is discussed about the Great Commission Resurgence Declaration other than Commitment IX (A Commitment to More Effective Convention Structure).

In reality, I am not working on a devious plan to tank the Great Commission Resurgence. I will leave that to other individuals. However, if we are not careful, we will effectively carry out the plan to cause the Great Commission Resurgence to fail by getting hung up on the ninth commitment and forgetting about the other nine.

Why so much focus on Commitment IX? Two reasons: a) either we like results and the kind of results we like are those that impact “the Man” or b) we work for “the Man” and can’t understand why anyone would think there is room for major improvement. Commitment IX represents the dollars, the power, the old vs. new way of doing things, and the easiest way to point to a result we think shows success or failure depending on your point of view. What is the problem? The problem is that getting hung up on Commitment IX will mire us in controversy, and stall us from working together for the expansion of the Kingdom. Don’t get me wrong…even as a denominational serpent servant, I whole-heartedly support Commitment IX, but I believe it is only one cog in the wheel of the Great Commission Resurgence.

So what things can we do to keep the Great Commission Resurgence on track? First, remember this is a call to our ministers in the pew and not just our ministers in the pulpit. This is not a call for them to mobilize and force the hand of the convention towards reorganization, but it is a call for them to mobilize for the Great Commission (by the way, that is all of it…making disciples, baptizing and teaching them to obey). We can do all kinds of things to make the storefront much more attractive when it comes to how we try to accomplish something, but without a renewed commitment to the Great Commission by the minister in the pew, we will find ourselves in the same position, only divvying up the dollars differently. So share the Great Commission Resurgence with your local body, exhort them to apply the commitments to their lives, and get them to show their support by signing the document.

Second, make the other nine commitments of the Great Commission Resurgence a topic of exhortation and debate across the blogs, social media, and face-to-face conversations. If we can get the other nine commitments right, Commitment IX will be much easier to address. Quite honestly, if we could just get Commitment III (A Commitment to the Great Commandments) right, we would be amazed at how we can fall in line behind the other nine commitments with ease. I know this is dirty work. It impacts what we do, what we say, how we spend our money, and all of the other nitty-gritty issues of life. Don’t misunderstand me…I am not talking about recreating a certain kind of fundamentalism by violating Romans 14:1-12. I am calling us to live out Romans 14:1-12 while making sure it is in the context of Romans 14:13-23.

Third, remember why we are working together. The New Testament teaches that the church is the bride of Christ, and not the Southern Baptist Convention (thank goodness). We work together for the same goal our brethren came together for in 1845 (minus the whole slavery bit we don’t like to talk about and have repented of). The Constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention states they came together “for the purpose of carrying into effect the benevolent intention of our constituents by organizing a plan for eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the denomination for the propagation of the gospel.” So what should we remember?

  • It starts with the constituents. Hence, my first point of staying on track.
  • It involves dollars, jobs, direction and organizational efficiency. Hence, why we can’t abandon Commitment IX.
  • It involves us working together or we will never be able to “direct the energies of the denomination.”
  • There is a chief goal: the propagation of the gospel.

The Great Commission Resurgence is a natural outflow of the Conservative Resurgence. If we are truly committed to the inerrancy, infallibility, and sufficiency of Scripture, as was stated in the Conservative Resurgence, it will impact the lives of the ministers in the pulpit and the pews. We can preach it, but has it taken hold of our hearts? If the carrying out of the Great Commission is not being done as it ought, then the answer is “no.”

Let’s work together to not doom the Great Commission Resurgence to failure. Don’t get caught up on Commitment IX and forget about the other nine. God forbid that we would find ourselves more focused on destroying bloated bureaucracies or protecting our castles than a recommitment to the Great Commission. Dear God, give us a desire to please you and not ourselves, and give us the wisdom and strength to accomplish it!

If you have not, make you sure you visit to read the Declaration and lend your support by signing up. Whether you have signed, are going to sign, can’t sign or don’t want to sign, make sure there is one thing you do…live the Great Commission! It is Christ’s command, our call, and the hope for this world!

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  1. Dave Miller   •  

    Thank you for this article. I am passionately supportive of the GCR and it seems as if all the negativity has been focused on one aspect of it, one that is not even defined yet.

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  3. David Phillips   •  

    The only way I think this can be achieved is to blow up the entire convention, scrap it all and start over. It’s what really should be done, but the autonomy will not allow it.

    In all honesty, I do not want the dollars going to a large national organization. It will only create the SBC equivilent of big government, which is power-based and rarely effective.

    I think the majority of the money should stay local, for church planting, empowering churches to adopt people groups and have the church as missionary instead of paying professionals to do the job.

    This would also allow states to focus on theological education, in particular the integration of all degrees with theological education. Why shouldn’t a state-affiliated college offer MDiv’s and PhD in theology, religion and ministry? It was make theological education more accessible, particularly advanced degrees. It would also allow for greater local contextualization. If a state convention doesn’t have an affiliated baptist college, they can partner with a like-minded Christian college in their area. Of course, they won’t turn out little SBC’ers, but I would suggest that is not altogether bad.

    For this to be anything other than moving around legos, it needs to be deconstructed totally. Only then can we then can build with moldable plastic. The convention needs to decentralize rather than centralize more.

    I’ve no issues with most of the other points, but for the document to be truly effective it will require a complete deconstruction of the entire convention.

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  5. Andy Watson   •  

    The reason number 9 is such a big issue is because the vast majority of southern baptists already agree with all of the other point and are actively working towards them. Most of the other point really seem to be simply a rephrasing of what we have already committed to in the 2000 baptist faith and message. I can’t think of a southern baptist off the top of my head who is going to say “we don’t want to do missions” or “we don’t want strong Christan families” or “we don’t want to preach the gospel”. Number 9 however is hintig at a major structure reorginizatio with no specifics as to what it will be or how it will be better. It almosts sound like the presidents vauge “hope and change line without specifics of what we are changing too. I agree with everything else in the statment, but I have too many question to just sign on and hope it will all shake out ok.

  6. Tom Wilson   •  

    For starters, the GCR statement puts the importance of the family at #10. It should be at #2 or 3. We spend a lot of time stating our positions, why do we need another study group? Seems like we spend WAY too much time and money on demographic studies, etc. Jesus said that His Father would draw them in! (John 6:44)

    Why, after refusing to join under the leadership of the SBC, are we still affiliated with the WMU? They have connections with other organizations with whom the SBC has parted ways long ago. Is it because of tradition? (We’ve always worked with them.) Is it because they own the copyright on Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong? (That would be “hard to sell” to the local congregations.)

    Some of the language in the document sounds like a lawyer wrote it. Too much PC language. Who really talks like that, “the complete sufficiency of Christian Scripture”. Last time I checked, there is ONLY ONE Scripture. All the others who claim authority are FALSE.

    “…every priority we embrace as a network of local Baptist churches.” I thought we were an interconnected Body?

    “…refusing to be sidetracked by theological agendas…” Also known as FALSE TEACHING.

    VIII. A Commitment to a Methodological Diversity that is Biblically Informed. Who talks like that, and what exactly does it mean? The church I attend is very small and the materials produced by SBC don’t work so well in the small setting.

    Of course, number 9 is problematic. No comment needed.

    Some things need some work.

  7. Tom Wilson   •  

    After doing some research yesterday, I think that the MEGA-church point of view is the only one represented on this committee. Most of the church websites I visited had more people on staff than we have as active members at the church I am a member of. This CANNOT help but influence some of the conclusions drawn.

    My earlier reference to SBC materials was a little cryptic. I meant that the Sunday School, VBS, etc. materials often seem to assume a much larger staff and program than many churches can manage. I attend a small SBC church in FAR northern New York. Montreal, Canada is the nearest sizeable city.

    Speaking of world evangelism, why is there not a bigger push into the ethnic communities in our North American cities. The Montreal to Toronto corridor (about 300 miles end to end) is home to the VAST majority of Canadian citizens and we have only a few works going in that area. Toronto is the most ethnically diverse city in the world. They have 50 language groups represented in their school system. All these people have relatives and friends back home, often in countries closed or opposed to mission outreach. Just a thought…

  8. Richard Parks   •  

    I think God is shaking up the SBC–National & on the State level! & we are in dire need of a self examination from bottom to the top! I have been a SB for 53 yrs. I am a Lead Pastor in an average size SBC Church attendence about 300 in the N.E.–We need the support of the State Convention for training & professional Christian counseling etc. with the severe issues in our families today. But there is no question that we have been neglegent in being good stewards of God’s resources on the State & National level & in the local church. May we all have a renewed passion to fulfill the great commission as we face the end times!

  9. Ben Knotts   •  

    If funds are being misspent on the state level, the state should deal with it. If funds are being misspent on the associational level, the association should deal with it. If funds are being misspent on the national level, then it is the ones who are leading the convention misspending the money. Either way, the more impersonal the funding of missions is the less effective it will always be, for my local church will always spend the money more consciously than those who receive but do not toil for it.

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