Dispelling Myths Related to the Great Commission Resurgence

In June at the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, messengers authorized President Johnny Hunt (by a 95% vote) to appoint a Task Force to study our Convention and bring back a report and recommendations on how we can more effectively and efficiently fulfill the Great Commission. Enthusiasm for the Task Force and expectations for the future were and continue to be high. The Task Force feels the weight of this.

Since the Southern Baptist Convention our Task Force has met twice. We have been hard at work gathering data, analyzing facts, discussing ideas and doing a lot of listening. We have worked tirelessly, but we realize we still have a mammoth amount of work ahead of us. We indeed need the fervent prayers of our brothers and sisters across our Convention of churches.

Meeting as a Task Force has been rewarding and a blessing. It has also been frustrating and disappointing. The latter is due to the number of false rumors and misrepresentations that have been attributed to the Task Force and its members. Some of this behavior is simply sad. Some of it, however, is sinful because it is pure rumor-mongering plain and simple.

The Task Force has determined to conduct its business in a private and confidential manner. I think this was a wise and necessary decision. I know this has disappointed some, but I assure you there is nothing sinister about this. However, this has left us vulnerable to all sorts of false rumors and accusation.

Therefore, without violating the confidentiality of our meetings, I am going to do a series of blogs that will hopefully help in putting to rest a number of untruths that are being bantered about. The list of “myths about the GCR” will not be in any particular order. I hope these blogs will be helpful in setting the record straight. There is too much mistrust that unfortunately characterizes Convention life at this time. We must be better than this. Jesus deserves better than this.

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  1. Brent Hobbs   •  

    I think there is a great need for a series like this and I look forward to reading it.

  2. Mark Dooley   •  

    Looking forward to this series of blogs!
    And we wonder why the charges of hypocrisy? We speak of “loving one another;” we sing “they’ll know we are Christians by our love;” yet then we mistrust one another and speak of issues we know nothing about. Perhaps rumor-mongers and gossips need to be reminded of some basic truths of Scripture: Lev. 19:16; Prov. 11:13, 16:28, 18:8, et.al.; Ps. 34:13 – just to name a few. I wonder how many of those who would mistrust would also hold to the fidelity of these Scriptures. Funny how it seems not to apply when it is describing us. Just saying . . .

  3. Roger Simpson   •  

    Dr. Akin:

    I look forward to reading your Blogs. I think one of areas of uncertainty is that the mandate of the task force is so broad that many, myself included, have no idea what the domain of the task force’s actions will be.

    The task force is going to report back to the SBC annual meeting in Orlando. Evidently, whatever it reports out will be related to the SBC and its entities. Much of the “action” in the SBC life is at the local church, association, and state convention level.

    I think one thing up-front that the task force could do is give us some ground rules about the extent that its recommendations regarding the SBC will — by implication — involve local churches, associations, and state conventions. For example, is there the liklihood that some task force recommendations will require votes at the annual meetings of the state conventions prior to implementation?

    Stated another way: is it contemplated that the task force results will be (a) a series of motions that will be presented at the SBC annual meeting, or (b) a recommendations for states and/or associations and/or local churches to consider, or (c) both?

    In any case, I believe that the task force’s recommendations need to be vetted [by a few weeks] prior to Orlando so people will have a chance to prayerfully consider the proposals. This is potentially too important to bring up “cold” in front of people and then after 20 minutes of discussion have people voting on it.

    I personally am unaware of whatever the “rumors” are. However, I agree that the way to short-circuit “mistrust” to speak directly to the rumors and quelch them.

    Roger K. Simpson
    Layman — First Southern Baptist Church
    Del City OK

  4. Michael Hand   •  

    It’s unfortunate that your time is occupied with myth-busting. In an odd way, it may be a form of accountability and motivation to do all and more of what 95% of us hope and pray can be accomplished through this Task Force. Undoubtedly, more of those who have “never heard” will hear because of your labors.

  5. Ted   •  

    Dr. Akin, you said, “There is too much mistrust that unfortunately characterizes Convention life at this time.”

    Precisely. And while far outside anyone’s inner circle, I have blogged and remain convinced that there must be a great resurgence of authentic community, or fellowship, prior to any other resurgence if we as Southern Baptists are to walk together seeking to fulfill what God has for us. I pray for you and for the task force.

  6. Les Puryear   •  

    Dr. Akin,

    I have signed up to pray for the GCRTF and I am doing so. However, I wonder if you would explain why the meetings are held in secret. Why are they are not open to the public?

    Thank you for your response.

    Les Puryear

  7. Danny Akin   •  

    Les, the ability to talk freely about sensitive issues requires confidentiality. Given the very honest conversations we have had in our first 2 meetings, I see the wisdom of this. It is simply necessary for us to do what we have been asked to do. Roger, we can only make actionable recommendations to the national Convention. We can, and I anticipate that we will, make suggestions to churches, associations and state conventions. That is the nature of our polity. My prayer is God will provide such a compelling vision that across the whole of our Convention there will be an excitement about the GCRTF report and a passion to “go after the lost” as never before for the glory of God. I am hopeful. Let’s all pray to this end. If it happens, it will only be because God graciously does it.

  8. Skip Cook   •  

    Dr Akin;
    It is very sad that many feel they need to know all. This is also a proble in our local churches which stops the Great Commission in its tracks because the focus is changed. I spend most of my time as a pastor putting out fires from false rumors among the membership. I understand why the meetings must be kept secret. One can feely speak and multipul ideas can flow without critism from those outside the process. The ones who complain or foster rumors are envious and shallow. Perhaps that is why we see the rumor mill so rampant in our churches. I support you and look forward to reading more. Praying for you

  9. Chadd Pendergraft   •  

    Dr. Akin, Thank you for your work and the work of the GCRTF. I will keep you all in my prayers.

    Pastor Chadd Pendergraft
    Crescent Valley Baptist Church
    Tahlequah OK

  10. Dave Miller   •  

    Dr. Akin, many (I think most) of us respect and support the work you are doing. A convention like the SBC will always have rumor-mongers and self-appointed experts who seem to think they have the secrets to the plan and understand the motives of everyone else.

    I am thankful to God for your work in the SBC and pray that you will continue to be led by Him in your service to the denomination.

  11. Tim Rogers   •  

    Dr. Akin,

    You said the committee is hard at work “gathering data, analyzing facts”. How would it be a privacy issue to release the data and facts the committee gathers for the rest of SB to see? I agree that what the committee says about the facts and data should remain in the committee. If “facts are our friends” then allow us all to be acquainted with our friends. :)

    Praying for you and the GCRTF.


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  13. Louis   •  

    Good luck and God bless your efforts. The fact that the commission is deliberating in private is not a concern. Since any prescription or “remedy” proposed will face full scrutiny and discussion, it is silly to make something out of private meetings. Now, if you guys were meeting in private and enacting your decisions, that would be different.

    Hope your meetings go well.


  14. kamatu   •  

    Dr. Akin, I too will continue to pray for the commission’s work and I also understand the need for being able to work without being carped on for every awkward turn of phrase taken out of context. I would like to make two points though:

    1) If at all possible, the GCR group should produce a report sometime after the next few meetings. It has long been my observation that where facts are not given, rumors abound. For example, you have two further posts on rumors and by publishing about them, you help squash them.

    2) I pray that as a part of the GCR’s work, you look into the question of increasing education. As you point out in your post about the GCR funneling money to the seminaries, this might be directly beyond the commission’s mandate, but I don’t see anything precluding the group from drawing and commenting on the fact that the abysmal state of Christian lay education limits believers. Of course, I’m of the firm opinion that if we can educate our fellow Christians on the basics of Christian theology and apologetics we will get the results the GCR resolution called for. Whether we want them or not.

    Yes, I know the education issue contains a large can of worms, but should we duck the hard things just because they are hard?

  15. Rick Patrick   •  

    Dr. Akin,

    I do pray for God’s will to be done. Part of the misunderstanding and the spreading of rumors must surely stem from the way the task force came about in the first place. Right after the welcome, Dr. Mohler went to a microphone, was immediately recognized, the motion stated by as eloquent a man as we have in our convention, and then Southern Baptists voted, essentially, in favor of the Great Commission by 95%. To have voted no would seem to be opposing Jesus. Frankly, it all seemed a bit staged. It was certainly not a mandate of the philosophical framework that led to the creation of the Task Force.

    It would be a gross mistake to take that vote in favor of forming a task force as endorsing the restructuring of so-called bloated state conventions, changing the Cooperative Program gift definitions, merging mission boards, moving more to a societal missions method, or
    trying to “prove SBC worth” to a younger generation of emerging church Calvinists. Perhaps they are the ones who must answer to the SBC concerning their doctrines, actions and methods.

    My hope for the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force includes increased Cooperative Program support by the megachurches benefiting from the suburbanization and “Walmartization” of Baptists. Since they have absorbed our bodies, bucks and baptisms, they must also absorb our debt to missionaries on the field in a manner equivalent percentage-wise to the declining older feeder churches located in the transitional communities from which people are migrating. Unless megachurches match the percentage of the smaller neighborhood churches, every time John and Mary Baptist move to the suburbs and transfer their tithe, the missionaries will receive an invisible cut in funding.

    I fully support partnering to achieve the Great Commission, but with respect, rumors are a two way street. The first draft of the Declaration was less than charitable in its assessment of our State Conventions, meaning that the entire process began in conflict. Having begun in controversy and having been structured through an orchestrated process, how could there not be confusion and rumors abounding?

    I trust the truth will come out soon enough and any decisions in Orlando will be more thoroughly debated.

  16. Danny Akin   •  

    Guys, thank you for your comments. They are appreciated. I do think the GCRTF will have a report with recommendations out well before the Orlando Convention so that our people will have plenty of time to consider them. We are doing our best to respond to what Southern Baptists have asked us to do. In my judgment, what came to pass in Louisville had been coming for some time. Actually, we are behind the curve in reaching our nation and the nations. The time for action is now. May we by God’s grace find His will for our Convention and get busy obeying it for His glory.

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