GCR Myth #1: The goal of [particular members of] the Task Force to get more money to the nations is only a smoke screen to get more money to the seminaries.

This myth, by its very nature, has been directed at Al Mohler and me. There is not a shred of evidence to support this accusation and much to the contrary. Dr. Mohler and I publicly and repeatedly have stated we would oppose any report or recommendations that would financially benefit the seminaries.

The GCR is not and has never been about getting more money to the seminaries. It has always been about international missions and North American church planting. It is about getting the gospel to the unreached and under-served peoples of the nations and in our nation.

There are approximately 1.6 billion people who have no access to the gospel and 3.4 billion with limited or no access to the gospel. There are major population centers in North America, most of which are not in the South, that are bereft of strong evangelical churches and gospel witness. This is what inspired the genesis of the GCR in the first place. This is what is occupying the time and energy of the GCRTF.

So, if you see someone write or hear someone say the GCR was a front to increasing funding to the seminaries, please graciously correct them and help us in setting the record straight. The GCR has never been about this. The Task Force has not discussed this. I’m quite certain it will not be on any future agenda either!

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  13Comments

  1. Joe White   •  

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Dr. Akin for addressing this rumor!

    Can you also address the speculation that the GCR is not actually a study group, but is in fact a group seeking “Structural Change”… and… “cloaking agendas with exploited words from the Lord Jesus in the Great Commission”?

  2. Mark Dooley   •  

    The church I pastor is in a county of 101,000 people where only approximately 2.5% of the population can be found in an evangelical church on any given Sunday. There are only 3 SBC churches in the county. Thus we have begun an initiative to begin additional sites (a multi-site strategy) scattered throughout the county to seek to reach as many as possible. In addition, one young lady from church (mid-20s, college grad) leaves next week for a two year Journeyman assignment in Thailand with the IMB. If more of our Southern Baptists would begin to answer the call to reach our unreached North American folks or go to those areas of the world needing a gospel witness, then we wouldn’t have time to focus on such myths. We wouldn’t have to divert time to dispelling such rumors and could instead preach, teach, train and go. I pray this series of blogs will help people see what happens when we take our eyes off the task to focus on other things. Southern Baptists . . . keep your hand to the plough for the time is short!

  3. Guy Fredrick   •  

    After watching the Conservative resurgence for years, I’ve noticed that the naysayers always point toward financial issues — that actually never appear in reality — but the charges stand in the popular press as if those concerns were realized.

    A second point of contention seems to wrap around the Calvinist/Arminian issue, yet here we have two seminary presidents that point to or are outright vocal in their support of Reformed doctrines that are also pressing hard for mission activity in the SBC.

    Perhaps, at the end of the day, the issue is doing just what Jesus Christ commanded us to do — the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Make disciples, teach them to observe all that Christ commanded, which of course is to love God with all one’s heart, mind, soul, and strength, and then to make more disciples in a replicating process, thus fulfilling God’s two-fold over-arching covenant with humankind; to bless all the nations (people groups) of the world as those people come to know Him and be known by Him.

  4. Roger Simpson   •  

    This morning when I read this blog I was thinking to myself, “I’m not in any ‘inner circle’ in the SBC but this is the first I’ve heard of anyone suggest that the GCR task force is just a ploy to increase funding to the seminaries”.

    Well, no sooner does this rumor come to my attention when on another SBC related blog a few minutes ago I see a discussion which raises the issue of whether or not a combined IMB/NAMB would have, as one of its side results, financial gain for the seminaries.

    So Dr. Akin, your post is timely since you debunk the rumor before I hear it from some other source through the grapevine.

    Personally, I don’t know whether combining the NAMB and the IMB is a good idea or not. In any case, I don’t think the case has been made that even if the NAMB and IMB combine this necessarily results in the seminaries receiving a larger percentage allocation of CP funds.

    Another rumor that I just got wind of is the idea that whatever the GCR task force recommends serves to reinforce some “divide” between ‘old’ pastors vis a vis ‘young’ pastors.

    It is beyond me how the idea of mobilizing more efficiently to spread the great comission could be viewed as a polarizing issue as a function of one’s age.
    I’m an old guy (66) and I’m completely in favor of the implementing the Great Commisson.

  5. paul taylor   •  

    Dr. Akin,

    another rumor I am hearing is the taskforce plans to fill the vacant slots (Pres. of NAMB, IMB, ecc. ) with their own. With Dr. Page becoming VP of NAMB maybe now is a good time to clear up that rumor

  6. Eric Scholten   •  

    If churches got serious about the Great Commission and engaged their immediate cultures as well as the nations with the gospel maybe the seminaries WOULD receive more money. As the gospel goes forth there would be more believers, more missionaries, more church planters, and more pastors to train so they could be equipped to fulfill the call of God on their lives. This would mean more students on our seminary campuses, which would increase the amount of tuition collected. If this is what the rumor-mongers mean…then let’s get to work!

  7. Ron West   •  

    Are you saying there is not going to be a discussion about redefining cooperative program giving so that it can be directed around the state conventions or bloated bureaucracies as you refer to them so that churches and individuals can give directly to the seminaries or other SBC entities and have it count as CP giving? If so, is there no possibility that the seminaries could benefit financially from this plan?

    I am glad to hear you say it is about getting the gospel to the unreached and under-served. Our state conventions have been and can be great partners in accomplishing that mission.

  8. Louis   •  

    Claiming that this is being done to benefit the seminaries is not accurate, and I am glad that your post addresses this.

    I note that one of my blogging friends has asked a question about state conventions.

    Our church is a relatively young church, having been founded 16 years ago. We give a large amount of our giving directly to the SBC and not through our state convention. When we started our church, it was the heartbeat of our church that we give money as directly as we could to international missions. The IMB has always been a centerpiece of our congregation’s mission. Many of our people did not come from SBC backgrounds. Giving to the state convention did not really excite them. The Baptist colleges in our state are not all that Baptist (one has since left the convention) and the other emphases, although good, were not something that our people were that excited about.

    I think that a good many younger churches are more interested in the national program than the state program.

    I am not chiding people who love their state’s emphasis. I am glad that they are excited about that, and I encourage them to keep giving.

    I do believe, however, that since giving to the EC has been allowed since the beginning and that the SBC is about SBC agencies, that there is no reason why churches can’t give to the EC directly.

    I don’t think that the Task Force really needs to do anything in that regard, except acknowledge the growing trend. It goes on. So what will the Task Force do? Mandate it? I doubt it.

    Probably all the Task Force can do in that regard is acknowledge the trend and “give permission” so to speak by talking about it.

    Both types of churches – churches that are heavily invested in the State Convention, and those that give directly to the SBC are SBC churches. They each give to the cooperative program that is collected and distributed by the EC and then sent to the SBC agencies. Neither type of church is being “uncooperative.” Nothing in the SBC bylaws or documents mandates giving to the state.

    So, since it is all given to the SBC CP, why shouldn’t it be counted as CP giving? (Note: we are not talking about giving directly to the SBC entities. Nashville does that based on the % breakdown approved at the convention meeting).

    Finally, even if our giving is not counted as CP giving, we really don’t care. I guess we won’t get to be trustees and all that, but we really don’t care about that either.

    We are interested in seeing that the highest percentage of our giving as possible gets to the mission field. That doesn’t happen if 65% or more is skimmed of at the state offices.

    Good luck on your meetings.

    Louis

  9. Ron West   •  

    If this is my blogging friend Louis from TN, it is good to see you in the blog world again. I guess for me it is hard to say the GCR task force is not going to benefit the seminaries since we don’t know what its recommendations will be yet. I don’t know if that was or was not one of the reasons for forming it. I do know that in recent years some of the seminaries have been asking about having a special offering for the seminaries similar to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. I agree with you that every church is free to give directly to the EC or even directly to SBC entities if they wish. I would not change that.

    I guess my state convention situation is different than yours. My church is also deeply committed to International Missions but we are also excited about giving to our state convention. Our Baptist colleges are very Baptist and sound theologically. Attending one of these Baptist colleges was part of my call to missions. In addition it was as youth attending our state RA camp and youth camp that I heard missionaries speak and begin to understand what missionaries do. Without our state conventions promoting missions education and mission offerings there would be fewer missionaries on the field today and fewer funds for our missionary boards to use. I have not even mentioned their involvement in church planting and state missions.

    You use the term skimming to refer to what the state conventions do with the cooperative program funds they receive. This was a term I heard first used by SEBTS employee David Palmer and is a pejorative term promoted by him and others to belittle what our state conventions do. Most state conventions I know are actually giving a larger percentage of CP funds to the SBC than they have in past years. I think you and Palmer are missing the real problem. Even though state conventions are giving more to the SBC, the churches have been giving a smaller percentage of their undesignated funds to the CP over the last 30 years. I believe it has gone from about 9% to around 6%. Don’t quote me on those numbers but it is close to that. If the churches were giving the same percentage today that they were giving 30 years ago, there would much more money for the SBC and the state conventions could give an even larger percentage to the SBC. If the GCR task force wishes to address CP giving I think they should concentrate on getting churches to give a larger percentage of their funds to the CP, preferably through the state conventions but also directly to the EC if they wish. That would be the best way. They should also lead by example in encouraging their own churches to increase their giving to the Cooperative Program.

    I know Jerry Rankin of the IMB has encouraged churches to continue to give through their state conventions because he realizes how important it is that we work together as a team.

  10. Louis   •  

    Ron,

    It’s great to hear from you, too. Hope all is well.

    Giving more to the CP is a big issue. I suspect that diversity in giving options for local churches is the primary reason there. I am not sure if that trend can be reversed. People are just not as denominationally oriented as they used to be. That’s true for all denominations.

    The only way I see to address that is to continue to promote CP. I think that there really is a benefit there that people need to see. But the proliferation of other missions groups and options is really tough to address.

    There is nothing in the world that I would want to say against your experience with the state organization. Sounds like it was a real blessing to you.

    And I appreciate very much your recognition that churches should have the freedom to give as they see fit.

    My approach here, if I haven’t already stated it, is not to force anyone to do anything. That can happen on the local church level or the denominational level. Support is not what it ought to be – so the suggested remedy is force or guilt trips.

    The remedy is to make the best program, to trumpet it loudly and simply recognize the capitalistic nature of the evangelical world.

    I think that the best places for persuading are in those areas where the differences can truly be felt.

    As I have said before, I have seen that the IMB and the seminaries are a good place for that. When young people who come to our church who are interested in either of these areas, the benefits of the CP become immediately apparent. Why spend $25,000 a year at Trinity, Gordon Conwell, DTS, Reformed etc., when you can spend a fraction of that on an SBC seminary? Also, why go t the mission field and spend all of your time raising support, when you could have that need met, get professional language training, good medical care etc. at the IMB?

    It’s great to hear from you.

    Keep up the good work.

    Take care.

    Louis

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  12. John Newland   •  

    Thanks for focusing attention on the unreached peoples beyond the Southern part of the U.S. As a pastor in Indianapolis, the 12th largest city in America, I find it heartbreaking that 82% of our population has NO religious affiliation whatsoever. We have less than 7,000 Southern Baptists in a metropolitan area of 1.7 million people. The rate of evangelism across all evangelical denominations in Indianapolis ranks behind every one of the largest 100 American cities. May GCR raise awareness of the need for evangelism throughout America.

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