Great Commission Resurgence Taskforce Report: Charting A Future Path For Southern Baptists for the Glory of God

The interim report of the GCRTF has already generated much excitement and many conversations. This is good and healthy. The Taskforce hoped its report would excite Southern Baptists, and it seems clear it has. It is also the case that the Taskforce wanted to hear from our people and receive their feedback. That also is taking place and we rejoice in this. Our prayer all along has been that the work of the Taskforce would help cultivate a more healthy culture in SBC life where we talk with and listen to one another. We are trying our best to model what we hope will become the norm among our people and convention of churches.

It is no surprise that I am enthusiastic about our report delivered by Ronnie Floyd on February 22 in Nashville. I equally rejoice in the fact that the report was unanimously affirmed by all the members of the Taskforce. I believe that we are going to see the final report adopted overwhelmingly in Orlando when we come together for our annual meeting in June. Why do I believe this will be the case? Let me offer several specific reasons.

First, the report contains a strong and visionary missional statement that is Great Commission focused. Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts. 1:8 are the foundation upon which we will move forward together in the 21st century. Furthermore, Southern Baptists have always been a Great Commission people, and this report speaks to the heart of our people.

Second, the core values that provide a preamble to the report will foster a more healthy culture for SBC life in the 21st century and beyond if our Lord tarries His coming. The core values are biblical, theological, spiritual and practical in their makeup. These are values that Southern Baptists can embrace and rally around.

Third, the report rightly gives priority to the local church as the headquarters of SBC life. Our final report is certain to challenge every local church in the areas of Great Commission priority, faithful biblical preaching, intentional discipleship, stewardship and missional living. Each of these is already embedded in our initial report to our national agencies. If they come to fruition in our churches, it will be a new and better day in SBC life!

Fourth, the report unleashes NAMB and IMB for greater strategizing and action in carrying out the Great Commission. The new vision for NAMB will present both new opportunities and challenges for our state conventions and local associations. I believe they will rise to the task and do what is needed to usher in an unprecedented day of massive church planting and gospel penetration to the unreached and underserved areas of North America. This alone has the potential to revolutionize our convention for the good of our nation and all nations.

Fifth, the report recognizes the strategic importance of our state conventions by returning to them the vital assignments of cooperative program promotion and stewardship instruction. I believe this has real possibilities to bless financially both our state and national entities. Working together and in concert with the Executive Committee this has potential to generate new and fresh momentum for the life blood of the SBC, the Cooperative Program.

Finally, I love the fact that the report acknowledges the Cooperative Program as the central and primary giving channel of Southern Baptists, while at the same time celebrating all giving to Southern Baptist causes through what we are calling “Great Commission Giving” (GCG). To my great delight this idea found its genesis among several of our state executives. I believe they recognize that 1) giving follows vision and 2) people give to what we celebrate. There is so much to celebrate in SBC life. If we communicate that well, I believe our people will give well too.

Continue to pray for the GCRTF. Our work is not yet done. There still remains more for us to do. God has been good to us so far. By His grace, for His glory, and with the good of the nations constantly before us, let us believe that our best days as Southern Baptists are yet to come!

Danny Akin

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  1. Ben   •  

    I do appreciate the work that the task force has put into the preliminary recommendations. Some of the structural changes that need to happen are recognized, addressed, and hopefully will be adopted.

    What I fear, though, is that it doesn’t go far enough. We are still prioritizing the money that we give to the CP to stay in the US, rather than where the overwhelming majority of the lost world lives. In Central Asia alone, there are 400,000,000 souls who have never heard the gospel, yet we keep the large majority of our funds right here under our feet.

    Something must be done now. We cannot make proposals for the GCR this summer, and then turn around in a year or two and say, “Oops, we didn’t go far enough.” The convention floor won’t stand for that. We must make our stand now against the state convention bureaucracies and the not-that-useful SBC entities that would have us spend money to make them more noticeable, rather than Christ more noticeable.

    Let these entities come against the task force recommendations at the convention, pitting their own, self-serving uses of the CP funds against the taking of the gospel of Jesus to a totally lost and gospel-less world – let THEM be those who are against the work of the Great Commission. I don’t think they’ll take that fight, but if they do, then let the convention decide – and I think we know where that would go.

    We need vision, but I wonder if our vision isn’t big enough?

  2. John Waters   •  

    I agree with the statement that “people give to what we celebrate.” But to celebrate often means to elevate, so it is unfortunate that the GCRTF did not choose to celebrate (or “elevate”) Cooperative Program giving alone. Instead, the elevation of designated giving under the term of “Great Commission Giving” to an equal level demonstrates that the primacy of CP Giving is in word only, but not in deed. It is one thing to say that the Cooperative Program is the central or primary means of missions support, but the celebration of other forms of hand-picked giving will naturally weaken and diminish CP giving. Nothing prevents churches from giving to designated causes now, so why elevate this approach at the expensive of the cooperative approach?

  3. Rick Patrick   •  

    When I first read the preliminary report, I felt like Ben that the changes were fairly minor. I now question the wisdom of changing the cooperative agreements between state conventions and NAMB. I also believe a great deal of confusion may result from the involvement of so many different entities in reaching the various people groups in North America. And I could not agree more with John that celebrating “Great Commission Giving” cannot help but reduce the celebration of Cooperative Program Giving. I’m all for the Great Commission, of course, but I wonder how this specific report can possibly pass in its present form, with one block believing it does not go far enough, while another block believes it goes entirely too far.

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