Spiritual Awakening, Early Adopters, and the GCR

“If you think you’re leading and no one is following you, then you’re only taking a walk.” Afghan proverb

Movements need leaders, bold people who have an idea for change worth following. But for movements to grow, they need more. They need first followers. They must have early adopters.

A lot of people today talk about spiritual awakening and the need for revival. Not a bad thing. But when you look beneath the surface, the rhetoric often uttered about spiritual awakenings misses some key features of these movements when you study history. I want to highlight three and note in them the need for early adopters for movements to take root and spread. Leaders must be courageous. But we often underestimate the courage and insight of first followers, who risk much before the bandwagon effect takes over.

Here are three examples of features in movements of spiritual awakening we often overlook. In each case the concept of early adopters plays a key part:

1. Young people. Go back and read the primary sources of accounts of awakenings. You will read Jonathan Edwards noting the First Great Awakening was mostly a youth movement. You will read of college campuses coming alive, birthing missions movements like the Haystack Revival. This should not surprise us since movements rely not only on bold leaders but also on early adopters, those first followers who at great risk join a movement before it is seen to be “safe,” something young adults are more likely to do than those a bit longer in the tooth. Look at the ages of many who led and early on supported spiritual movements and you will see an inordinate number of young adults.

2. Small groups. From the collegia pietatus in the early days of PIetism, to the Societies of John Wesley, to the coffeehouses in the Jesus Movement, small groups can be found wherever the Spirit moves. Again, first followers of a movement quickly identify one another and band together. You read about the Holy Club before you know about the Evangelical Awakening, and you are not surprised to read how a small group of ministers-in-training in the Log College of William Tennent produced key leaders in the First Great Awakening. Before Billy Graham or Bill Bright launched ministries of profound impact they became part of a small group of people who encouraged one another to spend their lives doing something that mattered.

3. The core message. These movements did not spread by messages on the need for revival. No, “How to get right with God” sermons did not galvanize first followers into emerging movements we now call great awakenings. Preachers used as catalysts in spiritual awakenings preached with a renewed focus on the gospel. Justification by faith can be found as a dominant theme, whether the preacher is Edwards, Spurgeon, Wesley, Whitefield, or Moody. And, the early adopters in such movements came in response to this message, which often seemed new to the hearers of their day when institutional Christianity had often all but lost the gospel. Missionary movements also started when men like William Carey urged believers to get back to the proclamation of the gospel.

What does this say for us today? I believe noting the above gives insight into movements in our time, whether the growing adoption movement, a network of church planting like Acts 29, or a movement of change in the Great Commission Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. If we truly want to see a movement of God, we will have to preach, teach, and live our faith in a way that draws younger people who are willing to take risks for the faith. In the GCR we see a bold recognition of the importance of younger leaders. Radical commitment comes really early or rarely ever. Ronnie Floyd said it well in chapel at SEBTS yesterday, as he spoke via skype to a room full of young adults in seminary: “we are doing this for you.”

Today small groups of leaders and early adopters demonstrate a hunger for a movement. A small group of seminarians formed Baptist21, which has quickly become a force for change in the SBC. Church planting groups are cropping up everywhere as young men bind together with a common interest in reaching the unreached. We should pay attention to those who are gathering together, hungry for truth. Movements do not move by the masses, but by the early adopters who bind together for a cause worth a risk. They will not be motivated by what could be a colossal waste of time.

Finally, there must be a compelling vision, a vision as big as the gospel itself, for a movement to flourish. Again I quote GCRTF chairman Floyd who said, “We need a compelling vision, and we believe the GCR report is that vision.” I agree. Central to the GCR vision is the gospel. We are seeing a renewal of the gospel in our time like I have not seen in my lifetime. The gospel in its greatness, the gospel in all Scripture, the gospel preached both to unbelievers and to believers, a gospel-centered life-these and other emphases give me great hope that God is in fact stirring His church.

I hope you are not a bandwagon Christian, jumping on every little fad concocted in a Christian subculture. Genuine movements do not spread by bumper stickers or tee shirts, but by changed lives. I pray you are a first follower, someone rooted in the Scripture, loving and living the gospel, one who sees a movement of God early and courageously joins that movement.

And I hope if you are a Southern Baptist, you will demonstrate your conviction in your attitude toward the younger generation, by the groups with which you associate, and in the gospel-centered life you seek to live. Grab some others who feel the same way and make the annual SBC in Orlando this June a public affirmation of a growing movement.

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  20Comments

  1. J. Michael Palmer   •  

    I have been a part of the conservative resurgence for most of my adult life in ministry. If we take the Word of God seriously we must take the Great Commission seriously. And it even goes deeper than that. We have been gripped by the Lord God for His purposes. The end result is a passion to integrate the Gospel into all of our lives AND a desire to take the Gospel to the nations. But the fact is that we (the pastors of my generation) have been in churches that are often full of people who are more concerned about their comfort than they are the Gospel. GCR is about systemic change as well as personal and church reorientation to the Gospel. It is uncomfortable (most change is). It is not perfect but it is an important and needed step in the right direction. We need to be very diligent to keep the gains of the past twenty five years. But as we do that we must CONTINUE TO THE LOGICAL NEXT STEP: and that is a sacrificial commitment to the task of the Great Commission. That means we will change some things personally, in our churches, in our state conventions, and in the overall work of the SBC. The Gospel grip of Jesus on our hearts and lives demands that we continue to change for greater effectiveness at all levels. I remember that one rationale for the conservative resurgence was the fact that those who believed in the innerancy of the bible would be more evangelistic. Well that SHOULD be the case but we have shown that is simply not true. We can believe right without doing right. The GCR is a step at systemic obedience to the Great Commission. It is uncomfotable and we do not know how everything will be in the future. Yes we need personal revival. But we also need to acknowledge how our priorities have been lethargic and not as effective as they could have been. It is now time to act. A new generation awaits to see if the SBC is a gospel centered organism with a passion for the nations. I will vote FOR the GCR report in Orlando. I thank Dr. Reid for his timely comments. We so need to be reoriented to the Gospel in everything we do. May the Lord God do a work in our midst as we meet together this year in Orlando. MP

  2. Rick   •  

    Let me get this straight. If I don’t support the denominational restructuring components of the Task Force Report, while totally in support of Component One’s call for the Great Commission, I will be viewed as standing in the way of a movement and standing against the next generation of Southern Baptists?

    How can I possibly, in good conscience, continue any principled opposition to the ideas set forth in the Task Force Report? I’m for the Great Commission and I’m for the next generation, so I guess I’ll just check my reservations about the wisdom of this restructuring at the door and vote yes against my conscience and convictions.

    Thank you for helping me see that only one side in this debate really cares about the next generation at all. What if Ronnie Floyd is not the only one doing this for the next generation? What if those who oppose certain components are also doing it to preserve the cooperative missions support system for the next generation?

    In other words, what if both sides are in favor of the Great Commission, the next generation, motherhood, apple pie, babies, puppies and the American flag? I sincerely hope that these kinds of insinuations will not be leveled on the floor of the convention against those who simply disagree.

  3. Roger Simpson   •  

    As an old guy I’m ready to turn things over the the younger generation. We need their vision and zeal. Certainly, the SBC can’t continue on its current trajectory.

    However, when it comes to making a decision to adopt or reject the GCRTF task force’s recommendations this should be done on the merits of the proposal — point by point — rather than the median age of the guys promoting the proposal.

    The questions are:

    1. Given the current problems we have, are the GCRTF’s recommendations going to be the right set of solutions, not the “wrong” set of solutions, to address the problems we face?

    2. Is there a broad enough consensus across all stakeholders in the SBC — various age groups, and various “organitional groups” [for want of a better term} — seminaries, state conventions, local churches, IMB, NAMB, regions of the country,etc. such that what the GCRTF is recommending, or any thing else in its place, can gain critical mass and pass?

    The issues with the interim proposal needing work are these:

    1. The fact that “celebrating Great Commission Giving” works at the margin to promote a societal giving approach to missions. The TF has said a thousand times that they are not calling for a return to a societal model but in fact any marginalization of the SHARED FUNDING model that is CP is a de-facto retreat back to a societal approach — whether the TF acknowledges it or not

    2. Working out some compromise on the plan to tear up the “Cooperative Agreements’. Those things have to go as the TF says, but with less furniture being tossed around.

    We will see on Monday if the final TF’s recommendations engages these two points in a significant way.

  4. Alvin Reid   •  

    Thanks for the comments. Rick, let me see if I can clarify a bit.
    I believe God used Jonathan Edwards in the Great Awakening. But I have serious disagreements with him, particularly when it comes to particular atonement. I think God used George Whitefield though he was quite wrong on slavery. Same with Wesley and his Arminianism and Finney with his Pelagianist tendencies. I do not have to affirm everything in a movement to believe it is in fact a movement. Obviously the early church was far from perfect (see Acts 5, Acts 6, etc). I am simply making the point that I believe this effort bears marks of earlier movements. I am personally quite convinced of this. If the SBC annual meeting shows anything, it is that any SBC messenger can register his or her dissent. But we can also state our convictions, which I have done.

    By no means do I think someone who opposes the GCR is automatically missing God at work. On the other hand, there were plenty of ministers, a LOT of them, who opposed the Great Awakening. History has shown them to be wrong. I am quite sure I did not say that Ronnie or anyone else is the only spokesman for God in this time. But I join a host of others young and old who believe this is a movement for this time, just as the Conservative Resurgence was in my earlier days. I recall plenty of dissent then as well :-).

    Edwards is right, we must judge movements a posteriori, not a priori. We will not know for sure whether this is a movement of God for some years. I for one believe it is.

    But there is one more thing. You say, “In other words, what if both sides are in favor of the Great Commission, the next generation, motherhood, apple pie, babies, puppies and the American flag?” That statement illustrates the problem. There is no way I would ever put our American Dream categories and our patriotism on the same level as the Great Commission. In fact, I would argue that such leveling is part of the problem we face and part of the disposition from which the church must be rescued and given instead a compelling vision of the gospel for our time. That and the fact that we seem always to come back to money, which while very important, never seemed to be the front burner issue in the rise of Christianity.

  5. Rick Patrick   •  

    Alvin, thank you for your thought provoking post and your gracious answer. I am more than willing to concede the existence of a historic movement here. If defined in general terms as “an enthusiastic, sacrificial emphasis upon the spread of the gospel” then count me in. That’s component one. No opposition here. However, if the movement is defined by support for these particular restructuring components, I think we need to give those with competing visions the benefit of the doubt regarding their motives. They, too, favor the Great Commission and the next generation’s movement.

    For example, if one believes that Southern Baptists need a Cooperative Program Resurgence to bring us back from our meager 6.6% church average to the 10.2% average we realized twenty years ago, and if one further believes that such a resurgence will more strongly support missions in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost so that we really do cooperate better and see the right kind of Great Commission Resurgence, then if such a person votes against components 2-6, we should not imply that they oppose either the Great Commission or the next generation of Southern Baptists.

    By the way, my comment about both sides favoring the Great Commission, the next generation and various other ideas was in no way intended to equate my support of the Great Commission with, say, my support of puppies. To clarify, my list could be described as “Things No Reasonable Southern Baptist in Orlando Could Oppose.” My point was simply that neither side in the debate can fairly and accurately claim such a list as uniquely theirs. In fairness, people on both sides of the GCR proposal love the Great Commission and want only the best for future generations of Southern Baptists.

  6. J.D. Greear   •  

    Thanks, Alvin. This is some great insight. God has brought a Great Commission Resurgence to a new generation. The SBC is not voting on that. The Holy Spirit is doing it.

    The SBC is voting on whether the SBC structures will go with that resurgence, or whether they will stay behind. Either way, it’s going forward. I hope and pray it goes with it. If not, unfortunately, the younger generation will simply leave and create new structures. In so doing there would be a great loss to both young and old. The young would not benefit from the faithful wisdom of the older generation, and the older generation will not have much part in the exciting vitality and wonderful movement of God in the new generation.

    Thanks again, Alvin.

  7. Rick   •  

    J.D.,

    Thanks for your work on the Task Force. I can’t imagine the hours, the prayer and the effort. I may not agree with everything in the report, but I certainly agree we need to do more to spread the gospel.

    This part of what you wrote confused me: “If not, unfortunately, the younger generation will simply leave and create new structures.” Am I to understand that if the vote does not go the way they want it to go, their commitment to Southern Baptists is so fragile they would actually leave the convention?

    In the church I pastor, if a group in a Business Meeting said, “Do this thing that we want or we’re all leaving,” that’s the kind of ultimatum we would generally not look very kindly upon. If their connection to the church can be severed by one vote in which the majority sees things a little differently, then one has to wonder how connected they were anyway.

    I’ve been married twenty years. If my wife wants Mexican and I feel like seafood, I’m not going to leave her over a one time disagreement. I’ll just dip the chip in the salsa like the servant leader I am and our marriage will survive to face issues another day.

    Please tell me you don’t really think droves of young Southern Baptist pastors will pull their churches out of the convention and work with other groups simply due to decisions about our organizational structure.

  8. Tim Rogers   •  

    Doc,

    That and the fact that we seem always to come back to money, which while very important, never seemed to be the front burner issue in the rise of Christianity.

    If it is not about money why did the GCRTF focus on Daniel Palmer’s stats like they did? Not trying to be contentious, but it is about money. The GCR is a spiritual movement, but the GCRTF has certainly focused on money and “getting more money to the mission field”.

    One other thing. I do not see where you have said that one voting against the GCRTF report is voting against a GCR. However, you must admit that when Dr. Floyd says something like ‘it is a report that every Great Commission driven church’ can support, it clearly places those who may not agree with all of the finer points to feel painted into a corner as being accused of not supporting the Great Commission. I believe that type of rhetoric, while is good for sound bites, should be called into check.

    Blessings,
    Tim

  9. jon akin   •  

    Let me try to respond to some of the discussions taking place here.

    I agree with Rick that one can be “against the GCR” and still “for the Great Commission.”

    It seems that two competing visions for the SBC are emerging and I want to thank you Rick for stating things in such a plain way. Your comments really helped me to understand (I think) the heart of the debate:

    1. GCR- vision is to restructure to enable greater effectiveness in the GC and greater missions giving.
    2. CPR- Cooperative Program Resurgence,vision is to do more/better at we are already doing

    The major problem, as I see it, with the 2nd vision is that the vision is more about preserving a system than it is about a call to greater missions effectiveness. The call seems to be “save the CP” and missions will go on better than ever. Rick writes, “What if those who oppose certain components are also doing it to preserve the cooperative missions support system for the next generation?”

    The key question is not “who is for the GC and who is against it?” The key question is, “Which vision is right or perhaps most compelling?” Also, the key question seems to be, “Will ‘Great Commission Giving’ ‘save’ missions giving (GCR camp) or will it ‘destroy’ it (CPR camp)?”

    I think what JD is getting at when he warns that younger leaders will leave is that saving a denominational funding system doesn’t compel younger leaders.

    The CP resurgence vision will need to prove statements like, “I certainly agree we need to do more to spread the gospel…” because they are not offering any alternative ideas on how we can do more to advance the gospel w/n our current system, and just saying “let’s do more of the same,” is not compelling and honestly sounds a bit unreasonable to people in light of the drastic situation we seem to be in. We can’t do what we’ve always done and get different results.

    I’d like to respond to Rick’s last comment to JD. One thing I think that is missing here is that we can’t compare the SBC to the local church. Someone leaving the local church which is primary is not the same as someone leaving the SBC. The SBC is not central; the church is. Churches cooperate together within the SBC b/c the SBC is a tool that enables churches to cooperate together in the Great Commission more effectively. The issue is not legacy as much as it is efficiency now. So, if younger leaders don’t see the SBC as effective in the GC as other networks then yes they will leave.

    We can get angry and criticize the commitment level of the younger generation. Or, we can recognize it is the way it is and that we can’t just tell someone to cooperate with us b/c they always have, and adapt so that they (and more) will WANT to cooperate with us b/c they see that we are effective in the GC.

    The SBC is a cooperation of autonomous churches to “propagate the gospel.” If churches see that they can be more effective in the GC in another group then why would they want to stay. Better question might be, “why should they stay?”

  10. Alvin Reid   •  

    Very good thoughts Jon. And, Tim, I understand it is about money to a point, but as I said it is not fundamentally about money. It is about a vision for the future. But of course one cannot speak of one’s spiritual life personally, in a family, a church, or a convention without seeing that spirituality lived out in our time, our talent, and our treasure. Many believe we have not demonstrated a gospel-driven spirituality based on this stewardship as a convention. I would agree.

    If I may pick up on what Jon said, I would say the two visions go something like this: the CP Resurgence vision says the primary answer is to get people to give more with the result of more funds being available to fulfill the Great Commission. The GCR vision says if we reach more people by focusing more on the gospel, the CP will rise because churches are growing. I believe the latter vision is more effective. I would suppose a growing church over a period of years would give more to missions than a stagnant church over the same period that increases its percentages.

    One more thing on the younger generation. We had a lengthy season as a convention where brand loyalty was remarkably high, at a period when loyalty to GM and other American brands enjoyed such loyalty. “Do this because you are supposed to” or “because we have always done this” simply will not capture the loyalty of the younger generation. It seems to me this is lost on far too many. But there is a great host of younger men and women who crave effective, bold, gospel living and preaching. A compelling vision like that will not only keep them but it will also inspire them to bring others. In my opinion this is far more about vision than it is about money. I am not the least bit interested personally in convincing young or old to “hang in there.” But I would love to see an energized, refocussed convention standing boldly for the gospel. I believe we can become that, and am giving my life for that.

  11. jon akin   •  

    Tim,

    I agree that a large portion of the discussion is about money. But, to Dr. Reid’s point, I think the money issues are not about who gets a larger portion of the pie, but rather about mobilizing more people to get to areas of greater need.

    Jon

  12. Benji Ramsaur   •  

    Although some might want to articulate it differently, I think Jon Akin’s comment above might be the most helpful comment I have seen in relation to what the basic disagreement is.

  13. Roger Simpson   •  

    OL, guys. Here is what we need.

    We need 42 JD Greears to head up each of the state conventions.

    That would be a really thrilling and wild ride — definately an “E” ticket. It would be a little turbulent but we would get there. In fact, if there was any way we could repeat that ride we would go back in line to take it again.

    This would be something we would be telling our grandkids about while sitting out in our gazebo and watching the sun set over the golf course from our retirement village in Florida.

  14. Rick   •  

    Jon,

    I too found your comments very helpful in articulating the crux of the issue. I am happy to be on the same team with everyone on this blog, merely seeking the most effective strategy to fulfill the Great Commission.

    Here’s the statement that makes me want to pull my hair out: “We can’t do what we’ve always done and get different results.” Certainly I agree with the philosophy behind the statement but I do not believe it applies to this case since we are no longer doing what we’ve always done.

    Twenty years ago, we “did” 10.2% CP giving per church. Today we are “doing” only 6.6% CP giving per church. Friends, we are NOT doing what we’ve always done and THAT is the problem. Isn’t the definition of a “resurgence” a return to a previously successful approach or direction?

    I don’t know if it would be considered “compelling” by younger generations or not, but if every church gave 10% through CP, it would pay for all of our Great Commission ministries at the local, state, national and international level and would mobilize those missionaries currently in waiting. It is a genuine “resurgence” of a previous approach that would get the job done.

    How is this vision not compelling?

    Let’s not waste any more time fussing about how we divide up the pie. Let’s just bake more pie for everyone at every level the way we used to.

  15. jon akin   •  

    Rick,

    Thank you for your clarifying comments. I’m not saying that we are doing what we’ve always done in terms of amount (again I see the CPR movement as calling for more/better of the same). We are doing the same as we’ve done for decades in terms of structure.

    The question that begs to be asked is, “Why is CP giving declining?” At least one pastor has gone on record and said he’s reducing CP amounts b/c it doesn’t prioritize mission. I’ve talked with pastors all over the country of both big and small churches who’ve articulated the same thing. It’s the structure (and funded ministries) that needs to change not the CP!

    Yes, a resurgence is a return to past success. The GCR is calling for (in my opinion) to an even longer ago past, where the local church was central and denominational agencies didn’t do ministry for them. To a past where associations were resourcers for the churches, not vice versa. We need networks that resource church planting, hold theological accountability, etc. Not associations that do ministry for the local church.

    Why is the CPR vision not compelling? B/c younger leaders don’t see it as prioritizing mission. There are some ministries quite frankly that many don’t think we need to support any more. One of the crux of this discussion is how do we define “Great Commission ministries.” You and I would probably come to very different conclusions on that discussion. Do we really need to spend millions on “consultations” in the South where there are plenty of local churches that can do evangelism, sunday school, etc. training for other churches?

    The question is one of priority and need. Fewer people are willing to give just b/c that’s what we’ve always done. They don’t think millions need to be kept in states like KY, Alabama, Georgia, etc where there are literally millions of Baptists and thousands of churches. They want the majority of money going to the places with the fewest Christians not the most. That’s why we need a restructure b/c current system continues to focus the most money on where the most Christians are. That doesn’t make sense to a younger generation.

    I disagree that discussing how we divide the pie is a waste of time. Again, just saying lets do more of what we’ve always done and not discuss how to divide it better is not the way to improve, especially when born and bred Baptists have gone on record saying they give less b/c of the pie divide.

    Here are the 2 competing visions boiled down:

    1.GCR- Allocate resources (people and money) to the places of greatest need in our country and the world, and people will give more money to missions.
    2.CPR- Give more money so that resources (people and money) will continue to fund what we are currently doing in the south and more will trickle out to the places of greatest need in our country and the world.

    One approach prioritizes the places of greatest need. The other approach only prioritizes the places of greatest need as long as the places with the most Christians, churches, and convention structures get more resources in the process.

    Rick, to be honest I’d be happy to be in the CPR camp if we streamlined our associations and conventions so that CP funding went to (almost exclusively) church planting, leadership training/theological education, and international missions. Also, if at the most 50% was kept in state conventions. I’d be more than happy for my church to give 10% if that was the case. But until I see those things as a priority I am not going to increase giving. I suspect there are many who think similarly and that’s why giving to CP is going down (and will continue to do so).

    Asking local churches/pastors to give more without restructuring is not going to work when they see the structure as the problem. That’s why the GCR vision is compelling.

    Jon

  16. Rick   •  

    Jon,

    Thank you for patiently explaining why the GCR is so compelling to you. Compared to the pastors you’ve mentioned, it is fair to say that I have a much higher regard for the resourcing work of my local association as well as the work of our state convention, which does only keep 50%. Perhaps I am unusually blessed with both a great association and a great state convention, which may create in me a certain bias in favor of supporting their ministries, which I do clearly view as part of the Great Commission.

    About 65% of my town, state and nation are lost. The two countries I’ve visited on mission over the last few years are 98% lost. I fully appreciate that reality, and I do believe we need to get more mission dollars to the uttermost. As we work on that, the plummeting CP is a problem of its own.

    I am deeply concerned that CP giving will continue to go down regardless of any structural changes. Once churches have obligated themselves through non-CP partnerships, are they really going to “switch back” and start supporting the cooperative missions approach again? Will they not get so used to these other channels that they never return to CP even once it has been sufficiently tweaked?

    As more and more churches redirect away from the perceived bureaucracy, hundreds if not thousands of missionaries currently depending on that CP pipeline may find themselves unsupported either by a weakened CP or by an as yet underdeveloped societal or direct funding approach. Sadly, the result may be fewer missionaries supported by a weaker missions funding strategy than the one we have now.

    And it would all depend on whether or not the churches who have chosen to reduce their CP giving are willing to come back and cooperate again.

  17. jon akin   •  

    Rick,

    Thank you for dialoguing with me. I am very happy that you have such a good experience with the local work. I think 50/50 state/sbc causes is awesome. Which state are you in? Also, I am glad that you are a part of an association that resources the work of the local churches. I was told by a former DOM that the average association only puts 3% of what they receive back in to the “mission” field that they serve in. So, your case is unusual, but thank God for it.

    My question is under the CPR vision how do we get more dollars to 98% lostness? I think the answer from that camp would be everyone needs to give more. But that solution doesn’t answer the concerns of churches that give designated gifts b/c they don’t think current allocations prioritize lostness.

    What is the solution to declining CP?

    I think many SBC churches would “switch back” if they felt like their dollars were going to frontline GC activities. I am just taking pastors at their word on that b/c they’ve said they would.

    The problem is that IMB missionaries are already not being supported b/c of the crisis we are in.

    The GCRTF is arguing that their recommendations will save the CP. They are casting a vision instead of saying just give us more and then let us worry about the % allocations later.

    The CPR vision seems to pine for a golden age of the past. As Dr. Mohler has argued these structures were great and worked for us but times have changed. The question is, “Are we going to adjust to the change or be passed by?”

    Jon

  18. Rick   •  

    Jon,

    Thanks for replying. You’ve been kind, patient and articulate. Since you asked, I’m in Alabama. The 50% figure is inclusive of Lottie and Annie.

    If the GCR vision really leads churches that have reduced CP giving to increase it again, I will be pleasantly surprised. My sense is that they will have already entered into direct partnerships and will be reticent to sever these new obligations in order to return to the cooperative approach.

    I hate to be a prophet of doom, but I fear the reduced CP giving trend may be a one way street. I read one blog this morning from a Baptist Pastor who actually hoped the CP would die. I don’t even know how to digest that perspective. Once people abandon this missiological approach, I’m not sure it will ever be feasible for them to go back.

    What a cruel irony it would be if while we are talking about an exciting new day in missions, we are actually witnessing the end of the golden age of Southern Baptist missions support through the Cooperative Program. I pray this is not the case.

    May God bless your family, your ministries and the work of the SBC.

  19. jon akin   •  

    Rick,

    Again, thanks for the info. A couple of questions.

    1. Why would you oppose the category of “Great Commission Giving” but be in favor of counting 50/50 split in Alabama Convention by including Lottie/Annie? Isn’t that a GCG way of counting?

    2. It seems that you have little confidence that those who have chosen to give to direct partnerships will give again if GCG is adopted, but do you think they would sever those partnerships to just give more to the CP? If they won’t sever ties then how can we have a CP resurgence? I pray that you are pleasantly surprised!

    3. Is CP a missiological approach? Or is it a missiological funding approach? I think we need to continually distinguish b/t mission and funding mission.

    4. Are we in a golden age of missions support? To be honest CP has worked great, but can we ever say that we were in a golden age when we are barely reaching 2/3 of the country and there are over 6,000 unreached people groups, and yet the majority of our $ is spent where the majority of our churches are (and the majority of NAMB missionaries are in the South)? Are we in a Golden age when we are having to suspend Journeyman and ISC programs and keep missionaries from going to foreign fields?

    Again, we need to assess why giving is going down and adjust instead of wanting to go back to the way it was. I think the problem is both. I think we are spending more on ourselves and I think many, especially the younger, have lost confidence in the CP b/c they see it funding tons of ministries that they don’t want to support directly.

    Most churches want to be hands on in missions now (and that is a good thing) so convention entities need to adjust to keep up with this shift.

    I pray God’s blessing on your family and ministry as well!

    Jon

  20. Jason   •  

    Why don’t we do both? Let’s restructure outdated organizational models AND let’s all give 10% to the CP.

    But I think that one might argue that until you do the former, you will never achieve the latter…

    Great post, Doc!

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