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 www.greatcommissionresurgence.com 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!