Over the past three days, Dr. Danny Akin and I have published three blog articles interacting with Morris Chapman’s recent anti-Great Commission Giving white paper. We have adapted our articles into our own white paper titled “Funding Great Commission Faithfulness: A Response to Morris Chapman.” We hope that you find this material helpful as we continue to debate the recommendations of the GCRTF in anticipation of the Orlando Convention next month.
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!
Doug Baker has written a very insightful editorial about what’s at stake for Southern Baptists in the current debates about the GCR and related issues:
“Were the moderates right?” The sheer posing of such a question sent a collective gasp across Alumni Chapel. During a recent panel discussion when Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler, Jr., uttered these words in a place where moderates once dominated one of the world’s largest seminaries, it was not as though such a theory was not without a plausible grounding. Some 20 years earlier Bill Leonard, a notable moderate who once served on the faculty of Southern Seminary, predicted that once the conservatives took control of the SBC’s massive infrastructure, they would soon turn on one another.
Russell D. Moore, the Dean of Southern Seminary’s faculty went a step further. As a young doctoral student, Moore observed the doctrinal deliberations of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. His conclusion? “You are wrong about the Bible. You are wrong about Jesus. You are right about us.” By being “right,” he meant the ferocious relational controversy that still (perhaps now more than ever) envelops the Southern Baptist Convention.
The mere mention of the words-Great Commission Resurgence-can send most every Southern Baptist gravitating one way or another. For some, the movement that began with a 95 percent vote by messengers to last year’s annual meeting in Louisville indicated a seismic shift was taking place within the denomination. They thought that the embrace of a comprehensive theological worldview would gladly result in an objective examination of the denomination’s agencies and entities resulting in a process for streamlining, focusing and targeting funding allocations toward areas where little or no Christian witness is present. . . .
You can read Baker’s full editorial at The Baptist Messenger, the news magazine of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.