The Video above is a panel discussion about the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) at Southeastern Theological Seminary. The panel, made up of various GCR members, addresses various concerns that are being made concerning the first draft of the GCR released some weeks ago.
Basically much of the heat centers around a dissolution of contracts between the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and Southern Baptist State Conventions. NAMB sends back a portion of its Cooperative Program dollars to the State Conventions for various mission endeavors within each state. So as you can imagine, many of the State Conventions are not high on the GCR. One only needs to read Baptist Press editorials or state paper articles to see their opinion about the current GCR proposals.
Additionally, in my opinion, the increase of articles in the past three months focused on how young pastors are embracing the Cooperative Program and the increase of articles highlighting CP ministries is no accident. It seems to paint the picture that those who are aligning themselves with the GCR initiative are not pro-CP. This is completely false. I am pro-CP, but this does not mean that the CP does not need to be re-examined and revised when necessary from time to time.
Some will say one-liners like “if it (the CP) has worked well for (fill in the __) number of years then there is no need to change.” The problem with this is for years states have adjusted the amount of dollars they send to the Southern Baptist Convention. The CP then has been adjusted in the past, so it is not out of the norm for present day adjustments to be made.
The basic rememdy, I keep hearing from the State Convention side is just give more money. That is the solution according to many. Sorry, but this isn’t going to work. It is not compelling enough. When organizations like the NAMB keep having trouble at the top and there is little consistency with its leadership, churches are not excited to give. When I hear Al Gilbert (on the panel) say that Baghdad, Iraq has approximately the equivalent population as the State of North Carolina and at the same time the International Mission Board is cutting back its missionary appointments because of a lack of funding, I am left very frustrated.
When I hear that a very significant portion of NAMB appointed missionaries are being sent to work in the south where the majority of our churches exist, I am frustrated. It is past time for our churches and our entities to start putting together strategies for reaching the unreached places of our country and our world. And if it means taking away funding from State Conventions in the South, then I think we must.
If one puts forth a compelling vision and a good track record of faithful ministry, then people will come aboard and give more money. However, if the status quo is maintained, the SBC will continue to fade. I agree with Danny Akin, when he states that if hard changes are not made soon, in 10-20 years much more difficult changes will be upon us, and we will be forced to change.
While I do not think the first draft of the GCR proposal went far enough in its recommendations, I believe it would be a step in the right direction.