The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force released a progress report last month in Nashville. It is my privilege to serve with these godly men and women. I watched the members struggle with the complexities of bettering our Convention’s Great Commission ministries while moving forward together. Unity of vision and heart was accomplished on the Task Force. I pray Southern Baptists will catch the vision and be of one heart as well.
If I were the author of the documents, I might have chosen different words at times. If I had my way on every issue, the report would look different (and no doubt not as good). Some may feel certain areas of Southern Baptist work did not get enough attention. Our major focus was reaching the nations and our nation. I am convinced the Task Force progress report is a significant step in the right direction. All of us are being challenged. It will be difficult, but anything worthwhile always calls for sacrifice.
The Cooperative Program definition remains unchanged and uncompromised. It is still the preferred channel of giving. Some state conventions introduced a “designated” Cooperative Program in the early 1990s. It is a failed concept. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention was founded with a strong commitment to keep CP an undesignated giving channel for missions and ministry. The SBTC has recognized designated gifts from churches from the beginning. In the future Southern Baptists may call those types of gifts “Designated Great Commission Giving”. The Cooperative Program will remain the preferred way of Great Commission Giving.
I will not comment on all the components of GCR progress report in this article. There is one of the components very close to my heart, reaching North America with the gospel.
I am a traditional Southern Baptist. My comfort zone is with traditional ministries found in many our churches located in the Deep South or similar rural settings. But much of the world I grew up in is gone. Some of that culture was good, some of it was bad. We can’t pine for the good ole’ days or the way it used to be. Decisions can’t be based on my preferences; it has to be about Jesus’ passion. His passion was to seek and to save those who are lost.
Our nation is becoming less evangelized every year. Southern Baptists work hard. We will not get the job done by working harder. We have to work smarter. By approaching our nation as the world, we can have a better handle on the getting the gospel to the burgeoning people groups and diverse culture of the United States. We must find a way to move personnel and finances outside of our strongest areas and redirect them to the places of greatest lostness.
Is the GCR plan perfect? No. Is there time to improve it? Yes. I encourage you to offer positive suggestions. Help us find a way to move in the most aggressive way possible with the gospel toward lostness in America. It is my desire for God to use Southern Baptists as a tool of national spiritual awakening. It can be a spiritual morning in America. It will take a Joel chapter two experience. It also requires us to get outside the box to see what God would have us do differently.
We all want men, women, boys and girls to experience life in Christ. Business as usual will not get it done. An undeniable decline in the number of baptisms to population growth has taken place for decades. After much prayer and study the Task Force has cast a vision. I believe God is giving us one more opportunity to put our money and personnel where we say our hearts are. Let’s go for it, together!