Jimmy was one of the craziest country boys I’ve ever known. Whether riding his horse full speed into ponds, fighting, or jumping off query cliffs, for good or for ill, he has always been willing to make things happen. Several years ago, Jimmy became a Christian, steadily growing ever since. The last couple of years he’s actually served as a deacon. Right now, he and his family are in the midst of adopting an orphan from Ethiopia. On my most recent visit, Jimmy told me that he is taking his family to the mission field (international). They’re so excited. I’m excited. God is working in the lives of his people.
But there’s just one little problem. The International Mission Board (IMB) doesn’t have the money needed to support those who want to go to the mission field. Southern Baptists are going to have to tell people like my buddy Jimmy that the SBC can’t afford to send them. Covering the recent IMB trustee meetings in Denver, Hendricks and Bridges write:
In response to reduced giving during the current economic downturn, International Mission Board trustees approved suspending new appointments to the International Service Corps and Masters programs during their May 19-20 meeting in Denver. The IMB also will reduce the number of new appointments to its career, apprentice and associate programs. New appointments will continue on a more selective basis, involving the most strategic assignments.
The implications of this suspension are clear and devastating. Amongst other things, it means that the lost people across the globe who haven’t heard the gospel and the Christians who are willing to leave America behind to tell those people about Christ, will not be able to connect. This is heartbreaking. Many Southern Baptists, of course, have lamented these developments (including the IMB trustees that had to make this tough decision). For instance, SBC President Johnny Hunt was quoted saying, “It is not acceptable in my heart that we can have missionaries in the pipeline and need to tell them we can’t send them.” IMB trustee chairman, Paul Chitwood, said, “On this day when God has answered our prayers for workers for His harvest, lack of funding has forced us to temporarily suspend categories for service.”
The solution to this problem will be difficult to come up with in any specificity and even harder to implement. Dr. Danny Akin has sounded the trumpet for a Great Commission Resurgence, providing ten axioms for Southern Baptists to follow. SBC Pastor, Tom Ascol, wrote a compelling piece about the intersection of Akin’s GCR call and the IMB’s actions as well. Picking up on one of Akin’s GCR axiom’s, Ascol primarily points to the need to reevaluate how Southern Baptists pool their money, specifically in relation to convention structures. He writes, “The need to reexamine the structures of the convention should be a rallying call to all Southern Baptists who want to see the sacrificial gifts of their churches make it to the places where it is needed most.”
What are Southern Baptists to think about this? On the one hand, a “restructuring” of convention funding would result in the removal of convention jobs (local, state, and national, perhaps). Of course, the argument goes, this action would allow more money to fund the most critical Great Commission ventures like international missions. But, on the other hand, the jobs that would be cut are jobs that workers, no doubt, see as a key component of the Great Commission. Those working for state conventions would argue that their jobs play a critical part in the advancement of the Great Commission. More must be and, no doubt, will be said.
The way forward is tough. In my estimation, the greatest danger our Southern Baptist leaders and our churches face in all of this is the temptation to be paralyzed by the difficulty of the task. A Great Commission Resurgence has to be more than a slogan or it will fail. It has to be the battle cry of every Christian, everyday, in every place. It will be easy for Southern Baptists in their respective roles to point to “other” people and institutions that need fixing. These “other” people and institutions stand in the way of the advancement of the Great Commission.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that tough decisions do not need to be made. This kind of evaluation is healthy. Families, churches, businesses, etc. do it all the time. Why shouldn’t denominations do this as well? But, a true Great Commission Resurgence goes much deeper than this. A real GCR will be seen when men and women realize that God has given them enough grace in Christ to do ten times as much as they’ve been doing for the kingdom of Christ. Perhaps, some denominational workers will voluntarily take a large portion of their income and give it to those Southern Baptist families that will lose their jobs as a result of the needed changes. Maybe some Southern Baptist families will put off their vacations so that they can send more money to the state conventions, waiting missionaries, seminaries, the IMB, etc.
My buddy Jimmy is waiting. He’s waiting for a revival to sweep across our churches. He’s waiting for Southern Baptists to worry more about the advance of the gospel amongst the nations than they are about their shrinking 401k. He’s waiting for brothers and sisters in Christ held captive to the American dream to be transformed as they soberly look to Jesus, who so believed in the advance of the gospel that he forsook the comforts and joys of heaven for the torture of the cross. Jimmy’s waiting for you and me to pray, give, think, and act. More importantly, the nations are waiting.
In anticipation of b21 panel, Baptist21 has asked all the panel members to participate in a short blog interview to highlight some of the topics to be discussed. Below is information about the event and Dr. Akin’s short blog interview.
What: Baptist 21 Panel Q&A @ The Southern Baptist Convention
Who: Danny Akin, Mark Dever, Albert Mohler, Daniel Montgomery, Ed Stetzer, and Baptist21
When: June 23, 2009 from 11:45am-1:45pm
Where: Louisville, KY – Sojourn Community Church 930 Mary St. Louisville, KY 40204
Why: To discuss the future of the Southern Baptist Convention
Note about the event: There will be a $5 cover charge at the door; this $5 dollars will include a meal and books from some of the panel members. Sign up ASAP because the numbers are filling up and we will only be able to accommodate the first 500.
We ask that you would blog about this event. Also, we hope that you will encourage as many as possible to attend the SBC in Louisville. You can connect with Baptist21 and many like-minded Southern Baptists through our Facebook Group.
Danny Akin’s Interview:
1) What is the best thing about being a part of the SBC?
The best thing is our phenomenal missions program and our seminaries. Southern Baptists are doing a better job than ever in wedding the head and the heart in fulfilling the Great Commission. That is taking place because of what is happening with the International Mission Board and our seminaries. When people ask me why I should support the SBC, the seminaries and the IMB just jump out.
2) Why do you think young, cross-centered ministers who accept Baptist theology might not want to be a part of the SBC?
Because of our bureaucracy. There is so much red tape in trying to work through the national convention, state conventions, and local associations. There is so much over-lap and duplication it is easy to become frustrated with the bureaucratic machine that too often is only interested in feeding itself. We have got to find a way to streamline and simplify our denominational structures so that we can be more efficient in fulfilling the final command of our Lord.
3) How and why did you come to the SBC?
I was born into and have been breed by it! I grew up a Southern Baptist, and having been involved in it now all of my life, I am committed to it. It has many shortcomings and imperfections, but in my judgment, it is still the best thing going.
4) How can we honor our heritage while continuing to move forward?
We can honor our heritage by standing firmly on the infallible and inerrant Word and embracing a healthy balanced theology reflected in the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. We can recognize that the war for the Bible will never end until Jesus comes again. Therefore we will not surrender valuable ground that has been gained by our forefathers, but we will be vigilant to contend earnestly for the faith without compromise.
5) What are the three most important things that need to change, for the SBC to grow in our gospel mission? How would you do them if it were up to you?
I recently addressed this in what I call 12 Axioms for a Great Commission Resurgence. (see those 12 principles below) I actually think that all of them need to be implemented, but if 3 were to stand out it would be the Lordship of Jesus Christ, being gospel centered, and being humble. If we pursue those three things with all of our heart, I am convinced the other 9 will take care of themselves. In other words, our greatest needs are, as they always are, spiritual. We need to be Christ focused, gospel centered, doing all that we do as we bow humbly under the banner of the cross of Jesus Christ.
12 Axioms For A Great Commission Resurgence
I. We must commit ourselves to the total and absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of our lives (Col 3:16, 17, 23-24).
II. We must be gospel centered in all our endeavors for the glory of God (Rom 1:16).
III. We must take our stand on the firm foundation of the inerrant and infallible Word of God affirming it’s sufficiency in all matters (Matt 5:17-18; John 10:35; 17:17; 2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
IV. We must devote ourselves to a radical pursuit of the Great Commission in the context of obeying the Great Commandments (Matt 28:16-20; 22:37-40).
V. We must affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as a healthy and sufficient guide for building a theological consensus for partnership in the gospel, refusing to be sidetracked by theological agendas that distract us from our Lord’s Commission (1 Tim 6:3-4).
VI. We must dedicate ourselves to a passionate pursuit of the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus across our nation and to all nations answering the call to go, disciple, baptize and teach all that the Lord commanded (Matt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; Rom 1:5; 15:20).
VII. We must covenant to build gospel saturated homes that see children as a gift from God and as our first and primary mission field (Deut 6:1-9; Psalm 127; 128; Eph 6:4).
VIII. We must recognize the need to rethink our Convention structure and identity so that we maximize our energy and resources for the fulfilling of the Great Commission (1 Cor 10:31).
IX. We must see the necessity for pastors to be faithful Bible preachers who teach us both the content of the Scriptures and the theology embedded in the Scriptures (2 Tim 4:1-5).
X. We must encourage pastors to see themselves as the head of a gospel missions agency who will lead the way in calling out the called for international assignments but also equip and train all their people to see themselves as missionaries for Jesus regardless of where they live (Eph 4:11-16).
XI. We must pledge ourselves to a renewed cooperation that is gospel centered and built around a biblical and theological core and not methodological consensus or agreement (Phil 2:1-5; 4:2-9).
XII. We must accept our constant need to humble ourselves and repent of pride, arrogance, jealousy, hatred, contentions, lying, selfish ambitions, laziness, complacency, idolatries and other sins of the flesh; pleading with our Lord to do what only He can do in us and through us and all for His glory (Gal 5:22-26; James 4:1-10).
Guest Blog by Steven A. McKinion
He is the Associate Professor of Theology and Patristic Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has taught Theology, Church History, Hermeneutics, and Historcial Theology classes at Southeastern Seminary. Dr. McKinion’s area of specialization is Patristic Theology. He holds the following degrees: B.A., Mississippi College; M.A., University of Mobile; Ph.D., King’s College, University of Aberdeen.
Second generation conservatives who have been addressing the trend of many 3gens to question the value of the bureaucracy of the SBC recognize that these 3gens are not asking for a seat at the SBC table, they are instead just leaving the room when they hear those around the table disrespect them, belittle them, or, even worse, talk about their own positions, power, or prominence. These 3gens think they have too much to do in their own churches to spend their time trying to earn some “right to have their voice heard” in the SBC.
Seeing the many current 2gen leaders are interested in keeping 3gen Southern Baptists within the SBC, I would like to identify four misconceptions about these 3gen Conservatives:
3gens want to run the SBC. It is a myth that 3gens simply want to run the convention. Such a misconception is the result of not only a misreading of what 3gens are saying, but a complete misunderstanding of the importance, or lack thereof, of the SBC in the weekly ministries of these leaders. While many younger SB pastors want to have titles in their state conventions or be invited to speak in revival meetings at other churches, the 3gens that I have been writing about could not care less about having a role in the SBC. Obviously, there are exceptions, but the 3gens I teach and hear from are not looking for positions or influence within the convention. In fact, the reason why so many 2gens have begun to take notice is because these younger pastors do NOT want a place at the SBC table. They don’t want to be trustees, revival speakers, or have meaningless titles in the state conventions. Instead, they are wondering what in the world their state conventions do that is of Great Commission value. The reason they are partnering with church planting groups like Acts 29, is because its networked churches actually succeed. The model of church planting, including on-going cooperation and partnership, works better to start biblical and Baptist churches than other models, including many of those within the SBC. Because many 3gens think the SBC bureaucracy is bloated, it is foolish to think they would want to run it. I think one cause for this misconception is that those who either already have power in the convention or the 3gens who want one day to have “earned” that power, fail to realize that not every one thinks SBC power is valuable. Such myopic thinking about the value of what one possesses often can lead one to project ones own ambitions to others.
3gens want their voice heard by SBC leaders. It is believed by some that younger SBs want a seat around the SB table where they can have input. This is a misconception, much like the former myth, that is based in the false belief that 3gens want their voice to be heard. They not only are not looking for a seat at the table, they are not even interested in being in the boardroom. Again, there are obvious exceptions, but the younger SBs who are the interest of 2gen leaders are not looking for a hearing. In their minds, the discussions in the SBC boardroom are about how to rearrange the chairs on the Titanic, quite useless. They do not have an interest of determining who the next president of the SBC will be, or what friends can be appointed to trustee positions, or how they can be invited to speak at another church. In the minds of 3gens, they want to be busy in their own churches rather than trying to control other churches. Now, whether their assessment of what 1gen leaders are doing is itself a misconception is another topic, and an important one. But to think that under 40 SBs are simply looking to have influence in the convention is a grave misunderstanding of what these 3gens are saying. Such a misunderstanding is often rooted in an arrogance regarding the positions one already possesses rather than any evidence that someone else is aspiring to that position.
3gens don’t love the SBC. What is the SBC? Technically, it is a brief business meeting once a year. Churches who pool their financial resources to support agencies, boards, and commissions (the IMB, NAMB, six seminaries, the ERLC, etc.) are allowed to send messengers (not delegates) to this business meeting for the purpose of appointing trustees to operate those agencies on behalf of the churches. But the SBC is more broadly the associative relationship of those churches that goes beyond fiduciary cooperation to a share set of beliefs, values, and distinctives. The SBC is a massive network of missional churches.
In my experience, the younger generation loves the mission of the SBC. The beliefs, values, and distinctives of the network of churches are shared among the various generations, including the 3gens. But at the same time, they question whether the bureaucracy of the convention is accomplishing its intended objective, which is to be a cooperative missionary effort. The 3gens I have observed love the seminary where they were educated and love the IMB and perhaps NAMB, but outside of those agencies they appear ambivalent. They may be mistaken to be ambivalent, but their love for the work of the convention should not be hidden by their lack support for all of the boards.
3gens don’t respect the CR or 1gen leaders. From observation it is more accurate to say that many 3gens do not know the leaders of the Conservative Resurgence. There may be practical reasons for this (e.g. Danny Akin and Johnny Hunt are on iTunes for free, while other sermons must be purchased), but it is also the case that many 3gens believe, perhaps mistakenly, that 1gen leaders do not value them as partners in the work of the convention. 3gens do not think their “forefathers” are not wise, they simply do not know them.
What complicates the matter vis-à-vis the relationship between some increasingly prominent 3gens and the SBC is the lack of direct influence by 1st generation leaders on 3gens. In part two of the series, I enumerated some ways I think the CR continues to influence younger SBs, but that influence has been indirect, mediated through leaders such as Johnny Hunt, Danny Akin, and James Merritt. There are exceptions; for example J.D. Greear’s PhD work was supervised by Paige Patterson. By and large, though, 3gens have sermons from Platt, Akin, Hunt, and Driscoll on their iPods, and not sermons from Vines, Patterson, and Rogers.
I don’t know all the reasons for this lack of exposure. Perhaps the second-generation influencers have been quicker to take advantage of newer media such as podcasting and social media. Many younger SBs, and their pastors, do not subscribe to tape ministries, but to podcasts. They rarely listen to over-the-air radio, and almost never to Christian radio. If they hear a John MacArthur sermon, it is because they downloaded it. John Piper was one of the first of their influencers to leave the expensive medium of radio for the relatively inexpensive one of the internet.
Perhaps 3gens have deliberately rejected the direct influence of 1st generation leaders for cultural reasons. They reject suits and ties as mandatory dress, and think the first generation places too much emphasis on certain apparel (fairly or not). They don’t think mandatory abstinence from beverage alcohol is fundamental to cooperation, and think the prior generation makes too much of this. From my experience, these leaders do not imbibe, but they also don’t think prohibition of such beverages is necessary. But cultural differences seem, in the end, to be of little consequence to the lack of direct influence of 1gens on 3gens. Culture seems to be a red-herring.
Regardless of the lack of direct interaction, in the end, the third generation is very much like the first generation. Theologically they are conservative inerrantists. They are committed to practicing Baptist distinctives, both broadly and more narrowly conceived. They preach the Gospel with fervor. They call sinners to repentance and faith in Jesus. They hate sin, but love sinners. They preach and practice missions at home and abroad. In all these ways, and more, they are the legitimate heirs of resurgence leaders.
So have the third generation conservatives who are enthusiastically supportive of the Great Commission Resurgence leaders such as Hunt and Akin rejected the leaders of the Conservative Resurgence, either consciously or unconsciously? I think they have not. Rather, they are the fruit of the CR. While 3gens may be a generation that knows not Patterson and Pressler, they are nonetheless the legacy of those great leaders. Some under 40′s will attend conferences where the speakers are predominately 1gen leaders. Other under 40′s will prefer conferences where 2gen leaders are the speakers. But both groups of younger SBs are the fruit of the CR.
Henry Chapin (for one generation) and Ugly Kid Joe (for another) recorded a popular song entitled, Cat’s in the Cradle, about a man whose busy-ness keeps him from time with his son. The failure of this man to be a good father comes back to haunt him later when his grown son is not interested in time with his elderly father.
An assessment of the breakdown in the relationship between 1gen and 3gen SBs would be fascinating, and is, I think, important, though beyond my scope here. But the lack of knowledge of 1gen leaders should not be read as a rejection of these men or the resurgence for which they fought. My paternal grandmother died a few years before my birth. I have no knowledge of her, obviously. But my lack of familiarity with her does not mean I disdain her. I do not invoke her name in conversation, but the older I get the more I become aware of her influence in my own life through my father. He doesn’t tell me to exhibit the positive characteristics from my grandmother’s life, I simply do so because he has influenced me. I never knew my grandmother, but her influence persists. Many 3gens have never met or even heard some 1gen leaders, but the influence of the CR persists in and through the ministries of 2gen leaders like Johnny Hunt, Danny Akin, and Thom Rainer (and many others). Although the legacies of certain men may not remain, the legacy of the CR certainly does.
Within the current call for a Great Commission Resurgence lives the legacy of the Conservative Resurgence. Young Southern Baptists who desire to see men, women, and young people around the world hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, become disciples of Jesus, and then grow to be disciple-making disciples are acting consistently with the ultimate aims of the CR. Even more importantly, the call of the GCR to organize the ministries of the SBC and her cooperating state conventions around the mission of the Gospel is at the heart of the call of conservative SBs who desired a renewal of the Convention for the sake of the Convention’s mission, not the Convention’s structure.
Baptist21 believes that the GCR will only become a reality through Church Planting. The Church is the chosen means by which God is doing His work in the World. Missions, Evangelism, Teaching, Discipleship, and Calling out the Called are given to the Church. This is so with the Great Commission. If we want to see a Great Commission Resurgence happen, it will be done through healthy church planting that encapsulates healthy discipleship. This means that Church planting is vital to a GCR.
This is why the baptist21 podcast wants to highlight young men who are taking on this endeavor in tough places. Two such guys are Nathan Knight and Joey Craft. These two men and their families are team planting (they will get into why they think this is best in one of the three parts of this interview) in Washington D.C. They are doing this work through NAMB and The Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia. Nathan is also moving through the Acts29 process (they also address why they are doing this in part of the podcast). The name of the church is Restoration Church. Check out their website. In addition, check out and join their Facebook group and videos that explain the name and vision of the Church.
Part one of the Podcast Interview
Here are the questions that they address in the first part:
We highly recommend this podcast if you are thinking about Church Planting, if you’re a pastor and your Church is thinking about Church Planting, or if you are wondering how to put the GCR into action. There is some very helpful information for healthy church planting in this interview. Also, we hope you will get to know some of the wonderful things going on in the SBC, seen in the lives of the young people we are training and going out.
B21 sees these two men as like-minded brothers who are seeking to make a difference for King Jesus in a tough area. They believe in and are committed to the Southern Baptist Convention, though they believe that there are things that need to be improved. They believe that there is great potential with the SBC. They are committed to strong theology, Baptist Distinctives, the power and authority of the Scriptures, Training Men, Missions, and Church Planting of Gospel-Centered Churches (though there is some frustration with the current processes of church planting in the SBC and this is addressed in the 2nd part of this podcast). This is the heartbeat of baptist21. This is why Baptist21 is excited about the work these two young men are embarking upon. We believe the future of the SBC rests on young men like this. Baptist21 is excited about the future of the SBC, if it looks like this. We are grateful that we are meeting more and more like-minded brothers every day. We hope this will only continue, for the sake of the Name.
Subscribe to the b21 podcast through I-Tunes
It is our hope, at b21, that many will attend the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville. And we especially want to encourage more and more younger SBC’ers to attend the SBC (we hope to blog about this soon). B21 believes there are many compelling features and events at this upcoming SBC that should entice many to come.
For instance, the pastor’s conference will feature many good preachers. This includes David Platt, JD Greear, Johnny Hunt, Ed Stetzer, Francis Chan, Alvin Reid, and many others. If you have not heard some of these guys, you will not want to miss them. In addition, at the Southern Baptist Convention there will be Great Commission Resurgences messages from Johnny Hunt, Vance Pitman (a sharp younger brother who has planted a thriving church in Las Vegas), David Platt, Danny Akin, and Jeff Crook.
What is it: It is 2 nights of discussion about the SBC.
Night one (June 22nd) will feature Mark Dever speaking on “Why the Nine Marks are Central to the Future of the SBC,” with a panel discussion to follow with Mark Dever, David Platt, and Greg Gilbert.
Night two (June 23rd) will feature Danny Akin speaking on “The SBC: Where We are and Where We’re Going,” with a panel discussion to follow with Mark Dever, Michael McKinley, and Josh Smith.
When is it: Monday June 22nd and Tuesday June 23rd at 9pm
Where is it: This Year’s Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, South B101-102
Who is it: Mark Dever, Danny Akin, David Platt, Greg Gilbert, Michael McKinley, Josh Smith, and IX Marks.
Why does b21 think you should be there: The content will no doubt be great and presented by excellent communicators. In addition, it should be a time to meet some guys that are striving to serve our Lord in ministry. Nevertheless, more than that, if a Great Commission Resurgence is really to take off in the SBC it will really encompass two things. These two things are Healthy Churches reproducing through Church planting and Healthy Christians reproducing through discipleship. This means that the health of our churches and members is of utmost importance to the GCR. 9 Marks is dedicated to this end, so we think you will want to hear what they have to say.
Also, to get more information about IX Marks check out their Facebook page. We encourage you to befriend them on Facebook because there you will be made aware of many opportunities and upcoming events.
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