6. Election of Frank Page as the President of the EC: 2009 witnessed the announced retirement of EC President Morris Chapman who had unfortunately ended his time opposing the GCR. The SBC annual meeting saw the election of his replacement, Frank Page, a former SBC President. The EC acts on behalf of the SBC the 363 days the Southern Baptist Convention is not in session. Like Ezell, Page has been busy with restructuring the EC as well. Part of this restructuring saw the elimination of the job of VP for News Services and executive editor of Baptist Press, held by Will Hall, and consolidation from five divisions within the EC to three divisions (see article below for more on the restructuring).
Accompanying Resources: Florida Baptist Witness article on the Restructuring of EC
7. Popularity of Radical: David Platt, pastor of the Church at Brook Hills (a Southern Baptist congregation), had his book Radical reach the NY Times Best Seller list. Platt’s popularity as a preacher and proponent of international missions has grown exponentially in the SBC and in the greater evangelical world. This book details the radical life that should characterize every Christ-follower. Platt’s emphasis on international missions, care for the orphan and poor, and disciple making were certainly a catalyst for the Great Commission Resurgence. The ideas put forth in the book have begun to catch on at his church and other churches as well. It is possible that his preaching and this book may be a vehicle for a Great Commission movement among Southern Baptists and the greater evangelical world.
8. The Year in Statistics: It couldn’t be a year in review for the SBC without examining some of our numbers. The most significant number: CP giving is down. In addition, baptisms were up 2.2% from the previous year, but membership was down .42%. Many interpretations could be drawn from these numbers, so we won’t dabble in the interpretations. However, we do hope that steps will be taken in local, state and national agencies so that people can give more generously and confidently to the CP. We also hope there will be a major focus on discipling those who are baptized and regenerate church membership. It is not helpful to have an increase in baptisms but not an increase in Christ-followers.
Accompanying Resources: BP article highlighting the annual church profile statistics
9. Gospel-Centered Movement: A refocus on “Gospel-Centrality” is sweeping across denominational lines. This refocus has influenced B21 tremendously. So, we are very thankful that this appears to be taking off in the SBC. Our convention of churches has for many years struggled with legalism, moralism, preaching that aims for behavior modification, poor hermeneutics, and many other threats to the centrality of the gospel. Several examples can be mentioned to highlight that this is taking off in the SBC, such as Matt Chandler’s sermon at this past year’s SBC, the popularity of Tim Keller among SBC Preachers, and recent resolutions at the SBC that focused more on Gospel implications than petty boycotts or “pet-sin” bashing. One such example is a resolution on Gospel-Centrality passed by the messengers to this past year’s SBC (see the resolution below). It is the hope of B21 that the resolution passed by messengers of the SBC will be more than platitudes in our lives and churches and that a true movement of gospel-centrality is at work among us.
10. Focus on Adoption in the SBC: There is a new focus among Southern Baptists on the care of orphans and on adoption. This has been spurred on by many factors such as Dr. Russell Moore’s book Adopted for Life, David Platt’s Radical, and the focus on adoption by Kevin Ezell at this past year’s SBC pastor’s Conference. This focus seems to be capturing the hearts of the SBC and broader evangelicalism. This, of course, is a welcomed development.
Accompanying Resources: check out more about the adoption focus from last year’s SBC Pastors Conference and a new book to be released in April by Tony Merida and Rick Morton entitled, “Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care” (Check out some of the endorsements, including one by B21’s Jon Akin)
As we close out 2010, Baptist21 wants to take a look back on the year in the SBC. We will list the top ten stories of the year in the SBC, as best we can.
1. The Passing of the GCR: the passing of the GCR could be one of the most significant moments in SBC history, though the full impact of this motion will be unknown for some time. However, the potential impact is great. Some impact is already being made (see below on State Conventions and NAMB). Follow the links below to learn all about the recommendations and challenges included in the GCR report. B21 is excited about the passing of this motion and what it may have in store for our future as Southern Baptists. It is our hope that all will strive to take up the challenges offered in this motion that was approved by an overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists at this past year’s Southern Baptist Convention.
2. Reaction by State Conventions to the GCR: The state conventions have had varied reactions to the GCR report, particularly the challenge in the report for state conventions to move to a 50/50 split in CP allocation. Some states formed GCR task forces and voted to move to 50/50 over time (Kentucky and Florida), while others voted to keep far less in their states (Tennessee, Nevada, New York). This means more resources will make their way to the underserved and unreached areas of our nation and the world. Other state conventions have taken a slower posture, while some have opposed the GCR.
Accompanying Resources: A Baptist Press article detailing some of the varied responses to the GCR. See also the Encouraging Trends B21 Post.
3. Election of Bryant Wright as President of the SBC: The election of Bryant Wright seems to signal the sentiment of the SBC in a pro-GCR direction. Bryant Wright had been very critical about the amount of Cooperative Program resources that stayed in the U.S. He had even suggested in the Christian Index that we needed “a radical reprioritizing of Cooperative Program funds through our state conventions” calling for the state conventions to keep no more than 25-30% of CP dollars so that more money will make its way to those people groups that have no access to the gospel. Wright’s faithful and focused service as a pastor is now coming to bear on the SBC.
Accompanying Resources: Christian Index article on Wright and Bryant Wright’s Monthly videos to Southern Baptists
4. Election of Kevin Ezell as President of the NAMB: The election of Kevin Ezell to the NAMB Presidency was a bold move that has B21 excited about the future of the SBC. Kevin Ezell has been tasked with focusing NAMB’s efforts, giving it a new look. At the heart of this commission is the call to focus primarily on Church Planting, especially in the underserved areas of North America. Ezell has been busy restructuring NAMB so they can focus on Church Planting (see article below). Ezell has stated, “every reduction we make is to put more missionaries in the field.” Church Planting’s popularity is on the rise in several different evangelical denominations, and the SBC is no different. The election of Ezell and the refocusing of NAMB coincide with this rise in popularity of church planting among the other evangelical denominations. We hope that this focus on church planting in the SBC is not a fad. B21 is very excited about the future of NAMB and its future in helping churches plant churches.
Accompanying Resources: Baptist Press article detailing some of the downsizing
5. IMB still without a President: 2009 saw vacancies at the President position in three SBC agencies: IMB, NAMB, and the Executive Committee (EC). Two of those agencies (NAMB and EC) filled their vacancies, however, one is still open. The IMB, which many consider the “bell cow” of the SBC, is still without a president. This is certainly a big story, and perhaps the most disheartening story of 2010. Not much information is known about why this is the case, and it has not been discussed whether the IMB trustees are taking steps to re-assemble a new selection committee or sticking with the one that has been doing the work so far. Whatever the case is, it is our hope that the IMB will make a bold move with this vacancy. It is our hope that this bold move might see the IMB focus on the primacy of the local church in sending missionaries, new business initiatives overseas, and team planting. Let’s all commit to pray for the search committee and the next president.
Accompanying Resources: IMB Homepage
Over the last two weeks, Dr. Chuck Lawless, Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been tweeting ideas for Southern Baptists to get involved in giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year. We hope this list will help you, your family, and your church find a way to give more than ever to Lottie Moon this year! We invite you to check out Dr. Lawless’s blog Chucklawless.com and follow him on Twitter.
LOTTIE MOON IDEAS
Idea #1: Give to God’s mission the equivalent of $$ spent for Christmas presents. Spend on what matters.
Idea #2: Give 25¢, 50¢, 75¢, or $1.00 per unreached people group (@ 6000 groups). Billions need to hear.
Idea #3: Give the amount needed to cover one week’s costs to send a missionary — @ $845.00. They sacrifice much for the GC.
Idea #4: Give LM Christmas gifts in honor of someone you love. Most of us need little else; the world needs the gospel.
Idea #5: Give $25, $50, $100 for every year you’ve been a Christian. You’ll still never match what God gave for us.
Idea #6: Let the Word motivate you to give. We really have no other option. (Listen to Thanksgiving Without Giving Is Only A Word from 11/21/2010)
Idea #7: Give in honor of the one who shared Christ with you. Give because you have been one of the privileged ones to hear.
Idea #8: Remember your largest gift given to ANY need — then add 10% to that amount. Give more to LM than ever.
Idea #9: Give 10% of your church’s LMCO goal. If 9 others join you, you’ve met the goal. If more than 9 join you, PTL!!
Idea #10: Give 1 penny 4 every new believer baptized thru IMB work last year (@500,000). The return will be worth it.
In a letter from the Elders they describe the purpose of the conference:
“The goal of the conference is to bring together like minded people for encouragement, training, education, and fellowship. This is the first of many events that will be hosted by Henderson Hills. We feel led to invest in other pastors and leaders now so that they can be better leaders in the future.”
Schedule – Saturday, November 6th
11:30 Lunch (cost is $10 per person for those eating lunch)
12:30 Why Do We Do Things that Way? The Gospel and Baptist Identity – Nathan Finn
1:45 Panel Discussion – Nathan Finn, Daniel Akin, Dennis Newkirk, Nathan Akin
3:00 Close (dinner on your own)
5:30 Marks of a Great Commission People – Daniel Akin
Nathan A. Finn
Nathan Finn currently serves as Assistant Professor of Church History and Baptist Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author or editor of numerous publications on topics such as Baptist history and theology, missions history, and general church history. Nathan is married to Leah and they have three children. Nathan frequently blogs at his personal website nathanfinn.com and the Southeastern Seminary faculty blog betweenthetimes.com.
Dr. Akin is president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Also a prolific author, he holds degrees from The Criswell College (B.A.), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and the University of Texas at Arlington (Ph.D.). Akin is married to Charlotte, and they have four sons and 6 grandchildren.
Henderson Hills says of these two men:
Both men are from Southeastern Baptist Seminary, one of the fastest growing seminaries in the nation. Both are experts in their field: Missions and Church History. So, Learn what’s currently happening in Baptist life from two that are involved.
Dennis Newkirk is Senior Pastor/Elder of Henderson Hills Baptist Church
Nathan Akin is College Director at Open Door Baptist Church, Liaison to the Churches for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Co-founder of Baptist21
B21 would like to invite you to attend this conference – REGISTER HERE
It is reported that before William Carey left for India to begin the Modern Missions Movement he was told by J. R. Ryland “Young man, sit down; when God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid and mine.” Surprisingly, it seems that a similar debate is taking place within the SBC. In fact, it has been implied recently that Britain is now pagan because Carey left England and launched the Modern Missions Movement. This “fact” is being used to justify keeping larger concentrations of missions dollars at home instead of getting them around the world.
This argument was brought forth to support the decision of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists (KNCSB) to keep an even higher percentage of CP dollars in their states. The KNCSB has decided to reduce their CP support of the SBC from 32% to 22%, so now 78 cents of every $1 given in Kansas and Nebraska through the CP will stay there and only 11 cents of every $1 given in Kansas and Nebraska through the SBC’s primary channel of missions giving, the CP, will actually go to reach over 6,000 Unreached People Groups around the world.
This was a difficult decision for the KNCSB but they believe it was necessitated by two factors: 1) the current economic situation and 2) the GCR category “Great Commission Giving.” The KNCSB says it could weather the economic climate but it cannot weather the GCR (that was overwhelmingly adopted by the SBC messengers in Orlando). This move, however, raises several questions:
1. Is the KNCSB “jumping the gun?” While the SBC did adopt the category of GC giving at this year’s annual meeting, not one of the GCR recommendations has taken effect yet. That means that the GCR has not had a drastic affect on the KNCSB yet, and if churches are choosing to give in a designated way then that was a trend that started before the GCR. It seems that blaming this move on the GCR is not fair. This reality leads to the 2nd question.
2. Why are more churches choosing to give directly to mission causes rather than give as they have traditionally done through the KNCSB? This is a key question that honestly needs to be asked across the board in the SBC. Has the KNCSB asked this question of itself and seriously dealt with the emerging answers? One answer that has been given to this question is that churches are dissatisfied with the small percentage of CP dollars that state conventions send to support National and International mission causes. If that is the case then I fear that this move by the KNCSB will not only not help but will in the end make matters worse. Instead of this quick action it might be better for the KNCSB to seek out the answers to these questions from the churches and then adopt a strategy that is enthusiastically supported by the churches.
3. How can the KNCSB expect their churches to “give more” to the CP when they are not “giving more” themselves? It is an exciting time because several state conventions are stepping out in faith to lead the way in increasing their missions giving to SBC causes nationally and internationally trusting that the churches will give more as well. I am thrilled to see my state convention in Kentucky take the lead on this by considering the move to a 50/50 split of CP funds, as well the Florida Baptist Convention.
There are encouraging trends in frontier states. The Nevada Baptist Convention and its four associations will vote to merge into one entity and increase their CP missions giving by two-thirds over the next five years. The Baptist Convention of New York is also increasing its giving to national and international mission causes, as well as set the goal to start a 1,000 new churches in New York. These frontier and underserved areas are wanting to increase their role in the national and international missions process. At the same time, the GCR recognizes the situation in these frontier states, like Kansas/Nebraska and others, is different than the Southeast for example. The call has been for more mission focus in these areas through NAMB and others, not less.
4. Can we really blame the paganism of England on the Missionary zeal of William Carey? Quite honestly this part of the article deeply saddened me. What would the writer have had Carey do? Stay in England and let the Indians go to Hell? Why should we worry about “them?” Why not just worry about “us?” This leads to my final question.
5. Will we have the attitude of Jonah or the heart of God? Jonah did not want to see God bless the nations because he thought it would weaken Israel (his home). Yet, God’s heart for all peoples was on display. Revelation 5 and 7 tell us that God is not just concerned with the amount of people in Heaven; He is also deeply concerned with the amount of peoples in Heaven. If the SBC, like Jonah, begins to set its gaze on itself it will implode. If we choose maintenance over mission then we will continue to decline. We cannot lower our focus on the ends of the earth and only be (or primarily be) missionaries in our backyards.
Many people who love Jesus and lost people will have strong disagreements about how all of this should work out, but I hope that we can all agree that there are serious questions that we need to answer very soon as a convention. It is in the context of these questions that I would like to make a plea to all Southern Baptist partners.
This plea is to be willing to ask tough questions and adapt because things are changing. Churches, especially those led by a younger generation, will want to increasingly stream line what is done by denominational agencies and emphasize missions to the unreached over sustaining denominational ministries in our backyard. This trend was made clear by the election of Bryant Wright as President of the SBC. These churches will take the lead in evangelizing their “Jerusalem” because they believe it is the role of the local churches to evangelize their city/state, not the role of associations, state conventions, seminaries or any other SBC partner. They will also want the money they give to cooperative missions to end up in the hands of church planters and missionaries to Unreached Peoples. If Southern Baptist partners don’t recognize this, then they will likely see more and more churches deciding to give their money through “direct giving.”
And the questions remain to be answered. Will we have the spirit of Carey or Ryland? Will we have the attitude of Jonah towards the nations or the heart of God?
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