The GCR Task Force emphasized that the realization of a GCR rises and falls based upon Pastors and Local Churches. And this is absolutely true for several reasons. First, the local church is THE chosen vehicle by which God is accomplishing His mission in the World. Conventions, though helpful in fostering the mission of the local churches, are not what God has promised the Gates of Hades will not prevail against. Second, our Baptist ecclesiology, which holds the local church as primary, promotes the idea that the headquarters of the SBC are the 40,000+ local churches. And we believe at Baptist21 that this is good and right. We hope this will become more and more the case and the air that is breathed among the churches and SBC partners.
Even though the local church is primary, convention mechanisms can be very helpful resources for the mission of the church. Again in a healthy system, these convention structures can foster the mission of the local church and help us do more together than we can apart (see Post 1 and Post 2 on “Y We R and Y We Think U Should B SBC”). Therefore, it is likely that there will need to be several more phases for a GCR to take root in all levels of our convention structures. Phase2 of the GCR will likely be involvement in the state convention and other local Baptist structures. There is still much to do to make sure our structures foster the advancement of the gospel to underserved and unreached areas. It has been rightly pointed out that too much money stays in areas where there is greater gospel access.
If we are to see more money leave the Deep South, we must be present at state conventions, be a consistent part of the process, vote on budgets, make motions, and more. Make your voice heard. So do something this October/November that may not be as glamorous as going to T4G, the Gospel Coalition conference, or Catalyst, take a day and go to your state convention meeting and vote on budgets and resolutions that reflect your churches priorities. If you are an advocate of the GCR go and vote on things that represent what was called for in the GCR Task Force Report that was adopted in June at the National Convention. Load up a van and take some friends with you. Make this a first step in seeking a GCR in our structures at all levels of SBC life. Let’s work to see the CP updated and restructured to be an even more effective, more strategic way for churches to spend their money for the work of the propagation of the gospel to the ends of the earth. Several state conventions are making significant strides in this direction. These moves are to be applauded. If you want the CP to reflect the priorities of the GCR where you live then a great first step is to go and vote on actual changes at the state convention that will make this a reality. Other measures may need to be taken, but this is a good first step.
As mentioned above, there are several state conventions that are setting examples that may be worthy of emulating. B21 is excited about 2 state conventions that have taken steps to move towards allocations advocated in the GCR report. Florida and Kentucky both formed GCR State Task Forces. Both of these states will vote on moving the state allocations to a 50/50 split of CP giving with the national convention and this a great step forward. It would be an exciting step if all our state conventions would consider this option. Go to your state conventions and push for these steps. The major way this can happen is by electing state convention presidents who will lead the charge. We believe these are some practical steps to see more resources getting to areas of greatest need. Another exciting example is the work of the Nevada Baptists, a frontier state to be sure, but nonetheless they are taking tough and creative steps to put in place structures that reflect the attitude of the GCR. There are several other states considering similar things as well, go and be a part of the change. Our SBC forefathers thought a convention of free churches cooperating together was a good way to pool our resources for the “propagation of the gospel.” Let’s be a part of this process as we hope to see the gospel propagated to the ends of the earth.
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?
The GCR vote is over, but now the real work of actually seeing a Great Commission Resurgence come about begins! One of the highlights of the entire GCR report was the focus on church planting as the best strategy for sustaining a long term assault on the lostness of North America. Our hope is that as we are enabled over the next few decades to unleash waves of gospel-centered church planters on the lostness of North America we will become a convention of 70,000 churches.
We are very optimistic because interest in church planting is increasing. With increased interest comes the need for increased training and support. It will take a refocused NAMB and refocused state conventions that partner with local churches to plant more churches. It will take local churches and networks of churches that provide vision, training, accountability, support, and many other things. There are many good options within the SBC with whom churches and church planters can partner. You may or may not be aware of them. Baptist21 wants to take a few posts and highlight some of them.
First Baptist Woodstock’s Church Planting School
The first resource we want to point you to is the FBC Woodstock Church Planting School. FBC Woodstock is one of the leading church planting churches in the convention. They are now beginning to ramp up their focus on church planting even more by beginning this church planting school. The help they are offering to aspiring planters and current planters is invaluable!
The leadership and experience of Pastor Johnny Hunt is well-known. Equally well-known is his love for and ability to mentor younger pastors. That element alone is enough to make anything FBC Woodstock offers to young pastors a must attend!
But, add to this the experience and expertise of Bill Agee who is providing leadership and oversight of this school. Bill Agee has spent his life planting churches. Right after getting married, Bill and his wife moved site unseen to South Dakota to plant a church. In 10 years they planted a church in every community around them for 60 miles. As a Director of Missions in the Central Baptist Association in Phoenix he aided churches in planting 73 churches in a 10 year period in this key western city. When he arrived at the association they were spending $200 a month on church planting, but when he left they were spending $20,000 a month on church planting.
Bill Agee is a church planter. As the new Church Planting Strategist at FBC Woodstock he is someone from whom aspiring Southern Baptist church planters need to learn.
Baptist21 would highly encourage you to attend the church planting school at FBCW September 20-22. It will provide valuable and extremely helpful training.
Here is some of the key information from the website:
Don’t miss your chance to get in on the ground floor of the Woodstock Church Planting School. We want to leverage our international reach & years of experience to help aspiring planters, current planters, planting strategists, and partnering organizations to launch strong, reproducing churches in places with little Kingdom influence.
A practical, hands-on workshop covering the following topics:
Check-in begins at 11a.m. and the first session begins at 1 p.m. on the 20th. and school ends at Noon on the 22nd.
$149 after Aug. 15th
Cost includes meals & materials. Transportation, lodging and off-site meals are the responsibility of the attendees.
Register online NOW at woodstockcps.com.
Baptist21 held its 2nd annual B21 Panel at the SBC. The panel took place in Orlando during Tuesday’s Lunch at the SBC. The members of the panel were Danny Akin, Matt Chandler, Ronnie Floyd, Johnny Hunt, Albert Mohler, David Platt, Jimmy Scroggins, and Ed Stetzer. The panel discussed issues pertaining to the gospel, the SBC and its future, the Great Commission Resurgence, and more.
In addition, Baptist21 would like our readers to be aware of the discussion that took place on the Tuesday night of the Southern Baptist Convention at the 9marks@9 event. During that event Danny Akin, Mark Dever, Albert Mohler, and David Platt discussed some very important topics. They addressed Platt’s sermon from the previous night, the importance of the GCR, next steps for the SBC and individual pastors, the health of the SBC, the importance of attending the national meeting (check the Mohler quote at about 11:30-12:30), the future of theological education, and more.
Baptist21 is so grateful for the Media Services department at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. They graciously served us through recording the panel. We are indebted to them.
Baptist21 concludes its series of post-SBC reflection interviews with first time SBC attendee Bryan Barley. Bryan is a Baptist21 contributor and the Church Planting Resident at the Summit Church in Durham, NC. Bryan is preparing to plant the Soma church in Denver, Colorado in January 2011. Check out the Soma Church website and find ways to support the work they will undertake in the city of Denver.
Give us your impressions of your first convention, what did you like? What did you dislike? What was interesting?
It was definitely a new experience – I really didn’t know what to expect. I was encouraged to see so many people, both young and old, growing restless with the status quo not only on a denominational level, but more importantly on a personal level. I had countless conversations with individuals who made the GCR personal, and consequently want their lives and churches to embody a Great Commission culture. As a church planter, it was encouraging to see the growing awareness of the need to prioritize church planting internationally and in American urban centers.
I struggled with the emotional attachment some seemed to have with our programs and systems. Being younger and having not grown up as a Southern Baptist, it’s probably easier for me to be less attached (or even ignorant) to the way the convention has done things in the past. But the emotional appeals towards and spiritualization of certain programs that are simply tools and a means to fulfilling the Great Commission was difficult to understand. I think this was one of the major reasons that it was crucial to ask the question of why the convention exists in the GCR discussion.
What drew you to this year’s Convention as your first?
The GCR vote. I decided last year to do my best to make it to Orlando after I learned about the GCR.
Why should young Southern Baptists come to a 2-day business meeting? Why would you recommend (or not) to others to attend the Southern Baptist Convention?
I think younger guys tend to be quick to criticize and slow to take the necessary steps to bring about change. And if those necessary steps don’t match our preferences, whether they be cultural or methodological, we tend to flee altogether (I am definitely guilty of this). While attending the SBC was a complete culture shock, I felt that it was the right step towards having a voice in the conversation rather than lobbing grenades from the outside.
In the end, each guy has to make the decision if the Convention is worth fighting for. For those who hold to the affirmative, I think it’s important to not only prioritize making the necessary changes on a local church level, but also be willing to attend the SBC where change is being discussed at a larger level.
In addition to this, it’s also incredibly encouraging to meet up with old friends, make new ones, and recognize that despite our differences and disputes, for two days and under one roof there are Southern Baptists who work to share the gospel all over the world.
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