Wednesday, May 12, 2010

GCRTF Report - Part 2

I thank you for the numerous comments received through email and on Facebook and through other personal contacts, regarding my previous post on the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report that was released on May 3rd. If you missed the post, here is the reference The comments I have received to date have been positive and encouraging in nature. Today I'd like to pick up where I left off with Part 2 of this pastor's opinion, "For What It's Worth".

One of my dear pastor friends from Kentucky shared this rumination. "You know", he said, "If we really wanted to have a Great Commission Resurgence, we could have saved a lot of time, money, and trouble. My suggestion is that all of the messengers to the Convention stand, open their Bibles to Matthew 28:18-20, read aloud, and pray, asking God to empower us with His Holy Spirit, and then just go home and do what Jesus said to do!"

Pretty simple, huh? Perhaps therein lies the problem. We tend to make the simple, difficult. I believe it was Rick Warren who said that "We preachers are always looking for a profound way to teach simple truth. Yet Jesus taught profound truth in a simple way!" Unfortunately, we tend to fall into the same trap when it comes to organization and administration. Much of our local church time and efforts have grown extremely complicated, when what is needed is a return to simplicity and focus on the mission. (see "Simple Church" by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger) The tendency continues and grows as our individual churches come together in local associations and state conventions, and, of course, at the national level as well.

At any rate, at the Convention in Louisville last year, we did it again. We (and I am included in that number) voted to allow President Johnny Hunt to appoint a Task Force to meet and bring recommendations back to the Convention in Orlando next month. It is made up of men and women who are highly respected in SBC circles. I am appreciative of the time and effort and prayer that has gone into this process. While there are many positives in the report, this pastor is saddened by several aspects of some of the key recommendations, and alarmed at the possible ramifications for the future of the cooperative work of our Convention.

The draft final report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force is entitled "PENETRATING THE LOSTNESS". There is no doubt that the task before us is just that. However, when you read the report for yourself, please tell me how much of the Components and Recommendations really do to accomplish that mission. Much background is given to the need to return to the simple mission and focus on executing the command of Christ. No arguments here! Then the report launches into its seven components and seven recommendations to the Convention..

  • Component One - Getting the Mission Right

  • Component Two - Making Our Values Transparent

  • Component Three - Celebrating and Empowering Great Commission Giving

  • Component Four - Reaching North America

  • Component Five - Reaching Unreached and Underserved People Groups Within North America

  • Component Six - Promoting the Cooperative Program and Elevating Stewardship

  • Component Seven - The Call of the Nations and the SBC Allocation Budget

After the Components and the Recommendations to the Convention, the Task Force lists ten pages of Challenges:

  • For Individual Christians

  • For Individual Families

  • For Local Churches and Pastor

  • For Local Associations

  • For State Conventions

  • For LifeWay Christian Resources

  • For the Seminaries

  • For the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

  • For GuideStone Financial Services

  • For all Southern Baptist Leaders

In my personal opinion, the Challenges at the end of the report are the most valid aspects of the entire report, and are more in keeping with the concept of a Great Commission Resurgence than are several of the numbered components. Furthermore, I believe the challenges are more in line with the scope of the assignment and the limited authority of this Task Force.

I can only imagine the time, effort, and expense that has gone into the making of this final report. I certainly admire and appreciate those who have served, and I believe that the motives of most have been above question. Some of the recommendations, however, while not "evil" have to make one wonder - why?

Components 1 & 2 of the report are reasonable and something that I believe all Southern Baptists can back. However, I feel compelled to share my concerns on some of the other issues. In Part 3 of these series of posts I will share my concerns over Component Three - "Celebrating and Empowering Great Commission Giving". Other issues dealing with Components Four, Five, and Six will be dealt with in Part 4.

No comments: