3 GCR Articles of Note

blue_globe_-_oceanBaptist21 would like to draw our reader’s attention to three GCR Articles of note. These three articles highlight important issues that are at stake and they are worth time reading as we think through how to be Southern Baptists in the 21st Century. The first article is by the State Executive of the Baptist Convention of New York. The second article is by Doug Baker, editor of the Baptist Messenger. The final article is from Jerry Rankin, President of the International Mission Board. Baptist21 is very thankful for the boldness of these men.

GCRTF VIEWPOINT: Denominational employees should stop defending … a paycheck

Posted on Apr 16, 2010 at BaptistPress | by Terry Robertson


EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. (BP)–The Southern Baptist Convention is falling far short of fulfilling the Great Commission and that fact is painfully clear in the Baptist Convention of New York. If nothing else, I believe the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report should serve as a wakeup call for New Yorkers and Southern Baptists that we are not getting the job done.

Rather than minor adjustments to our structure, bold changes are needed and needed now! The growing number of lost people in North America is within and immediately surrounding the territory served by the BCNY. Our multi-state territory, once home to the Great Awakenings, is now home to more than 500 people groups and a record-high percentage of unsaved. I’m ready for a new approach, bold ideas and a better plan.

I believe the progress report is on the right track. The current system is broken and denominational employees should stop defending what is not working just to keep a paycheck. And I count myself among that number. You cannot simultaneously have your heart in the mission and your head in the sand.

Notable Quote: “It’s time for Southern Baptists to be more concerned with reaching the lost than maintaining jobs, state convention structures and cooperative agreements.


Editor’s Journal: CP: Its genius and risks

By Douglas Baker • April 19, 2010 •

Here is an excerpt from that article, it is well worth the read:

The Cooperative Program has been the SBC’s trellis for 85 years. It has developed and supported some of the finest theological seminaries in the world with tuition rates so low that pastors can actually graduate without debilitating debt. Many state convention-supported colleges and universities have blazed a path toward academic renewal grounded on a Christian worldview as they educate the nation’s future leaders. Long before adoption was the viable force it is today throughout the SBC, children’s homes were caring for orphans state by state. Baptist hospitals were founded on a Christian ethic of healthcare where the teachings of Jesus shape approaches to healing with an unapologetic pro-life approach. The elderly are treated with dignity through the work of retirement homes and senior adult care facilities. State conventions continue to quietly serve local churches in ways that build a network of congregations in friendly cooperation with one another for the purposes of planting new churches and revitalizing dying congregations. The North American Mission Board is home to the largest all-volunteer disaster relief force in the nation. Ask United States government agencies to identify the most effective disaster relief force in North America, and they will point to Southern Baptist disaster relief administered under the auspices of Baptist state conventions without hesitation. The SBC’s International Mission Board facilitates and supports a growing army of servant leaders who are strategically deployed like no other missionary force in the history of Christianity.

Today, the CP stands in danger of destruction through the sheer abandonment of many who see it not like a trellis to a vine, but like a welfare system in a non-productive economy. To be sure, the Cooperative Program has many visible cracks, resulting in a withering vine. Yet, is the answer to repair or replace the trellis? The answer depends on your perspective.

Later in the Article: The Cooperative Program was not designed and must not remain (as it is for some) a way of avoiding the danger, risk and inconvenience of active, personal ministry in and through a local church. Too often, the offering in the envelope becomes the means to assuage a guilty conscience. Worse still is the church that is unaware that it is denominationally enslaved to the point that they are, for all practical purposes, immobilized by simply giving money (and often lots of it) when personal sacrifice is demanded of every disciple of Jesus. Some Southern Baptist congregations have fallen prey to a dangerous dichotomy that enables them to feel self-assured before God through donated money that is not directly connected to Christian evangelism and missions. Certainly, the missional understanding of what money given by the church is to accomplish is ultimately the prerogative of each local congregation. Nevertheless, few Christians across the modern evangelical spectrum ever even think about leaving the comforts of home to relocate to a dangerous field of service. If the statistics are accurate, it takes nine Southern Baptist congregations to produce one International Mission Board missionary. This amounts to little more than financing a fantasy and naming it missions.


New Paradigm of Missions Support


By Jerry Rankin

I want to reiterate that in a critical assessment of the Cooperative Program there is no intention to do away with this effective and miraculous system of support for missions and a plethora of appropriate ministries. No mission agency has such a foundation of solid funding to send and support missionaries. No other denomination can do so much based on voluntary allocations from autonomous local churches without coercion or required donations…

Later in the Article –

NAMB cooperative agreements provided only $50 million to the states, but the state conventions received and retained $343 million in CP receipts. $307 million was received, retained and utilized by state conventions in the 14 mainline states of the Bible Belt, while only $36 million was received by the other 28 state conventions throughout the country.


The 14 mainline states have 37,509 of our reported 45,560 churches. That means these states kept and used 89.5 percent of Cooperative Program receipts by the states to use for programs in the most evangelized portion of our country where 82 percent of our churches are already concentrated! And appeals are being written of how their work will suffer if they don’t receive additional subsidies from the NAMB cooperative agreements.

Should NAMB be giving back even more resources to these states? Are they really going to become destitute if the cooperative agreements are phased out? This is why we need a strong, focused, well-funded North American mission board that creates a new paradigm of missions and church planting in the cities and pioneer areas of our country. Mainline states need to reassess what they are doing and how they could partner in a more significant way with pioneer states to channel their excessive resources to what is really missions. They need to explain what they are doing collectively with the $307 million they continue to receive before complaining about all they cannot do with NAMB subsidies withdrawn.

I believe the current reality of CP funding has diminished credibility in the system and been a disincentive to giving. There is no way we can say the priority of our current system is missions when more CP funds are used by the 14 most evangelized states that is going to the SBC and pioneer state conventions combined.



Reminder: Baptist21 will be hosting a GCR Panel with members of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force next Wednesday at Southeastern Seminary. Submit a Question for that Event and make plans to attend.

Comments 0

  1. Demonizing people as simply wanting to hold on to a paycheck is unnecessary and quite defensive. There are some real concerns about these proposed changes and it is not necessary to assume the worst about people in order to defend it. I am a Pastor not an associational missionary and I am not inclined to support this terrible plan. We need to remember that reaching people also involves changing hearts and the work of the Holy Ghost. Hyper-pragmatism takes the work of God out of the picture. This GCR is a hyper-pragmatic plan and shameful.

  2. One has to understand the defense of the present system as being based in large part on entrenched structure, including jobs, that would be affected should there be change. No one is being demonized here and it doesn’t presume the worst in any individual but the system is being exposed for its byzantine, inefficient, unproductive system.

    Does anyone really accept, for example, that evangelism in Alabama would be “devastate[d]” if that state with its thousands of churches and millions of baptists lost NAMB’s kickback funding? Yet that is exactly what state convention officials said.

    NAMB funds jobs for this and that all over the South in states with very strong state conventions and tens of thousands of established churches. Is this really how we want our Annie Armstrong offerings to be spent? I don’t.

    Jerry Rankin should be given a trophy for speaking candidly about this.

  3. I serve a church in a frontier state, and I agree with Terry Robertson that we should be supporting the Great Commission and not defending denominational employees or programs. However, I need much more information before I can wholeheartedly support the proposals. All that we know right now is that nearly all of the Southern Baptist infrastructure in our state will disappear if the proposals are approved. We haven’t been told what will come in their place, if anything.

    What if I told you that I could give you much healthier and more satisfying meals by removing your kitchen and all of its contents? You would have to know what I’m going to replace them with before you would believe me.

  4. I agree with you Mark that it did come off in a rather attacking manner, but he also included himself in that. It is true that we need to servant leaders and seeking others before ourselves. It is now and always has been a call to live sacrificially. I’m not saying anyone needs to make a vow of poverty, but we do need to streamline resources and get rid of the programs and maybe even people that are unproductive… We need to be Gospel-centered and Gospel-driven, not program-centered and program-driven. We also need to shift from a heavy emphasis on the attractional model of church (main sunday services, sunday dinners, collective gatherings, etc.) to a balance between it and the incarnational model (Gospel-centered missional communities, people living life together in smaller groups where Christian community can truly be lived out).

  5. Thanks to all that have come to share their thoughts about the post, dialogue is a needed thing if we are to move forward.

    Pastor Mitchell, I am sorry that you think this plan is “terrible” and “shameful.” I would not share your sentiments. Also, we would completely disagree on it being “hyper-pragmatic.” I hope you have read the entire document or listened to the entire report. There are a multitude of pages calling for Spiritual renewal and repentance. In fact, component #1 is geared wholly toward that. And unfortunately, one of the main things Pastor Floyd asked for among SBC’ers is more of a 1 Cor. 13 attitude, and less of a 1 Cor. 3 and that hasnt always played out.

    William, I agree with you. I do think the GCR needs to pass because we do have structure issues. And I think it is a false dichotomy to say that Structural things are not spiritual things. All of life is about worship, the way we structure our lives, churches, and conventions is a matter of wisdom and is spiritual. If we have a system that slows cooperation and hinders mission, it is only right for us to discuss it. The GCR was tasked with examining this, some may not like or even agree with the conclusions, and that is fine, but that does not make an evil plan or one that is out to demonize. The sad fact is, if things are going fine then no change is needed, but if they are not, and I think most would agree they are not, then change might mean the loss of jobs, which is never a thing we would wish upon anyone.

    Daniel, Thanks for engaging in the conversation here. I think the issues you raise are very valid, we will raise this issue in our GCR Chapel with some of the Task Force Members next Wednesday, and I hope the final report will shed more light on this as well.

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