David Williams recently wrote a GCR viewpoint piece in Baptist Press and I’d like to interact briefly with his argument.
I disagree with Mr. Williams that NAMB’s primary strategy should be “supporting and undergirding the work of the state conventions.” I think most Southern Baptists think that NAMB is supposed to be a church planting network in North America, and most Southern Baptists want NAMB to be a major church planting network in North America, not primarily a subsidizer for State Convention ministries.
That means that the GCR is for new strategic partnerships but those partnerships must be focused not on reproducing convention ministries or on funding “basic staff and services,” but rather on planting churches. Those frontier conventions who focus on that can expect a great deal of partnership with NAMB. The only way we can assault the massive lostness of North America and make disciples is by planting churches.
Mr. Williams then mentions his two major problems with the GCRTF report: 1) Great Commission Giving and 2) the “omission” of challenging churches to give a certain percentage through the CP. Let’s address these one at a time.
GREAT COMMISSION GIVING
One issue that I have with Mr. Williams critique is that it fails to take into account the autonomous nature of our cooperation. He writes that churches that designate gifts “purposely route funds around the budget approved by messengers to their state convention and to the [SBC].” We are a convention of autonomous churches that cooperate. That means each church should do and give what they decide to do and give before God. If the local church is primary, then they are in the driver’s seat here. If churches want to cooperate with the SBC but do not feel that the approved budget of their state convention matches what they feel God has called them to do in mission, then why would we criticize them for designating, if indeed the local church is primary?
My second issue with this is that again Mr. Williams equates giving to the CP with giving to the church. The SBC is not a church. The state convention is not a church. The local association is not a church. These are not one-to-one categories.
As a pastor myself let me say this about what Mr. Williams says about giving within the church. First, I don’t know a pastor that would criticize a designated gift from a church member. Second, I don’t know a pastor that would cash the check and then write a letter criticizing the member for giving the wrong way (like we do in the SBC).
Mr. Williams writes, “When a non-tithing family gives a designated gift because they would rather decide how their money is spent than submit it to the decision-making process of our church, I grieve over their lack of cooperation.” This statement reveals much of our convoluted ecclesiology in the SBC. If a person is a member of a church then they are in covenant with that church (like a marriage), so it is not only not cooperative to not give to the church budget, it can be sinful and grounds for discipline. However, churches ARE NOT IN COVENANT relationship with the state convention or with the SBC, so the analogy breaks down. These are voluntary relationships, not covenant commitments. This reveals that many still believe the churches serve the convention entities, NOT that the convention entities are to serve the churches.
Sense the SBC is about voluntary partnership to cooperate together, each church should do before God what their mission is, and we should celebrate that. If the church is designating around the CP, then instead of criticizing, entities should ask the question, “why?!”
A SPECIFIC CP CHALLENGE
Mr. Williams second issue with the report is that the GCRTF did not challenge churches to give 10% to the CP, while they did call other autonomous individuals or entities to giving amounts. He then issues his alternative “stronger recommendation.” He calls each church to give 10% of undesignated receipts through the CP to their state convention, 3% to their local association, and then to give above and beyond that to special missions offerings. The issue here again is one of autonomy and voluntary partnership.
Let me state upfront that I love the CP and am grateful for it. I want to see the CP thrive. However, my problem with Mr. William’s proposal is that it assumes all SBC entities are the same and that each church should just automatically out of duty (or biblical obedience?) cooperate at the same level with each entity. Our local association has a woman pastor. Why in the world would we challenge churches in our association to give 3% to an association that doesn’t hold to our theological confession in the BF&M2000? Some state conventions still have liberal institutions. Why would we criticize churches that out of theological conscience designate away from those institutions? That’s why this “stronger” proposal fails. It fails to take into account the fact that not all SBC entities are the same, so we can’t automatically conclude that all entities need to be supported at the same level.
Mr. Williams goes on to use a similar phrase that opponents of the GCR are using, “The solution is not just changing how we slice the pie. The solution is a bigger pie.” I agree that it is both/and. We do need to each as individuals and churches sacrifice more in missions giving, and each entity needs to reallocate their budgets to sacrifice more for mission. However, no one seems to be asking the key question, “Why are churches decreasing their giving?” Could it be because they don’t like the slices? If that is the case (and it is for many), then simply telling them “You really should give more” is not going to work. It won’t enlarge the pie. A compelling vision needs to be put forth. Those who don’t like how the current pie tastes will not contribute to baking a bigger version of the same pie.
Brilliant post Jon.
Thanks for writing it. Looking forward to Orlando!
Really interesting point about the covenant relationships. A bit ashamed to say I’ve never thought of that. I’m not sure that most Baptists would consider NAMB’s primary mission to be church planting, though. I think most young Baptist pastors and missiologists, and many members of their congregations, have reached this conclusion. Were I not in denominational service I wonder if I would be aware that the jury has come in and the verdict is unanimous: starting new churches is an evangelistic activity that brings people to Christ. I think many of the Baptists in my generation (who had CP and Bold Mission Thrust (yes, that dates me) thrumming in our ears)still view churches as a RESULT of evangelism. Right or wrong, I think many “everymen” and “everywomen” in the pews consider the “job” of the mission boards and the conventions very simply: to commission missionaries to the field. They rely upon their church leaders to figure out where the money needs to go. It doesn’t occur to most that they can kick the tires themselves.
1) Great reminder and insight on the fact that the convention is for the church and not the other way around.
a) To help with the problem of having missionaries but no funds to send them would giving more to the “Annie Armstrong” and “Lottie Moon” offerings help with this issue?
b) Or does the problem rest in the fact that most of our resources are staying in the South/East United States where the Gospel is heavily saturated compared to the rest of the US and world?
c) How do you solve this problem – is it the GCR? Will the convention move together in this direction?
1) NAMB’s primary strategy: There is a hierarchy of communication in the SBC. At the bottom is the local church, then the association, then the state convention and finally the national SBC. It is the responsibility of the local churches and associations to plant churches. The state convention functions as the representative of their local church voices to other SBC entities including NAMB. NAMB can’t know how to plant churches or what is really needed in areas they are not at. I agree with Williams that NAMB should function to support state conventions as reprpesentatives of the associations and local churches under them. I don’t want NAMB to be a church planting network because I don’t trust that it would be structured in any way that would be fair to God’s will. NAMB as a church planting network brings to my mind that it becomes a funnel through which SBC seminary grads go to find jobs planting churches in areas they aren’t familiar with and have no place being besides an institution telling them they should go there.
The problem is that NAMB is trying to both be a church planting network and support conventions. We don’t need NAMB to be the SBC version of Acts29. We need NAMB to listen to the gospel needs and proposals in the states and prioritize funding church plants in those states that will be most advantageous for the Gospel and leave it to the state and association to worry about doctrine and cooperative effort of the church plants. We need NAMB to not be another political arena with limited representation and vision from one cultural area of the SBC.
2) Great Commission Giving: I don’t think opponents of the GCR want to do away with Great Commission Giving. I think they want to encourage a minimal amount of cooperative giving. We are all Southern Baptist. We should show our apprecation for being Southern Baptist by supporting things we may not wholly agree with in recognition that we are in this together and God uses lots of different people in strange ways to glorify Himself. Great Commission Giving should be the above and beyond designations after that given to the local association and CP.
We are autonomous churches that cooperate and should choose to cooperate more than choosing to be autonomous. We focus more on autonomy than cooperation! I think encouraging some minimal amount of CP giving is not about infringing on autonomy. No one is going to hold churches hostage for not giving some percentage of their budget. Encouraging CP giving is for building a common pride in the work we do together as a diverse group of Christians with united mission and vision. CP giving is about encouraging a Southern Baptist catholicity. The SBC may not be a church, but it is a part of the Church and I do think we fail to honor Christ when we act contrariwise (John 17).
3) A Specific CP Challenge: I consider myself a fundamentalist theologically, but I don’t care for the right wing, culture war fundamentalism that dominates the SBC entities and leadership. If I had my way, my church would not send any money to the CP. I don’t care for our seminaries or the ERLC because they promote theologies and values that I think distract us more than focus us on Jesus and the Great Commission. I’d designate all our money to the missions in the association and state convention, NAMB and IMB.
I’ve never brought up these views to my church because more important than my own qualms with certain areas of the SBC is the ministry we can do together as one catholic Southern Baptist body. The compelling vision already exists. Sure the bureaucracy could use some refining. I don’t believe Southern Baptists aren’t giving to missions because of a lack of a compelling vision, I think we’ve become distracted by too many other things within the convention that have nothing to do with Jesus and the Great Commission. If we pruned the areas that have nothing to do with discipleship and missions then I think people would be more than happy to give to the SBC because we would show that we have one (biblical) vision we are united in and striving for. This is why I remain Southern Baptist, I still believe the heart of the common Southern Baptist is missional and desiring to see God glorified, but doesn’t always know best how to do it because we have too much going on in our ranks that has nothing to do with Jesus and the Great Commission that is distracting our churches from reaching the world and their local communities for Christ.
Thanks for the comments and questions. Very helpful.
I’d answer your 3 questions yes, yes and yes!
Gcr challenges more to Lottie and Annie. By the way we had 3rd largest Lottie offering ever, which I think shows the heart of our sbc people.
I think part of the reason cp is declining is bc churches see it focused primarily on the places with the most Christians and most churches, and the most unreached places getting the fewest resources (people and dollars). We’ve got to strategically target these areas and gcr calls for that.
Gcr is a first step in the direction of reaching underserved and unreached areas. If we really believe Romans 10 and people have to hear the gospel to be saved it’s imperative we have a strategy to reach out to them.
it’s not that gcr is against evangelism and discipleship in the south.
But we think it can mainly be done by the thousands of churches and millions of believers in those places.
Let me attempt to disagree briefly w/ your comments.
1. Churches plant churches not assoc, state, or namb. Entities serve the churches in carrying out their mission. In SBC structure the church is on TOP not bottom (at least that is what we say).
2. I have no idea what you mean about NAMB not being fair to God’s will???
3. If all NAMB is supposed to do is subsidize state convention ministry why do we need NAMB? Let’s just do away w/ it…
4. Are you saying that a church planter could never plant in a place they aren’t familiar with? If that’s true why are we sending missionaries cross-culturally at all?
5. I agree with you that the problem is that NAMB is trying to both do church planting and support conventions. GCR says they should support church planting in partnership w/ conventions but not subsidize state ministries that have nothing to do with planting or penetrating lostness.
6. My biggest problem with your conception of how to do things is that it does not strategically prioritize the most unreached and underserved areas. Your gameplan keeps us focused on where we already are..
7. Why in the world would we leave doctrine to state conventions and associations who have no confessional center?
8. Your comments about the Conservative Resurgence and our seminaries are quite troubling to me. If you wonder why we needed a Conservative Resurgence then I encourage you to read this article and it will tell you why: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/06/03/512447/nancy-petty-charts-her-own-path.html
Here’s the problem with your view we can’t focus on Jesus and the Great Commission w/o doing theology, b/c when we are trying to reach people for Jesus, those words must mean something! They take on theological content. Theology must drive method and evangelism and discipleship.
9. I agree with your statement that “we’ve become distracted by too many other things w/n the convention that have nothing to do w/ Jesus & the GC,” though we may disagree on what the too many things are.
I hope we do prune areas that have nothing to do with discipleship and missions. If we did I’d encourage my church to give more to the CP.
After reading your response yesterday to David Williams article, I have pondered the arguments that you made in rebuttal and how you made them. I wanted to share a few thoughts about the GCRTF report and interact briefly with the views you expressed. I am a life-long Southern Baptist currently serving as Senior Pastor of a church in New Mexico. I actually read Mr. William’s article before I read yours, so his article was fresh in my mind. I appreciate you linking Mr. William’s article for people to read for themselves, but the reality is that there will be some (perhaps many) who will not take the time to read the original article. However, regardless of whether someone takes the time to read Mr. William’s article, when you interact with it, especially when you quote from it, you should do so in a manner that does not even have an appearance of misrepresenting what was said in the original article. I do not believe that you intentionally used a quote to take Mr. William’s arguments out of context, but that is the appearance when you quoted, without ellipsis, a small part in the middle of a rather lengthy sentence. The quote left the impression that all Mr. Williams was interested in was keeping the money flowing to subsidize the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention and to fund “basic staff and services.”
As I read his article, Mr. Williams seems to be open to a modification of how NAMB partners with the various state conventions, “as long as NAMB’s primary strategy remains supporting and undergirding the work of the state conventions throughout North America where the job is being carried out.” While Mr. Williams could have been clearer, I believe “the job” he is talking about is fulfilling the Great Commission. Partnerships with state conventions and the funding that flows through those partnerships help to facilitate the carrying out of the Great Commission in places like Minnesota and Wisconsin and in my state of New Mexico. Could those partnerships be modified to be even more effective? Mr. Williams stated as much and with that I concur. However, to call for a complete phase-out over seven years of the existing agreements seems to be a rather strong remedy that is somewhat divisive. Could the GCRTF not have modified its recommendation further (it changed from a four year phase-out in its preliminary report to a seven year phase-out in its final report) to call for NAMB to implement more effective partnership agreements with the state conventions rather than a complete phase-out? It might not seem like a huge change, but language matters, especially when it comes to these recommendations.
When you state that you “think most Southern Baptists think that NAMB is supposed to be a church planting network in North America,” who are “most Southern Baptists?” Is it the 16 million on the roles of our churches? Is it the 7 to 9 million who attend worship services on a regular or semi-regular basis? Or is it some other subset? I do not believe that “most” Southern Baptists are even aware of how NAMB operates, much less that it is supposed to be a church planting network in North America. Certainly, one of NAMB’s primary areas should be church planting, but I do not believe many Southern Baptists, myself included, have thought of NAMB first and foremost as a “church planting network.” That, however, does not mean that I am opposed to listening to arguments in favor of transforming NAMB into primarily a “church planting network.”
Based on your statement that “the only way we can assault the massive lostness of North America and make disciples is by planting churches,” you certainly believe and have stated that NAMB’s primary role should be planting churches. I would ask that you review your statement about assaulting the massive lostness in North America. By using “only” you have implied, perhaps unintentionally, that evangelism and discipleship can only be assaulted through new church plants. How do established churches (of which there are tens of thousands, including the church I serve) fit into the Great Commission Resurgence game plan of evangelism and discipleship? I would perhaps agree with you that new church plants can often (usually) be more effective in evangelism and discipleship, but to say that church plants are the “only” way to assault the massive lostness and make disciples could be construed as an unnecessarily divisive statement that I would encourage you to rethink.
Thank you for your always informative website and for the opportunity to interact with you on this important topic. While we may respectfully disagree on some of the points contained within the Task Force’s recommendations, my hope and prayer is that our convention will rally around a common purpose and vision for the future and will leave Orlando unified. Dr. Joe Bunce, Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, stated it well in his recent article on the GCRTF in Baptist Press, “One Reason Why I Am a Southern Baptist” when he said, “Whatever happens at the SBC, remember, we are having church Sunday.”
Great post. This is an exciting year for the SBC.
Thank you for your very measured and kind interaction…I’ll try to respond to what you’ve raised.
1. I appreciate you raising the issue about potential misrepresentation b/c I don’t want to do that. I tried very carefully to give Mr. Williams’ views and interact w/ them accurately.
I avoided using qualifiers like “only” or “all.” I argued that Mr. Williams believes NAMB’s “primary” strategy should be supporting state conventions…I think this is fair to what he said.
2. Also, I think there is some mis-information floating around about the phasing out of the cooperative agreements. The TF has stated repeatedly that it won’t mean less $ for places like New Mexico and Minn-Wisc, it’ll mean MORE for penetrating lostness in those areas! As a Kentuckian I rejoice in that, b/c I think frontier areas should be strategically focused on.
3. Thank you for pointing out my error with the phrase “most Southern Baptists.” I should’ve qualified that. Most Southern Baptists that I know and minister with think NAMB’s primary focus should be church planting, and I believe a majority of Southern Baptist want this to be NAMB’s primary (not only) function. I guess we will know the answer to that after Orlando.
4. I think my statement that the “only” way to assault the massive lostness of North America is by church planting should be read in the context of the previous sentence where I talk about frontier areas, the most underserved and unreached areas (i.e. those areas w/ little or no churches). The only way long term to assault that lostness and make disciples is w/ multiplying new churches there to win people and disciple them. National entities, state conventions, and associations can’t do evangelism and discipleship effectively for one reason that’s not what they’re supposed to do and that’s not what they’re equipped to do. That can only be done in the context of the local church.
I am not arguing that evangelism and discipleship can only be done thru new church plants, but in places where we have little or no churches that is the only way to do it.
Established churches play an absolutely critical role in two ways: 1) reaching their communities and 2) planting new works in strategic areas (i.e. underserved and unreached). After all, we believe that existing churches plant new churches! We also believe in the primacy of the local church.
So, again let me be clear b/c I don’t want to be divisive. We think the future of the SBC is in our local churches (existing and future plants). The only way to penetrate long term the areas where we are not right now is with church planting…
Thank you for your kind words about B21 and I do hope we leave Orlando with a unified vision!
Jon thanks for taking the time to respond. I think this discussion is really helpful and I’m appreciative B21 gives us
the opportunity to have it.
Response to 1: I agree that the local church is most important, but I was talking about a hierarchy of communication not
a general hierarchy. We would be really inefficient and have no need for states and associations if the local churches
were speaking directly to SBC entities. Most of our budgets would go into hiring telephone operators if that were the
Response to 2: I’m saying the current way politics work in the SBC makes me completely confident that NAMB would not
seek God’s will for where churches should be planted in the US if it became a church planting network. NAMB as a church
planting network would prioritize denominational growth above God’s will and likely fail at both.
Response to 3: I assume NAMB is useful because we would have experts in church planting, evangelism and missions working
together to decide how to split up the money budgeted for North American missions. I guess if that was all NAMB did we
could just make it a part of the CP budget and vote on it every year but that seems really inefficient and we’d still
have to have someone or group make proposals about how initially to split up money. Could NAMB play some part in
offering and connecting people to resources for these missions? Could they offer conferences and field education?
Response to 4: I’m not saying that at all. What I have noticed is that in the North if you want to find a Southerner
your best bet is to find the nearest SBC affiliated church; it might even be the guy behind the pulpit. We have lots of
transplanted Southerners in the North and some of them are able to adapt to Northern culture and plant successful
churches. I’ve known some of these men and gladly call them friends and mentors. There are also many who have no
business being up here and don’t seem to have any idea what they are doing and don’t get why their church plants aren’t
taking off or churches are shrinking. My worry is that NAMB as a church planting network is going to funnel even more
people toplaces they don’t belong because NAMB becomes a resource for job finding as a church planting network. We
should be planting indigenous churches across the country. That would be organic, relational and most missional.
Response to 5: I agree with GCR’s intent, but I don’t think that is accomplished by phasing out cooperative agreements.
Howell made that point well in his comment. Cooperative agreements need to be reworked and maybe more focused so non
Great Commission related ministries are being given money, but my experience in a convention like MWBC is that none of
those cooperative agreements are being used to finance positions and ministries that aren’t helping us to become more
missional and fulfill the Great Commission. Other states may have those kinds of problems and maybe MWBC could look at
challenging itself to evaluate possibly even more effective models for our state structure, but we can’t do any better
without what little state staff we already have short of spontaneous MWBC-wide local church revivals. GCR may give our state more money for missions as you claim, but its the lack of details on what happens to our current staff that is troubling. There are hundreds maybe thousands of staff across the country supported by cooperative agreement money, many of whom are supporting families are they supposed to wait without income in limbo (for how many months?) while some board decides how useful they really are for great commission work in their state? Besides all this are we forgetting that there are more conservative evangelical churches and denominations in this country than just the SBC? Only states and associations know whether certain cities are really as high priority as NAMB might think they are. Just because a particular city doesn’t seem to have much of an SBC presence doesn’t mean it has no good Christian witness. There are things NAMB won’t know but will be making decisions about anyways as a church planting network and that seems wasteful to me no matter the intentions.
Response to 6: I didn’t share much of a game plan. Honestly, I don’t have much of one because I haven’t had the time to develop one or to do anything more than respond to elements of presented game plans. I don’t think I’m a very unusual Southern Baptist when it comes to the GCR. I read the blogs hyping the GCR before the last annual meeting. I got excited and supported it on my blog and facebook page. I went to the annual meeting and supported it as best I could even though I couldn’t vote. I was excited to see it pass. I knew going into the meeting that things need to change for the SBC even though I was unclear on how. The more time has passed and I’ve read blogs all over the GCR support spectrum since the last annual meeting the more I’ve become convinced that the SBC has more pressing issues than retooling some bureaucratic structures and fixing some funding formulas. The GCR is another politics as usual in the SBC and is distracting us from real problems like the serious lack of diversity and accountability in our leadership structures and entity boards. I want to see a great commission resurgence like other Southern Baptists that supported it last year, but the solution presented by the Task Force is unconvincing, IMO. Others may disagree, but I would rather us deal with more fundamental issues first before the GCR proposal becomes a new monster that needs constant attention at future meetings and doesn’t allow us to deal with fundamental issues.
Response to 7: The confessional center for all our conventions and associations ought to be at least guided by the BFM 2000. If any of them outright rejected it on all accounts then I’m not sure what good they could be to their local churches. The truth is NAMB and IMB have extra doctrines that guide who they will and will not support in the mission field. If the SBC as a majority has not approved such doctrinal additions to their judgement processes at an annual meeting then they shouldn’t be doing that because it is anti-missional. The people that are closest to the church plants should be the ones holding the church plant and church planter accountable in both doctrine and ethics, not some board that is so easily overtaken by a particular theological interest group.
Response to 8: I’ve studied that era of our history in some depth. I do believe it was needed, but I think we’re in the other ditch now and the moderate prediction of us going after each other is likely to be proven right soon (if it hasn’t already). We got rid of some moderates but we’ve also lost many good conservatives because they weren’t fundamentalists. The CR started with good intentions and did some good and necessary work, but it put us on a path I don’t think we ever intended to go or would have gone had we known. A GCR (not necessarily this one) is necessary because the CR failed in a different respect.
As a student that may end up doing a Ph.D. in theology, I’m aware of its possibilities and limitations. There is an extent to which I agree with what you’re saying, but I just don’t agree with the directions our seminaries have gone with their curriculum. I’ll leave it at that because I don’t want to get unkind and this isn’t the place or time for it.
Response to 9: Glad to see we agree and can agree to disagree.
Thanks again for the opportunity Jon and your work on this!
Thanks for your thoughtful reply to my comments. If you would allow me, let me continue the dialogue as it relates to each of your four points. As to your first point, while I did interpret Mr. Williams perhaps more broadly than you did, I believe that your response, based on your more narrow interpretation of his views, was fair. I probably would have quoted more of Mr. William’s thesis statement and then interacted with it so as to give even more clarity and persuasion to my argument.
As to point #2, there may well be misinformation floating about regarding phasing out the cooperative agreements with the various state conventions. There are some who have predicted a dooms-day scenario in which the state conventions and local associations collapse with the phase-out of the agreements (see Michael F. Watson’s “A likely GCRTF Scenario” posted June 10 on Baptist Press). On the other hand, you have members of the Task Force – whose integrity and beliefs I do not question – and GCRTF supporters who steadfastly believe that the phasing out of the agreements “won’t mean less $ for places like New Mexico and Minn-Wisc., it’ll mean MORE for penetrating lostness in those areas!” However, at this point in time, the only thing that we can say with certainty is that we don’t know what will happen. No one can predict the future. The leadership and trustees of NAMB will be tasked with implementing the recommendations regarding new cooperative or partnership agreements. That process is yet future. Until that happens, there is real concern from pastors like myself, who serve in not only frontier and western states, but also in states like Alabama, that what replaces the existing cooperative agreements will not be as effective as the existing structure. Obviously the GCRTF and others disagree. Only time will tell how this will work. It’s hard to tell jointly funded NAMB missionaries who serve in the Baptist Convention of New Mexico not to worry about their ministries or how they will be funded when the future is so uncertain for so many. I think that it would greatly benefit anyone who supports the recommendations to be careful not to dismiss these legitimate concerns, even if they don’t particularly think that the concerns will in fact materialize.
In a related area, that is the same reasoning that I would use to look at the new “Great Commission Giving” recommendation. There are some who predict the end of CP as we know it while others seem to not even be open to the possibility that CP will suffer with this recommendation. At this point in time, we simply cannot know what “Great Commission Giving” will do to CP. If it does not negatively affect it, then I suppose no harm, no foul. But, what happens if this new way of recognizing giving does negatively affect CP over the next five years? Can we reverse the negative impact? These are legitimate concerns that many pastors (including one of the candidates for SBC President) and churches have regarding the “Great Commission Giving” recommendation.
As to point #3, I would counter that most Southern Baptists I know and minister with do not think that NAMB’s “primary focus” should be church planting. I agree with you that things will be clearer after Orlando. The question we should be asking is why can’t we have a clear consensus on this issue and the rest of the recommendations in light of the 95% vote at last year’s convention in favor of the GCR? If the GCRTF’s recommendations pass or fail by a slim majority, that will be a loss for the entire convention. And, while I understand that “politics” always plays some role in the convention, I think that if the vote — either pass or fail — has the taint of politics to it, that this will be a tragic loss for the convention.
In response to point #4, thanks for the clarification to your original post. With your clarification, I would certainly agree with you that new church plants are needed in places where we have little or no churches. Obviously, local churches and the members within those churches have primary responsibility for carrying out the Great Commission. With that, you will get no argument from me. However, the question remains as to what role local associations and state conventions play in assisting the local church in fulfilling the Great Commission, which includes not only church planting and evangelism, but also discipleship and Christian growth. I’m hopeful that the vast majority of Southern Baptists view the local associations and state conventions as valuable partners in the Great Commission Resurgence, helping the local church win the lost and disciple the won.
Thanks again for the opportunity to continue the dialogue. God bless.
Thanks for your response. 1 comment and 1 question:
1. You supported the GCR last year, what are your ideas for what they shouldve done?
2. As far as I can tell, none of our states or associations has a confessional center based on the BFM2000…
Thank you for taking time to respond…I’ll try to comment briefly.
As to point 2, the Watson piece in BP is horrible. He basically argued we need to focus our efforts in the South b/c people in the South are better, more conservative than people in the north and easier to win to Christ.
I know you didn’t cite that with approval, but his article is exactly why we need a GCR. I don’t think his premise is correct, but even if it was I’m glad some decided to cross into cultures that were hard, otherwise we’d all be in Hell…
I am sensitive to the issue of people losing their jobs. I’ve written about that, and I don’t want to undermine it. But, the question does remain, do we really need to change in the SBC? Or can we keep doing business as usual and fulfill our mission? If we need to change, then some difficult decisions will need to be made.
Let’s remember also that no jobs will end overnight. There are 7 years to work thru this. Plus, if we are going to begin reaching areas with little gospel access don’t we have to strategically target those areas instead of consistently using the majority of our resources (people & $) in the place most saturated with churches, the south?
As to your point 3, I hope we do have a 95% consensus, but I also recognize that we are very resistant to change. We are more than willing to claim we need change, but we usually think others need to change before we do…
As to your point 4, I do think assoc and states and nat’l entities play a large role in aiding the church in their mission…If I didn’t I wouldn’t be SBC. Listen to our interview w/ Bill Agee. That’s what I believe the role of SBC partners should be…Too many DO ministry for the local church.
I love the CP, I love our assoc, state conventions, and national entities but I also think things need to be tweaked so we can be more effective.
I do think the vote in Orlando is about whether or not we are going to have a CPR (cooperative program resurgence/status quo approval) or a GCR…I pray that we will make these changes b/c they are necessary to help us more effectively accomplish our mission.
Also to all,
the question begs to be asked:
Why do states w 1000’s of churches & millions of $ need assistance from NAMB?
GCR wants to ensure more resources get to pioneer places. Their recommendations are a way to make our strategy focus on that.
I’m getting ready to head to Orlando. last day to work before. Appreciate the dialogue.
Jon, thanks for your continued engagement in this conversation. As to what I would have done differently, so many things have happened that I can’t recall all the things I’ve been bothered by, but I’ll do my best to give a list of the things most concerning to me.
1) The make up of the TF was terrible. The kinds of people on the task force will determine what kinds of questions get asked and what kinds of answers are listened to. Our task force was not very diverse and hardly representative of the SBC. For an issue of this importance more time and thought needed to be put into seeking all the range of voices in the SBC are represented fairly on the TF. We needed more women, more pastors and lay people from churches under 200 in total membership/ worship attendance, more ethnic minority pastors and more people from pioneer/frontier conventions on that task force.
2) Why was everything rushed through in a single year? As important as this is we couldn’t have taken at least one more year to make sure as many people’s input were seriously considered as possible? The report comes across too much like a one size fits all solution for what is a very complex problem needing different solutions for different areas of the country. Not even recognizing the diversity of problems makes the proposed solution seem like one agenda being imposed by a minority onto the majority.
3) The lack of transparency is a bad and hypocritical move by the TF. I think they should have found a way to make the discussions the TF had (at least in summary) open to scrutiny by the whole convention. Regular feedback and analysis from Southern Baptists would have given us a much more nuanced report with a more consensus-based list of solutions that wouldn’t have garnered the wide variety of strong reactions the final report did.
With regard to your comment, my father is a bivocational Southern Baptist pastor that did pulpit fill for a rural nondenom church. When the church wanted to call my dad to be pastor he said he wouldn’t be able to out of current obligations he had with the state convention unless they wanted to become Southern Baptist. The church decided they were open to becoming an SBC affiliated church and so representatives of the state and local association came to present what affiliation with the SBC means, what the expectations are and the SBC confesses. The church was told what the BFM2000 was and how that related to them, the local association and state convention. Local church autonomy was also explained.
I’m really not understanding what you mean by our associations and state conventions don’t have confessional centers based on the BFM2000. It’s Southern Baptists in those administrative and ministerial positions in our associations and conventions. They go to local churches affiliated with the SBC. The same kinds of churches that sent messengers to vote to approve the BFM2000. Many SBC church’s websites I’ve seen have doctrinal statements that are clearly inspired by the BFM2000, plagiarizing portions of it or they’re linking directly to it. I get the autonomy doctrine, but the existence of the doctrine does not mean that the BFM2000 does not play any part at all (even an implicit one) in state conventions and associations. Even if groups don’t wish to associate with the whole thing verbatim, I have a hard time believing that nearly all of our conventions and associations wouldn’t consider it at least and implied foundational document for the essential doctrines.
Blake, I’m not sure if you’re still following this stream but I’ll try to briefly respond to your comments.
1. When I asked what’d you’d do differently I meant what are your ideas for how the sbc can change to become more effective in the GC? You don’t like the gcrtf ideas so what would you have us do to shake up the status quo?
2. in terms of the makeup of the tf your comment may or
may not be accurate. How do we define what is representative of the sbc? In a recent article doug baker argues the majority of sbc members are in mega churches. So there will be differences of opinion there. We can always nit pick who’s on the tf. The real question and debate should be over the merits of their recommendations.
3. In regards to time it’s not really one year as dr. Mohler pointed out in the discussion. These will now be studied by boards and agencies and implemented best way possible
4. The tf was transparent. They gave their findings ahead of time and met with all kinds of different interest groups within the sbc and actually took several of their suggestions. Sealing the proceedings was a matter of historical precedent. I think the charge of hypocrisy is unfair. I think these are men and women of integrity who humbly listened to the sbc and did the best they could to help make suggestions of how we could do GC better.
5. Finally I say assoc, etc aren’t confessional because we have a church with a woman pastor in our assoc. Many assoc and state conv have churches dually aligned with sbc and cbf.
Thanks for the exchange.