“You may act in secrecy, but God is still with you; you can only deceive other people. ”Sri Guru Granth Sahib
“Where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off”
There can be no doubt that the Southern Baptist Convention is in a downward spiral. Here at TWW, we have discussed a number of reasons for the decline. The Great Commission Resurgence seemed to be a strategy that held out hope for reversing this ominous trend. Then the GCR Task Force dropped its bombshell…
According to a June 8th news release by the Baptist Press.
"Audio recordings of Great Commission Resurgence Task Force proceedings will be placed in the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in Nashville and kept closed for 15 years."
In a vault………under lock and key………with armed guards standing watch around the clock………for FIFTEEN YEARS (until most of the committee members have reached retirement age)!!!
The GCR Task Force claims to be following the precendent set by the SBC Peace Committee, which was established by the SBC Annual Meeting in 1985 during the highly conflicted era that followed the conservative takeover in 1979.
The Baptist Press article referenced above indicates that the SBC Peace Committee's responsibility was "to study the sources of the controversies that began in the SBC in 1979 and bring findings and recommendations that would help Southern Baptists effect reconciliation."
The Biblical Recorder released an article on June 9, informing North Carolina Baptists of this shocking news. Here are the highlights:
"The announcement comes one week before the task force's recommendations are to be presented for consideration by messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Orlando."
"And it comes without reference to the fact that SBC President Johnny Hunt originally promised that all meetings of the task force would be open to at least one representative of the Southern Baptist press, such as a newspaper editor or someone from Baptist Press. Instead, all meetings were closed."
"Task Force members are asking Southern Baptists to adopt recommendations they feel will alter the course of the Convention. But they don't want Southern Baptists to have access to the deliberations that brought them to their conclusions for 15 years."
"The task force is making harder its job of selling Southern Baptists on its vision by having operated behind the curtain and then emerging with a document we are to embrace, or risk being labeled as "against the Great Commission."
Here is our bottom line:
If the GCR Task Force can't face the scrutiny of their fellow conservative Southern Baptists, how in the world will they ever carry out the Great Commission to a lost and often hostile world?
Because there has been so much HYPE on the internet by members of the GCRTF and their supporters since last year's Annual Meeting, the sudden lack of transparency is truly shocking and extremely disappointing. Obviously, the pressure will be intense to pass the GCRTF recommendations at the 2010 Annual Meeting. So that Southern Baptists attending (and others) will be fully informed, here are some opposing positions.
An open letter to Southern Baptists has been released by Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, regarding issues to be decided at the convention's June 15-16 annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
The full text of Chapman's letter follows assessing the recommendations of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force:
Dear Fellow Southern Baptist —
I write to express my central concern and conviction about the recommendations of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. You will have placed before you a set of seven recommendations that can be reviewed at the SBC.net site or the pray4GCR.com site. I generally characterize them below:
#1 –- A mission statement (to present the gospel and make disciples)
#2 –- Core Values (eight)
#3 -– New giving category called Great Commission Giving and stated Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong goals
#4 — New ministry statement for NAMB (focus on cities, centralization of church planting efforts, and unilateral assignment and control of domestic missionaries)
#5 -– New ministry statement for IMB (worldwide, not foreign only)
#6 — EC to work with state conventions to develop comprehensive Cooperative Program (CP) promotion
#7 -– CP promotion and stewardship education defunded and CP allocation changed by moving 1 percentage point of CP receipts from EC to IMB
I am concerned that if the Convention approves the task force recommendations, it will be embarking upon a harmful course. I, like the task force, believe that the Convention can and should do better. But unlike the task force, I do not believe the answer lies in the recommendations it proposes.
The solution to our Convention's greatest need lies in multiple pockets of personal repentance, evangelistic recommitment at the personal and local church level, and willing obedience to the commands of Christ. Real revival will not issue from a mere rewording of our mission statement. Our core values, already recorded in Scripture, are God-breathed and sufficient. Our giving methods have proven their worth by providing for the largest mission forces (overseas and domestic) in history and the most expansive seminary system in the world. In fact, in the past our churches have produced twice the baptisms on half the revenue contributed to the SBC, so merely reallocating a few resources at the SBC level will not solve our underlying problems.
We must concentrate on the only real solution. That solution is not structural, procedural, financial, or methodological. It is spiritual. And if we approve the task force report, we will be saying, as a Convention, that we believe our future performance lies in some realm other than the spiritual.
I have written that I am concerned for the Cooperative Program, and I am (see http://baptist2baptist.net/gcr/articles/MHC-05-07-10.asp). But I am much more concerned that we as God's people have a proper relationship with the Lord as our highest priority. Designing new harnesses every few years will never substitute for actually getting into them and working the fields as we sow the seed, tend the fields, and harvest the crop.
It can be confusing when strongly expressed positions exist among people who love the Lord Jesus Christ with their whole hearts. But while I fully agree with the preamble of the task force's preliminary report, I cannot affirm their recommendations. I am firmly convinced that none of the recommendations will move us forward for the kind of spiritual renewal that must take place if we are to see an abundant harvest take place in our local churches. At most, they will merely make us feel as if we have done something, when we haven't.
"What harm is done if they pass?" you might ask. "Won't the fact that the recommendations will be referred to the Executive Committee protect us from any mistakes — a sort of 'no harm, no foul' scenario?" At a minimum, the harm lies in the continued debate over how to make non-solutions better non-solutions and the very real potential for further division around the very things that ought to unite us, namely a passion for the Great Commission. If we set into motion the series of actions these recommendations call for, it will be very difficult to stem the tide. We will have embarked on a course that will unravel funding mechanisms that work, dismantle collaborative partnerships that produce, and eradicate variety in ministry and methodology.
If you believe adoption of the task force recommendations will change you or the people in your church into more effective soul-winners, you should, by all means, vote for them. But I am not convinced they will make one ounce of difference in personal evangelism. Neither am I convinced they will expand or empower the Kingdom. Instead, I propose we adopt "A Better Way Ahead." If my concerns strike a chord with you, I ask you to read my companion paper under that title (http://bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=33073, and consider lifting up one or more of its recommendations as replacements for those of the task force.
I urge you to continue to spend time with the Lord and reverently and prayerfully ask God to reveal His perfect Will to you. Don't fail to attend as a messenger simply because the issues may be fuzzy to you. Keep praying, attend the Convention, listen to what will be a powerful and persuasive presentation by the GCTF at the Convention, and with a heart for Christ and His church, ask the Lord one last time to guide you as the vote approaches on Tuesday afternoon.
Once the decision is made, I will have made my last report to the Convention and, for the last time, sat on the Convention platform as president of the Executive Committee. I would have wished that these last few months could have been different. Frankly, some encouraged me to "Finish Well" by which they meant that I should slip off into the sunset without conveying my opinion about the GCTF Final Report. When I accepted the responsibility of this office in 1992, I did so with a commitment to keep Southern Baptists as informed as possible about the key issues confronting the SBC. Until September 30, 2010, I have as much responsibility in this regard as I did on October 1, 1992. I cannot shirk my responsibility simply because my time to exit my position is coming to a close.
And I have recently noticed those who deeply desire to remain in service to Southern Baptists softening their objections to "play it safe," realizing that there will still be ministry to do after June, regardless. But I believe a chief concern for Southern Baptists should be to play it safe for the Convention's future rather than for their own, because the collective ministry of all hangs in the balance.
As I leave my post, my continued prayer until I go to see Jesus will be that God will blanket Southern Baptists with a spirit-empowered spiritual awakening that shall spread from coast to coast and beyond. If spiritual awakening of this magnitude were to come before I die, I will spend the rest of my years on earth praising God for answering the prayers of His people.
Please read "A Better Way Ahead." Consider its contents and determine for yourself whether any or all of them seem better alternatives to those promoted by the task force. And if they do, as the Lord leads, feel free to offer one or more of them as substitute recommendations at the appropriate time.
Your brother in Christ,
Morris H. Chapman
According to a recent Baptist Press article ,
"Alabama pastor and Southern Baptist Convention presidential candidate Jimmy Jackson made a two-stop campaign tour in North Carolina in early June harboring "serious concerns" about potential negative effects on the Southern Baptist Convention if the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force recommendations are approved by messengers to the SBC annual meeting June 15 in Orlando."
Jackson's candid remarks were reported as follows by the Baptist Press:
Jackson acknowledges the convention faces issues but says the report offers no solutions.
As the business consultant told him, "Companies that try to change from the top down have failed," Jackson said. "You need to start with the local churches. Work with them. Help them get on fire."
He said there may be some associations that could consolidate for more effectiveness, but that those issues need to be studied individually, not with a mandate from a select committee.
As to whether the GCR recommendations would help Southern Baptists baptize more people, the consultant told Jackson, "I think you will have such division and confrontation if this is pushed through, that you'll go backwards."
"I'm concerned that we're getting stampeded," he said of the "Madison Avenue" promotion of the GCR proposals, with a steady stream of endorsers being released to the GCR prayer partners and to Baptist news outlets daily. "Hasty decisions are not usually healthy decisions."
And finally, Larry Lewis, who served as president of the Home Mission Board from 1987 – 1997, wrote the following article in opposition to the GCRTF recommendations:
The following are 12 reasons why I oppose the recommendations of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force:
- Would divide and unravel the SBC separating the SBC from state conventions.
- Would be divisive in a time when we need healing and unity.
- Would threaten the Cooperative Program by creating a competitive funding approach.
- Would set national missions back decades to the time it was done independently rather than cooperatively with state conventions.
- Would set the IMB and NAMB at odds each with the assignment of reaching ethnics in North America.
- Maintaining regional offices would be expensive, ineffective and competitive.
- Having cooperative missions and cooperative agreements with every state convention (not merely newer conventions) is essential to NAMB having a “national” strategy, not just a “regional” one.
- NAMB having no input in selection of most mission personnel in older, stronger states would compromise our efforts to insure doctrinal integrity in our agencies.
- Both the SBC and state conventions need to strongly promote the cooperative program, not just state conventions.
- Would greatly hinder the work of the newer, weaker state conventions and could destroy some of them.
- There have been no specific cost projections, impact studies, or results analysis, all essential to wise and prudent planning.
- History has proven it is unwise for a hand-picked, “blue ribbon” committee to circumvent the SBC elected boards of our agencies and the SBC executive committee in seeking to re-define and restructure our denomination.
Tune in tomorrow for Dee's TIRADE about the GCRTF…