Month: June 2010

Resolutions: Baptist divorce to Gulf disaster

ORLANDO, Fla.?Messengers to the 2010 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting passed, with little discussion, six resolutions on topics ranging from “the scandal of Southern Baptist divorce,” to the proposed lifting of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, to the Gulf oil disaster.

“What the committee tried to do this year was speak clearly and convictionally but speak as forgiven sinners and not as outraged partisans on any issue,” Resolutions Committee chairman Russell Moore told reporters after the adoption of the resolutions. “We wanted to make clear we were speaking from the point of view of the gospel as those who deserve only condemnation ourselves, with every word of prophetic warning also extending a word of grace and mercy in Christ. Also, to make sure we are speaking first to ourselves.”

Moore, dean of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, said the resolution on Southern Baptist divorce is one example of that. To his knowledge, he said, no resolution since 1904 has spoken directly to the divorce issue even though it has been mentioned in other resolutions.

“We have to speak just as clearly and with just as much force and alarm?indeed, with more so to the sins that are rampant among ourselves?as we do to the things that are on the outside,” Moore said.

?The first resolution, titled “On the Centrality of the Gospel,” not only acknowledges biblical teaching on the nature of the gospel but also encourages pastors “to keep the gospel foremost in every sermon they preach,” that churches “display the gospel by transcending ethnic, racial, economic, and social barriers due to our unity in Christ,” and that “we commit to speak to the outside world as those who are forgiven sinners, who have received mercy as a free gift, and not as those who are morally or ethically superior to anyone.”

Moore said the committee “wanted to make a very clear statement at the very beginning that we believe the gospel is central not only in our evangelism, although that is certainly true, but in every aspect of the Christian life.” He said the committee tried to reflect the gospel message in every resolution.

?A resolution “on family worship” called it “integral to laying a foundation for multi-generational faithfulness to the gospel (Psalm 145:4) and a necessary complement for the strengthening of the local church to fulfill its commission (Matthew 28:18-20).”

The resolution further called parents “to consider times of family worship to be an opportunity to introduce their children to the gospel, to train their children to seek the salvation of their friends and neighbors, and to pray for the nations. ?”

?The resolution “On the Scandal of Southern Baptist Divorce” laments that churches have tended to speak only in “therapeutic terms rather than in terms of both repentance and forgiveness.” It calls on churches and pastors to hold biblical standards for marrying couples and to proclaim the “Word of God on the permanence of marriage.” It resolves to pray “the next generation will see the gospel not only in the counter-cultural nature of our verbal witness but also in the counter-cultural love and fidelity of our marriages.”

?The resolution “On the Gulf of Mexico Catastrophe” acknowledges the ecological and economic havoc and mourns the 11 people killed in the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Further, it notes “the symbiotic relationship between the Gulf of Mexico and the hardworking residents of the Gulf Coast,” and that “Our God-given dominion over the creation is not unlimited, as though we were gods and not creatures ? accountable to a higher standard than profit alone.”

The resolution calls on Southern Baptists to pray for an end to the disaster and to aid those affected, for “governing authorities to act determinatively” to end the crisis, and for “full corporate accountability” for damages and cleanup. The final paragraph anticipates “a fully restored creation in which the reign of God is seen ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10).”

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SBC 2010: It’s history

Ever so often our Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting is especially significant. Our 2000 meeting, also in Orlando. was one of those, it was the occasion of the passage of our revised faith statement. Since then we’ve done important things?elected presidents, approved budgets, etc.?but this most recent meeting garnered more attention than normal and will prove more significant than any since 2000. Here are some highlights.

The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report?You’d have to be completely disengaged from denominational discussions to have heard nothing of this. The 22 men and women appointed last summer to bring recommendations related to the effectiveness of Southern Baptist ministries brought a report that was as far-reaching as had any chance of approval. It was thoroughly discussed over the course of 12 months and the result of the task force’s deliberations was greatly impacted by the SBC-wide discussion. The debate in Orlando lasted nearly two hours and was pretty lively. In the course of this Tuesday afternoon deliberation we saw the report amended yet again and at one point we saw our moderator and parliamentarians scratching their heads over how to best do the will of the messengers. In the end, the report was overwhelmingly approved and most participants in the discussion went home happy with that part of our business. The task force, and especially chairman Ronnie Floyd of Arkansas, should be commended for their hard work and flexibility throughout the process. I can’t think of how they could have tried harder to produce a constructive report.

Now, the implementation of these recommendations will be in the hands of our SBC entities?especially the North American Mission Board and the Executive Committee. More about the EC later but I do think it is important for us, and them, to note that the approval of the messengers in Orlando was not grudging. It was a mandate. The convention does not direct the work of our agencies except in the election of the boards that do direct them. The boards and committee will decide what to do with recommendations. That said, for an agency head or an agency board to disregard the clear will of the convention in favor of the status quo at his own agency would be a discouraging and possibly destructive form of insubordination. I encourage the three most prominently named agencies, the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, and the Executive Committee to implement the will of the convention messengers to the best of their abilities.

The Executive Committee?Our most influential SBC entity was very prominent during the discussion of a renewed focus for our convention’s work. Although I have no doubt that the EC staff favors renewal and refocus, they were clear in their rejection of the task force recommendations. Executive Committee President Morris Chapman made his opposition clear in his annual report only an hour or so before the task force presentation. This was Dr. Chapman’s final report in that role. He is scheduled to retire in September and his successor was elected by the Executive Committee Monday afternoon, the day before the first day of the convention meeting. Now, what will they do with the recommendations that will be forwarded to them for consideration? The debate is over and everyone who wanted to have his say did have his say. The convention voted in favor of the report and the messengers did so with the full expectation that all convention employees will consider their answer the end of that debate. Whether the messengers are right in that expectation will be first revealed in the deliberations of the EC.

Which brings us to the election of Frank Page as Morris Chapman’s successor. This election by itself is a significant event in the life of the convention, as will be the eventual election of presidents for the IMB and NAMB. These presidents are three of the most influential Southern Baptists. The EC was divided on Dr. Page’s election. They went into executive session (improperly, I think) and debated for almost two hours on the report of the presidential search committee. At the end of it they voted to approve the nomination of their search committee. Although chairman Randall James (improperly, I believe) declined to share the results of that vote, only its outcome, at least two committee members did report that the nomination was approved by only 60 percent of the members present, a seven-vote margin. As newly elected president of the EC, Frank Page has a big job ahead of him in working with a committee that very nearly rejected his candidacy. In his press conference, Dr. Page said that the vote indicated that the convention was divided. I’m not sure he’s right. Without a doubt the EC was divided regarding his election.

The election of Frank Page is more interesting because he was a member of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. In one of its most prominent recommendations, the task force urged the reduction of the EC budget (and its staff, indirectly) by a third. That money, 1 percent of the CP budget, would go to the IMB. Since the report came from the committee unanimously, Frank Page must have voted for it. Perhaps the most unifying thing he could do now would be to work toward implementing the convention’s recommendations that relate to the SBC agency he now directs.

A new SBC president?We do this every two years but in our current context, the president is potentially a game changer. In a field of four candidates, Georgian Bryant Wright was elected on a second ballot over Ted Traylor of Florida. In Texas, Pastor Wright is largely unknown. He is obviously better known on the East Coast. For me, I wa

GCR report overwhelmingly passes after lengthy debate

ORLANDO, Fla.?After nearly a year of formulation and discussion among Southern Baptists and the pleas of proponents to “penetrate lostness,” messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 15 adopted, after lengthy discussion, a list of strategic and organizational recommendations aimed at fueling a resurgence of global gospel advancement.

The seven recommendations offered by the 22-member Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, appointed in June 2009 by SBC President Johnny Hunt at the direction of last year’s messengers, included a 30-word convention vision statement, a list of core values, and five “requests” referred to the SBC Executive Committee and other specified entities that might affect changes in the convention missions enterprise.

Prior to the floor debate, GCR Task Force chairman Ronnie Floyd of Arkansas referenced the words of 19th-century abolitionist William Wilberforce in urging messengers to action.

“There are literally billions of people in the world today who are enslaved in their sin and who will perish without the savior named Jesus Christ ? but after today you can’t say that you did not know,” Floyd said.

Floyd closed his part of the task force report by pointing to previous watershed convention meetings in 1925, the year the Cooperative Program was adopted, and 1979, the year the conservative theological resurgence began.

“And today in 2010, what are we going to do? This is our moment. This is our time. The future is now,” Floyd said.

The raised-ballot vote was called at the podium following more than 90 minutes of debate. Floyd told reporters at a press conference after the vote that parliamentarians estimated the report was carried by 75-80 percent of voting messengers. Messenger registration at the Orange County Convention Center at the time of the vote was announced at 10,994.

The debate was at times spirited, but polite. Objections to adopting the recommendations ranged from a desire for another year of study to concern that language recognizing non-CP missions giving would hurt missionaries on the field, while supporters spoke of a dual need for “structural reform and spiritual renewal” as well as the urgency of the gospel.

David Tolliver, Missouri Baptist Convention’s executive director, and a messenger from Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Mo., made a motion asking the task force to refer the entire report to the SBC Executive Committee for “study and evaluation.”

“I never want to be an obstructionist. I never want to vote, ‘No,'” Tolliver said in explaining his motion. “We haven’t counted the cost. Let’s take a year and then let us vote on the work with full knowledge,” he said, citing Luke 14:28 where the Scripture talks about counting the cost before undertaking a task.

Tolliver’s motion was defeated after task force member R. Albert Mohler Jr. defended the report as worded, noting that it was drafted carefully?with advice from the SBC’s legal counsel?as a list of requests giving “due deference” to the respective trustee boards in keeping with SBC polity.

Former SBC president and Atlanta-area pastor James Merritt pleaded with messengers to adopt the report.

“This task force is not coming to you to ask you to shift the chairs on the Titanic,” Merritt said. “In fact, we [the SBC] haven’t even been doing that.”

Mike Smith, a North American Mission Board church planter in Washington state, spoke in favor of adopting the task force report as it was worded, arguing that the recommendations would lead to NAMB having “ownership of its employees” and allow it to “continue to fund what works and stop funding what doesn’t work.”

Several motions to amend the recommendations were offered and defeated, leading to a brokered amendment between John Waters, a messenger from First Baptist Church in Statesboro, Ga., and the task force. It was adopted after concern by Jan Bryant, a messenger from Morrow Baptist Church in Morrow, Ohio, that messengers were “being bullied” during the debate.

After Bryant’s comment, dialogue halted briefly as Hunt, the SBC president and presiding chair of the business sessions, conferred with parliamentarian Barry McCarty.

McCarty, noting that a substitute amendment agreeable to both Waters and the task force was coming, told messengers: “Please be patient with one another and patient with the committee. Everyone is trying to ascertain what’s best here, listening to the messengers, listening to the committee, listening to God and each heart. So, thank you so much for your patience. We’ll always try as hard as we can to try to ascertain what it is that you’re trying to do.”

What resulted was an amendment that altered recommendation number three’s language lauding “Great Commission Giving” to “enhance and celebrate” the 85-year-old Cooperative Program missions funding plan and the “generous

Brunson: Focus on Jesus Christ’s pre-eminence

ORLANDO, Fla.?Preachers today are like Richard the Lionheart, who in 1191 could not win a victory of his own, but instead compromised with his enemy, according to Florida pastor Mac Brunson in his convention sermon June 16 to messengers at the SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, recounted that Richard the Lionheart, king of England, could not re-take Jerusalem from his Muslim counterpart, Saladin, during the Third Crusade after he angered all his allies over differences in how to display his flag. Left to fight alone, Richard eventually negotiated with the enemy to open the city for every faith, disguised himself and fled to Austria.

“I’m afraid that in our convention and across the ministry today we are far better preachers at battling one another than at battling our enemy,” Brunson said.

Describing a biblical confrontation in John 3 when two disciples were baptizing in the Jordan River and a “debate” arose, Brunson noted that even the disciples had competition and dissension.

Brunson cited a study by Kenneth Chafin, a late seminary professor and pastor, who said he discovered pastors “tend toward the negative, they are highly competitive, and they don’t like preachers.”

Meeting with a leading evangelist recently, Brunson said he was told some pastors would rather hear that a fellow pastor had fallen from ministry than about individuals putting their trust in God.

“There is something happening among pastors today that absolutely has the watching world astounded, the devil laughing and our almighty God grieving,” Brunson said. And in the same way, he said, the disciples “were jealous, they were annoyed, they were upset, and it was all because they had begun to focus on themselves instead of the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ.”

It’s interesting, Brunson said, how John the Baptist refocused their priorities.

After John had already pointed the disciples to Christ, Brunson said they returned to him and said, “Our crowns aren’t here, we are not mentioned in Baptist Press as much as we used to, we don’t get as many hits as we used to, nobody’s coming to us, and they’re getting more attention in that ministry over there.”

At that point John says, “There must be a focus on the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ,” Brunson said.

Looking at 1 Corinthians 3, Brunson said there must be a focus on the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ likewise in each person’s life.

Understanding that salvation is based solely on God’s grace, Brunson said all of what he has in ministry has been given to him by God as well.

Sharing a word picture from John 3:29 of a best man putting a bride’s hand into her groom’s hand in a marriage ceremony, Brunson said he knows, as a pastor, he is not the bridegroom but just the best man.

Problems begin when believers take their eyes off of Jesus, Brunson said.

Pointing to a need for men

And a word about Baptist Press

Regular readers of the TEXAN see several stories attributed to Baptist Press in each issue of our convention newspaper. Some of our writers also write for BP and the news service frequently uses articles we’ve prepared for the TEXAN. BP is the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. Its director is a vice president at the SBC Executive Committee and BP’s staff is comprised of world-class journalist Christians. In my role as editor of two state papers since 1989, I’ve supported Baptist Press and depended on their work to provide coverage of national and international Baptist ministry.

Continued, even enhanced success on the part of a denominational news service is important to the work of our national and state convention. I see the work as unifying, not necessarily in the sense of “can’t we all get along” but rather reminding us of the needs, issues, successes, and challenges that define our reasons for cooperating in the first place. Reading the stories, having the facts, will motivate us in our Great Commission work and help us make good decisions in the oversight of that work. Nothing I can think of can effectively take the place of a news service that serves our mission by getting the story from places where Southern Baptists work, near and far. The partnership between state conventions and the Baptist Press office benefits your ministry and that of people in places you’ve never been. We need Baptist Press.

During the Southern Baptist Convention this June I supported a motion that was offered by a colleague asking that the Executive Committee study the governance structure for our convention news service. Our hope is that some way can be found to place at least one level of separation between Baptist Press and the back and forth that sometimes goes on between SBC entities. If, as happened a few years back when New Orleans Seminary questioned the recommendation of the Executive Committee to change their governing documents, two entity heads disagree with one another, it’s hard to escape the plain fact that one of those entity heads supervises the convention news service staff and the other does not. That kind of disagreement has happened more than once or twice in the past 20 years. I don’t lament the fact of such disagreements but do believe that Southern Baptists generally, including all 12 entity heads, need to believe that Baptist Press is positioned to do its job unhindered, regardless of the parties involved in the debate. That is my goal in supporting the motion and I hope the Executive Committee will give the idea fair consideration.

In the midst of the discussion I’d like to see happen, I want to emphasize my gratitude for the quality of the work produced each weekday by the BP staff. I personally know the effort they exert to get things right. I also know personally the amazing pressure they get toward one viewpoint or another from their millions of constituents. They are pros and devoted Christians no matter what challenges come along. Alterations to their chain of command could very well give them advantages in the conduct of their important work.

Vacation Bible School remains tried-and-true summer ministry

After months of planning and volunteer gathering, put on your cowboy boots and head to the ranch or swab the deck for a high-seas adventure?it’s time for Vacation Bible School.

While the themes of VBS may vary, this weeklong ministry to children remains after many years a valuable summertime endeavor where children can learn about the gospel.

“More people come to know Christ through VBS than any other outreach event of the year. That’s why it’s so important that we reach out to our communities through VBS,” Jeff Slaughter of Lifeway Christian Resources said. “It could be the most evangelistic outreach of the year for your church.”

“Kids are out of school and look forward to it. Summer provides a great opportunity [to reach kids],” said Zack Hudson, children’s minister at First Baptist Church of Watauga.

For a few hours a day?morning, afternoon, or evening?children go to the church and learn about Christ and grow in their relationship with him. Whether it’s worship time, Bible story time, crafts or even snack time, the theme is woven into every aspect of the day.

VBS can serve as an “in-reach” time for children in the church or as an outreach. It is also an opportunity for church members of all ages to be involved in the ministry of VBS.

“Volunteers tell me ‘we love VBS ? it’s my favorite time of year,'” said Stephanie King, elementary children’s minister at RockPointe Church in Flower Mound. “It brings church members together and builds community in the church.”

Church teenagers serve as assistants and learn the value of teaching and discipleship in the church, King said.

Volunteers and church leaders agree that the months of preparation and hard work are worthwhile when children make decisions for Christ.

“It’s exciting to teach kids about Jesus Christ and the Bible,” Stephen McEndree of First Baptist Church of Watauga said. McEndree taught a third-grade VBS class this summer. He shared the gospel every day in class and one evening after the gospel message was shared, one boy asked him how to talk to God.

“I talked and explained ? he bowed his head and prayed,” McEndree said.

Another boy told McEndree that he had prayed in his bed and told God that he wanted to be with God.

“It’s tiring but it’s fun. It’s worth it when one child comes to know Jesus Christ,” McEndree said.

“It is important to think about kids outside of the church,” said Hudson of FBC Watauga. At VBS this year, the Watauga church estimated that 30 percent of the children who attended VBS were non-churched children in the community.

“VBS hinges on what else we are doing in the community,” Hudson said. “Kids coming out of the community without church homes, you’re changing them and you’re changing their home.”

“I still think God uses VBS. It’s an effective way to share the gospel and opens a lot of doors in the community,” said Ron Holton, pastor of RockPointe Church in Flower Mound.

At RockPointe, out of about 350 children, 124 registration cards indicated a “no” answer when asked if they have a home church. Holton noted that VBS provides a way to connect with families and children in the community who are not attending a church.

Both RockPointe and FBC Watauga end the week with a special celebration and fellowship time serving as an opportunity for parents to learn what the children learned all week.

“Statistically, most people who make a decision for the Lord make them sixth grade and under. That statistic alone should show the importance of things like VBS,” Hudson said.

La Importancia de Su Contribución al Programa Cooperativo

Al ser parte de la Convención de los Bautistas del Sur de Texas, su iglesia debe estar contribuyendo al fondo del Programa Cooperativo y así podrá participar en la expansión del evangelio en este estado por medio de todos los servicios que el programa apoya.

Desde su inicio, SBTC ha dado prioridad a las misiones y a la evangelización en todo aspecto de su trabajo. Las iglesias de SBTC han comenzado cientos de nuevas iglesias desde el comienzo de la convención. De esas, más de 300 han sido financiadas con dinero aportado a la SBTC destinado para misiones. Juntos podemos lograr lo que ninguna iglesia sola puede hacer.

La SBTC apoya el trabajo de sus iglesias proveyéndoles más de 100 ministerios y servicios.

Muchos recursos importantes para el ministerio son provistos para las iglesias afiliadas con SBTC por parte de instituciones educativas, ministerios a la familia, y otros servicios importantes. Esta hermandad con ciertos ministerios afiliados y fraternidades significa que la convención no tiene que poseer o constituir instituciones.

Los 40,000 ministerios respaldados por la Convención Bautista del Sur también son socios con SBTC. Juntos apoyamos a más de 13,000 hombres y mujeres en nuestros seminarios quienes están recibiendo capacitación. Nuestras juntas de misiones apoyan a más de 10,000 misioneros alrededor del mundo. Nuestra colaboración con la Convención Bautista del Sur nos permite compartir en un ministerio que toca al mundo entero.

Recursos y ayuda de expertos están disponibles por medio de otras agencias de la Convención Bautista del Sur que proveen entrenamiento y apoyo a las iglesias que se comprometan al ministerio de la Gran Comisión.

SBTC manda más de su dinero a ministerios mundiales mediante la Convención Bautista del Sur de lo que retiene para sus ministerios estatales. El 55% de las contribuciones no designadas de cada iglesia son aportadas para la gran tarea a través del Programa Cooperativo.

Iglesias de la Convención de los Bautistas del Sur de Texas, es de suma importancia su contribución al Plan Cooperativo. No deje de aportar en cuanto a lo que la iglesia sea capaz de hacer y así juntos podemos alcanzar a Texas y tocar al mundo a través del Programa Cooperativo.

?Mike Gonzales es Director de la Iniciativa Hispana y Ministerios Étnicos

Georgia pastor elected in runoff for SBC president

ORLANDO, Fla.?Newly elected Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright wants to see Southern Baptists return to their first love, radically reprioritize their lives, funding and ministries to fulfill the Great Commission, and directly participate in overseas mission work.

Speaking to reporters June 15 less than an hour after his election, Wright shared his dream of seeing every Southern Baptist pastor and church take at least one mission trip.

“The pastor needs to experience what it’s like to be out there in another culture sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.”

Wright commended the Georgia congregation he pastors, Johnson Ferry Baptist in Marietta, for having sent over 1,500 people on 70 mission trips to 27 nations last year. “What that does in the life of a church is incredible.”

In the midst of developing partnerships with Southern Baptist missionaries and other kingdom-focused work, Bryant said church leaders began to question why so much of their Cooperative Program contributions remained in the United States. That led to a decision to reduce CP giving in order to designate more to the International Mission Board.

“We realized it does cause the church to appear not to be as supportive of the main approach to missions in the Cooperative Program, and yet, at the same time, we continue to give very heavily to the Cooperative Program,” Bryant said, noting that Johnson Ferry Baptist contributed the second highest amount in the Georgia Baptist Convention last year.

“We would very much prefer that all those funds go straight through CP, but there needs to be a radical reprioritization of that money,” he said.

State conventions are the place where change must occur, Wright stated, adding that generally he believes allocations at the national level are healthy.

Asked about a column he wrote urging state conventions to retain only 25-30 percent of undesignated CP gifts from churches, Wright responded: “I’d love to see states move in that direction, knowing it will be a long, long process.” Even a goal of splitting receipts 50/50 between state and SBC causes would allow funding for many more missionaries, he explained.

Wright said state convention leaders “can be the real heroes in carrying out the Great Commission” since they control budgets and decide how much goes out of state for distribution to SBC causes. If more CP dollars were sent to the international mission field, Wright said Southern Baptists would see an increased passion for CP giving, especially among younger pastors, the group from whom he has received the greatest support for his stand.

He commended “the radical commitment of the Millennials and Generation X,” with seminary students expressing a desire to go to “the toughest areas to take the gospel.”

Asked to reflect on the passage of recommendations of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, Wright said, “We have been a people that have been united on missions and evangelism and reaching our world with the good news of Jesus Christ and yet we are not moving ahead in that area as we have done a lot of our years.”

He praised SBC President Johnny Hunt’s courage in raising the issue and messengers for engaging in a healthy discussion.

“The task force leadership has led the convention in taking a very courageous step, but it is really just a beginning. If we’re going to be radically serious about reaching this world for Christ, we as individuals and we as churches are going to have to really be prayerfully committed to fulfilling what God has called us to do with the Great Commission.”

In America, local church members need to repent of materialism, hedonism and other idols that distract them from their first love and inhibit their love of lost people, Wright added.

“The beginning point for all of us is to renew our hearts. Jesus Christ could not be clearer, as politically incorrect as it is in our contemporary culture, that he is the only way to God.”

Asked where he stood in his convictions regarding Calvinism, Wright described himself as “a follower of Jesus Christ that believes the Bible.” He added, “I really don’t believe that human beings are ever going to completely reconcile the sovereignty of God and the free will of man.

“To have a neat theological system is great for human beings, but it sure makes for a small God. We can have a greater awe about the majesty and wonder of God when we believe in both.”

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GCR, retiring leaders among SBC highlights

ORLANDO, Fla.?Following a year of give and take over the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force ideas and recommendations, and two hours of reporting and floor debate on June 15, GCRTF chairman Ronnie Floyd took a page from 115 years ago when the Southern Baptist Convention was formed.

“There was a lot of emphasis, way too much emphasis on the division that occurred between the North and the South. In fact, they made the following statement, ‘Let not the extent of this disunion be exaggerated. Northern and Southern Baptists are still brothers. They differ in no article of faith. They are guided by the same principles of gospel order.'”

Similarly, Floyd said, “The differences between those who supported the Great Commission Resurgence report and recommendations and those who did not should not be exaggerated. We are still brothers and sisters in Christ. We differ on no article of faith. We are guided by our shared commitment to the gospel itself and to the articles of faith identified in the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.”

Messengers cheered as Floyd concluded, “The Southern Baptist Convention is a convention of churches that is committed to a missional vision of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations. We are a Great Commission people.”

Passed by an estimated 75-80 percent of the messengers, the recommendations now move to the affected entities to consider how to carry out the will of the messengers. Their response and recommendations will be reported to next year’s annual meeting in Phoenix for further action.

Meanwhile, individual Christians, local churches, associations, state conventions and specific SBC entities are encouraged to receive the challenges that close out the report “for greater passion and effectiveness in pursuing the Great Commission.” (The complete report is available at


Messengers approved resolutions of appreciation were honoring Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman, who will retire Sept. 30 after 18 years in the position, and International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin, who will retire at the end of July after 17 years in that role.


A church with 103 members and an average 30-year Cooperative Program giving rate of 32.78 percent received the M.E. Dodd Award. First Baptist Church in Sparkman, Ark., which averages 60 to 75 people for worship on Sundays, was recognized for “continuous, long-term excellence in supporting the principles, practice and spirit of the Cooperative Program.”

“We believe that even though we’re a small church from a tiny community, with every dollar that we give we’re able to partner with missionaries and denominational servants all over the world,” Moffett said. “To us, that’s a joy and an investment. Our church would have it no other way, and we give God the glory and honor for the chance he gives us to partner with the work of God’s kingdom all throughout this wonderful convention.”


Southern Baptists tightened the Cooperative Program belt once more to keep expenditures for missions and ministry in line with a downward trend in undesignated receipts channeled through the 42 state Baptist conventions from just over 45,010 local churches.

The 2010-’11 Cooperative Program Allocation budget of $199,822,090 was approved without discussion and continues to commit half of CP receipts to the International Mission Board and 22.79 percent for the North American Mission Board. Through the two mission boards, Southern Baptists will commit $145.45 million for world mission ministries in the next fiscal year. The six Southern Baptist seminaries will divide $44.3 million for theological education and $3.4 million goes to ethics and religious liberty concerns, assuming CP