GCR Task Force braves luncheon questions

ROGERS, Ark.?The questions ranged from mission board mergers to the significance of traditional missions giving percentages, and not one was turned down by the tag team of four Great Commission Resurgence Task Force members as they fielded inquiries for two hours at the Church at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers, Ark.

The questions came during an open luncheon that preceded the Southern Baptist task force’s scheduled two-day meeting Aug. 26-27.

Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, in the luncheon’s opening prayer, petitioned God to bring a “refocus and rejuvenation” to the Southern Baptist Convention.

“God, help us to have a resurgence, in prayer, in discipleship and being like Jesus,” Richards prayed. “In doing so, there’ll be a resurgence in the Great Commission.”

The task force chairman and host pastor, Ronnie Floyd, kept the dialogue on task, telling the crowd of more than 400 people the ultimate goal was “to do just what they were asked to do?figure out together how to more faithfully and effectively fulfill the Great Commission around the world in our churches, in our state conventions, in our national convention and all we do together.”

Joining Floyd on the platform were SBC President Johnny Hunt of Woodstock, Ga., Al Gilbert of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. of Louisville, Ky., the four men relating their visions for a Great Commission Resurgence amid audience questions.

After several attendees asked how the mandate of the task force might effect their local associations, Floyd recounted the task force’s commitment to the autonomy of each level of Southern Baptist life. He urged associational leaders to direct Southern Baptists to the pray4gcr.com website to “get aggressive in enlisting churches to pray for a Great Commission Resurgence.”

“While all of us practice our autonomy, we’re supposed to cooperate together,” he reminded. “Therein lies the complexity of our assignment.”

Floyd offered no pretense of changing associations or state conventions. “We are bringing recommendations to the Southern Baptist Convention national body,” he said when asked by Jeff Thompson, director of missions for Concord Baptist Association in Fort Smith, Ark., to outline their goal. “We can perhaps ask them to consider a few things we may do.”

The one thing Hunt wants to see done is “get the dollars to the pockets of lostness, instead of the majority staying in the States or in the country we’re in,” he said in answer to a question from Scott Gordon, pastor of Claycomo Baptist Church near Kansas City, Mo. Gordon sought assurance that the Cooperative Program was not regarded as passé.

Gilbert agreed that the task force “can’t tell state conventions what to do, but we can deal with it on a national level.” He appealed for local churches to exercise their autonomy in deciding how best to deliver mission dollars to the field.

“Quite frankly, our church could care less about how folks outside count our loyalty,” he said, discounting attempts to quantify a church’s commitment to missions by citing its gifts to the traditional Cooperative Program funding mechanism. “It’s a game the next generation is sick of and they have no desire to have that kind of loyalty pin. We’d better wake up and listen to that,” he insisted.

“Our state conventions are not the same across the SBC. They don’t all give the same percentages,” Gilbert said, referring to the disparity in the portion state conventions retain for ministry within their states?ranging from 88 percent to 45 percent?before sending the rest to national and international Southern Baptist causes.

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