The GCR task force report should be adopted

You’ve noticed perhaps that we’ve given a lot of space to the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and their work since last summer. I think it matters and beg the indulgence of those who are less interested in the process of denominational change while we run this trail until the end of the task force’s work in mid-June. Whether you are going to Orlando or not, this is an important moment in our history. I believe we are about to take a first step in a wise and productive direction.

Changing something can cause us to look at old things with new eyes?Now, I’m not suggesting we should change anything just to say we did. I am saying that the fact that we’re willing to consider common sense tweaks to our work is a morale boost. It feels like progress. Well-considered changes can also open our imaginations to new solutions. They have the added virtue of showing in concrete ways that our leaders do hear the revolutionaries among us and are capable of doing more than hand wringing in response.

The report’s specific changes make sense?To be sure, the report is pretty vague in places, and I’ll mention that later, but the recommendations of the task force are on the whole positive.

Great Commission Giving?This component is now weighted heavily in favor of the Cooperative Program. It even gives a very definite nod toward increased percentage giving by our churches. In that context, the idea sounds fine. If more of our churches will consider raising their percentage of undesignated giving through CP, then it will be easier to “celebrate” their designated giving. Besides, if state conventions are going to be the chief promoters of CP, I think we can count on them to keep the promotion in line with the GCRTF report?as I said, a very pro-CP report.

The North American Mission Board?The wording of the final report is decidedly more vague than the progress report released last February. This is a positive sign. The task force, particularly Chairman Ronnie Floyd, did listen to those who were concerned about some of the preliminary proposals. This openness raised the trust level among those who depend heavily on NAMB support. The vagueness of the current language also wisely recognizes that NAMB itself will have to work through the intricacies of implementation. The report leaves a lot of room for interpretation and personalized application. The exhortation to send more money to underreached areas of North America is also well-taken. How can a large state convention in a state that is about 50 percent lost complain when more money goes to a small state convention in which the percentage of lost people is closer to 90 percent?

The International Mission Board?Releasing IMB to reach underreached people groups in the U.S. is a very sensible idea. It also sounds like it might be complex to implement. I don’t imagine negative consequences of this recommendation but I can imagine this one as being hard to implement. It also raises questions about IMB’s ability to divert man hours to work within the U.S. This one might be small in its implementation.

More money to IMB, less money to the Executive Committee?This is a good idea and will likely be very popular. Over a million bucks may seem like a gesture to some but it is not a meaningless gesture. “More money to the IMB” has been a common watchword among many of us for the last few years. We are probably going to do that in response to this GCRTF recommendation. But it’s also less money to the Executive Committee. Fair or not, when most observers hear the word “bureaucracy” applied to the SBC, they think of the EC. The report’s commitment to “reduce denominational infrastructure” recommends that a very large portion of the EC’s budget should be removed and reallocated. The Executive Committee’s role has grown significantly broader since 1995. Many Southern Baptists believe the committee’s work should be more focused.

The SBC is difficult to change impetuously?Witness the Conservative Resurgence. It took eight years of conservative presidents and appointments to elect a conservative to the helm of a single SBC agency. It took 16 years to make such a change at all our agencies. It took that long with a string of interrupted victories, a real and clearly stated problem, and an undeniable, very specific mandate from the grassroots. Those concerned that the GCRTF report might impact our work negatively should know that scores, hundreds in some cases, of cooks will be in the kitchen when even the most modest of these recommendations takes effect. This is the frustrating thing about a large and successful denomination. This is also the comforting thing about efforts to change such a denomination; these changes will never be as glorious as its advocates hope nor as horrible as its detractors fear. I support implementation of the GCRTF recommendations because I think our process has enough safeguards to provide for reform without recklessness. If I believed the recommendations were going to orphan needy work in the U.S. or damage the Cooperative Program, I’d be writing a very different column today.<SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Trebuchet MS; FONT-SIZE:

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