The TEXAN invited the opinions of four Texas pastors who were among the 6,594 people who committed to pray for the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. The men were asked to analyze the seven components of the final task force report to be offered June 15 at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Orlando. Their comments follow:
BRAD JURKOVICH, pastor, Victory Life Baptist Church, Lubbock
>VOTE: I pray that the efforts of the GCRTF will be received, prayerfully considered and courageously implemented. We must do whatever it takes for advancing the hope of Jesus in America and the world.
>COMPONENT 1 (Vision): I appreciate the recommendation for our convention to adopt a biblically clear and compelling mission statement. It speaks to the passion and priority of the Lord Jesus and the clear testimony of the early church. The more we hear this mission and the more our churches and convention filter every priority and budget item through this mission, then I believe we will see greater impact and we will see more pastors and churches inspired to give and go for God.
>COMPONENT 2 (Core Values): The recommended eight core values are strong and valuable for the greater impact of our convention. We all need to know what is expected of each other going forward. These core values are being implemented in our church in various ways already, but it is nice to see them enumerated on a convention level.
>COMPONENT 3 (GC Giving): I don’t believe this new designated option will impact CP giving negatively. Already, my church staff and leadership team have been evaluating our Great Commission strategy. What I see happening is that when our dialogue in our local church is seen through the lens of our Great Commission strategy, giving towards CP and other avenues increases across the board.
>COMPONENT 4 (NAMB): I believe this recommendation will yield greater impact in the coming years. Our church has grown from a handful of families to hundreds of families. We have to evaluate all the time how our individual ministries are being implemented. If we need to reinvent, realign, or reassess leadership and resources then we do it. Why? Because the passion and commitment to accomplishing the Great Commission needs to drive everything we do. NAMB is a dynamic ministry front. But America is changing and how we partner, how we plant churches and how we penetrate America’s lostness needs to be constantly evaluated.
>COMPONENT 5 (IMB): This recommendation is valid in that it sees how America has changed. The world is different. Why not use the expertise and missional punch of the IMB in a greater way. I think this recommendation will wake up many local churches to the reality that America needs serious attention.
>COMPONENT 6 (CP): The state convention relationship is very valuable and makes the most marked impact on my local church. I know the staff. I hear from that leadership the most. And if they continually encourage and communicate the missional vision of our convention and build relationships with our local church then there will be tremendous benefits. I am grateful for the national convention’s efforts to promote CP and the greater vision, but my relationship with the state convention will be more beneficial in the long run.
>COMPONENT 7 (EC Funding): Does this recommendation go far enough? Well, do we all want to reach every person possible? Absolutely. Every local church and every ministry has to balance where the majority of money is going. One percent is a strong statement in that it is breaking a barrier. I think because of our size as a denomination it doesn’t seem like much, but it is, and it sets in motion the track of expansion in that area.
>SUMMARY VIEW: The implementation of these recommendations will produce change. But if we all will humble ourselves and ask God to guide our steps, I believe the living God will honor these efforts even if these recommendations are the start of further work down the road. Until Jesus comes, we will always need to be willing to change and do whatever it takes to penetrate our world with the hope of Jesus.
NATHAN LORICK, pastor, First Baptist Church, Malakoff
>VOTE: My hope is that the GCRTF report will be embraced and passed overwhelmingly. As a young pastor who care deeply for the SBC, I believe it is imperative for us to continue to press forward with changes and improvements to this great denomination. If we continue to do what we are now doing, we will continue to get the results we are now getting. We desperately need to wake up and embrace necessary changes for the furtherance of the kingdom and the future of the SBC.
>COMPONENT 1 (Vision): I believe that a new and fresh mission statement is needed and I believe this is a great statement of the renewed direction of the convention. This is not the same convention as 30, 20, or even 10 years ago.
>COMPONENT 2 (Core Values): It seems that there are so many different faces of people in the SBC. There are the mega-church pastors, small-town pastors, bi-vocational pastors, evangelists, and lay people. There is not really anything that helps us to rally around the values that make our convention such a great convention. I believe these eight concise, yet clear values will help guide us to a renewed sense of purpose and devotion to win the world to Christ.
>COMPONENT 3 (GC Giving): It is my hope that Great Commission giving will spark a fire in people and churches to give sacrificially to reach the world for Christ. If we ever lose sight of the benefits of the CP, then we have lost sight of the greatest mission funding effort ever known to mankind. We must keep giving to and supporting the work of the CP. I believe that the Great Commission giving will spur people on to a fresh view of the CP.
>COMPONENT 4 (NAMB): I believe this recommendation lays the groundwork for the church planters in my generation to be fully equipped to make a dent in the lostness of our nation. I fully support unleashing NAMB to become focused on planting healthy churches in the most needed areas. As a board member of my state convention, I wholeheartedly support phasing out cooperative agreements to give NAMB the freedom to be reinvented and revitalized. The ultimate goal is not money, but reaching people with the message of Jesus Christ. We should do whatever it takes to get ourselves in position to make the message most available.
>COMPONENT 5 (IMB): This will allow people and churches to focus on a people group here in the U.S. and not have to travel abroad to reach a people group.
>COMPONENT 6 (CP): While the promotion of the CP ultimately falls upon the pastor, I do believe that state conventions are better equipped to assist churches in education and promotion of the CP than any other agency.
>COMPONENT 7 (EC funding): I believe where we spend the majority of our money is where our heart and interests lie. Therefore, I believe that increasing the percentage to the IMB is great. I personally would like to have seen it increased more so that we could send more men and women across the world with the gospel.
>SUMMARY VIEW: I believe the GCRTF did a wonderful job of assessing the needs of the SBC. I believe there are more aspects of the SBC that could be improved or reinvented. However, for the short amount of time that they had to work together, I believe the task force did a great job.
PATRICK PAYTON, pastor, Stonegate Fellowship, Midland
>VOTE: I sincerely hope this final report is adopted as a bare minimum starting point of monumental change and adjustment within the SBC and its churches. This report does not even begin to challenge the SBC as an organization to enough radical change….I hope we are headed in a direction where we will push even harder for greater and more effective goals.
>COMPONENT 1 (Vision): I am in favor of trying to gather together a unifying statement for all to rally around. My concern in this matter is that we have become so caught up in mission/vision statements and forgotten that a mission/vision statement is nothing more than a lofty set of words that will mean nothing if lofty and courageous actions are not taken [as well].
>COMPONENT 2 (Core Values): The statement that we need a set of unifying core values seems very odd to me this late in the game as a convention. When I read over the proposed core values they seem rather obvious. It would seem to me that if we need to be reminded of these eight core values, then our problems are much deeper and damaging than we might imagine.
>COMPONENT 3 (Great Commission Giving): Personally, I have no idea what this element will accomplish or not accomplish. It is my opinion that the Cooperative Program (the SBC’s shared funding method) is neither the problem nor the issue for Southern Baptists. For us, as a local church, the matter pure and simple is effectiveness; and for us, the institution of the SBC is in desperate need of a total overhaul. Focusing on the CP is the wrong place to focus.
>COMPONENT 4 & 5 (NAMB & IMB): I believe the recommendations for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB) fall woefully short. I see no justifiable reason why we should not, as Southern Baptists, reorganize our missions agencies into one centralized Global Missions Agency. I personally believe that any “tweaking” of NAMB and IMB responsibilities is little more than shifting the furniture when in actuality walls need to be torn down and some remodeling done. We continue to hear and read from current Executive Committee leaders and longtime denominational employees that we have the best system and we must not do anything that might move our churches back to a societal method of missions. So comical in the warnings related to societal missions is that we are already back to a societal methodology. Many churches are moving towards mission agencies and groups that are tuned in to the local church; they do not want to only support missions through agencies, they want to be on the field and in partnership on the field.
>COMPONENT 6 (CP Promotion): The promotion and funding of the CP boils down to addressing a symptom and not a root issue. In a day and time when “Doing missions” is so much more direct and opportunistic that it once was, the SBC still operates much like a GM or IBM rather that an Apple. Every size church can find an effective way to get engaged in open and closed countries without the SBC; finances are not the issue.
>COMPONENT 7 (EC funding): Money always flows to that which is perceived to hold the greatest value and return; the funding of SBC work and CP is not a percentage issue or a challenge issue, it is a vision and effectiveness issue. As long as a new generation of church leaders and planters of the 21st century perceives the work of the SBC to be “non-effective,” “behind the curve,” or woefully naïve” about the changes in culture and methodology, the money needed for ministry in and among SBC entities will continue to dry up and go elsewhere. It is not a matter of churches giving or doing less; it is a matter of churches giving and doing more in more effective and diverse ways outside of the SBC.
>SUMMARY VIEW: I believe the task force went for a field goal when they should have gone for the touchdown. I had sincerely hoped to see a greater call for change and reorganization on all levels—from the missions agencies becoming one new agency to a more church-based methodology and focus in the seminaries that pushes towards regional availability and shorter preparation time. My hope is that this report is a the very least a door to major change.
JARRETT STEPHENS, Teaching Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist, Plano
>VOTE: My prayer is that we will overwhelmingly approve the recommendations and signal to the world that we are a cooperative body of believers with a lase-focus to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that we refuse to let anything, even our own preferences and systems, stand in the way of accomplishing our mission.
>COMPONENT 1 (Vision): I do think that the SBC needs a new, unified mission statement—having a stated goal of what an organization is attempting to establish is both critically important and wise. It keeps before us a “big picture” of where we intend to go, allows us to monitor progress, and hopefully keeps us from getting off mission and doing something of lesser value. Also the SBC currently has no written mission statement that I am aware of and this is essentially “the Great Commission” reworded—certainly we can rally around this.
>COMPONENT 2 (Core Values): The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message gave us the parameters, the non-negotiables, that we hold to doctrinally. It serves as the fence, if you will, that we are to all play ball in. I see Component 2 as the actual rules of the game. They reinforce the idea that we are all on the same team. In a convention where our churches and seminaries all “play different positions,” keeping these core values before us reminds us that the team is most important.
>COMPONENT 3 (GC Giving): The CP is already being impacted negatively. Will designating “Great Commission giving” add to its two-decade decline? I don’t think anyone can fully know that answer. If we plant more strategic churches in North America, I would hop the CP would increase simply because more churches are giving towards it. If the CP does continue to decline, it won’t be because fo Component 3. More than three-quarters of the component is directed toward an affirmation and plea to CP giving.
>COMPONENT 4 (NAMB): I thought one of the strongest aspects of the report was the task force call for part of the “reinvention” of NAMB to be about a focus on leadership development, contextual evangelism, and church planting. We must do anything and everything as a convention to maximize our resources in order to have the greatest impact in reaching the lost within North America. Phasing out cooperative agreements will exhibit within the convention our cooperation in fulfilling our missional vision. Dissolving these agreements will allow more resources to go directly to unreached people groups in our most unreached places within our own country.
>COMPONENT 5 (IMB): Practically, this will only help the mission ventures of our church because it will serve to complement them. We already have church plants that we work with in many of the metropolitan cities that would be targeted for these unreached people groups. Removing the geographic limitations would allow us to broaden our scope of work in those partner cities with an organization that is already established and one that we trust.
>COMPONENT 6 (CP): This component was warranted because the state conventions are the ones on the ground working with the associations and individual churches. I firmly believe that CP giving will increase when championed, supported and promoted within a context of relational trust. It makes sense that those who work with these churches on a regular basis take the lead in the education and promotion of it.
>COMPONENT 7 (EC funding): Personally, I would have like to see even more taken from the facilitating ministries budget. We have people waiting to be assigned to the mission field right now and it’s not because we don’t have the funds to send them; it is because the funds are going elsewhere. Giving over half of our CP monies directly to the IMB signals that we are a denomination with a focused priority to fulfill the Great Commission. I am for cutting from the Executive Committee and any other ministry budget for that matter, to ensure “reaching the world” remains a priority in word and in action.
>SUMMARY VIEW: With an organization as large as the SBC, small change over time is significant change. I think the recommendations the GCRTF has given will help in creating significant change. Time will only tell if they went “far enough” but certainly this is a very needed start.