In a couple of previous articles I have written about my concern and interest in how the GCR (Great Commission Task Force) and the GPS (God’s Plan for Sharing from the NAMB) were going to work with one another or just ignore each other. You can read those here and here. On February 22nd, the Task Force released their progress report in Nashville, TN. It was presented by Ronnie Floyd.
There were some very encouraging aspects of the report. I believe the most exciting parts of the progress report were actually found in the introduction to the six principles the task force wanted to share. Based off Joel 2:12-17, Floyd began his remarks by stating the need for the SBC to be a people of repentance with a humble heart. He said:
“The boasting, ego and pride that goes on in our lives, our churches and
our denomination is unacceptable to God. The disunity in our churches
and in our denomination is so wrong and sinful. We need to repent and
return to God.”
For many who have become weary of the SBC and for all of us who are members of SBC churches, these are important and powerful words. It will be a good day and a step in the right direction when humility and repentance mark the beginning of our efforts to better reach the world for Christ. Floyd went on to say some helpful things about understanding the final destination of people and proclaimed that Baptists have lost a true theology of “lostness.” He says:
“If we do not understand lostness intellectually and theologically, we will not change nor will we do what must be done to penetrate it. I am convinced that we have not only forgotten what it is like to be lost, but we act as if lostness does not exist. . .“
However, once Floyd actually began speaking on the six principles of the GCR, things seemed to lose their punch. Principle #1 was that we need to embrace a missional perspective and that missional perspective is the Great Commission. Ok, fair enough. No argument here. Principle #2 spent a good deal of time talking about the need for NAMB to be “reinvented and released.” I read this section with considerable interest as it laid out the need for NAMB to restructure itself in ways that most effectively will reach North America for Christ. That is obviously a good thing, but what about GPS? Absolutely no word was mentioned about what NAMB most likely already understands as a powerful plan to reach North America. This continued ignoring of the ongoing misisonal plan of NAMB is truly strange. Likewise, principle 3 is that the IMB needs to be the most effective way to reach people overseas. What is new about that? For years Southern Baptists have looked to the IMB to be the most effective means of reaching the lost internationally. The progress report did mention some ways to potentially reallocate monies to better equip NAMB and the IMB, but there is nothing much in the way of “progress” here from what I could see. The next principle concerned itself with moving the assignments of CP promotion and stewardship education to the state conventions. Then principle 5 was a reaffirming of our support for the CP.
All of these things are great and helpful. But there doesn’t seem to be much new here. If by the time the Annual Meeting rolls around in June we only have this kind of report in hand, I think many will be wondering just how helpful the task force really was. What are pastors supposed to do with these principles in the churches except to re-emphasize the importance of NAMB, the IMB, and the CP. That is a great thing, but seemingly not as powerful of tools as we would like to see from the Great Commission Task Force.
So, I am still encouraged and excited about the potential for the SBC to be a people of humility and repentance that will lead into our evangelism. I just hope there is more to come from the task force.