If you are a regular reader of PhilipMeade.com then you know that I fully support the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. I am a prayer partner for the task force and if you have not yet signed on to pray for these men and women and our churches, then you can do so here. Having said that, there have been a few questions surface over the last few days for which I was interested to receive some answers by those on the task force or closely related to it. What follows is a brief summary of some recent happenings followed by an email I sent and the responses I received.
Messengers to the 2009 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, KY voted overwhelmingly to approve a motion for a Great Commission Task Force to address issues “concerning how Southern Baptists can work more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission.” Frankly, it is difficult to understand how anyone could be against such a motion. However, it is interesting to note that at the time of the motion, there was already a Great Commission Task Force established through NAMB whose purpose was similar in tone to the motion offered by Dr. Mohler at the convention, just specific to North America. In addition, NAMB has “GPS” which stands for “God’s Plan for Sharing” and it is essentially a strategy to give every person in North America an opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel by 2020. All of this was further complicated by Geoff Hammond’s resignation (termination) as president of NAMB on August 11th. Sensing the potential confusion between all the Great Commission Task Forces in the SBC, acting interim president of NAMB Richard Harris dissolved the Great Commission Task Force in NAMB (but not before it was renamed to the Missiological Task Force to avoid additional confusion). However, Harris has placed the GPS strategy at the frontline of the NAMB strategy for winning people for Christ. He said, “There will be one special focus that will be the lead and that’s GPS—God’s Plan for Sharing.”
So, after all of that, here are my questions/concerns.
First – why was Hammond fired? Has anyone out there heard anything substantial? Has Hammond released a statement of his resignation?
Second – How unified is the SBC on mission? Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing, and if so, does it care? There can be little debate that the SBC is the greatest missions supporting organization in the world, but have things become somewhat convoluted?
Third – Does the newly formed GCR Task Force have any plans to come alongside NAMB in their GPS strategy for North America? Or are we the churches supposed to somewhat dis the NAMB thing and wait until we get word from the task force next year?
Fourth – When it comes to stewed prunes, is 3 enough? Is 4 too many?
I sent an email to a few members of the GCR Task Force and to a couple of people who are strong supporters. I raised the 2nd and 3rd questions above and asked how the GCR Task Force would be handling the current GPS strategy of NAMB. I was pleased to first receive an email from Danny Akin, one of the men who spearheaded the GCR Task Force. His basic response was that the GCR Task Force is concerned with all the nations beyond just the borders of North America. His email was gracious and I appreciated it. Nevertheless, it didn’t respond to the issue at hand. I assume that the GCR Task Force will, in fact, be concerned with North America, so what are we to make of GPS? I received another email from the office of Russell Moore, dean of the school of theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His email said that the GCR Task Force will be dealing with issues “quite different” than GPS. Again, I appreciated the response. But really? Here is one of the summary statements concerning the purpose of the GCR Task Force as it relates to North America: “We need a Great Commission Resurgence that will make us do whatever it takes to reach America with the Gospel.” Now, here is a summary statement from GPS: “The vision of this initiative is to inspire and encourage Southern
Baptists to fulfill the Great Commission in North America by the year
2020.” Are those two elements “quite different?”
I don’t want to be overly critical or make a mountain out of a molehill. It seems to me though that the GCR Task Force needs to address in their deliberations other agencies within the SBC umbrella who are working hard to make the Great Commission a reality in our churches across North America. Maybe they will. Perhaps part of the GCR strategy will be to promote and bring to the forefront the work which NAMB is already involved in. I doubt it though. Typically these kind of new campaigns bring about new ideas. I am thankful for the resurgence of interest in the Great Commission. However, I want to see the SBC pay attention to what the organization as a whole is doing and address those areas. Time will tell what direction the task force goes. We will be praying.