Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Vote Passed

Dr. Al Mohler's motion to commission a task force passed tonight at the Southern Baptist Convention. Specifically, the motion requests that
the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting June 23-24, 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky, authorize the President of the Southern Baptist Convention to appoint a Great Commission Task Force charged to bring a report and any recommendations to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Orlando, Florida June 15-16, 2010, concerning how Southern Baptists can work more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission.
There was brief public opposition during the time for debate. The most rancorous opposition came from a pastor who is convinced that the problem with the SBC is the rise of Calvinism in our ranks. He likened it to the Primitive Baptist movement and blamed all the ills the convention on the revival of the doctrines of grace in the convention. His comments were inflammatory and unfounded. They did not carry the day.

A substitute motion was put forward but was fortunately voted down, allowing for an overwhelming affirmation of Dr. Mohler's original motion. The Parliamentarian, Dr. Barry McCarty, later said that the vote was at least 95%-5% in favor.

This was a good move that bodes well for the future of the SBC. Of course, it is just the beginning. Johnny Hunt must now appoint a committee that will take up the responsibility of this assignment. Pray for him and for those whom he appoints. The last thing that the SBC can afford at this point is a study and report that fall short of serious analysis and recommendations. While these recommendations will not be binding on any entity in the SBC just because a task force recommends them, they can become rallying points for the way ahead in marshalling our cooperative efforts more energetically and efficiently in the work of the great commission.

Though in the big scheme of things this vote is not all that important, I believe that it is a harbinger of better days on the horizon. In fact, today is the best day that I have ever spent at a Southern Baptist Convention. In no particular order, following are some of the reasons that I say that.

1. Danny Akin. Dr. Akin spoke at the Founders Breakfast at 6:30AM, the Baptist21 luncheon at noon, at the SBC giving a theme interpretation at 3:30PM and at the 9Marks after-meeting at 10:00PM. No doubt he is tired! But his weariness is reason for Southern Baptists' encouragement. In each assignment, he knocked it out of the park, communicating great insight in a personable, humble and courageous manner. He is the kind of leader that Southern Baptists desperately need right now, and the demands on his time indicate that he is willing to answer the call.

2. Johnny Hunt. He has proven to be a remarkable leader for Southern Baptists this last year. Dr. Hunt makes it very hard not to love him. He is gracious, humble, transparent and enthusiastic in his leadership. He has demonstrated a willingness to work with all Southern Baptists who are willing to unite around the gospel and press forward in the great commission. He has been very gracious and kind to those with whom he disagrees at certain points, setting a tone of genuine love and respect in the SBC that we have needed for a long time. Some have been less than thrilled with his leadership but, from my vantage point, their antipathy has more to do with his unwillingness to tow anyone's party line than with him personally. His love for Christ, pastors and for the conversion of unbelievers is contagious and I, for one, want to catch what he's got! I look forward to his next year of leadership and will continue to pray for him privately, in my home and in our church.

3. Though I have not heard all of the sermons from the pastors' conference or that were preached today at the convention, what I have heard has left me more encouraged about the state of preaching in the SBC than in a long time. There have been wonderful messages preached. Sell your blood if y0u must, but be sure to purchase the CD of David Platt's sermon from last night at the pastors' conference. It was incredible.

4. The IMB. Everyone has heard of the financial shortfall that will result in the decrease in our missionary force by the end of the year. Of the $16 billion that Southern Baptist churches collected last year, less than 2.6% went to the IMB. But that message seems to be rallying Southern Baptists to renew our commitment to getting the gospel to the unreached peoples of the world. I was deeply moved by the IMB report tonight of what God is doing and what the needs yet are. Jim Richards of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention presented Jerry Rankin with a $100,000 check to help start making up for the shortfall. The pastors' conference took up a special offering to assist with it as well. I believe that Southern Baptists will rally and that this financial crisis will provoke the kind of self-examination that we need at this time in order for us to re-order our priorities.

5. The growing humility within the SBC. I heard agency heads, featured preachers and seasoned pastors saying publicly what has needed to be said for a long time. God doesn't need the SBC. The SBC can fail and be thrown onto the ash heap of ecclesiastical history and the kingdom of God will march on victoriously. It is that kind of awareness and humility that breeds the kind of perspective on the SBC that may well lead us to see our brightest days in the future. Until we get over the SBC we will not be in a position to utilize it for kingdom purposes as we ought.

So, I am hopeful. It seems to me that a fresh wind is blowing. If it is the wind of God's Spirit then may we recognize His work and redouble our efforts to be faithful in following wherever He leads.

9 comments:

Terrell Academy Chapel said...

Tom,

I couldn't get to the booth quick enough to purchase the Platt DVD. I think I'll never be the same after the sermon. Unbelievable. (That will be the Convention sermon I show my church when I get home.)

I'm happy about the GCR vote too. It's odd to me that the two most significant efforts to undermine it both chose to go after Calvinism, and, in both efforts, it seriously backfired.

I like Morris Chapman, but I completely failed to understand his approach in his speech. And the first guy to speak against the motion revealed some of the more stark anti-Calvinism I've ever heard on the floor of the SBC.

I was just sitting there thinking how wonderful it was that folks all across the spectrum had supported this thing and how weird it was that they would try to oppose it by attacking Calvinism.

Frank Page, btw, was providentially positioned at that microphone to speak right after the gentleman who opposed it.

A good day yesterday!

Wyman Richardson

Tom said...

Wyman,

Good observations. I think the vote in some sense rejects the brash castigations of Calvinism in the SBC. Hopefully we can move forward without that kind of rancor in the future.

In would be great to hang out with you if we could connect.

michael said...

Tom,

I was shocked to see that only 2.6% went to the IMB. It seems as though we need to streamline the giving so that it goes where it is most needed. By the way I don't think state conventions really need to spend what they spend. They eat up a great deal of giving and it never makes it to the CP. I would love to hear some of your thoughts about this (I know that the GCR resolution does address some of this).

DWayne said...

Tom,
Thank you for the email exchange last night regarding Dr. Chapman's comments. I actually received three additional emails from him today about this. My initial comments to him were that his report was more of a shot at Calvinists and those whom he disagrees with, yet maintaining a call for unity. Since his picture of Calvinism was improper, I stated that perhaps he was engaging in double speak.
He was very nice, stated that he disagreed, and defended his report. I told him that I appreciated his service, I stood by my assessment of his speech, and appreciated his love for Jesus. Make no mistake, he is a man of God who has given much to our convention and deserves to be honored, I think he just got it wrong yesterday, and I don't believe his speech was the right way to do it.

john said...

I was one of those people, who for certain reasons, could not make it to the Convention this year. Could someone tell me how I can get a copy of this sermon by David Platt that has everyone all abuzz? I would appreciate knowing. Thank you all.

Will said...

Hunt names GCR task force members


Posted on Jun 24, 2009 | by Staff
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt appointed 18 people to the "Great Commission Resurgence Task Force" June 24 during the morning session of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Louisville, Ky.

Messengers to the annual meeting voted the evening before to authorize Hunt's naming the task force to study how Southern Baptists can work "more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission."

"I trust you will be encouraged by the balance that will be representing Southern Baptists in their assignment," Hunt said before he read the list of names.

Appointed to the committee were:

-- Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., chairman.

-- Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

-- Frank Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C.

-- David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

-- Simon Tsoi, trustee of the International Mission Board and retired pastor.

-- Donna Gaines, pastor's wife at Bellevue Baptist Church near Memphis, Tenn.

-- Al Gilbert, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.

-- J.D. Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

-- Tom Biles, executive director of the Tampa Bay Baptist Association.

-- Daniel L. Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

-- R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

-- John Drummond, a layman at St. Andrew Baptist Church in Panama City, Fla.

-- Harry Lewis, senior strategist for partnership missions and mobilization at the North American Mission Board.

-- Michael Orr, pastor of First Baptist Church in Chipley, Fla.

-- Roger Spradlin, pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif.

-- J. Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

-- Ken Whitten, pastor of the Tampa-area Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla.

-- Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla.

"We promise to represent you well,” Hunt said, “and you pray for us that God would use us to be an impetus that can help us to even do a better job of what we've been doing in the area of the Great Commission.”

Hunt told Baptist Press he would "lead the task force, giving them direction, as I promised the convention," but that Floyd would chair the group in its deliberations.

J.D. Rector said...

Tom and others:
I could not make it to the annual convention as well this year. If you are encouraged, then I will be.

Here's one hoping that the task force is given wisdom from God. I am grateful that the promises of His Word are still true from James that "... if any man lacks wisdom, he is to ask God who gives liberally..."

Sincerely,
J.D.

wayner said...

John,

You can find ordering info here http://www.sbctapes.com/. Also the sessions will be available in July at sbcannualmeeting.com.

Wayne

Morgan Owen said...

You can add me to the list of the unimpressed. Balance does not reflect the makeup of this task force.

As a middle aged Southern Baptist conservative (who still considers himself a young leader who has been leftout), I find myself very dissatisfied with the lack of diversity on this panel. Here are my issues:

*If you highlight the states on a map of those represented, the first thing I see is what about a representation from the Northwest, Midwest and Northeast (and even some of the other southern states)
And what's up with having 5 reps from Florida??? Most have 1-3. I don't get it?

*17 males and 1 female---not a balance in my book. If we really wanted to get something done, there should have been more women involved. VBS...dare I say more.

*17 White people and 1 non-white person---We as southern baptists get so close to breaking the White mold. Not placing an African American was a horrible move.

*16 Over 40 years old and 2 Under 40 years old (from the pictures I've seen on the web, this is a pretty close guess)---So much for reaching out to the younger leadership of the SBC.

*15 career ministers and 2 laypeople---Are there no laypeople spiritual enough the evaluate the SBC effectiveness in evangelism?

*Pastors 8 Administrative 8 Laypeople 2---OK. A bit of balance. However, why do Akin and Mohler get to be the only Seminary reps? What about the other presidents? What about missions professors from the seminaries
Directors of missions are a good touch. I have great respect for these individuals who have a better idea on what's going on in the churches across the SBC.

All in all, I expected so much more from Johnny Hunt. I have heard great things about his ministry and influence on younger pastors. I was excited when he was
elected last year. But these appointments leave a bad taste in the mouth of this Southern Baptist.

Morgan