Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why I am hopeful about the GCR movement

Over the last several months I have repeatedly been asked why I support the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) and the broader impetus that led to its formation. A full explanation would include some necessary nuances and caveats that transcend the limits of a blog post, but the main reasons can at least be summarized here. These are, quite obviously, my opinions.

I believe:
  1. The SBC is unhealthy to the point that if it does not significantly change, it will become irrelevant beyond recovery within a few years.
  2. There are many who share my concerns--some of whom have already checked out of convention life while others are headed that way if things don't change for the better.
  3. The SBC represents loads of potential for being an instrument of great good in the kingdom of God. It has been such in the past, and still is in some degree at present, but the potential is greater than anything we have seen thus far.
  4. There are some in the SBC whose vision for what the convention should be is theologically naive and missiologically counterproductive.
  5. There are others in the SBC who don't think about theology and missiology at all.
  6. There are still over 6000 unreached people groups in the world--2000 years after our Lord commissioned His church to make disciples of all peoples.
  7. The leaders who are at the helm of the call for a GCR are trustworthy men. I disagree with them on some doctrinal issues. But I do agree with them on the most important points of doctrine and I believe them to be men of integrity who will not kowtow to political pressure, even if it causes them to stand against men they esteem and love.
  8. The GCRTF could--and should--come back with radical, convention-shocking recommendations that are rooted in a vision to marshal our resources to reach the nations.
  9. The call for a GCR could be the greatest hope of this generation to unite churches around the gospel, under the sovereignty of God, to give our utmost energies to making disciples of the nations.
I am 52 years old. I have zero interest in investing one more dime or one more minute in any religious organization that does not serve churches in the mission to reach the nations. Our church is ramping up our efforts and sharpening our focus in this area and we want to partner with other churches that have a similar vision. We want to be challenged, encouraged, strengthened and linked with like-minded churches with whom we share core commitments.

I believe that at least many on the GCRTF share these concerns and believe that the SBC can become a far more effective vehicle than it currently is to assist churches in their efforts to enlarge the kingdom of God. If these concerns are courageously addressed in the GCRTF recommendations, then the SBC will be challenged to pursue a path that could lead to our most useful days.

I have been around long enough to have been adequately disabused of any denominational naivety. Programs come and programs go. Bravado and superlatives seem almost endemic to SBC life. Some may be tempted to speak of the GCR and the GCRTF in such ways. I am not in that number. I am hopeful, but I am not naive. I pray for Ronnie Floyd and his committee every day and I encourage you to do so, as well.

We desperately need what the best declarations coming from those involved in the GCR movement are calling for. So I have been and remain supportive of the effort and praying that the Lord will use this to awaken, empower and unite Southern Baptists for the renewed purpose of "eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the denomination for the propagation of the gospel."


the-great-commission-resurgence-hard-questions-for-the-southern-baptist-convention said...

Good thoughts on the GCR and the SBC.

Brent Hobbs said...

I agree!

Steven said...

Bro. Tom:

Thank you for these powerful words. I pray that, as a Convention, we can unite around the recommendations of the GCRTF. Do you know if there is a timeline of when the GCRTF will make its recommendations public so that we can have time to digest and discuss them before the Convention next year?


Steven Speagle

Tom said...


I don't know what the GCRTF's timeline is. I assume they will publish their recommendations far enough in advance to allow necessary evaluation by the churches before the Orlando convention, but to my knowledge, nothing has been stated publicly on this.


Marvin Merriweather said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
chadwick said...

Dr. Ascol,

Ronnie Floyd's post that you linked to was very Christocentric. However, isn't he the one who implemented the "fire-engine" baptistry?

Does his practices line up with his lofty words? Is there going to be a GCR "fire-engine" baptistry at Orlando?


Tom said...


CT reported on this 9 years ago. I don't know the current status of the fire engine baptistry. If what CT reported then is still being practiced now, then my critique from 3 years ago still stands. However, Christians change. We grow. We progress in sanctification. I want to exercise the kind of charity toward my brothers that I desire from them. Such charity allows for growth in sanctification. It hopes all things.

I linked to the article that you cite expressly because it is, as you put it, Christocentric. It illustrates the kind of thinking that I hope will permeate the SBC. If it does, then we will be much better equipped to discuss and evaluate practices of all kinds, including baptism and child evangelism.

Bill Poore said...

Chadwick,Don't confuse Tom with the facts.His mind is made up..

Ivan said...

Thank you, Tom. I pray that the GCRTF will bring recommendations that will be wise and prudent. I look forward to positive and helpful changes in our Convention. May God still use us for His Glory and the extension of His Kingdom!

Will said...

1 and 8 I particularly agree with. 9 I dont know. Recommendations from many committees/task forces come and go. Because of Baptist eclesiology, there is no mechanism by which fundamental change can be easily adopted. But with God, nothing is impossible.

Thanks though for your heart
Cedar Hill Tx

tommy said...

I think SBC is going to have to make some major, MAJOR changes if we are going to re-engage with young people. Just the words "Southern" and "Baptist" completely turn people off, especially anywhere outside the Bible-belt. Call it changes in "branding" or whatever, it's got to be done.

Younger believers who agree with and follow the theological and missiological principles of the SBC do not want to be involved in all the "politics" of the convention, and are turned off by the heavy bureaucracy. People, generally, are becoming less trusting of institutions, anyway.

I don't usually look at the state Baptist papers, but a recent one showed photos of evangelists who would be participating in that state's upcoming Baptist convention. There must have been thirty or so photos, and only one looked to be of a man under the age of 50. These guys were pretty much the same guys from 20, 30 years ago. Whom are they mentoring? It's like we keep re-cycling old leadership. Without the multiplication of disciples and leadership, how can there be church multiplication both here in the U.S. and among unreached peoples across the globe?! "SBC" must change or die.