Southern Baptists, we need to talk! We are accustomed to hearing rosy progress reports from SBC leaders. The time has come to talk about the realities of the tangled mass of thorns and weeds underneath some of today’s rosy reports. We need to talk about both the strategies we propose and the outcomes over time that we actually receive from those strategies. We need to pay attention to those outcomes. Disappointing outcomes are reasons for strategic adjustments, not angry fights. Attempts to address unexpected outcomes are not a search for conflict.
The Southern Baptist Convention is not a tool for managing autonomous churches, conventions, and entities. The Convention is a tool for enlisting independent churches in a mighty cooperative effort to seek the salvation of every person on earth through Jesus Christ and to overwhelm the darkness of a broken world with the radiance of distinctive lives in accordance with God’s Word. We do that best when our strategic outcomes inspire us.
Southern Baptists are a family of churches that did the unthinkable, trading the glory and immediate satisfaction of doing ministry independently for the immense power unleashed by cooperation, embracing the same mission (the Great Commission) and paying for it with a common purse (the Cooperative Program). My new book attempts to set the stage for that much needed conversation about where the SBC is today in its Great Commission progress and is available from the publisher (www.nebpvermont.com), Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Here is a recap of The Best Intentions.
In the summer of 2009, a Georgia pastor was elected President of the Southern Baptist convention. With the best intentions, the newly elected SBC president sought to generate fresh interest in the Great Commission by appointing a task force that recommended:
Changing the SBC funding process;
Redefining the relationship between the North American Mission Board and the state conventions and regional associations; and
Making a dramatic shift away from direct evangelism and to church planting.
To indicate the desire for transformative change and in hope that it would affect the Convention as deeply as did the Conservative Resurgence in earlier decades, the name chosen for this effort was the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR). In spite of having the best intentions, the decade following the adoption of the Great Commission Resurgence proved to be more of a Great Commission Regression. This book will:
Describe each component of the Great Commission Resurgence proposals;
Identify the outcomes after a decade of implementation; and
Provide charts drawn from official SBC data reports to document the unprecedented decline that deepened and accelerated across all areas of SBC life.
Readers will be able to see for themselves that the plan did not work as expected. The book concludes with lessons learned from the assessment and suggestions about where the SBC goes from here. A crucial question faces Southern Baptists: Is the Convention willing to begin talking about adjustments and changes to its strategic approach to the Great Commission?