“What are we going to do now?” “Where do we go from here?” “What will this mean for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC)?” Those are examples of questions I have heard several times following the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the messengers’ approval of the Great Commission Task Force (GCTF) report.
And, I have a good answer.
We are going to continue to march forward, as soldiers of the cross, lifting high the banner of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We, as loyal Southern Baptists, will follow the will of the messengers and, as quickly as possible, begin to implement the recommendations and challenges of the GCTF report in Missouri.
Reread the following excerpts from my last Pathway article:
“GCR is now the law of the land in SBC life.”
“I am a committed Southern Baptist, ready to follow the will of the messengers and seek to carry out the dictates of GCR in Missouri.”
“Ministry in the SBC and the MBC will change, significantly.”
“I will work hard to make the transition smooth.”
Of course, most of you are also aware that I attempted to amend the report to give us more time to study and digest the report. I wanted more time to more fully understand the recommendations and consider the challenges of the report. My amendment would have allowed the elected trustees of the agencies/institutions of the SBC to study the report, specifically the long-term consequences and cost of the report. The entities of the SBC would have then reported to the 2011 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, delineating the ramifications of the report, allowing messengers to act on the recommendations with complete information. Following a second to my proposed amendment, I was allowed to speak to my motion. The gist of my argument was that, prior to entering into any kind of major change in SBC polity, Southern Baptists ought to follow the admonition of Scripture and count the cost.
The amendment failed because Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a member of the GCTF, powerfully argued that the recommendation did exactly what the amendment required. “As a matter of fact,” Mohler stated in reference to the amendment, “we agree with you emphatically … we are calling in every point for exactly what you’re asking us to do.”
But is that what the GCTF intended?
Immediately following the annual meeting, GCTF chairman Ronnie Floyd issued what he called The Final Word on the adoption of the GCTF report. In that statement Floyd writes, “The Southern Baptist Convention has issued the final word—they affirmed the GCR recommendations overwhelmingly. The SBC entities will now begin to implement the will of the convention. We must pray for them. The convention was clear—let’s make the changes as recommended.”
Floyd and Mohler appear to have contradicted each other.
If the convention has been instructed to make the changes as recommended, the GCTF recommendations did not agree emphatically with the amendment. Mohler implied that the boards of the SBC entities would be free to disregard the recommendations of the GCTF if they thought that to be most prudent. Floyd stated that the boards have been instructed to implement the recommendations. I contend that the recommendations will be implemented. The various SBC elected boards of trustees will follow—indeed, they ought to follow, what they perceive to be the will of the messengers.
And, that is precisely what we will do in Missouri.
The fundamental assertion of the GCTF report is personal responsibility for the Great Commission. I agree. I intend to move forward in Missouri with a renewed emphasis on our personal responsibility to reach the lost in the Show-Me state. The fact is, I am personally responsible to reach my family, my circle of friends and acquaintances, and my neighborhood. And, you are responsible to reach yours. Your church is responsible to reach your community. Your association is responsible to reach your county. All of us, working together, are responsible to reach and disciple the people of Missouri. In the MBC, we are already in the process of a reorganization that will make us even more effective in that endeavor.
We are also responsible to partner with other state conventions and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) to reach the rest of the United States. Currently, the MBC is involved in a missions partnership with the eight northern associations of Illinois. We are responsible to work with our brothers and sisters in Illinois and NAMB to reach that part of our nation. I am confident that NAMB, in compliance with the recommendations and challenges of the GCTF report, will reorganize to be more effective in that task. I look forward to working in a new way with our NAMB partners to reach all of America for Christ.
We are also responsible to partner with the International Mission Board (IMB) to reach to the ends of the earth with the Gospel. We do that, most effectively, through the Cooperative Program. But, in Missouri, we are also involved in mission partnerships with El Salvador, Northern Ontario in Canada and the Sub-Saharan region of West Africa. Because of GCTF recommended policies regarding IMB personnel working within the cities of America, I look forward to new opportunities to partner with IMB to reach underserved people groups in the metropolitan areas of the Show-Me state.
At the June 14 meeting of the SBC Executive Committee, President Johnny Hunt made an informative statement when he said—of the ongoing debate regarding the GCR; Hunt said, “At least the words Great Commission are on the lips of Southern Baptists as never before.”
In Missouri, we are committed to working for the fulfillment of that commission.