The GCR–My Take

Posted: May 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

The other morning I enjoyed a great breakfast with three guys I truly love.  Waffle House provided a great waffle and great atmosphere to do some catching up.  I always enjoy connecting with friends over food! 

Our conversations ranged from our families, church, and Sunday School, to theology and church practice.  It was truly a great time.  As we were leaving the topic of the GCR and Southern Baptist life came up.  Here there were some divergent viewpoints.  I responded with my usual argumentative spirit, which was later brought to my attention, and I had to repent.  My thoughts on the issue, however, remain clear and consistent.

Here is my short take.  It is my understanding that the GCR is seeking to call Southern Baptists back to being a kingdom people.  We want, or should want, to see the kingdom advancing among every people group.  Our hearts should be broken for the lost and our feet should be following by going with the gospel.  Southern Baptists have historically been known for this very thing.  Our Cooperative Program is indicative of a people who are serious (or were at one time) about missions and evangelism.  The current state of affairs, it is said, may tell a different story.  Billions of people do not know Christ, yet we spend millions of dollars in a land that is already church saturated.  And the money we do spend in that land (the U.S) is spent in the region with the most churches.  And some would say that we do this to the neglect of the unreached people groups outside the US, or at least that those peoples are not prioritized.

I do not understand the GCRTF to be calling for an abandoning of the CP.  It was said by a friend that the CP is what defines us as Southern Baptist.  I disagree.  If that is the case, what was the Conservative Resurgence all about?  The moderates cried for “cooperation” and not theology.  As Jon Akin has noted, “Our cry must be cooperation but centered on a confessional theology.”  Although it is a staple of the SBC, it is not what defines us.  You will not find the CP mentioned in the 2000 BF&M.  You will find a commitment to the Scriptures, the local church, regenerate church membership, and missions.  These theological convictions (and others) are what define us.  The Cooperative Program is simply a method we employ to carry out our convictions.  What the task force is seeking to do is examine how we utilize CP monies.  Are we being efficient and effective?  If not, let’s rearrange.  Let’s restructure.  Let us use the CP in the most faithful way we can.  This may mean doing things different…and that is ok.

It is a common objection that those who sit on the task force do not give large percentages to the CP.  That is not an invalid concern.  However, when one looks at those who do sit on the task force what do we find?  We find churches that are giving some to the CP AND are doing much of their own missions work.  They do not give large percentages to the CP because they are trying to be wise stewards of the resources God has given to their church.  Is the current mechanism (CP) allowing them to be directly involved in funding missions?  Many do not see how!  I believe that is the logic.  They will stand before God and give an account for how they led their people and their church not on how much they gave to the CP.  Dr. Al Mohler put it like this when asked how a pastor should determine how much to give to a local association, state convention, or the CP.  “Make them earn your money!”  In other words, don’t throw your money at groups that are wasting much of what you give just because that is what you have “always done.”  And that is what a lot of churches are choosing “not” to do.  They are not giving (or not giving a high percentage) to the CP because they fear it is an unwise stewardship of their funds.  So the answer is not to berate those who are seeking to give to legitimate causes and efforts but to do what the GCR is seeking to do.  Evaluate how we can be more efficient and effective with the resources given.  This will increase the dollars we see coming to Nashville.  That in turn will see our missionaries fully funded and placed on the field. 

It is also a common objection that the GCR stem from a youthful group that has been around for a short time.  They have not been around long enough to have a say.  After all, they are products of the current system.  So, why change it?  This issue is important.  We youngsters should be reminded that we are products of those who have come before us.  We should remain humble and respectful in our dialogue and critique.  However, youthfulness does not negate the right and responsibility to speak up.  Luther did what he did at a very young age.  As did Calvin and others.  Although youthfulness should remind us to be humble and respectful it should not deter us from calling for greater levels of faithfulness.  I pray for that humble spirit to mark me…and I have a long way to go!  I am thankful for B21, J.D Grear, David Platt, Tony Merida, and other young leaders within the SBC.  I am thankful that what they have spent most of their time doing is engaging the older generation by asking the needed questions.  I pray that things continue to move forward.

I enjoy all the talk of a GCR.  I really do want to see the SBC thrive.  I believe we have the potential to be used mightily by God.  However, this should not consume our thoughts.  As I said at breakfast when asked where we would be today if people had not given to the CP, “Right where the Lord Jesus Christ wanted us to be.”  God does not need the SBC.  He does not need the CP.  He does not need Southern, Southeastern, Southwestern, New Orleans, or any other seminary.  He doesn’t need the ERLC.  He is not worried about whether or not the GCR passes.  He is Lord and King.  He commands the seas and calls dry bones to live.  He is God and His purposes will stand.  Not one person that God has chosen will be lost!

The issue for us as Southern Baptists is faithfulness.  Are we being faithful with what God has given us?  Are we good stewards?  That is what we will answer for.

  1. Jamie says:

    Amen bro! Good post….

  2. colbyadams says:

    Great post. Appreciate the thoughtfulness you put into this, very helpful.

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