GCR report gets 5 new endorsements
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Five more key Southern Baptist leaders have published endorsements of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report.
In a June 1 statement at pray4gcr.com, Frank Page, vice president of evangelism at the North American Mission Board and nominee for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, cautioned about extreme reactions to the report that see it as "all bad or all good."
"It has been a long and fascinating year. I have not always shared the viewpoints of some of the committee members. However, let me be very clear that I love each and every one of the task force members and I am thankful to have served with them. They are a godly group of men and women who share the same heart," Page wrote. "That heart, that purpose, that desire, is to see the accomplishment of the Great Commission in our lifetime. I passionately wish to see this occur. As I said, our mindsets have not always been one and the same about how this might be accomplished. We have had differences regarding methodology, yet none regarding the outcome."
Page, who is a member of the task force, added: "One of the sad things that I have seen happen in this process is that there are those in our convention who seem to want to absolutize every report and/or aspect of a report. In other words, some see everything in extreme. The report is seen as all bad or all good. While the report in its final form is not one that I would have written exactly as is, I can say that I do stand with my brothers and sisters in affirmation of that report."
Page cited the spiritual challenge and core values, as well as the affirmation of the SBC's Cooperative Program funding mechanism as elements of the report he strongly supports. He also warned about "a tendency to demonize that which we don't understand or agree with" that results in "carnal, spiritual attack upon brothers and sisters."
"I pray that we would cease the demonizing of those with whom we disagree and make sure that when we disagree we do so not out of ignorance nor out of carnality but out of a true and honest difference of opinion," Page said in the statement. "I believe that the challenges that are found in the GCR task force final report will encourage all of us to deepen our walk with the Lord, to treat others appropriately, and to take responsibility to see the Great Commission accomplished in our own lives, our own families, and our own churches. That is where the turnaround will occur!"
Page's entire statement can be read at http://www.pray4gcr.com/2010/06/dr-frank-page-vp-of-evangelism-at-namb-i-believe-one-can-stand-and-vote-for-this-final-report-and-be-a-supporter-of-the-cooperative-program.
In another June 1 statement, David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn., said discussions about the report have too often been framed in "either/or" terms.
"Historically, some of the church's saddest moments have come when people have wrongly insisted on 'either/or' answers," wrote Dockery, who also is a member of the task force. "And, some of the church's most significant breakthrough moments have come when 'both/and' answers have shed light on a challenge."
Just as "either/or" thinking led to mistakes in formulating Christian doctrines like the nature of God and the Bible, such thinking also will keep Southern Baptists from moving forward in a Great Commission Resurgence, Dockery said.
"I have heard people frame their concerns regarding the GCR proposals by saying that if there is to be a resurgence, it will come about primarily, if not entirely, as a matter of obedience, not as a matter of financial allocation," Dockery wrote. "Others have said that a Great Commission Resurgence will come about only as a work of the Holy Spirit, not by adjusting or re-prioritizing denominational structures."
Getting trapped in "either/or" thinking could cause Southern Baptists to miss the opportunity to advance God's Kingdom, Dockery added.
"I believe the GCR proposals can be used of God to launch a new 'both/and' vision, which will include both preaching and praying, giving and going, worship and witness, conviction and cooperation, teaching truth and touching needs, defining boundaries and building bridges, all the while encouraging both sacrificial stewardship in the pews and the sending of missionaries to the nations," Dockery wrote. "This vision must include the refocusing and the re-prioritizing of denominational structures combined with the renewing work of the Holy Spirit in and among us. All will be necessary to move the SBC forward in dynamic and constructive ways in coming years."
Dockery's entire statement can be read at http://www.pray4gcr.com/2010/06/a-great-commission-resurgence-toward-a-bothand-vision-for-the-sbc-by-david-s-dockery-president-union-university.
Jimmy Draper, president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources, said in a May 28 statement the task force's report "gives us a fresh look at how we must embrace the Great Commission" and that Southern Baptists must not be afraid "to consider and develop new strategies to improve how we do what God has asked us to do."
"While nearly tripling our membership in the last 60 years, we have not increased our effectiveness in reaching and baptizing new converts here in America," Draper said. "There must be some clear and decisive strategies developed to help Southern Baptists focus more clearly on the Great Commission as our primary mission as assigned by God. The GCR Task Force report challenges us to rethink the strategies that are most vital for us to truly be a Great Commission people."
Except for the report's proposal of a new mission statement and core values for the convention, five of the document's recommendations "do not require compliance by any SBC entity," Draper noted.
"If this report is approved, those recommendations would be given to the SBC Executive Committee with the request that they are passed on to the trustees of each SBC entity and reports be given to next year's convention by each entity," Draper wrote. "Strategies and ministries would be developed within each trustee board. The report anticipates a new synergy of the various entities with each other and with state conventions."
Draper's entire statement can be read at http://www.pray4gcr.com/2010/05/jimmy-draper-president-emeritus-of-lifeway-urges-the-acceptance-of-the-gcr-report.
In a May 31 statement, Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., wondered why Southern Baptists, who agree on the essentials of missions and evangelism, are nonetheless seeing declines in membership.
"We agree that cooperation among like-minded Baptists is essential to educate the next generation of pastors to send an army of missionaries to the nations and plant churches within driving distance of every person in North America. We agree that preaching the Word of God is essential to corporate worship, equipping the saints for ministry and directing the course in which we lead our churches. We agree that the Great Commission is essential for rightly evangelizing all people and organizing the priorities of the local church," Brunson wrote. "The list can easily continue, but the question must be addressed as to why we are seeing declines in membership if we affirm that which is essential to ministry."
Suggesting the problem lies in "a deeper issue within Southern Baptist life than the affirmation of biblical directives," Brunson called on Southern Baptist pastors to vote for the report in Orlando, then return to their churches to lead the way into renewal.
"The GCR is a call ... for church leaders to demonstrate through time investment, financial responsibility and organizational decisions the priority of reaching the nations. Leading the people whom God has placed in our care will require that we as pastors clearly articulate the Great Commission," Brunson wrote. "Pastors who affirm the seven components of the GCR Task Force Final Report will proclaim the Great Commission as a mandate for every believer to invest their lives in reaching neighbors and the nations by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pastors who agree that obedience to the Great Commission is essential for every believer will support the GCR in Orlando, return to their churches and lead the way in making disciples of the nations."
Brunson's entire statement can be read at http://www.pray4gcr.com/2010/05/mac-brunson-pastor-of-fbc-jacksonville-florida-calls-upon-pastors-to-come-to-orlando-and-affirm-all-7-gcr-recommendations.
Terry Robertson, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist Convention of New York, added his endorsement in a June 2 statement on the website and acknowledged he comes to the issue with a bias.
"After 30 years of service in the territory of the Baptist Convention of New York, I am sure that I have biased views," Robertson wrote. "That bias comes from being on the front lines of Southern Baptists efforts in North America."
At least 800 languages are spoken in the northeastern United States and the area's approximately 28 million people are barely being touched with the Gospel, Robertson said.
"We have a vast sea of lostness -- 27 million lost people; more than the combined population of either 7 Northeastern states, 6 Mid-South states, or 9 Northwestern & North Central states. People groups from around the world are filling our neighborhoods. The lostness of their native lands has overtaken entire communities," Robertson said. "Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. The international mission fields are being brought to our front doors.... What joy it would bring to see the percentage of lostness dramatically decline with the most rapid advancement of the cause of Christ in history."
Southern Baptists need "a refocused missional vision to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world to make disciples of all nations," Robertson said. "As the executive director of a new work convention that is in the midst of dire lostness, I encourage you to come to Orlando and support this report. It will help us penetrate lostness more effectively."
Robertson's full statement can be read at http://www.pray4gcr.com/2010/06/terry-robertson-executive-director-treasurer-of-the-baptist-convention-of-new-york-i-plan-to-be-in-orlando-to-vote-in-favor-of-the-gcr-recommendations.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.