"Thank you" goes long way in missions support
DULUTH, Ga. (BP)--J. Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, has long been recognized as an unashamedly strong supporter of the Cooperative Program. Whenever he has traveled on behalf of Southern Baptists for the past 36 years as pastor and denominational leader, he has challenged his audiences to remain true to the unified giving plan.
He remains as committed to the Cooperative Program today as when he began his first pastorate in 1974. As such, he maintained that stance in his role as one of 23 individuals appointed to the Great Commission Task Force in July of last year.
Due to his strong track record, White was chosen to address the Task Force's recommendation, in its report to the SBC Executive Committee on Feb. 22, for its continued support of the Cooperative Program as the denomination's primary funding channel.
While the Cooperative Program remained intact, the historic report did call for employing a new term known as "Great Commission Giving." That term would include gifts to the CP as well as designated gifts to the causes of the SBC, state conventions, and associations.
In the two weeks since the Task Force released its findings, many questions have been raised regarding exactly how the "Great Commission Giving" designation will be employed in accounting for gifts. White, in an interview with The Christian Index, clarified the new designation and further affirmed the Cooperative Program as the primary funding channel for Southern Baptists' missions and ministries.
The following are his comments concerning the Task Force committee's recommendation. The entire document can be downloaded at www.pray4gcr.com.
"I thank God everyday for having godly parents. Being reared in the Deep South I was taught the southern graces such as responding with "Yes ma'am, no ma'am," and "Yes sir, no sir." I sometimes get funny looks when I use these deeply rooted, culturally gracious terms. Honestly, I can't help it.
"I was also taught to say, 'Thank you,' and 'No, thank you.' When using these words I have received the surprised response of some folks who say, 'Well, thank you for saying "Thank you."'
"I have learned through the years that saying 'Thank you,' often produces the product of gratitude. People just naturally appreciate being thanked, and are generally encouraged to do more.
"In the GCR Task Force report to the SBC executive committee, it was revealed that the task force is recommending the term 'Great Commission Giving' in making reference to the mission gifts from our Southern Baptist Churches for the Cooperative Program and designations to the causes of the Southern Baptist Convention, state conventions and associations.
"The term 'Great Commission Giving' is intended to more clearly define the purpose and destination of our mission gifts. The report makes it abundantly clear that the Cooperative Program is Southern Baptist's primary and preferred means of supporting missions for it supports the whole program of Southern Baptist missions and ministries.
"Designated gifts to SBC, state and association causes are included as Great Commission gifts because they are. While some suggest that using the term 'Great Commission Giving' to apply to both the Cooperative Program and designated gifts, elevates designations and devalues the Cooperative Program, the term was not conceived to do either, but rather to acknowledge, with gratitude, all that our churches are giving to Kingdom causes through our convention.
"Designations include the familiar convention causes of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, World Hunger, State Missions Offerings, Children's Homes Offerings and others. These are convention approved offerings. Included are gifts given to your local association.
"While some have expressed fear that this will encourage SBC entities to solicit funds from our churches, the Business and Finance Plan of the SBC executive committee prohibits such activity from SBC entities that receive support through the Cooperative Program. It is absolutely essential that the boards of trustees of our entities exercise strict control over their entities to see that direct solicitation among our churches does not happen. Such solicitation is a direct threat to the very existence of the Cooperative Program.
"The hour is urgent and the need critical as a clarion call is given to Southern Baptists to recognize the need for Great Commission Giving. The time for unity is here. Let's unite under the theme of 'Great Commission Giving.' Let's do it for our missionaries. Let's do it for our ministries. Let's do it for our Jesus Who commanded that we take the Gospel to the nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
For a BP article about the release of the GCR Task Force progress report, including the full text of the report, go to http://bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=32352