GCRTF issues 'draft' final report; substance of changes from progress report varies
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--With the substance of changes varying for each respective component of its February progress report, the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force issued a "draft" final report, posted May 3 at www.pray4gcr.com, containing seven recommendations it plans to present to messengers at the SBC annual meeting in Orlando, June 15-16.
-- Stating that "our churches need a new missional vision," the task force calls for the Southern Baptist Convention "to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations," identical to its progress report.
Likewise, the GCRTF outlined the same values from before (Christ-likeness, truth, unity, relationships, trust, future, local church and kingdom). However, they developed them as a separate component instead of an element of the vision.
Both the mission and values are presented as separate recommendations (#1 and #2).
-- The GCRTF final report also calls for "a new level of sacrificial giving" among Southern Baptists" and to "celebrate all giving to our common work" by calling "all monies channeled through the causes of the Southern Baptist Convention, the state conventions, and associations as Great Commission Giving." This recommendation repeats the emphasis of the task force's progress report of Feb. 22 to create new nomenclature that would apply equally to contributions whether given through the Cooperative Program for the whole of SBC work or by designated donations to individual ministries.
A new element added to the concept of "Great Commission Giving" is that the task force asks Southern Baptists to "adopt goals of giving no less than $200-million annually though the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and $100-million annually through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions by 2015."
As a frame of reference, the latest reports available for both mission boards showed: IMB received $141 million of a stated 2008 goal of $170 million -- a $175 million goal was set for 2009 (no report yet) and the 2010 goal has not been announced; NAMB received $56.5 million of a stated 2009 goal of $65 million and has set a 2010 goal of $70 million.
The task force did not set a Cooperative Program giving goal.
The task force's recommendation "3" asks for "the adoption of the language and structure of Great Commission Giving" and that the trustees of the respective mission boards adopt the offering goals "outlined in this report."
-- The task force repeats a call for phasing out cooperative agreements between the North American Mission Board and state Baptist conventions. However, departing from its progress report, the GCRTF extends its recommended timeline for making the change from four years to seven years.
NAMB has stated the agreements would affect directly $51 million, but about $62 million total in all that NAMB contributes to state work, and that more than three-fourths of all the money involved (about $48 million) would be taken from Canada and 36 "pioneer states" -- some have large populations and even contain several top 10 global urban centers, but all are referred to as "pioneer" because of the relatively few SBC churches in each.
The GRCTF expressed an expectation that NAMB more directly control this retained money for "reaching the United States and Canada with the Gospel and planting Gospel churches."
The report calls for "liberating" and "reinvention" of NAMB, but does not repeat an earlier recommendation that NAMB create seven regional centers "responsible for the three main emphases of the board" (which in effect would have displaced operations at Alpharetta). However, recommendation "4" requests the "Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Committee" to consider "any revision" to NAMB's ministry assignment "that may be necessary in order to accomplish the redirection of NAMB" and that NAMB's trustees consider the report in "all matters under their purview."
-- Stating that the U.S. has as many as "586 unreached and underserved people groups," the task force generally followed its earlier view that the International Mission Board should be unleashed "upon American soil" to reach these non-English speaking people. The GCRTF affirmed that NAMB "retains the leadership mission of reaching North America with the Gospel," but asks in recommendation "5" for the removal of "any geographical limitation" on the IMB's mission "to reach unreached and underserved people groups wherever they are found."
-- The task force asks in recommendation "6" that the SBC's Executive Committee "consider working with the leadership of the state conventions in developing a comprehensive program of Cooperative Program promotion and stewardship education" -- an assignment the SBC EC already performs. The Executive Committee received the assignment for Cooperative Program promotion in 1995 and in 2006 messengers transferred stewardship education from LifeWay to the SBC Executive Committee.
The recommendation includes the wording that the move is to happen "in alignment with this report" which apparently points back to a statement in the report that "state conventions must take the lead in both CP promotion and stewardship education."
In its earlier rendition, the GCRTF said this move was needed because "the Great Commission Resurgence needs Great Commission partners" and pushed for taking $2 million from the SBC Executive Committee and adding it to the IMB's budget as a "symbolic and substantial" act. This amount represents about a third of the Executive Committee's CP allocation.
-- Recommendation "7" does not mention CP promotion or stewardship education, but asks messengers to the 2010 annual meeting to request the Executive Committee to "increase the percentage allocated to the International Mission Board to 51 percent by decreasing the Executive Committee's percentage of the SBC Allocation Budget by 1 percent" -- meaning 1 percentage point of the 3.4 percentage points allocated to the SBC Operating Budget/Facilitating Ministries. This move essentially removes funding for the Executive Committee to complete the assignment stated in recommendation "6."
This recommendation is framed around the idea of breaking what has been described as a 50 percent barrier for CP giving to the International Mission Board. Currently IMB receives half of all Cooperative Program receipts for national causes. The task force said "While this is a matter of genuine and understandable denominational pride, it has become too comfortable. It is time to increase that percentage above 50 percent."
The SBC Allocation Budget distributes Cooperative Program gifts according to the following percentages:
-- 50 percent to IMB
-- 22.79 to NAMB
-- 22.16 for theological education (21.92 percent is divided among the six seminaries according to full time enrollment, and 0.24 percent supports the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives)
-- 3.4 percent for the SBC Operating Budget/Facilitating Ministries
-- 1.65 percent to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Both the progress report (updated with corrected NAMB data) and the final report may be viewed at www.pray4gcr.com.
Compiled by Baptist Press Executive Editor Will Hall.