Cornerstone Baptist Church, 4930 Old Lohman Rd., Jefferson City, Missouri, 65109

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

SBC to Debate "Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report" at 1:45 PM CT

The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report will be presented to the Southern Baptist Convention this afternoon at 1:45 PM CT. It is scheduled to continue until 3:30 - so nearly two hours has been allocated - an unheard of amount of time at an SBC session.

You can watch live video of that session of the convention, and all the others by going here.

The decision of the convention on whether to adopt the recommendations in the report is significant. The report would set up a whole new category of giving as "Great Commission Giving," instead of the focusing solely on "Cooperative Program" giving. Currently, giving by churches to the "Cooperative Program" of the SBC is just that - giving to the "Cooperative Program." This is how Southern Baptists determined to work together to reach the world for Jesus Christ back in 1925. It has served us very well. It has served the Gospel very well! I say that as someone who has seen the Cooperative Program both as a pastor and giver, and also as one who served as a Southern Baptist missionary through the International Mission Board for eight years. I was a receiver of CP funds all those years, and saw how God is using the Cooperative Program to literally go to the ends of the earth with the Gospel.

It is significant that Dr. Morris Chapman - current Executive Director of the Southern Baptist Convention - has very publicly stated his opposition to this recommendation, because he believes it will seriously harm the Cooperative Program. Would he do that if he did not honestly believe it to be dangerous? I'm sure Dr. Chapman found it very difficult to oppose such a high profile report, and the wishes of SBC President Dr. Johnny Hunt and others who support it. But if you read his concerns, they make a great deal of sense to me. One thing that jumped out at me about what Chapman wrote is that this recommendation will result in a greater emphasis being given to "designated giving" rather than "cooperative giving":
The emphasis of "Great Commission Giving" is to "encourage" designated giving in order that more recognition can be given to the pastors and churches who choose to give more designated gifts than Cooperative Program gifts. . . .

But the Task Force Report speaks as if somehow we need to recognize everything a church spends on "missions" by not only listing "Cooperative Program" giving, but creating a new category that would count CP giving and anything else a church considers to be missions giving. Therefore, in this new category, a church that actually gives 1% of its budget to the Cooperative Program, but spends another 8% on various kinds of missions efforts would be considered to have given 9% to "Great Commission" giving.

I am not at all against other missions efforts. Every church should do as God leads them. But the issue is what this will do to the strength and primary place of the Cooperative Program in Southern Baptist life.  At Cornerstone, we give 10% to the Cooperative Program every single month. We do that because we want to be a part of reaching the entire world for Christ. Yes, we spend money on other missions efforts - but that does not accomplish what giving to the Cooperative Program accomplishes! Our CP giving is supporting a unified effort to take the Gospel to our state, our nation, and the world. This need to work together and give together to the Cooperative Program in order to accomplish the Great Commission has held Southern Baptists together and accomplished more for the Kingdom of God than we could have ever done separately.

My concern is that the adoption of this recommendation will remove the Cooperative Program as the centerpiece of Southern Baptist Missions Efforts, and will be a signal to churches that sacrificial giving to CP is no longer considered of the utmost importance. I see no way in the world this will strengthen the Cooperative Program, and will instead lead to an erosion of support for it.

Unfortunately, many who are pushing for the adoption of this report are couching their support in language that would say opposition to it is opposition to the "Great Commission." They say it as if devotion to the Cooperative Program is NOT devotion to the Great Commission. But that is exactly what it is. A church that sacrificially and faithfully supports the Cooperative Program IS supporting the very tool that God has used to take the Gospel to every nation on earth. I am praying for wisdom, that messengers today will do what God desires, and that we will come out of this as a denomination, more unified than ever around the Cooperative Program as the best way possible to accomplish the "Great Commission."