Sunday, June 28, 2009

Do we need a task force?

There's been much ado about the Southern Baptist Convention's vote to allow Dr. Johnny Hunt to appoint a Great Commission task force to study the SBC and the interactions between all of our levels of structure.

So, what do I think?

Well, I voted for the task force idea because, like Dr. Mohler said in the motion, there's no harm in asking questions about whether or not we're really doing all we can. Any organization should occasionally study itself to determine whether or not the organization is accomplishing its goals. Educational entities are required to do that for accreditation. It won't hurt us to do so.

However, I think we are in serious danger as Southern Baptists if we think that a committee will solve our problems. Why?

First: Many people are heralding this vote as a sign that younger leaders in the SBC are finally having a voice. Really? How so? Younger leaders in the SBC supposedly dislike the levels of structure in the SBC, the politics, the run around, and want to get to work reaching the world. And we think that allowing the President of the SBC to pick a new committee to make recommendations, a year from now, to the other committees that run the various entities of the SBC shows the influence of young leaders? Somewhere I'm missing the connection there. When you consider that any recommendations will be considered next year, and if they are by-law or constitution changes, will have to be considered the next year as well, this isn't a fast process.

Second: There are some legitimate questions about the makeup of the committee formed. There are plenty of representatives from the upper echelon of the SBC life. There aren't many from the bulk of SB churches, the ones that run 100 on Sundays. Now, the first response to that will be "little churches are little because they aren't obeying the Great Commission, so why should they be included." That's an unnecessary broad-brush of all small churches. Churches like Joiner Baptist Church in Joiner, Arkansas, run 100 or less. They give to the CP to fund mission work, they do VBS every summer and connect 100 or more kids with the Gospel. And they do all this with an annual church budget less than, well, any of the full-time pastors or convention employees on the committee. Some churches are small because they don't hold on to evangelism. Other churches are small because times change. Joiner, Arkansas, has less than 1000 people these days, even counting outlying areas. That 3 Southern Baptist churches in the area have nearly 250 in attendance is a ratio of effectiveness in the community that is remarkable. So, will a committee made up of people that don't live their lives, including their church lives, where most Southern Baptists live going to come up with universally helpful recommendations? We'll have to see.

Third, and finally, a committee isn't really the answer. While a committee will be helpful to study convention entities, the hope of Baptist churches remains that we will faithfully preach the Word, and that the people of our churches will go out and tell the world about Jesus. This is our hope. Obedience to Christ. The hope of our convention may be that this task force makes recommendations that enhance our ability to work together to reach the places we aren't reaching now. The hope for our churches is the people of God living in obedience.

Currently, the main justification for the Great Commission task force is that our numbers are down. We baptize fewer, we're short on funding, our influence is waning, and so on. This committee cannot fix that. Only our faithfulness in our everyday lives will fix it.

Ultimately, it is my prayer that we will see a Great Commission explosion in our churches over the next year, so that the committee formed this week can focus on what they can do: recommend structural adjustments that help efficiency. If we, as the people of God, will do what we ought, if we preachers will uphold God's word and preach Christ, then there will be no need for anything else.

Let's do the Great Commission, so the Great Commission committee can do something useful.

Let's do the Great Commission, even more, so that the Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified.


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