GCRTF members discuss final report
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--No decision has been made whether the final report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force will be presented as a unit or a separate recommendations, the chairman of that group told a press conference May 4.
The decision will be made by the presiding officer, said Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., during a conference call with journalists. Later in the session, SBC President Johnny Hunt said he had yet to consult with the convention's parliamentarian, C. Barry McCarty, about the matter and would weigh his advice strongly.
Also participating in the 45-minute press call were GCR Task Force members Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla.; David S. Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.; and R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
The 8,500-word final report, released May 3 at www.pray4gcr.com, listed seven recommendations the 22-member task force will bring to messengers to the June 15-16 annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. Those recommendations range from a proposed new mission statement to a proposal to shift 1 percent of the SBC operating budget from the convention's Executive Committee to the International Mission Board.
It also included a recommendation to adopt a new category of giving to convention causes called "Great Commission Giving," which would credit churches for missions giving to Southern Baptist causes beyond the traditional Cooperative Program giving channel.
That new category, Mohler said, will help SBC leaders know the full scope of church support for the convention's missions initiatives -- which is currently impossible because the statistics gathered each year from churches only asks for a generic "Total missions giving" number in addition to CP giving.
"Total mission giving" can include anything a church chooses, Mohler said. By adding a Great Commission Giving category, the task force is trying "to define that down to, first of all, whatever is given through the Cooperative Program, and then through a recognized association, state convention or SBC cause. It tightens it into a Southern Baptist world."
Based on information submitted now by congregations in the SBC's Annual Church Profile, it is impossible to know how much of the 'Total missions giving' category is given to SBC causes, Mohler said.
Asked whether national SBC leaders could inspire higher levels of giving by setting a better example themselves, Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., pointed out that many smaller-membership churches give nothing through the Cooperative Program each year, while some larger-membership churches are making a point of giving more.
"We have thousands of Southern Baptist churches that give nothing -- absolutely zero -- on their reports," Hunt said, noting that both his and Floyd's churches have made increases in their giving to CP in recent years. "When we talk about the average [giving to CP] -- I think the average stands at 6 percent -- that average would be much lower if it were not for the large amount the large churches are giving.... A lot of smaller churches are choosing to do nothing; a lot of large churches at this time are trying to give more."
Hunt added that his presidential address at this year's annual meeting would say that if the GCR final report is adopted, "it won't become reality until we do continue to increase. But ... we've got to be careful that if churches do increase by 1 percent, we celebrate that instead of continuing to criticize them for where they are not."
Floyd said he believes the report would cast "a compelling vision" that would motivate larger-membership church leaders "to be more in tune with matters in the SBC and hopefully come on board in even a greater way" with Cooperative Program giving. Motivation, however, comes in celebration, not criticism, he said.
"No one is going to be motivated when they are criticized. It doesn't matter who it is. I'm not pointing any fingers at anyone but no one's motivated like that," Floyd said. "The way to motivate people is to celebrate what they're already doing for the Gospel."
Floyd was asked why the report's "Challenges" section suggests percentage goals for giving at individual, state convention and national levels but not local church levels.
"I believe the ultimate reason for that is that we believe every church is autonomous," Floyd said. "Individuals are commanded in the Holy Scripture relating to giving. Our heart is that every church has to do what they believe they are led of God to do and do as much as they can to advance the Great Commission through the causes of the SBC, mainly through the Cooperative Program."
Mark Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press.