Friday, March 12, 2010

An Alternative GCR Plan?

I would be very interested in reading thoughts from the Directors of Missions, especially those in the newer convention areas, about an alternative GCR (Great Commission Resurgence) plan.

Whether it influenced the Task Force or not, it would generate new ideas that would end up being used somewhere somehow.

I have the same concerns as the guys I’ve been reading on the NoBA site. We don’t need restructuring for its own sake.

I think we all agree that we need a resurgence in evangelism (with new approaches to evangelizing effectively in our generation – and for resourcing our churches) and we would all love to see more missions dollars getting to foreign countries. We all want to see the gospel spread and more churches planted in the “pioneer areas” (what’s the new term for that?). I’ve given some thoughts from my Bible belt perspective, but I would really love to hear what you guys would suggest.

I would like to see an alternate plan, offered not in a spirit of divisiveness, of course, but constructively. And if there were one, I think it would influence the thinking of the convention.

Derek Gentle, Pastor
Tallassee Baptist Church
Tallassee, AL

2008 Moderator and current Pastor's Conference President
Elmore Baptist Association, AL


Glen Land said...

There are several aspects of the report that I would like to support. That is to say, I think that the task force perceived some of the weaknesses in the current system. Unfortunately many of their suggested solutions reflect a poor understanding of both the history of Southern Baptist work in the new convention areas as well as a lack of meaningful first-hand experience in those areas. This should hardly be surprising when you examine the make up of the group. The task force is heavy on pastors of big Southern churches (or their wives). There are three educators but none of them are missiologists—they are all senior administrators. There are two state execs but both are in the South. The one person connected to NAMB is a senior administrator who has never served as a field missionary. Only two people on the task force, both pastors, currently serve in new convention areas. And there is only one DOM represented. And although Tom Biles has served for many years as the Director of Missions for Tampa Bay, to his credit he brings many decades of excellent hands-on mission experience in Minnesota and Wisconsin. That’s one. Out of 23 people on the GCR Task Force there is not even a single token appointee who currently serves as a field missionary or missions strategist outside the South. Nor was there a single person connected to IMB represented.

But these are capable people who see that something must change if the SBC is to avoid a continued decline into irrelevancy. They have identified some key issues. We are not reaching the big urban areas. We have barely scratched the surface in the handful of mega cities where a disproportionate percentage of Americans live. We are not planting enough churches to maintain our current percentage of the US population. And we are loosing the race to reach language groups. The famed 10-40 Window has been torn loose from its geographical moorings. The people of the Window are now our neighbors. And many of them represent cultures so foreign to our experience that we desperately need the expertise of our IMB strategy coordinators to help us reach these new neighbors.

The need to address these critical issues is reflected in the report. But the members’ lack of hands-on mission experience in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and the West severely handicapped their ability to address this issues in appropriate ways—ways that demonstrate an appreciation for the strengths as well as the weakness of the system currently in place.

I wholeheartedly endorse the call to make reaching the big urban centers a top priority. The Apostle Paul modeled a similar urban bias. Reach those big cities and you will reach the continent. Money—lots of money—is one key component. But there is another requirement that is even more important. We must begin to develop urban missionaries. These are people who are skilled in cross-cultural missions and who have a real love for the city. Such people are rare in the SBC today. They always have been. We still cling to our denomination’s rural roots. Developing such missionaries will demand at least a generation of concerted effort.

Church planting is definitely the key to reversing the denomination’s decline in baptisms. That is a much a need in many areas of the South as it is in the North and West. And that church planting must be wed to serious missions and stewardship education if we are to have the financial resources to work in the high-cost urban centers.

Finally I have advocated for years that IMB strategy coordinators be allowed to consider members of their given people groups in the US as part of their responsibility. This will help both our domestic and our foreign mission enterprises. The key to reaching Mogadishu may well be living in Minneapolis. But such changes must be done with the active involvement of our state and association partners and must not diminish the strategy coordinator’s priority of reaching those people groups abroad.

Glen Land
Appleton, WI

Anonymous said...

I've just got a second, but I'll try to post more later. The Main problem we have in our communication. We don't have enough of it. NAMB already has strategic Focus cities. The problem with Big churches is that they rarely are involved on the local associational level. Often they volunteer their big buildings for large events past that not a lot. All the stuff on NAMB was bull. We need a new president and you don't tie his hands before it happens. I believe that they already have the IMB president in mind thus all the love from the Task Force. NAMB needs a new president and that is their problem. I agree we need more evangelism in our churches. All I saw was a bunch of fluff. I hate sounding like this these Task force guys are quality guys don't get me wrong, but did we put them together to make budget cuts?