The initial report to the Executive Committee of the SBC from the “Great Commission Task Force seems exceedingly verbose and dangerously pernicious to our Baptist community’, since those, who ignore history, are bound to repeat its mistakes. In its present form the report may guarantee the failure of NAMB rather than improve it.
The Task Force spent such brief time in study it appears that the report is based on preconceived opinions. While its assignment covers the entire SBC organization, the neglect of LifeWay, the Seminaries and the other Commissions in the report is alarming. And expanding the IMB’s scope to include the United States will produce institutional conflict with NAMB, a part of the guaranteed failure, for SBC agencies have been known to engage in “turf war” in the past.”
If, as the Chairman says, our 50,000 Southern Baptist churches are missional, then why create missionary regions in the U. S. A.? Will that not undercut or conflict with state conventions? Would not the direct appointment of home missionaries also conflict with the state conventions as well as local churches? And is this not contrary to his declaration that Baptist headquarters are in the local churches?
And what about our 1,200 associations? There are 900 Associational Directors of Missions who perceive themselves as part of the Southern Baptist Mission program. (You can thank the Home Mission Board for that perception!) The Task Force seems ignorant of “turf wars” that arise between established churches and new missions.
Why does the Chairman demand that the NAMB be accountable to their trustees? Does he not realize that the trustees are the NAMB? The staff has always been accountable to the trustees who report annually to the SBC. What motivates this attack on the NAMB? He attacks the cooperative agreements between the NAMB and the state conventions as concentrating funds in the states. He does not seem to recognize that the multiple demands of local churches and other state institutions do not encourage state missions. The cooperative agreements allow HMB to increase state participation in missions, not just in Sunday school growth and summer camps.
When the Chairman calls for NAMB to be “reinvented and released” he simply echoes similar calls made in the 1950s and 1960s. HMB has does splendid work in responding to those calls. There is now a Department of Metropolitan Missions that focuses on the cities and has been for the past 50 years! Who has this Task Force been talking to? When the NAMB trustees elected a mega church pastor as President in 1980 (?), he curtailed the significant partnership between NAMB and Baptist Associations. When programming shifted from Associations to “flagship churches” church growth and baptisms stemming from NAMB leadership dramatically declined.“ Eloquent preaching may mask more mega-church prejudice.
Perhaps the problems that the Task Force recognizes may not begin with the agencies but with their source. When the Pressler-Patterson fundamentalist revolt began, they recognized that the SBC President appointed the Committee on Committee which in turn appointed the Committee on Boards. To achieve their ambition, criteria for membership shifted from competence in performance to loyalty to a doctrine. For the past 20 years there have been examples after examples of persons being placed on significant boards without qualification for service except allegiance to a theoretical position. If the Task Force wants to improve the agencies of the SBC perhaps they should investigate the fountain head, namely the appointment process.
It is obvious that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the report, only an initial investigation. For example, the fundamentalist controversy has so disillusioned many Southern Baptists that attendance to the annual meetings has dropped significantly. Perhaps the Task Force should investigate the cause for this loss of concern.
Executive Director Emeritus
- Portraying the problem in pious puffery proliferates pernicious practices. A pretense of prophetic preaching prevents public perception of primary perplexities. Pardon this put-on! The italicized sentence says in essence that an exposition of Joel is no excuse for ignorance
- "The Task Force seems not to recognize that “all have sinned,” which includes denominational leaders, mega-church pastors and “yours truly, retired”.
- The above reference to the rise of the controversy and its consequence on the ministry of the SBC has been thoroughly demonstrated by Dr. Mike Stewart, an Associational Director of Missions from California, in his address entitled, “A Brave New World: Facing the Realities of the SBC” presented on January 8, 2006, to a national assembly of Associational Directors of Missions meeting at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.