August 25 2009 by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor

    The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in many ways operates like a “bad parachurch” organization, a prominent young N.C. Baptist pastor on the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) Task Force said in his blog, following the first meeting of the GCR Task Force.

    “The perception is that local churches should give, send people, and allow the institutions to do the work,” said J.D. Greear, pastor of the Summit Church in Durham.

    All three task force members with N.C. ties — Greear; Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest; and Al Gilbert, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem — deferred questions about the group’s first meeting Aug. 11-12 in Atlanta to Ronnie Floyd, the task force’s chairman.

    But Greear posted a blog about the task force the day after the meeting ended and Akin mentioned the meeting on Twitter, a web site that allows him to send short messages to people who “follow” him.

    Akin called the meeting “excellent” on his Twitter site after the meeting ended and sent a message during the
    meeting just before hearing Al Mohler addressed the task force.

    “I believe it will be a major moment!” Akin said.

    Greear’s post didn’t reveal much about the meeting, but did speak about the group’s role and his take on it. He said it is a “great honor” to serve on the task force.

    “The task force is assigned the task of praying and ‘dreaming’ about what a more efficient, more effective SBC would look like,” Greear said. “How can we realign our agencies, refocus our spending, repent of our wrongdoing, and re-present ourselves to our community?”

    Greear says the he believes that one key for a “Great Commission Resurgence” is for the SBC “to restore the initiative in ministry to the local church.”

    “The local church is the primary institution of the New Testament,” he said.

    Parachurch ministries, denominations and networks exist to facilitate the ministry of the local church, Greear said.

    “Denominations are not biblical institutions,” he said. “That is not to say they are unbiblical institutions … denominational networks are simply functional tools that churches can use to accomplish the mission given to them (as, after all, Christians have historically found they can accomplish more cooperating together than they can acting independently).”

    Greear said good parachurch ministries facilitate the church’s ministry, while bad parachurch organizations take ministry from the local church.

    “Bad parachurch says, ‘Give us money and people and we’ll do ministry for you,’” he said. “In my opinion, the SBC has, in many places, descended into a ‘bad parachurch’ model.”

    Greear said younger pastors “want to use cooperative networks to plant churches, but they don’t want the networks to do the work for them.”

    “Furthermore, they question whether or not giving money to the Convention is the best use of their resources,” he said. “They see what they believe to be a great deal of bureaucracy, inefficiency, and activity in the Convention not related to church planting.”

    Most younger pastors will not give to the SBC out of a sense of loyalty, Greear said.

    “While some of us are young, arrogant, and naïve, we also have the understanding that we must be more committed to the Great Commission than we are the Convention,” he said. “If the SBC is an efficient tool in fulfilling that commission, we will use it. If it is not, most younger pastors will discard it.”

    Greear said many younger pastors will support seminaries and other efforts to train and produce church planters, but they want those institutions to be partners, not take over the work.

    “Part of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force’s assignment is to address the issue of how younger pastors can be brought back in,” he said. “How can we align the Convention so that local Baptist churches see the SBC as an effective partner for accomplishing their commission?”

    8/25/2009 8:21:00 AM by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor | with 3 comments




Comments
Norman
One thing to remember in the debate is that Conventions are creations of the churches. They did not spring up out of nothing and usurp any authority from churches. Ministries conducted by Convention staffs are those urged, commissioned and funded by churches, including the seminary educations of many who suddenly question the value of Convention ministries.
8/27/2009 9:26:19 AM

Ned L. Mathews
J. D. Greear's blog is helpful in moving the discussion forward . As to identifying the SBC with the parachurch movement, it is important to remember the origin of the SBC in 1845. It was formed not so much to be a denomination but a convention of churches of "like faith and order" which could do more for the advancement of the gospel together than as separate entities. That is why they were deemed "messengers," not delegates. Thus they "convened" regularly to encourage one another and report on the work of God. Maybe we could return to something like that original vision.
8/25/2009 11:14:17 PM

Brent Hobbs
I agree with J. D. Greear.
8/25/2009 7:11:56 PM

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