GCR Task Force offers initial report
    February 23 2010 by Bob Allen, ABP News

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A task force studying ways to make the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) more effective recommended greater flexibility and cooperation among state and national entities in its initial progress report to the SBC Executive Committee Feb. 22.

    Photo by Bob Allen/Associated Baptist Press

    Task force chairman Ronnie Floyd, right, confers with SBC President Johnny Hunt during a press conference Feb. 22.

    Task force chairman Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark., said the group will meet at least once more before releasing a final report May 3 to be presented at the SBC annual meeting June 15-16 in Orlando, Fla.

    While any structural changes suggested in the report would fall under purview of boards of trustees of various SBC entities, the task force proposed six specific components of a vision for Southern Baptists to champion in the future.

    The first calls for a “new and healthy culture” that provides local Southern Baptist churches with a “missional vision” to present the gospel and make disciples in North America and around the globe.

    “Our present culture represents First Corinthians 3 much more than First Corinthians 13,” Floyd said. “Envy, strife and division need to become unacceptable. Instead, let this world know us by the depths of our love for Jesus, the gospel and one another.”

    The second component calls for the convention’s North American Mission Board (NAMB) to be “reinvented and released” to prioritize church planting in America among under-served people groups.

    To do that, Floyd said, Southern Baptists must address “one of the stark realities” of the way the Convention currently functions. Two thirds of Cooperative Program dollars are spent among one third of the population that lives in the Bible Belt, while one third of the unified budget goes to the two thirds of Americans living in states in the West and Northeast with a much smaller Southern Baptist presence.

    The task force recommends phasing out over four years cooperative agreements with Baptist state conventions through which NAMB shares the cost of certain missions personnel who are on state convention staffs. Floyd said ending the agreements would give NAMB freedom to budget for a national strategy instead of committing the bulk of its funds to established Baptist state conventions in the South.

    Photo by Joe Westbury/The Christian Index

    Milton A. Hollifield Jr., left, executive director/treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and GCR Task Force member J.D. Greear, center, pastor of The Summit in Durham, visit with Midwestern Seminary President Phil Roberts following the GCR Task Force presentation Feb. 22.

    At the same time, Floyd said, globalization has flattened the world so that people groups engaged by highly trained International Mission Board missionaries are also found on American soil. A third component would allow the IMB to reach “unreached and under-served people groups without regard to any geographic limitations.”

    Task force members said the strategy would create “a new synergy” between the North American and International mission boards.

    “I think in Southern Baptist life it’s time for all hands on deck,” task force member Robert White told reporters. “If we can’t work together we need to learn how to work together.” The fourth component recommended by the task force is to move ministry assignments for promotion of the Cooperative Program and stewardship education from the SBC Executive Committee, which assumed them in a denominational restructuring in 1997, to the Baptist state conventions, which were understood to be primarily responsible for promoting and gathering funds for the unified budget when the plan was developed in the 1920s.

    A fifth component reaffirms the Cooperative Program as the “central means” for supporting work of the convention, but also proposes a new nomenclature of “Great Commission Giving” for gifts designated to the Southern Baptist Convention, a state convention or local association instead of through the unified budget.

    The final component calls for increasing the International Mission Board’s Cooperative Program allocation in the 2010-2011 budget by one percentage point to 51 percent, a both “symbolic and substantial” change that for the first time in history would mean that more than one half of money collected through the CP goes to international missions.

    Viewing distribution of the Cooperative Program as a pie chart, that would require reducing spending to other ministries by 1 percent. The task force said moving assignments for Cooperative Program promotion and stewardship education from the Executive Committee to state conventions should free up at least 1 percent of “facilitating ministries” that can then be reallocated to international missions. Floyd acknowledged the realignment would blur boundaries delineated in program assignments for various SBC entities developed over the years.

    “Either we can sit back and play it safe with lines so clearly drawn you get your hand spanked if you cross over, or we can say: ‘Hey, let’s roll up our sleeves for the gospel. There’s plenty of lost people. Let’s go, and let’s make a difference,’” Floyd said.
    2/23/2010 1:53:00 AM by Bob Allen, ABP News | with 0 comments

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