Hunt, Rankin urge Baptists to reprioritize
    May 22 2009 by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press

    DENVER — After a vote by International Mission Board (IMB) trustees to suspend some short-term appointments and limit the number of new missionaries, Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt told trustees it’s time “to take the gloves off.”

    “We need to take the gloves off in Jesus’ name and tell the truth so the people will know,” Hunt said as he spoke at the IMB’s trustee meeting May 20.

    Lack of funds is forcing the IMB to limit the number of missionaries it can send to the field.

    “I think Southern Baptists are going to say there are some things we can cut, but sending missionaries is not one of them,” said Hunt, pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church in Woodstock. “That is not an option.

    “I personally believe that with all my heart that the people of God will rise to the occasion.”

    IMB President Jerry Rankin, in his report to trustees, gave unequivocal endorsement to the concept of a Great Commission Resurgence as advocated by Hunt. Rankin described the health and vitality of Southern Baptist churches and the future effectiveness of the denomination as dependent on reclaiming the focus for which the Southern Baptist Convention was formed.

    Rankin also challenged Southern Baptists to retool “outdated” denominational formulas to reach a lost world for Christ.

    “God has blessed Southern Baptists in numbers and resources, and we will stand accountable before God for whether we use those resources to serve our own needs, church programs and denominational entities or fulfill our mission task to reach a lost world,” Rankin said.


    IMB photo by Bill Bangham

    In light of a scale-back in missionary appointments, SBC President Johnny Hunt tells International Mission Board trustees, “I think Southern Baptists are going to say there are some things we can cut, but sending missionaries is not one of them.” 

    With 95 percent of the world’s population living outside the borders of the United States, Rankin said the percentage of Cooperative Program funds being channeled toward overseas missions is not enough. In order for Southern Baptists to adjust to a changing world, he said the percentage needs to be increased.

    In 2007-2008, Southern Baptists gave $11.1 billion in offerings with $9 billion undesignated. Out of the undesignated gifts, churches forwarded $548,205,099 through the Cooperative Program, with $343,819,507 for state missions and $204,385,592 for SBC national causes. Of the amount forwarded for SBC national causes, the IMB received 50 percent, or about $102 million, which amounts to just over 1.13 percent of undesignated funds contributed to local congregations.

    The IMB receives 100 percent of Lottie Moon Christmas Offering gifts which amounted to $150 million for 2007-2008. Combined with the IMB’s CP allocation, the $252 million in contributions to cooperative international missions were less than 2.3 percent of total gifts to SBC churches.

    “The number of missionaries we can support is totally contingent on the voluntary giving of Southern Baptists and determined by the allocation of Cooperative Program resources as determined by state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention,” Rankin said.

    “Although we are driven by a vision to reach a lost world ... we must operate within available resources.”

    Rankin acknowledged that the problem begins with personal stewardship; the number of Southern Baptists who tithe regularly is diminishing.

    Yet the opportunity to reach a lost world has never been greater, Rankin said.

    Last year’s IMB Annual Statistical Report showed that 565,967 people had been baptized and 26,970 churches started overseas through IMB missionaries working with Baptist nationals.

    “God is using global events to provide unprecedented opportunities for global advance,” Rankin said. “The harvest is accelerating, unreached people groups are being engaged as never before, but we are on the verge of forfeiting the opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission.”

    If the IMB doesn’t send those who have a passion for missions, Rankin said many of them will find other channels for service; many of them will be forced to raise their own support and churches will begin diverting resources to support those called from their congregations.

    “They will be forced to be obedient to God’s call by going independently,” Rankin said. “The Cooperative Program will suffer as a result.

    “We need to recognize that we must get on board with God’s agenda of going into all the world and making disciples of all nations.”

    (EDITOR’S NOTE — Hendricks is a writer with the International Mission Board.)


    Hunt’s letter to the Southern Baptist Convention calling for a renewed commitment to the Great Commission is available at greatcommissionresurgence.com. To see a chart on how Cooperative Program funds are channeled, go to imb.org/main/give/default.asp.

    5/22/2009 5:47:00 AM by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press | with 1 comments




Comments
Gene Scarborough
I am amazed at the positions taken in recent weeks by leaders of the [quote][/quote]Conservative Ressurgence.[quote][/quote] To a one they are expressing disdain for the lack of funds and lack of a clear vision on missions. What is going on???

Since 1979 there has been an exclusionary attitude filled with hatred and "do it my way or the highway" rhetoric. Yet they are wondering why giving is down and zeal for missions is missing!

[b][/b]The answer is simple:[b][/b] you have so besmerched the name of [quote][/quote]Baptist[quote][/quote] that few in the general public have any respect for us when we call ouselves [quote][/quote]Christian.[quote][/quote] Even the unbelievers know the difference between love and hate and there is too much hate all arounding politics, society, and churches to choose a hate-filled bunch wich which to affiliate.

A new Baptist church in Jacksonville, FLA, recently paid big money to a consulting firm as to what name they should choose. The result was that [quote][/quote]Baptist[quote][/quote] not be used in the title because it was high on the list of what community citizens disrespected. What a change from the 50's and 60's when we were growing astronomically!

Johnny Hunt pastors a large church just north of the Noonday communnity where I served in the 70's. He went as pastor of the Woodstock First Baptist Church and immediately initiated a split and he became pastor of the new church with a [quote][/quote]King Pastor[quote][/quote] concept. He ran over the existing church leadership in his effort to have a great church in north metro Atlanta. In that environment, even an old church cannot help but grow. There was no real need for such an agitated and angry approach.

I imagine his church is like all other mega-churches. There is little given to outside causes. Any new church started is a [quote][/quote]satellite[quote][/quote] congregation with money and people counted in the mother church's stats. There is no idea of 50 years ago that the new church should be birthed and then let go to [quote][/quote]do it's own Baptist thing as God leads.[quote][/quote] Control and selfishness is the falacy of Baptists today--it is just that simple!

Storefront church are growing everywhere because the average person does not care to be dictated to for long from the mega-church pulpit. They may enjoy the big show for a while, but after a while they start asking, [quote][/quote][b][/b]Do I really count here and will the Preacher ever visit me if I'm not a prominent member of this big church?[quote][/quote][b][/b]

The early church grew based on an attitude of servanthood and love. If the basics are ignored in favor of earthly glory, people get tired really quick and run from the [quote][/quote]Baptist[quote][/quote] title. We just need a resurgence of love and humility. The words of current SBC leadership are empty and miss the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus--the great servant to mankind.
5/25/2009 4:52:45 PM

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