UPDATE: ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Twenty-five Southern Baptists from a broad cross-section of the denomination, including two from North Carolina, will comprise the new North American Great Commission Task Force set to meet for the first time June 23 prior to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Louisville, Ky.
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., Baptist State Convention executive director-treasurer, and Alvin Reid, professor of evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, have agreed to serve on the task force, which anticipates action coming out of the annual SBC meeting in Louisville where Presdient Johnny Hunt is expected to name a “Great Commission Resurgence” study committee.
Commissioned by North American Mission Board (NAMB) President Geoff Hammond, the task force is designed to dovetail with the Great Commission Resurgence declaration issued by Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt, who will be kept apprised of the group’s progress. To date, more than 3,700 Baptists have signed Hunt’s call for a return to the Great Commission.
“The North American Mission Board joins with our SBC president in this focus and takes this call seriously,” Hammond said. “NAMB is called and is in the unique position to mobilize this convention in a Great Commission resurgence.”
The task force will meet for the first time in an open-to-the-public “meet and greet” session from 5-6 p.m. Tuesday in Room B110 in the Kentucky Exposition Center’s south wing. Hunt and Hammond are slated to attend.
Hammond has appointed one of his senior associates at NAMB, Steve Reid in Alpharetta, Ga., and Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research in Nashville, to convene and co-facilitate the task force. The initial “working” meeting of the task force will take place in late July in Atlanta, according to Reid.
Following six scheduled meetings during 2009-10 — both face-to-face and via the Internet — the task force has been charged by Hammond with drafting a final report of its findings which Hammond will unveil at the 2010 annual SBC meeting in Orlando, Fla.
“The essence of the task force will be to look at SBC activities and actions from both a biblical and missiological standpoint,” Reid said. “Everybody will be coming together to take a fresh look at how Southern Baptists should look at the Great Commission in times such as these.
“North America has changed,” Reid said. “Everyone knows that intellectually. But in terms of how we do church and approach communities and peoples, I’m not sure that fact has hit home. Southern Baptists in the United States understand and associate the Great Commission with overseas missions. However, North America itself is now a mission field, and this task force will re-focus on the homeland of North America as the mission field it is,” Reid said.
Reid said one of the things Hammond — now in his third year as NAMB president — has emphasized is North America as a mission field and the urgency with which it must be reached for Christ.
“I am grateful Dr. Hammond has asked me to co-facilitate the North American Great Commission Task Force, along with Ed Stetzer,” Reid said. “Dr. Hammond’s commitment to the Great Commission is evidenced by his desire to see a task force of this nature come together to work on activities and actions that will help Southern Baptists impact North America for Christ.”
Reid said the task force represents people across Southern Baptist life and leadership. “We were very intentional in putting this diverse group of folks together.”
Task force co-facilitator Ed Stetzer said, “Southern Baptists stand at an historic crossroads and need to make decisions on whether we will continue in decline or move forward with a renewed focus and passion on the Great Commission.
“I am thrilled with Dr. Hammond and Steve Reid in co-facilitating this task force so that we can assist NAMB in fulfilling its mission in its sphere of influence to assist churches and our convention in engaging in the Great Commission,” Stetzer said.
Larry Wynn, pastor of 12,000-member Atlanta-area Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula and one of the members of the new task force, said, “The establishment of the North American Great Commission Task Force is very encouraging to me. It is an honor to serve with the other members of this team.
“The Great Commission is what Southern Baptists are about. It is very important that we take seriously Christ’s command to take the gospel to the world. I believe as we pray together, dream together and take bold steps together, this team can be used of God to help all of us be more effective in fulfilling the Great Commission in the future,” Wynn said.
To date, the 25 Southern Baptists who have agreed to serve on the North American Great Commission Task Force are:
Hollifield and Reid; D.D. Alexander, pastor of Holy Tabernacle of God, Los Angeles; D. Ray Davis, International Mission Board, Richmond, Va.; Steve Davis, executive director, State Convention of Baptists in Indiana; Bob Dean, director of missions, Dallas, Texas; Mark Edlund, executive director, Colorado Baptist General Convention; Thomas Hammond, North American Mission Board, Alpharetta, Ga.; David Hankins, executive director, Louisiana Baptist Convention; Joe Hernandez, North American Mission Board, Alpharetta, Ga.; Van Kicklighter, North American Mission Board, Alpharetta, Ga.; Chuck Lawless, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.; Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans; Kaye Miller, president of Woman’s Missionary Union, Birmingham, Ala.; Michael Pigg, president of the National African American Fellowship and pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga.; Terry Robertson, executive director, Baptist Convention of New York; Charles Roesel, First Baptist Church, Leesburg, Fla.; Danny Sanchez, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas; Van Sanders, North American Mission Board, Alpharetta, Ga.; Gus Suarez, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo.; Phil Taylor, director of missions, Cleveland, Tenn.; David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church, Orlando, Fla.; Ken Weathersby, North American Mission Board, Alpharetta, Ga.; Don Wilton, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C.; and Wynn.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)