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GCR Task Force offers initial report
Bob Allen, ABP News
February 23, 2010
5 MIN READ TIME

GCR Task Force offers initial report

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

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.