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Selflessness SBC’s only hope, Page says
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
June 15, 2011
5 MIN READ TIME

Selflessness SBC’s only hope, Page says

Selflessness SBC’s only hope, Page says
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
June 15, 2011

PHOENIX — If Southern Baptists are going to fulfill their

God-given mission in a lost world, they must deal with fragmentation and

self-centeredness and recommit themselves to gratitude, trust, unified ministry

and honesty, messengers were told during the opening session of the Southern

Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting June 14.

“We have been headed in the wrong direction, in several ways,” said Frank Page,

SBC Executive Committee (EC) president, during the EC’s report to the

convention. “Our convention is fracturing into various groups, some

theological, most methodological. Sometimes there is an honest difference of

opinion, but often there is self-centeredness that frequently mirrors our own

culture.

“Christ-like selflessness is our only hope.”

Photo by Van Payne

Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, gives the Executive Committee report during the morning session June 14 of the two-day Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Ariz.

While many have lamented a decline in giving through the SBC’s Cooperative

Program missions channel, Page cited statistics that showed total mission

expenditures in Southern Baptist churches also have declined over the past 20

years. In 1989, Southern Baptist congregations allocated 16.5 percent of their

total receipts to missions, but by 2009 that had declined to 12.32 percent.

“Our cooperating churches have not just shifted their Cooperative Program

dollars away from the Cooperative Program to other missions…,” Page said. “What

this means is that we have been keeping more of our dollars at home. While the

Cooperative Program certainly has taken its hit, it is our total mission giving

that is the real victim.”

As CEO of the Executive Committee, Page said he is working to rebuild trust by

reducing bureaucracy. EC staff has been reduced by 19 percent and the budget

has been cut 13.58 percent, Page said. The budget being presented to messengers

during the annual meeting allocates 95 percent of Cooperative Program dollars

to international missions, North American church planting and evangelism and

seminary education, Page said.

As a show of unity and support for cooperative missions, Page called to the

platform a large group of people — the 12 heads of Southern Baptist national

entities, executives of Baptist state conventions and a number of ethnic

fellowship presidents who had signed a document titled “Affirmation of Unity

and Cooperation.”

That document includes five core pledges:

  • “We pledge to maintain a relationship of mutual trust, behaving ourselves

    trustworthily before one another and trusting one another as brothers and

    sisters indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. (Ephesians 4:20- 32; Philippians

    4:8; 2 Peter 1:3-8)

  • “We pledge to attribute the highest motives to those engaged in local church

    ministries and those engaged in denominational service in any level of

    Convention life — motives that originate within hearts truly desiring to serve

    the Lord Jesus Christ, whom we also serve. (1 Samuel 2:3; Matthew 7:1-5; 1

    Corinthians 4:1-5)

  • “We pledge to affirm the value of cooperative ministry as the most effective

    and efficient means of reaching a lost world with the message of the Gospel.

    (Acts 9:31; 1 Corinthians 16:1-23; Psalm 68:11; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

  • “We pledge to embrace our brothers and sisters of every ethnicity, race, and

    language as equal partners in our collective ministries to engage all people

    groups with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 16:25-27;

    Revelation 7:9)

  • “We pledge to continue to honor and affirm proportional giving through the

    Cooperative Program as the most effective means of mobilizing our churches and

    extending our outreach as Southern Baptists, enabling us to work together to

    evangelize the lost people of our world locally, regionally, nationally, and

    internationally. (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, 20:20-21; Romans 10:14-17; 2

    Corinthians 8:1-13; 9:1-15)”

For Southern Baptists to be an effective mission force in a lost world,

however, grassroots leadership and rank-and-file church members also must renew

their commitments to unity and cooperation, Page said.

“As these SBC leaders stand with me, I want you the messengers to understand

these affirmations are not only for those standing with me,” Page said. “You

are the foundational base of any mission enterprise. Our unified ministry is

effective because you make it so — or you don’t. Through the Cooperative

Program, we can accomplish more than we could ever do alone.”

Referring to the account of four men who brought a hurting friend to Jesus for

healing in Mark 2, Page challenged Southern Baptists to commit themselves to

working together to help a hurting people at home and abroad.

“Let’s covenant together to reverse the declines in baptisms and mission giving

and Cooperative Program support for the sake of carrying the gospel of our Lord

Jesus Christ,” Page declared. “Let’s bring that hurting one to the One who can

minister to the physical but, most of all, the spiritual needs.”

The real problem in Southern Baptist life is spiritual, not logistical, Page

added.

“We spent a great deal of time and energy in the last two years dealing with

issues from the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force,” Page said. “I was a

member of that task force. My fear from the beginning was that if we were not

careful, we would spend a great deal of time with logistical issues, when the

bottom-line problem before us is not logistical as much as it is spiritual.

“Our great need is a heaven-sent revival that begins in our own hearts,” Page

said. “Unless and until that happens, there will be no increase in baptisms and

missions support. So, in all honesty, I stand before you today and tell you

that what we need is a Holy Ghost revival. God, may it be so.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is senior writer and assistant editor for Baptist Press.)