I prayerfully watched with great anticipation and interest yesterday from my office as the GCR recommendations were discussed, debated and finally approved by a reported overwhelming majority. Since yesterday I have taken some time to reflect on what I was able to see on video, read about on Twitter, and discuss with a person I trust who was present at the meeting. From my limited view of the happenings on the ground and taking into consideration all that I have watched, read and discussed in the months leading up to the vote, here are a few of my thoughts from the day after the GCR vote.
- It was good to see spirited and lively debate about the Great Commission. I know I am not the first to say it, but while many partnerships/denominations bicker over the likes of whether homosexuals should hold biblical offices or whether homosexuality is even a sin, our cooperation of local churches is passionately debating how we can best obey our Lord and reach the nations with the gospel. I wish we would give this much attention to the advancement of the gospel every year. If we did I might go to my first convention.
- I am thankful that most of what I observed was cordial and Christ-like. Were there some missteps in procedure? Yes. Were there some people who did not articulate their views well? Yes. Were there some people who were misunderstood? Yes. Such is the nature of trying to communicate, especially about an emotional topic. But all-in-all I was pleased with what I saw from those who spoke from the platform and the floor.
- Some comments were unhelpful and even wrong. I was very disappointed with some of what was coming across on Twitter by way of the GCR hash tag feed. One of the reasons I cringe when I think about these conventions is that I know the world will be watching through various media and social media outlets. I believe there is much good that can come from healthy debate, but unfortunately what often gets reported and magnified is what makes the best news, and it seems to me that unless it is “Positive and Encouraging; K-Love”, bad (negative) news is the best news to report. It was brought to the attention of those who were following what was happening by way of Twitter that the USA Today was tweeting out the live feed. Unfortunately, some of the tweets that were going out were less than edifying. Here are two examples. Example one: “At biz @ SBC n Orlando. When the mics open, weirdos come out & the dumber the motion, the more Prez Hunt calls u “Dear brother.” #sbc2010″. Example two: “Morris Chapman just broke the 9th commandment when he said the #GCR doesn’t address spiritual issues. He lied. Publicly. Period. #sbc2010”. Again, I cringe at the thought of an unregenerate and unbelieving world taking this in. I think we should always be asking of our actions concerning debate, do they accomplish John 13:35? “By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It is sadly ironic that those who were fighting for the Great Commission might have been simultaneously torpedoing it with words that seem atypical of Ephesians 4:29.
- Let’s be thankful for the past and learn from it, but we can’t live there. Every one has a story or memory that we can be thankful for, but that was then and this is now. As I listened to some of the argumentation concerning voting for and against the GCR recommendations, it seemed to me that people defended positions from their own personal experience. It reminds me of when a parent says, “This is the way I was raised and I turned out fine.” That may be true, but it still doesn’t make it the best way and besides, yesterday isn’t today.
- The age of those attending the annual meeting was more diverse. I love people older than me and I am eternally grateful for our seasoned and wise leaders who have gone before us carrying the banner of Jesus. But I was certainly glad to read several times that the convention was more diverse and that there appeared to be a lot of young leaders present.
- The GCR is hopefully a step in the right direction but it is no silver bullet. I don’t agree with the assumption, which I perceived to be prevalent among those tweeting, that because the GCR recommendations were passed it is a new day for Southern Baptists, as though the world will now somehow finally hear the gospel because we voted it so. Yes, we should be glad the GCR passed and give thanks to God. We needed some sort of catalyst for change and my feeling is that the best thing the GCR did was create a need for a renewed Great Commission mobilization, but we also need a sustained and supernatural move of God among leaders, pastors and local churches if we are going to make disciples of all nations. My opinion is that as a pastor, it has got to start with me and the GCR won’t help me pursue my own holiness and joy in Christ for the sake of the people I shepherd and lead. “What my people need most from me is my personal holiness.” Robert Murray M’Cheyne Holiness is something all people need from their leaders and a true GCR won’t happen without redeemed and holy leaders who leading a redeemed and holy people.
- Let’s get to work and let the hard work start with leaders. One of my favorite seminary professors would frequently exhort us about rightly understanding and obeying God’s word by saying, “Do we have a lot of work to do? Yes, we have a lot of work to do.” I hope that the Great Commission Resurgence has only just begun, because there are millions and millions of people without any viable gospel witness. There are six and maybe seven million active Southern Baptists. With the energy and strength that God supplies, we have a lot of work to do for the glory of the Great King and the joy of the nations.