PERSPECTIVE: No Simple Answers
To many of you, the acronym GCR means little. That is understandable. It stands for Great Commission Resurgence. At the Southern Baptist Convention in June, President Johnny Hunt appointed a task force to look for efficiencies in the work of our convention that will help us shift more resources to Great Commission causes. The 23-member committee, chaired by Ronnie Floyd of Arkansas, begins its work this month.
There are many who have deep concerns about the work of this task force and its outcome. The challenge for such a group is to effect significant change on denominational levels that will somehow stimulate local churches to be more involved in Great Commission efforts. While changes on a denominational level are good, ultimately the Great Commission is borne on the wings of the local church going, giving and praying.
Nonetheless, analyzing and seeking ways to streamline our work as Southern Baptists is not a bad thing. At the same time, it is a daunting task. Some say the reason it is so tedious is because we have become a big bureaucracy. To be honest, anything that grows to a considerable size entails some bureaucracy. It is a necessary part of systems and structures. Yet, much more is accomplished when large numbers of people and churches work together. I am reminded of one life verse the Lord has given me—Proverbs 14:4 (NAS), “Where no oxen are the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.”
Hard economic times cause us, personally and corporately, to take a hard look at everything we do. Where can we find economies that will release dollars for greater impact? What are our priorities? For those of us who are responsible for Kingdom work the questions have eternal consequences. So I applaud the effort to eliminate waste and rethink our priorities. We do that constantly at the state level.
Be assured this time of tough-minded analysis will cause some significant heartburn. The task force cannot be satisfied with simplistic answers to complex issues. It sounds easy to call for more money to be sent beyond the local church and state convention. It seems easy until it must be decided between continuing a robust program at Falls Creek that has tremendous Kingdom impact, or sending the money to the SBC for seminary education, or whether to stop serving children through the OBHC in order to reach a child in Africa. There are no simple answers to these issues.
I know this, since 1997, our state convention has been in a constant state of scrutiny. We place every budget on the anvil and hammer them until all the fluff is gone. Approaching our 2010 budget, we have eliminated positions and made some of the hardest decisions ever. While this is the norm, we have worked extra hard this year. Our goal is to pour more and more into Great Commission causes in our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the Earth.
The GCR Task Force does not need our criticism at this point. It needs our prayers. It needs our ideas and suggestions. The national convention must do exactly as we have done in analyzing every approach and looking for every efficiency and ability to streamline. In addition, I hope they will consider how to grow the financial pie, rather than just look at ways to re-divide the pie.