The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force has publicized its report in preparation for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. The seven recommendations will require a minimum of two steps before becoming reality.
First, the convention must approve the recommendations. In a video interview with the Messenger, Chairman Ronnie Floyd did not specify whether the recommendations will be presented individually or as a whole. Floyd indicated it would be at the discretion of the presiding officer. This is true, with the additional option of someone moving that the question be divided. I hope that President Hunt will divide the question and each recommendation will stand individually.
Second, the recommendations will go to each of the entity boards for action. At that point they can be studied and modified before being implemented. Each board will give account to the SBC for the way in which it responds to recommendations related to that particular entity. In most cases the recommendations are broad enough to allow the entities to shape them to best serve both the desire of the convention and the practical aspects necessary for good ministry.
In next week’s Messenger I will take significant space to address the report. It is important that you have opportunity to see the report’s ramifications on Oklahoma Baptists. At the same time, I hope to give a fair appraisal of the ways in which the report can move us forward in the work of the Kingdom.
Dwarfed by the focus on the report are what I believe to be the most significant decisions Southern Baptists will make for our future. The impact of these decisions will cast a huge shadow over the success or failure of a Great Commission Resurgence. What are they? They are the choosing of the next presidents of the Executive Committee, North American Mission Board and International Mission Board. In some ways, this will have more impact than the GCRTF report.
The Executive Committee oversees the work of the convention, sets ministry assignments of the agencies and determines the business and financial plan of the convention. The division of the money sent to the SBC for ministry is established by the Executive Committee. This leader is vital to healthy relationships with state conventions and the SBC entities. He as much as anyone has the power to influence the cooperative spirit at all levels of SBC life.
The GCRTF report calls for major restructuring of the North American Mission Board. The importance of the next leader cannot be exaggerated. The right leader will help craft the right mission and structure for the future. After two fired presidents, it does not seem unreasonable to suggest that NAMB will have a difficult time surviving if the wrong person sits in the president’s chair. The future of evangelism, leader development and church planting in America are at stake in this choice.
The IMB receives more money than any other entity in SBC life. Southern Baptists have made it the point organization in our efforts to impact lostness. It is large and expansive in its mission. Without the right leader, we can be driven by an aberrant theology and/or misguided missiology that could cause failure in our attempts to reach a lost world. Deployment of mission staff and implementation of strategy will ride on the shoulders of the leader of our International Mission Board.
My point in all of this? The GCRTF report is very important to our future work of cooperative and missional ministry as a denomination. But equally as significant—and, one could argue, even more important—are the choices made by our trustees and directors regarding the leaders who may set strategy for missions, both domestic and foreign, for the next two decades.
What happens in Orlando is worthy of fervent prayer. However, what transpires in Nashville, Alpharetta and Richmond may trump it all. There is only one response. Southern Baptists must fall on our knees and cry out to God for wisdom and discernment for those who are charged with selecting these leaders.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.