Monday, January 10, 2011

Does the GCR stand a ghost of a chance?

Before I begin, let me say I am in support of the Great Commission Resurgence, I think it’s a great thing, and we need to focus our ideas, resources and tool on reaching out. I have already posted on the things I think will hinder the SBC from really seeing a movement of God from the GCR, and I don’t want to hash that out again. What I want to look at is simple. Does the Great Commission Resurgence has a chance to really move the SBC forward in outreach, or is it just great propaganda? Here are some things I would like to discuss and toss around.

If the SBC is a bottom up entity (everything goes through the local church), then why are we moving programs from the top down. Now I realize that it’s necessary, we have to restructure the CP from the top down, we need to change NAMB and the IMB from the top down, we have to change the way we use dollars from the top down. Don’t miss my point, shouldn’t this movement have come up from the church, from the people in the pews? I love and respect Dr. Akin, but he really started this movement by an address in chapel at a seminary campus. It didn’t come from the local churches, and my number 1 concern is that it won’t impact the people sitting every Sunday in many of our churches. In the end, my concern will be the GCR is a big nebulous idea, but won’t touch the people. The people in the pew are where our missionary force begins. It’s where the CP dollars start, it’s where those who attend our seminaries come from. We can do lots of great things at the National and even state level, but are we touching people in the churches?

Now before you say “yes, of course we are” I want to ask something. If the GCR is touching churches, my question is, which churches? What does the average SBC church look like in this country? I don’t want to get into statistics and charts and graphs, numbers can be skewed and research is biased. The issue is, I have been to lots of churches in many states and seen what they look like. If you never get out of Florida, Georgia and Alabama, I’ll help you out. Most of the churches outside the south are small, less that 200 people. Many are less that 100 people. These are faithful churches, doing their best, reaching out to a community that is less and less interested. Even in the south, there are many small, faithful churches. You can argue with me on this point, but I am going to say the majority of Southern Baptist Churches are smaller, less that 500 people, with modest budgets, modest buildings, and hardworking pastors. How will the GCR affect them and their congregations? Many of the churches I have been involved with are teaching Biblical truth, are committed to missions, outreach and evangelism. How is this going to help them?

Further more, and what I have heard others saying, why in this middle of this resurgence are we looking to mega-churches for leadership? If the majority of the SBC is made of small churches, why are the churches that are composed of an entirely different structure leading off? I believe that the pastors work hard to keep a church alive and vibrant in a stagnant community, devastated economy and apathetic society are overlooked so we can celebrate the victory of the mega church. Have we gone insane? At what point did we decide that our measure of success was how big your church grows? I know a pastor serving faithfully in a small town in Iowa, the town and surrounding farming communities don’t have enough people to even make a mega-church. These guys fight every day, they know how to make use of the resources to the best of their abilities, why are we not taking the wisdom of years in the trenches? Let’s be honest, if the “mega church” strategy is fool proof, every church would use it. We have all read the books, gone to the courses, have the charts, graphs and diagrams. I am concerned that the GCR, the Convention, NAMB and our other agencies have bought the American lie that if it’s bigger, it’s better and if someone can build a mega-church, he is the right guy. Its American idolatry, and I think it’s a huge mistake.

If the GCR wants to reach America, it better start focusing on America, not Georgia. Where is NAMB, the IMB, Lifeway, where are they located? You want to be the North American Mission Board, close the office in Georgia and open 4 regional offices. Stick one in New York, one in Chicago, one in LA, one in Dallas. You want to reach Americans, go to America. I have served in the Midwest, in the Rocky Mountains and in the Southwest, and in many of those places Southern Baptist is a bad word. More than that, there is a feeling in many of those places that the leaders at our agencies don’t care. You want to reach these people go to where they are. Stick some offices there, make your presence known, show American that we may have Southern in our name, but the people are in our hearts.

Hear my heart for a second, I love the SBC, I think we do great things, I believe we have a great corporate heart and sense of community. I don’t want to leave the SBC, I want to see it reach out to the lost and to grow. Along with that, I have fears for our Convention. I’ll be honest, I have fears of corruption, favors, backroom deals and decisions and selfish ambitions. As a young minister, it concerns me how many are convinced that we exist in a denotation controlled by the “good ol boys”. What are we willing to do at the National level to change that image? It’s easy to write a GCR Declaration, but what are you going DO about it? Are we going to be a Convention that is willing to take radical steps to see resurgence or are we just going to talk a good game? What do you think?

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