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Rebecca Wolford/SBC LIFE

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Great Commission Advance to beckon Baptists to ‘do more’

BALTIMORE (BP) -- SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page will issue a challenge to Southern Baptists at the SBC annual meeting to "do more" to reach the world with the Gospel. Page will set forth his vision for Great Commission Advance, an initiative to increase missions involvement among individuals and churches, during his report to the convention on Tuesday afternoon, June 10, in Baltimore. C. Ashley Clayton, EC vice president for Cooperative Program and stewardship, told SBC LIFE, journal of the Executive Committee, "In its most condensed and basic form, Great Commission Advance calls for Southern Baptists to simply 'do more.'" Page will call on all Southern Baptists -- individuals, families and churches -- to sacrificially do more to advance the Great Commission "so that every person has the opportunity to hear the Gospel," Clayton said. Page told SBC LIFE that "doing more" in the area of personal stewardship is essential to missions involvement. He will urge Southern Baptists to commit to establishing a biblical standard of giving and generosity. Page also will encourage Southern Baptists to participate in missions at the local, state, national and international levels. For some, "doing more" may mean surrendering to God's call to vocational ministry as a pastor, chaplain, church planter or international missionary, he said. In addition, Page will challenge churches to increase their level of support through the Cooperative Program for Southern Baptist missions and ministries. Since being elected EC president in 2010, Page has emphasized that the Cooperative Program is about missions and ministries, not numbers and percentages, Clayton said. Southern Baptist missions and ministries at the state, national and international levels are fueled by the Cooperative Program. Ministries like disaster relief, international missions, church planting, collegiate ministry, theological education, care for neglected children and moral advocacy are supported by dollars contributed through the Cooperative Program, he said. One of the primary objectives of Great Commission Advance is to address the decline in Cooperative Program giving over the past two decades, Clayton said. In 1982, churches were giving an average of 10.7 percent of their undesignated receipts to cooperative missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program. That number has dropped to 5.4 percent, declining by an average of about 0.2 percent each year. In 2012, the average percent of churches' Cooperative Program giving held steady for the first time since the 1990s and slightly ticked upward.