LEESBURG, Fla. (BP)–Four priorities for the Florida Baptist Convention have been proposed by a 30-member task force which released a report during a Sept. 23-24 state board of missions meeting in Leesburg.
Moving Florida’s “Cooperative Program income distribution to a 50/50 division between state and national entities within four (4) years” is part of one of the proposed priorities.
A final draft of the recommendations by the Imagine If Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report will be voted on by messengers at the Florida Baptist State Convention’s Nov. 8-9 annual meeting in Brandon.
Florida Baptists’ priorities, as proposed by the task force, would be:
1) “Funding Global Missions,” which includes the proposed CP reallocation to SBC causes from the current 40 percent of receipts from the state’s churches.
2) “Planting Evangelistic, Reproducing Churches in Florida”
3) “Developing Evangelistic Pastoral Leaders”
4) “Providing Missional, Compassionate Ministries”
A copy of the task force’s six-page report can be viewed at www.gofbw.com/userimages/pdf/iigcrtf%20report6973.pdf.
In addition to recommendations related to each of the four proposed priorities, the task force report includes two additional recommendations: “Spiritual and Leadership Renewal” and “Reorganization and Restructuring.”
Regarding Spiritual and Leadership Renewal, the task force stated it is “convinced that genuine Great Commission resurgence is dependent upon and must begin in each individual believer and each Florida Baptist congregation. The pastor of each congregation must personally lead his congregation toward a new level of commitment to accomplishing the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and the practices of spiritual maturity, prayer, evangelism, missions, stewardship, Cooperative Program giving, church planting, developing church planters, etc. Every follower of Jesus should learn and live the ways of Jesus daily, live out and communicate the Gospel, and sacrificially engage in both local and global missions.”
Regarding Reorganization and Restructuring, the task force did not propose specific changes in the Florida convention’s staffing but asked that messengers to the annual meeting “request the State Board of Missions to present a plan to reorganize and restructure our convention along the stated priorities and to adjust to the changing financial landscape over the next four to seven years.”
In addition to its proposed priorities, the task force cited “the vast lostness of the state” and “economic and budgetary realities” as requiring “difficult decisions…. Good programs must give way to programs that are essential for effectiveness and efficiency in fulfilling the Great Commission.”
The task force also asked that the state board of missions “continue its careful and full evaluation of all convention owned properties to determine profitability and feasibility of the assets that are no longer mission critical.”
Cooperative Program gifts from the state’s churches is a “compelling reality” behind its recommendations, the task force stated, as is “the vastness of the lostness of our world and of our state.”
Assessing CP’s future, the task force noted: “With aging congregations and the current economic conditions of Florida and the nation, Cooperative Program giving is declining…. [I]f current trends continue, the state convention and churches will be forced to work with less even though there are great and pressing needs. Thus, prioritizing is a must. We cannot do everything on limited resources. We must decide what is most important and what helps us to accomplish the Great Commission most effectively and efficiently.”
At the same time, the task force stated its “hope and prayer … that the recommendations will create such a compelling vision toward accomplishing the Lord’s commission that Cooperative Program giving will increase, particularly among younger believers, pastors, and churches. The younger generation of Florida Baptists must be mobilized for accomplishing the Great Commission in the present and future.”
The task force report, in its introductory paragraphs, noted that members of the group “fully support the national Great Commission Resurgence Task Force work and report — Penetrating the Lostness: Embracing a Vision for a Great Commission Resurgence Among Southern Baptists — which was passed overwhelmingly [at the SBC annual meeting in June in Orlando] and encourage all Florida Baptists to do the same.” The Florida task force noted that some of its recommendations “reflect and apply the recommendations of the national task force.”
Messengers to the state convention approved the creation of the task force during their 2009 sessions in Pensacola and authorized the convention’s president, John Cross, to appoint its members. Cross, pastor of South Biscayne Church in North Port, named Danny de Amas, administrative pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, as task force chairman. Cross, who is completing his second one-year term as convention president, and John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, served as task force ex officio members.
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.