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GCRTF VIEWPOINT: Pill too big to swallow?

LAUREL, Md. (BP)–The Southern Baptist Convention 2010 in Orlando, Fla., promises to be one of the most important meetings in recent Southern Baptist history. The progress report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force has certainly generated great discussion and at the very least will cause some concern.

The report was delivered to the SBC Executive Committee on Feb. 22 by task force chairman Ronnie W. Floyd. Floyd and all of the task force members are to be commended for their prayerful and diligent work. The task force has responded well to its charge to bring a report and any recommendations to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Orlando, June 15-16, concerning how Southern Baptists can work more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission.

The report states that Southern Baptists need a new and compelling vision for the future and that this new vision put forth by the task force be accepted and endorsed this June by the convention. I have read the report and I am concerned that the recommended changes may prove to be a pill that is too large to swallow at once. In my opinion the overall tone of the report suggests that the North American Mission Board is lacking in performance and appears to be somewhat of a mild rebuke. The report asks Southern Baptists to embrace a new vision stated in six components, some of which would have direct impact on our state convention.

The second component is one that would have the most direct impact on our convention. The recommendation by the GCR Task Force is that Southern Baptists charge the North American Mission Board (NAMB) to renegotiate its cooperative agreements and budgets with state conventions with the goal of eliminating these agreements within four years. In my opinion, this second component implies that state conventions have not done a good job managing resources and that national oversight is now required. Moreover, in order to ensure accountability, only projects approved by NAMB would be funded. This would mean that projects deemed necessary by the churches in our convention that support the Cooperative Program would not be able to have access to funds that would enable us to do Great Commission work without NAMB’s approval. I cannot speak for other conventions, but I believe the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware does an excellent job managing all of its resources.

Another component that caught my attention is component number four, which calls for state conventions to reassume their primary role in the promotion of the Cooperative Program and stewardship education. I was unaware that this was the primary role of state conventions.

One of the most difficult things to do is to get Baptists to agree. The GCR Task Force report in its present state, in my opinion, is a pill too big to swallow. While I can embrace most of the report’s recommendations, I hope that the task force will reconsider and modify those components concerning the role of the state conventions in this proposed new vision of missional strategy.
Byron Day is president of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware and pastor of Emmanuel Church in Laurel, Md.

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