SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BP)–More than 50 Illinois Baptists gathered Nov. 10 for a question-and-answer session with the chairman of a national task force studying how the Southern Baptist Convention can be more effective in advancing the Gospel.
Ronnie Floyd, chairman of the SBC’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, spoke at the Illinois Baptist Pastors’ Conference and then answered a dozen questions about the task force during the one-hour Q&A session.
Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., was appointed to lead the task force by SBC President Johnny Hunt after messengers to the SBC annual meeting in June authorized the study of how Southern Baptists can work “more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission.”
IBSA President Kevin Kerr, pastor of First Baptist Church in Machesney Park, was waiting at the audience microphone to ask the first question when Floyd opened the meeting. Kerr asked about the CP commitment of churches represented on the task force which average less than 6 percent.
Floyd said he didn’t appoint the task force, he was just asked to chair it. But he repeated what Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., has said on several occasions, “We don’t spend percentages, we spend dollars.”
Floyd said his church is making a greater commitment to missions next year, increasing their gifts through the Cooperative Program 44 percent, while “everything else in the budget will decrease and the staff will not get a raise.” FBC Springdale gave $324,500 through CP last year, 2.2 percent of the church’s $14.8 million of undesignated offerings. The 44 percent increase could raise their CP giving to nearly $500,000 or approximately 3 percent.
Tim Shrader, pastor of First Baptist Church in Litchfield, asked how the task force “is assessing what needs to be done in the SBC.” Floyd responded that he’s gathering information. “Facts are our friends, so we’re getting facts, and we’re learning facts,” he said.
Floyd said he believes a lack of biblical stewardship is one of the underlying problems in the convention.
“God tells individuals to tithe and honor Him with the first tenth and with offerings, but studies show the average evangelical gives 2.4 percent to all charities,” he said. “How are we going to change the world with the Gospel when 98 cents of every dollar given stays in the churches and 98 cents of every dollar earned stays in the pocket of the member?”
Mike Brown, pastor of First Baptist Church in Winthrop Harbor, asked how the GCR task force could help “develop grassroots leaders who have a heart for church planting.” Floyd said the task force is “searching diligently for the answer, and I believe we’re getting close.”
“I believe charging out of the gate of our report will be a real commitment to Gospel churches planting Gospel churches planting Gospel churches,” Floyd said. “I don’t know what that will look like yet, but the report will ring the bell for church planting.”
Phil Nelson, pastor of Lakeland Baptist Church in Carbondale, asked how more CP funds could be channeled overseas “because that’s where the lost people of the world are.” Floyd said that was the “big challenge” but cautioned that believers still need to reach North America and “build leadership through our seminaries.”
Floyd commended the Illinois Baptist State Association “for the amount your state sends on to the national Cooperative Program. Other states are keeping a whole lot more money in their state.” IBSA sends 43.25 percent to the SBC for national and international missions while retaining 56.75 percent to strengthen and start Illinois Baptist churches.
Floyd said the GCR task force will give a progress report to the SBC Executive Committee in February, but the entire report won’t be ready until the SBC’s June 15-16 annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. He encouraged pastors to attend that meeting.
“We’re trying to build a coalition to get us to Orlando. You need to go to Orlando. This next convention is mega-important. The next two or three decades of Southern Baptist life could hinge on what is embraced or rejected in Orlando,” Floyd said.
Martin King is editor of the Illinois Baptist (www.ibsa.org/illinoisbaptist/current), newsjournal of the Illinois Baptist State Association.