For the past year I have been diligently praying for the GCR Task Force. On this team of people are several whom I value as personal friends and I have a great deal of respect for those that I haven't had the privilege of knowing. Additionally, The concepts of 'great respect and admiration' pale in comparison of my feelings for our SBC President. He was a leader in Kingdom work long before he was elected to serve as SBC President. Additionally, Dr. Hunt continues to be a spiritual force for God and good in the world.
These words begin this blog (which few people will actually read) because "I" happen to be one that 'clearly understands' that we need a refocus and recommitment to the Great Commission but, at the same time, am unsure and unconvinced that the way to accomplish this is by simply adopting the GCR report. Proponents will counter that they are proposing more than just 'adopting the report' and that adoption will only be the first step. Hearing these words, it seems to this pastor that we can follow the guidelines of this report to the letter and spirit and find ourselves weaker than we have ever been. Honestly, I KNOW this is NOT the desire of the Task Force because their heart, one and all, is to see a Spiritual Awakening on the order of "The Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th Centuries" or the "Jeremiah Lanphier's Prayer Movement" of the mid-19th century. Certainly, the landscape of America and the world is in need of such a move of God.
All this being said, I remain 'respectfully unconvinced' that the recommendations before us will have their desired impact. For the past month I have received daily emails from men, who have been my models and mentors for much of my ministry life, stating their whole-hearted embrace of this report so I realize that my small opinion will not carry much weight or impact.
I am not one of the "Younger Pastors" who, at least it seems, have gripped a vision for a 'Great Commission resurgence'; rather, I am a 'not so young' pastor who, for years, has been praying and longing to see the church (and our denomination) return to the Great Commission vision of "Making Disciples." Additionally, this is the vision and the heartbeat which will carry me (and other 'not so young pastors') to their grave. Candidly, making quality changes which have been adequately thought and prayed through doesn't bother us, "not so young" types. Personally, the suggestion that to have questions about such sweeping changes in the SBC structure, Cooperative Program giving, and the like, categorizes me as one who doesn't want to win and disciple the lost is, at best, an insult and at worst, an affront. While this may sound harsh, God knows my heart, the only truth I am attempting to convey is this; it is not only the younger pastors who have the heart for Great Commission or Kingdom work, those who have given 25+ years in ministry have the same desire. Now hear my heart, this is NOT the time for us to fight but rather the time to listen to each other and discover God's plan for us. I submit that "Older Pastors" like "Younger Pastors" have indeed gripped the need for a Great Commission Refocus and yet see it from different vantage points. Sadly, it seems the discussion has been held by a few and dominated by fewer.
The bottom line for me is this; "We need a clearer understanding of what we ARE doing before we chart a new course to what we WILL do." Cooperative Agreements serve as "Exhibit A" of what I am attempting to communicate. I fear that many do not understand "cooperative agreements," their nature, and function. Yet, to vote to affirm this Report will mean the phasing out instruments which will be helpful in carrying out the Great Commission. Admittedly, these agreements may need to be revised that we can meet today's need as well as they may be renamed, but it would seem to me that to phase these agreements out without knowing what will replace them borders on irresponsible. With respect to the great men and women at the NAMB, most agree that since the "Covenant for the New Century" this Agency has struggled to fulfill all the responsibilities handed it. Yet, this agency still remains one which can make a difference for today and tomorrow in all sections of our country. Another question which, in passing, comes to my mind is this; if we release IMB from geographical limits will we do the same for the NAMB? Just a thought.
For me, the best thing about the GCR Report will be that conversations and debates, which we need to have, will be on the table for consideration. However, the convention floor will not accommodate the needed time for adequate debate. While I thank the GCR Task Force for their time and energy, it seems to me that we are moving too quickly to get it right. My prayer for us is that we learn from my 'grand-dad' who was a carpenter. He taught us to 'measure twice' and 'cut once.' May we walk slowly, measure our actions twice so we will only cut once. This will be a great beginning for the Kingdom.