I have read many articles on, or about, what Southern Baptists are hoping will come about as a result of the work of the Great Commission Resurgence task force. There are certainly a lot of ideas out there as to what a reorganized Southern Baptist Convention should look like, and there are a lot of questions being ask. However, the most common question almost everyone appears to be asking is “What to do with the State Conventions?”
For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on the GCR and State Conventions:
1.) I believe the State Conventions are important and have the potential of playing a major role in any Great Commission Resurgence that might take place in our lifetimes within the Southern Baptist Convention.
2.) I believe that full autonomy (without any oversight and genuine accountability) for our State Conventions has proven itself to be a very bad idea. Human nature being what it is; oversight, transparency, and accountability are an absolute must (especially when finances, positions, and power are involved).
3.) I do not believe the State Conventions should be in the church planting business at all! The examples of where State Conventions have wasted huge amounts of money on failed churches, and sometimes even outright fraud, are too many to list. Not to mention that (regardless of how good a plan someone has, or how large of a core group they have already gathered) many times State Convention Leaders have been guilty of discriminating against those who are from a different theological camp than they are, or who’s worship style is different from their own, or who disagree with their own convictions on second and third matter doctrines. This abuse of authority has lead to many new Baptist Churches being planted “Outside of the Southern Baptist Convention” by a younger generation of Southern Baptist Pastors and Church Planters who are unafraid to go it alone.
4.) I do not believe the State Conventions should be involved in any mission’s activity outside of their own state. We, as Southern Baptist, have both an International mission’s agency and a North American mission’s agency. Why are State Conventions duplicating services that we as a convention already provide for? Why are the State Conventions not “Cooperating” with (working through) our national missions agencies? In my opinion our State Conventions should be focusing upon reaching the mission fields of their own states, and not trying to do the work of the IMB or NAMB.
5.) Ok… here is where I believe the State Conventions could play a major role in a Great Commission Resurgence. I believe that State Conventions should put the establishment of Christian Schools, Daycare Centers, Orphanages, Adoption and Foster Care programs at the top of their agenda. This is where I feel they could truly find their purpose and place in bringing about a true and lasting Great Commission Resurgence. I also feel that no other organization within the Southern Baptist Convention is as capable of filling this much need role as is our State Conventions. How great would the impact on our culture be if every State Convention made it its goal to start a Christian School in every community, county, or parish in America by the end of year 2020? How great would the impact on our culture be if every State Convention made it its goal to start a Christian Daycare in every community, county, or parish in America by the end of year 2020? How great would the impact on our culture be if every State Convention made it its goal to see that no child in America is ever unloved and unwanted by the end of year 2020? In short, how great would the impact on our culture be if by the end of year 2020 every State Convention saw itself purely as a mission organization, and the people of their state as its mission field?
In closing, I believe if we are to have a true and lasting Great Commission Resurgence in America that we must “Reengage” the culture and society in which we live… that we must make it our highest goal to win the hearts and minds of the next generation. This we will not do unless we are willing to change. And if we are not willing to change for the sake of reaching the next generation for Christ, then all this talk about seeking a Great Commission Resurgence is nothing more than shameful religious bravado and we might as well spend our money on prayer rugs for the next generation.