First, let me say, “What a convention!” Even though Frank Cox did not win the presidential race, I believe that all of us were still pleased that Johnny Hunt did. To me, the watershed moment of the convention was when Dr. Hunt preached at the pastors conference. A bunch of us did get to meet with Dr. Hunt after the vote was taken and he was gracious and kind. I look forward to his leadership and pray that the Lord blesses him as he leads our convention.
Last week at the convention, the big buzz phrase was, “Great Commission Resurgence.” (GCR) Every time I heard it there were positive affirmations given, but I wondered what exactly was meant by that terminology. Did it mean winning people to Christ or planting churches? If it did mean planting churches, what would these churches believe and how would they operate? Nathan Finn, an apt and astute scholar in his own right, believes it means to be the missional people God created us to be. Okay, what does it mean to be a missional people? I have read that to me missional, we must be incarnational. How is that played out in the real world as we are winning people to Christ? There seems to be a lot of terms used in defining the GCR, but after reading what others think it is and listening to still others explain to me me what they think the GCR is, it is not a stretch to say that there are competing ideas at play.
One thing that I noticed missing (though not totally absent) in explaining the GCR was the lack of using the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) itself as the defining parameter. I can’t say as to why this scripture has seemingly been ignored (again, not totally), but I wonder if it has to do with what it says. Namely that as we are going, we are to make disciples by baptizing and teaching disciples all that Christ had commanded. The little word “all” kills the idea that baptism and the Lord’s supper are some how “tertiary.” One excellent article I did find, even though it is not directly linked to the phraseology of GCR, was Dr. Yarnell’s White Paper, The Heart of a Baptist.
Now someone might argue that the Great Commission encompasses more than just Matt 28:18-20. In fact it encompasses the entire Bible. With that I do agree. In the revelation of the New Testament, we see that “All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.” But there is a strong foundation that is laid in the Great Commission that is our compass in defining what the church is to do and more specifically, how to do it. It is the last recorded command of Jesus to his band of followers (along with Acts 1:8) before he ascended to His Father. It should carry a significant load of weight in defining the GCR not only theologically, but practically as it is lived out in the lives of those who call themselves followers of Jesus.
I am going to leave this post specifically open to the following questions. It is not my desire to start defining my understanding of the GCR, but this post is to get us thinking as to what exactly is the GCR and how it should be played out in our churches and our convention.
So, what do you think the GCR is? How should it be defined and practically carried out by Southern Baptists?