Matthew 6:1-4 (NIV)
1 “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
In their final report the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) has certainly squelched some of my fears. I want to be on this Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) train!! I do not desire to be the one driving it and I do not want to be the one blowing the horn. I just want to be one of the 40,000 that are known as GCR pastors. Thank God, and I look forward to being part of this grand movement of God in the SBC.
At this point I want to call attention to one obstacle that I see laying on the tracks. If this obstacle is not removed it will cause this GCR train to jump the tracks. It is the Great Commission Giving (GCG) aspect of this train. This particular aspect will bring a GCR to a halt faster than the Caner brothers can grow beards. It will be the death knell of the Cooperative Program (CP) just as sure as OS Hawkins has his shirt buttons in line with his belt buckle and his shoes shined with a mirrored glaze to the point one could shave with a dull razor. Why would I make such a statement of surety? I believe in the surety of this event for three reasons. Great Commission Giving relegates not accentuates the Cooperative Program. Also, Great Commission Giving discourages not encourages cooperation. And the motive of Great Commission Giving elevates selfish desires over the Scriptural directive of giving.
Relegating the Cooperative Program–The Cooperative Program (CP) is the main artery for the flow of funds for missions and ministry within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The CP funds the cooperative efforts of Southern Baptist to ensure the Gospel gets to the lost. The CP funds the various ministries that are being used by God to penetrate the darkness. It is through the CP that we cooperate with the various ministries of the 41 state conventions. These state conventions are resource centers for local churches in order to do ministries on the local level that cannot be done by the SBC. It is because of the CP that we are able to see national strategies developed and put into place. It is because of the CP that we are able to see strategies developed within the states. It is through the CP that we were able to fund the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) with the $250,000 they requested. Does one realize that if GCG would have been in place when the GCRTF was formed we may not have been able to release the $250,000 because it would have already been allocated? Thus, GCG relegates the CP to one of many different forms of giving to the SBC. When the CP is relegated to one of many forms of giving then GCG will be seen as the main source of giving.
Discouraging Cooperation–GCG discourages cooperation in the very form it is being presented. The very churches that are promoting GCG are ones that fund projects in various SBC entities. Some of the churches represented on the GCRTF give to agencies outside of the SBC. However, one needs to remember what makes something a Southern Baptist gift–A Southern Baptist Church gives to it. If GCG becomes a reality in the SBC then we will see a time that churches designate their giving to all sorts of agencies. For example, there are some churches that may desire to fund their students education to an SBC college or seminary, so they send funds designated to one of the SBC entities or state conventions for the particular student. When a church funds 10 0r 12 students at various entities and state universities they are doing so for their own advantage. Here in NC we have a historical relationship with Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. Let’s say (I am not saying this is happening, I am just saying that it could very easily happen) that Pastor Gilbert has a student that is attending WFU and their church is paying the tuition for that student. All Calvary Baptist does is designate through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina for that student and the BSCNC sends those funds to WFU. Those funds will then be counted as GCG for Calvary when it is going to a school that is supported by CBF, has for its President a Presbyterian who came from Notre Dame University with no Baptist background, and has just appointed an ordained woman minister with the United Church of Christ to head up their Baptist Divinity School. Another example is in the area of church plants. Some churches partner with NAMB to plant churches in major metropolitan areas. These churches not only make major contributions, but NAMB matches this contribution with funds from the CP. However, the church names the Pastor and staff, not NAMB. Thus, the mega church decides the form of government and these church plants usually end up as Elder rule congregations not congregational rule. Nothing wrong with a particular church fulfilling their vision and call of God in supporting their students and planting their own churches, but should one call that cooperation? With just these two examples one can see that there is no cooperation but more of ‘you scratch my back and I scratch yours’ direction for funding.
Elevating Selfish Desires–This is one area that I believe is the most evident. The final report calls for us to celebrate ever dollar given by every church.
We call upon all Southern Baptists to celebrate every dollar given by faithful Southern Baptists as part of Great Commission Giving, including designated gifts given to any Baptist association, state convention, and to the causes of the Southern Baptist Convention.
It is evident that the GCRTF desires to be recognized for all dollars given. However, this is where selfish desires take over. It is clearly not a biblical mandate to recognize every dollar given. Notice in that Matthew 6, as posted above, Jesus teaches that we are not to desire recognition for our giving.
Mark 12:41-42 (NIV)
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.
42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Also, it is clear that Jesus recognized only those that gave out of their need not those that gave out of their abundance. In the story about the Widow’s Mites Jesus recognized the exact amount that the Widow gave. However, Jesus never recognized the exact amount of those giving out of their abundance. He just said that they gave “large amounts”. GCG is not something that the SBC needs. Celebrating what people give when they are giving out of their abundance is against scripture. We know that many large churches give large amounts to various entities. However, if we begin celebrating everything everyone gives then GCG will only promote selfish desires.
The GCRTF report is something that I believe will advance a desire across the SBC to see the darkness penetrated with the Gospel. However, I believe the GCG will derail any GCR that begins. Why? The CP is a chain of sand with the strength of steel. However, if the CP is relegated to second class status as one among many forms of recognized giving that steel will return to sand and the chain will be broken.
After reading Brother Dave Miller’s questions in our comment thread, I realized there is another reason the GCG will derail the GCR. It has to do with trust. The GCG reveals there is a lack of trust among the GCRTF concerning the state conventions. If there was trust among them, with two state Executives sitting on the GCRTF could they not have called in the group and worked out a compromise for the CP to remain central? I know the GCRTF is calling for the CP to be central, but the unique ability of the CP was the trust given at all levels. With the GCG we will be saying; “we do not trust those state Executives”.