Unprecedented Change/Unprecedented Charges **UPDATED**

March 15, 2010

We need a Great Commission Resurgence no doubt.  The $250,000.00 question seems to scream; What do we need to do in order to see this resurgence become a reality?

We have had a Great Commission Resurgence Task Force chosen and meeting together since last August.  They have presented a progress report and have now issued a statement concerning the report.  I believe the quote that should raise everyone’s eyebrows is;

Additionally, our final report and recommendations are a commitment towards a future vision. While a future vision will contain matters that are occurring presently, there is no need for a future vision if all we do is replicate our present.

It seems that the report was merely a shot across the SBC Zion bow in order to see how much turn the convention could take.  It seems that the convention has seen a response that the GCR Task Force did not anticipate.  Thus, the purpose behind the issuing of a statement that the report was not a final word.

We have seen an unprecedented move by a task force to present items to the convention concerning changes at entities without even consulting the entities that were being recommended for change.  Of course some have asked about seminaries and with two seminary presidents sitting on the task force, it would have been very difficult to merge seminaries. Though there is rumor that was something discussed.  There seems to be a burning question as to the purpose of NAMB being the only entity that is recommended for change.  Does one believe that the IMB is operating at is best potential? As we move forward we see another unprecedented action has emerged.

Never have I seen presidents of entities openly and publicly shooting at each other.  Certainly we had the President of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary place a charge against the President of the International Mission Board.  However, two things I need to remind our readers.  First, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary is not a Southern Baptist Seminary.  While the Thomas Road Baptist Church is part of the Southern Baptist Convention, the seminary is not supported and funded by the SBC Cooperative Program.  Second, Dr. Caner issued both a public and private apology to Dr. Rankin concerning his comments.

The situation we now find ourselves is an open squabble between the President of the IMB and the President of the Executive Committee.  We have seen differences between entity Presidents before.  As recently as 2003 we witnessed Dr. Chuck Kelley and Dr. Morris Chapman disagree over sole membership.  However, neither of the good Drs. publicly issued an appeal to the SBC constituency that  the other was being dishonest in their reporting.  And neither of the two ever questioned the others commitment to winning the lost.  But, we have that now.

Dr. Rankin has charged Dr. Chapman with being more concerned about cooperation than he is with the Great Commission.  This is like saying that Dr. Chapman will accept any and everything as long as we cooperate.  Of course this charge comes after Dr. Rankin publicly charged that leaders were living in denial and then calls into question the 45,000 churches with the 16 million members.  The churches that support the IMB, the lions share of the CP, as being disengenious in their reporting.  This comes from the head of the IMB, an entity that reported 500,000 baptisms, without any direct correspondence with Missionaries that planted these churches.  But, I digress.

What we have seen now is a response from Dr. Chapman, he said; “”I am saddened that Jerry so blatantly misrepresented my comments.”  Dr. Chapman calls it a ‘blatant misrepresentation’.  That brings to mind a question.  What exactly is Dr. Chapman accusing Dr. Rankin of?  I do not know, but Dr. Chapman goes on in his statement to summarize his comments with the following:

It grieves me that Jerry used this open forum to question my allegiance to my Lord and the mandate He has given me, to us as Southern Baptists, and to all who call on His Name. I pray he will retract his unjustified remarks. They do not befit a man of his position and stature.

Conclusion

It seems we are living in a time that we need to be united going into this years convention and vote.  We saw last year’s convention produce a 95% vote to form the GCRTF.  They have issued a report, that could be changed completely by May 3, 2010.  However, we have been told that when that report is presented it will be the final report.  For us to be united we need our leaders united.  It seems that if the council of presidents have this type of bickering going on between them publicly then there will be no Great Commission Resurgence.  One cannot call into question the motives of another, especially in public and expect the SBC constituency to be united.

I have a suggestion.  If our leaders do not resolve their differences by the time the convention begins in June, then I suggest a recommendation for the very first order of business.  I recommend that we authorize the Teller Committee to locate a room and direct the Committee on the Order of Business to corral the Council of Presidents into the located room.  I further recommend that these two committees be authorized to guard the doors and not allow anyone to leave that room until everyone in that room can work out their differences to the point that each one passes a polygraph that each would entrust their child’s spiritual development to anyone in that room.  No one would leave until all could pass such a test.

If the Southern Baptist Convention ever sees a Great Commission Resurgence, then the leaders are going to have to sit down and work through their differences.  People follow the leadership of those God has entrusted to those positions.  Leaders, we need you to lead!

***UPDATE***

Dr. Rankin has issued a public statement regarding this issue.  Praise God that he has seen his need in doing this.  He is as firmly committed to his position as before, but he no longer calls Dr. Chapman’s personal motives into question.

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anonymous missionary

As a missionary currently serving in a secure location, I take exception to your comment: “This comes from the head of the IMB, an entity that reported 500,000 baptisms, without any direct correspondence with Missionaries that planted these churches.” I don’t know where you get your information from, but every year we turn in an annual statistical report for the exact purpose of trying to track churches planted, baptisms, leaders trained, people groups engaged, etc.etc.etc. Although I am sure there are issues that I don’t know about, we, along with the wonderful colleagues that we serve alongside, try to do this as accurately as possible. In an organization our size, are there problems? yes. Are there difficulties in tracking? yes. BUT that doesn’t mean there is this giant conspiracy as you seem to allude to. Being on the field, I get really frustrated when I read comments thrown out there like that. I would also add that if there were less “discussion” of the Great Commission and more “action” we wouldn’t have one missionary for every 15 million people like in the area I serve.

Roger K. Simpson

I too have been watching these various family squabbles. I can’t make any intelligent comments so I’ll just stay quiet relative to the evident polarization that the task force report has brought to the surface.

However, I will say one thing loud and clear! To wit: The task force has brought up a proposal relative to the NAMB which in my opinion is tantamount to significantly marginalizing the state conventions of the old-line states and also tantamount to calling for the elimination of the state conventions of the pioneer states.

The problem is that the NAMB is calling for the phasing out of the $50 million per year subsidy that is currently implemented via the “cooperative agreements”. These agreements exist as a vehicle to channel NAMB funds back to the states for evangelism/church planting and also for staffing of the pioneer state conventions.

The situation is somewhat different depending upon whether we are talking about the old-line states or pioneer states.

For old line states: Here in Oklahoma the cancellation of the cooperative agreements will leave the BGCO with a $1,000,000 shortfall per year. Also, according to the latest disclosures from the GCRTF, the old-line state conventions are expected to work together to pick up the tab for the $50,000,000 shortfall that will happen because there will no longer be funds flowing from the NAMB back to the pioneer states.

For pioneer states: Their defunding by the NAMB is tantamount to putting them out of business.

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References:

(1) GCR report could put new work conventions ‘out of business’, Montana exec says

Article contains quotes by: Fred Hewett — Executive Director Treasurer of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention & also Jimmy Barrendine — executive director of the Iowa Southern Baptist convention.

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=32491

(2) GCRTF VIEWPOINT: Glen Land on Cooperative Agreements and Accountability
[Glen Land has held several positions at the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention including president]

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=32490

(3) GCRTF VIEWPOINT: Glen Land on Cooperative Agreements

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=32435

(4) GCRTF VIEPOINT: Scott Brewer on GCRTF report
[Scott Brewer is President of the Northwest Baptist Convention]

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=32437

(5) Big changes in store for NAMB, state conventions under GCR propoal — The Christian Index

http://www.christianindex.org/6298.article

Here is the “money quote” from this article:

“Under the proposal [GCRTF’s latest proposal that is not documented in the interim report but somehow is now ‘the proposal’], NAMB’s role for nurturing young and smaller state conventions would be left for the various state conventions themselves, with the hope that the larger ones would fill the gap — thus freeing up the $50.8 million for NAMB to reprioritize.”

Text in brackets in my own comment

================

The bottom line: the bullet item from the GCRTF’s report relative to the NAMB is a $50,000,000 per year unfunded mandate that is shared by all the state conventions with the assumption being that old line states will take on this mandate to make up not only their own shortfall in NAMB funds but also they will send funds to the pioneer conventions. Regardless of any other consideration this proposal is not economically feasible to implement.

The idea of having the NAMB directly manage their own people and the idea of giving the NAMB ability to direct people to critical areas independent of state boundaries may be a good idea. However, all of this can’t be done by just “cutting loose” the state conventions.

If the GCRTF ends up with language that calls for (or implies) the $50,000,000/year unfunded mandate then I will not support the NAMB bullet item in the report. If the entire report is take it or leave it then I will “leave it”.

The task for the task force between now and Orlando is to figure out a way to streamline and “release” the NAMB so it can be more effective in managing resources without gutting the state conventions.

To this end, the task force needs to lock itself in a room with all the state execs and representatives of the BOTs from the states and go to work.

The GCTF report in its current state is DOA.

Roger K. Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Tim Rogers

Brother/Sister Anonymous M,

First, thank you for reading and following SBC Today. We do value your input and thank you for your service. Second, if I have come across as I believe there is some giant conspiracy, please forgive me that was not my intent. However, in your very response you acknowledged there were some problems. I merely reported where I believe the problems arise by the amount of Baptisms reported. I believe you will agree that the IMB’s push to document everything is a push that makes M’s count whatever moves as a Baptism. I know personally of a M’ who was retiring and at the M meeting with the heads of the IMB present it was his time to report. He reported, jokingly, that he had been pursuing his golf game and was now able to report he could break 90 on a consistent basis. :) Pretty funny, but not to the IMB leaders. They wanted a report with the numbers of baptisms, the visits he made, the churches he helped get started and so on and so on. It is that kind of push for numbers that makes M’s fudge when reporting. Am I saying that M’s intentionally mislead the convention. No, that is not what I am saying. I am saying that because a M knows of a church meeting someplace and that M has visited with that Pastor, then when the time to report comes, that M cannot and should not report the baptisms from that church. Why? Because it was not a church plant that the IMB was responsible.

Brother Roger,

I fixed your comment. You have 4 links in it and our spam filter is set not to publish anything with 2 links or more.

Blessings,
Tim

Tim Rogers

Brother/Sister M.

I would like to follow-up on the last part of our comment. You said; “I would also add that if there were less “discussion” of the Great Commission and more “action” we wouldn’t have one missionary for every 15 million people like in the area I serve.”

I believe I am doing what God has called me to do. I am holding the ropes so that you can go. These ropes get heavy sometime and sometimes they slip in my hands. I have blisters where they slipped, but I am still holding the ropes. I am promoting the CP within my church. We had the largest Lottie Moon offering in the history of the church just this past year. We are promoting short-term mission trips. With that said, I know it is not about me and I also believe you know it is not about you. It is all about God calling people to the mission field. What we are experiencing is, I believe, the new mindset that has swept the convention–“being missional”. Do you realize that if we loose the sense of calling to go to specific areas of the world then those specific areas will not be reached? The “being missional” craze says that we are all missionaries and we should all just take off and go. I am for short-term mission trips, but I am not one that believes that is where the calling of a missionary is. It is the ground work that guy/gals like you doing day-in and day-out that enables short-term mission teams to have a good experience. It has now come to a time that you M’s are being directed to make sure the short-term mission teams are accomodated and looked after well because then they will return to their churches and send more money. Hey, I understand the logistics of such a trip and the ramifications of a church having a good experience. But, I do not believe the SBC has invested the money we have invested in M for them to be some glorified travel agents for various church groups.

This is just my opinion, but I believe the reason we have had a drop in giving that places money on the mission field is two fold. First, we are de-valuing the call of a Missionary. We are telling everyone that all are missionaries and it is a choice we can make to leave everything and just go. However, if we do not want to make such a choice then we can do short-term mission work and still be a missionary. Second, our churches are placing line items in our budgets to send mission teams on short-term mission trips. Then they are looking at that money as being SBC giving because they are using it to go and assist M’s that with the IMB. Thus, with the new Great Commission Giving column that the GCRTF is proposing they now can report it there. Therefore, the money that would usually be given to the CP from the local church is now diverted to send short-term mission teams to be catered to and coddled on a mission trip that includes steak dinners at fine restaurants, and sight seeing tours in foreign lands.

So, the reason we have 1 M for 15 million people is we have 2 millions missionaries here in our churches that are not being challenged to heed the call to go where God is leading them. I tell my people as we leave to go on mission trips; “remember, we are not missionaries we are going to help the M in the area to strengthen their work.”

Blessings,
Tim

joe white

Tim,

Have you seen Dr. Rankin’s blog post for today? It is titled “Learning the Landmines of Blogging” and contains a clarifiction of his previous post and an apology to Dr. Chapman. It appears there will be no need to “corral” the Presidents, although I liked that idea. (:

Tim Rogers

Brother Joe,

Thanks for the shout out. It does appear that Dr. Rankin is making strides. His apology does seem to say; “I am sorry, but I was justified in saying what I said.” However, if he and Dr. Chapman had worked through their differences then we need to let it drop also. I do commend him on taking this step. You can read his blog here

Blessings,
Tim

Anonymous Missionary's fellow Anonymous Missionary

I am currently an IMB missionary and I can say without a doubt that IMB missionaries have not baptized 500,000 people. That would mean that each IMB missionary baptized 100 people and I can assure that is not happening. Most IMB missionaries not only report baptisms that they have personally baptized,but also all the baptisms that occurred of the people they are working, or remotely tied to. For instance, if a missionary somehow works with 15 different national Baptist churches, they may report the baptisms of all 15 churches.

This type of reporting also goes for how they report churches. Any honest IMB missionary would say the same thing.

Tim Rogers

Brother/Sister Anonymous Missionary’s fellow Anonymous Missionary,

Thank you for verifying the information. I know that you all are under the gun to report various numbers. I appreciate the work you all are doing. It does seem that if William Carey were employed by our IMB he would have been reassigned after the first 3 years. I believe our IMB needs to take into consideration the places people are serving and allow the M’s to report more factual results of their ministry.

Blessings,
Tim

David Rogers

Tim,

As a non-anonymous former missionary, I will throw in my 2 cents worth here as well. It is public knowledge that the IMB’s baptism figures do not only include baptisms performed by actual missionaries, or even just those baptisms performed in churches actually planted by missionaries, but by baptisms connected with our national partners as well. It is hard to measure exactly what influence our missionaries actually have in leading to many of these baptisms. The idea is that our role is more that of catalysts for church planting, training and mobilizing nationals. In all of this, the IMB has always been open and honest, telling it like it is, though. Those who have interpreted the statistics as if all the baptisms were actually performed by missionaries have just not been reading carefully the information put out by the IMB, where they have communicated this accurately and clearly.

As far as “being missional” is concerned, I think either you, or someone you have been listening to is a little mixed up, if you equate that with doing short-term mission trips. As I understand it, “being missional” is more about approaching ministry in your own backyard from a missionary point of view, focusing on “going” to where the lost are, rather than organizing programs to get them to “come” where we are.

And, I am not so sure the IMB is encouraging missionaries to be “glorified travel agents.” I will say, though, that more of this is probably going on than ought to, either due to missionaries who have latched on to this type of thing, or churches that have really pushed this model to the neglect of more traditional long-term missions. Inasmuch as this is really going on, I think you have a very valid point here. We really do need to ask ourselves some hard questions about the stewardship of sending so many people on so many trips, when the support of long-term missionaries is languishing. Maybe it can be both-and, and not either-or, but I do think we need to take a hard look at this, and make sure we are really being honest with ourselves.

Tim Rogers

Brother David,

Thanks for your .02. It is interesting that I have now heard from thee M’s. I honor all three of you even though I only agree so far with one of you. :) I will honestly say that the reporting of the baptisms is not openly understood to be any and all churches that have been influenced by our M’s. When one reads this report from the IMB writers one would believe that we are speaking of the M’s direct connection. Per the following statement;
Bershi’s baptism is among the more than 506,000 recorded by the International Mission Board in 2008 — an average of one baptism per minute. Southern Baptist missionaries and their partners also reported starting more than 24,650 new churches last year.

While it does state SB M’s and their partners the entire report gives the impression that the 506k baptisms were performed in direct connection to the M’s.

Now, let us speak about the use of the term “missional”. I agree with what you are saying that the term means. However, this is not the way the term is being presented within the context of Missionaries. I have heard and preachers from influential pulpits advocate everyone is a missionary. You know, we went through this same phase back in the early 90’s when everyone was told they were ministers. My feeling is that it devalues the call of a M going to a place where God has called him. Now we all can say that God has called us to specific places. But I am a Christian and I reach my area that God has called me because I am God’s man for this place. We are losing that type of call on M’s nowadays. It seems we have lost the idea that God calls a man/woman/family to forsake all and go to areas of the world because God places a call on that person/family’s life. With the “missional” movement we appease that type of call by saying, “God hasn’t called me to give up all, but I can go on short-term trips and be a missionary here in the US where I am comfortable and I do not have to go through the issues of various M’s who have forsaken all. I do not believe I am misunderstanding “missional” if you will listen to conference speakers you will hear this thought process also.

As for the funding, I believe if the research were done, one will find that many of the churches that fund these short-term mission trips have done so by taking away funds from the CP.

Blessings,
Tim

Ken

Speaking of holding the ropes ( Comment #4) there is a great little booklet by that same title published by the IMB that you all should read, but of course I am biased:)

http://imbresources.org/index.cfm/fa/store.prod/ProdID/1062.cfm

Tim Rogers

Brother Ken,

Thanks for the tip. Just to ask, what did you mean by “you all”?

Blessings,
Tim

Ken

Tim you all is a Texan variation for ya’ll :) , or everyone, the whole world, kosmos, or everyone reading this blog. That’s all no hidden meanings. Just a suggestion for everyone who loves missions to read it.

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