A moment of decision: will Southern Baptists face the future, or will we flinch?

Communications Staff — June 12, 2010

A great sense of historical importance looms as the 2010 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention fast approaches. The messengers to the SBC meeting in Orlando will cast many important votes, but one exceeds all others in significance, and that is the vote on the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.

Southern Baptists have faced such moments before. In 1845, those messengers who founded the SBC took a great step of faith as they created a convention of Baptist churches called by and committed to a Great Commission vision. Southern Baptists faced another moment when they revolutionized the denomination in 1925 by adopting the Cooperative Program as the unified means of supporting our Great Commission efforts, established the Executive Committee, and adopted our first confession of faith, the Baptist Faith & Message.

Throughout the years from 1979 to 1990, Southern Baptists showed up in force to reclaim the denomination for the full authority and integrity of the Bible and the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Each of those conventions was a moment of historical consequence. The same was true in 1995, when Southern Baptists adopted the Covenant for a New Century, streamlining the convention as it celebrated its 150th anniversary.

Now, once again, Southern Baptists will convene for a meeting that will make history. Messengers to the 2009 convention in Louisville overwhelmingly adopted a motion calling for a task force to report this year concerning how Southern Baptists may work more faithfully and effectively together in service to the Great Commission. A generation of younger Southern Baptists is gripped by a vision for a Great Commission Resurgence, and Southern Baptists of every generation are reminded again of the reality of a lost world and of Christ’s commission to His church – the command to make disciples of all the nations.

The Southern Baptist Convention is a massive denomination. No task force or committee can review the totality of the convention’s work and reach. Nevertheless, the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force dedicated itself to making the greatest Great Commission impact as Southern Baptists face the future.

The Task Force’s report will be presented to the Convention on Tuesday, June 15, and that day will go down as a turning point in this denomination’s life and work. This is true, not only in light of the report and recommendations presented by the Task Force, but in light of the attitude and passions that will be revealed in the deliberation and vote.

I am convinced that the recommendations we are presenting are both right and reasonable. They are not a revolution in themselves, but they point to the future with a statement that we are determined to be far more serious about reaching the nations and our own continent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The report is honest in setting the reality of lostness before us, and calling us to a renewed commitment to make disciples of all the nations. The report respects our Baptist polity and is based in gratitude for all that Southern Baptists have done in generations past. The recommendations are constructed with care to preserve the bonds that hold us together, and also to propel us into the future determined to do more, not less, in faithfulness to Christ.

Change is never easy, and change merely for the sake of change is a charade. Nevertheless, God’s people are called to make whatever changes are necessary in order to obey the commands of Christ. Southern Baptists are a people committed to the Great Commission. That commitment will be shared by every messenger who arrives in Orlando ready to do the Convention’s business. The future of the Southern Baptist Convention will not rest on this vote alone, but who can calculate what it will mean as a watching world and a rising generation watch to see if we are serious about emboldened Great Commission faithfulness in the future?

The looming question in Orlando is this – will Southern Baptists face the future with boldness, eagerness, and faithfulness, or will we choose business as usual? In other words, the real question is whether Southern Baptists will face the future, or flinch. So much rests on the answer to that question.

This article originally appeared at www.pray4gcr.com.

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