Wednesday, March 10, 2010

SBC's "Great Commission" task force has stumbled badly

When I first learned about the Great Commission Resurgence movement in the Southern Baptist Convention, I felt extremely optimistic that maybe—just maybe—this might be God's means of bringing the bureaucracy-laden, fervor-cooled, myopic, shrinking denomination back on the right track.

Then when I learned about the official Great Commission Resurgence Task Force that was formed after last year's SBC meeting, my hopes sank dramatically. I wrote at the time:

"After the committee's formation I was tempted to write a blog entitled 'Can the SBC bureaucracy save itself?' (Perhaps in the end this committee will be able to muster the courage, insights and influence necessary to make the required dramatic changes, but I remain skeptical because too many politicians and bureaucrats are now involved. What isn't needed is a simple rearranging of the chairs on the deck of this Titanic!)."

Now that I've read the preliminary report from this establishment-ladened committee, I am truly underwhelmed. Yes, underwhelmed. Overwhelmed I'm not.

This is looking more and more like a simple reshuffling the cards in a card game—a bureaucratic tug-o-war over money, position and power. That's the last thing the faltering denomination needs. The committee's recommendations look more like petty "robbing Peter to pay Paul" antics than the energy needed to expand the tent, bring in more members and more money, and re-ignite the cooling evangelistic fires that once burned so brightly inside the nation's largest non-Catholic denomination.

Presently top denominational bureaucrats are pointing fingers at each other over the committee's silly, Mickey-Mouse pronouncement that the solution lies in taking $2 million from the denomination's Executive Committee and giving it to its International Mission Board, which already receives 50-cents out of every dollar forwarded to the national denomination, and in taking funds away from its smallest state conventions, which are having a truly tough time living on the outskirts of the denomination's Southern base and staying afloat in this Great Recession, to invigorate its long-faltering North American Mission Board.

If this Movement is in reality just a ruse to steal each other's funding and play "pea-under-the- pod" bureaucracy games, then the Great Commission Resurgence is truly not what I—and many others—had hoped for: a way out for the denomination's cooling fervor, declining numbers, and dwindling dollars.

Instead of the Movement stirring up top, aging denominational bureaucrats to squabble over money and fuss about who's more evangelistic, the Great Commission Committee needed to motivate, inspire, and lead the denomination's core and younger lay and clergy members on the local level—not its bloated national bureaucracy—to aspire to new heights.

Time is running out for the task force to forge a creative, innovative, far-reaching, positive plan for the convention's future that truly will inspire the person in the pew.