Friday, June 4, 2010

What the GCR means for California

Leading up to the final days before the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando, the Pray4GCR team has been releasing a number of articles supporting the final Great Commission Resurgence Report.

These articles are now streaming in via blog and email on a daily basis, from authors all across the country. They remind me of the federalist papers written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay circulated over two hundred years earlier, which supported the ratification of our U.S. Constitution. Like our Constitution, the GCR is a significant break from the status quo, but one that is urgently necessary. Unlike our Constitution, the stakes are eternal.

Yesterday, California Southern Baptists were privileged to have our viewpoint represented by Walter Price, current president of the California Southern Baptist Convention. Here is his article in full, which gives one of the best endorsements of the GCR Recommendations I have heard yet. Thank you, Walter, for your thoughtful analysis.
Last June I sat in the hall of the Southern Baptist Convention and joyfully joined what appeared to be 99+% of the messengers in affirming the motion to ask President Johnny Hunt to appoint a Task Force to study the work of our great Convention and bring recommendations for a better way to move forward in fulfilling the Great Commission. Many said it was a watershed moment in the life of the SBC. I agree. I pray that moment will overflow into this year’s Convention in Orlando as we give strong approval to those recommendations.

One might wonder how we in the West could be supportive of recommendations that will so directly affect us. In fact, some would argue that we in California have seemingly the most to lose monetarily from these potential changes. So, how could we applaud the report of the Task Force? Let me explain. We can applaud the GCR recommendations because, from our view out West, we have noticed some things.

We have noticed that the greatest need in our churches and in our nation and world is a mighty move of the Spirit of God in bringing true revival and spiritual awakening to our planet. How could we possibly do anything but join arm in arm with the GCR Task Force in praying: “Let the Holy Spirit come and take control and send a great revival in my soul?” We know that we each should ask God for a fresh kindling of holy fire in our hearts as we cry with the publican, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!”

We have noticed that in California we have over 30 million lost people. 30 million! That is roughly the combined populations of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee. Clearly we can see the need to focus our energies in North America in the most populous areas with the least Gospel penetration. In California we live on the eastern edge of the Pacific Rim. The nations have come to us. Southern Baptists in our state worship in 70 different languages. Again, we easily identify the benefit of allowing those who are trained by the IMB to do people group missions wherever those groups are. We’ve noticed this job is too big for us. We need the help of all Southern Baptists.

We’ve noticed that our global witness is diminishing even while there are still so many who have never heard the Gospel. We Southern Baptists always maintain that we have a heart for the nations. The younger generation of Southern Baptists’ hearts are truly broken for the nations. We simply must do what is necessary to increase our involvement to the ends of the earth.

And, speaking of the younger generation, we have noticed that change must come or this Convention will die a natural death. The generation coming behind us is not enthused about the status quo of the SBC, they are not motivated by denominational branding. Theirs is a Kingdom passion to see the Gospel penetrate a lost world. They are interested in the most efficient and effective ways to accomplish the task of being real followers of Christ in a global generation. If we continue with things as they are we will find there is no one to whom we may pass the baton in this relay of redemption.

So how can we applaud the GCR Report? The recommendations address each of the issues that we have noticed with positive steps. In fact, I believe the recommendations will result in even more resources funneling into California as Southern Baptists commit themselves to penetrating the lostness in this very unreached and underserved region. And we in California are committed to joining all Southern Baptists in channeling more of our lives and our resources into taking the Gospel to the unreached peoples of the world.

What will happen in California? Well, there is one more thing we have noticed. We have noticed that our great and glorious God is in control. He is our Source; He is our Provider. He will give us wisdom in how to go forward. Whatever we might “lose” for the greater good of our partnership in the gospel we will “win” in our absolute dependence on the grace of God. Our prayer is that He will be glorified as all Southern Baptists come together for the taking of the gospel to a lost and dying world.

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