The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a PECULIAR people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
I think this was a prophetic word concerning a future denomination called Southern Baptists. We are a peculiar people, some of us more peculiar than others. Our church polity is peculiar, our methodologies and worship styles are all unique, since each church is autonomous and conducts its own affairs. Those who don’t know Southern Baptists as they peer inside our work must think, “they are a peculiar people.” With this in mind allow me to share three thoughts about the upcoming Great Commission Task Force report at the Southern Baptist Convention.
Like many of you I am attending the Southern Baptist Convention in Mickey’s home town of Orlando. Will Mickey and Minnie Mouse be messengers this year? It is just my fourth convention but it sounds like it will be an interesting one for sure.
There have been numerous blogs, articles written, and press releases about the GCR report and the ramifications for the future. I am not an authority on this issue, but here are three things we must keep in mind in Orlando.
Let’s remember we are not voting on the Great Commission. When I read the Gospels and Acts 1:8, it is apparent that fulfilling the Great Commission is not an option to be voted on or a multiple choice question where we have many possible answers to choose from. It’s not even a question in Scripture but a direct command from our Lord who said, “Go make disciples.”
A church, association, state convention, or national denomination cannot truly vote on the Great Commission because God already cast the vote in His Word and that’s the vote that really counts. We all agree that the Great Commission is the heart of being a disciple of Jesus and the mission of the church…period. Let’s remember that there are good people on both sides of this report who are Godly folks and who feel very strongly for or against the report as it stands. They all sincerely believe in the importance of fulfilling the Great Commission. I see a great deal of passion on both sides.
Let’s remind ourselves that the recommendation of the task force is simply a set of ideas concerning the process, structure, and methodologies of fulfilling the Great Commission. I’ve been a Baptist all my life and I discovered early in my ministry that if you put three Baptists in a room, close the door, and wait 20 minutes…presto, you have 11 different opinions about how to do church. Yes, we are a particularly peculiar people. Regardless of the outcome of the vote concerning the task force’s recommendations, the most significant thing that could happen is for every pastor and church leader to renew their passion about leading their churches forward in working together with other churches in order to fulfill the Great Commission because that is what a New Testament church does.
Let’s remain in fellowship with a kind, cooperative spirit regardless of any actions taken at the SBC. I am going to Orlando and whether the recommendation from the task force is tabled, amended, modified, adapted, homogenized or voted down or up; I for one will not break fellowship with those brothers and sisters who vote differently than my peculiar vote. Yes I am one of those peculiar Baptists. We must not make this a line in the denominational sand. We must not make this a fellowship issue. If we do, the kingdom will not be honored and we will leave Orlando disappointed and defeated. Every pastor, Director of Missions, state and denominational leader I’ve met is committed to being more effective in fulfilling the Great Commission. We are all on the same page regarding the bigger issue of purpose and mission.
My point is, let’s not over react, but realize we all have the same goal of reaching the world for Christ beginning in our on town. This will not be the last study report for Southern Baptists to consider.
The media and the world will have their mouse ears on listening and watching us in Orlando. How we respond to each other, regardless of how we voted on any recommendation or point of business, really shows if we are Great Commission Christians!
In JOHN 13:34 Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you LOVE one another; even as I have loved you, that you also LOVE one another. By this shall all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have LOVE for one another.”
My hope and prayer is that Southern Baptists, a peculiar people indeed, can disagree agreeably in Christ like love and go back to our churches after the convention with a new zeal for sharing the Gospel and working together. This will not happen by a vote at a national convention, but by the Holy Spirit filling us and guiding each of us to be Great Commission Christians. I pray that is the resurgence we experience in Orlando.
Well said, Mike.
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Thanks Jim…I really appreciate your kind words.
I have seen many commments concerning the
proposed changes and I believe this is the best!