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Great Commission Resurgence: Changing Structure does not equal spiritual renewal
GCR Task Force Report – changing structure does not equal spiritual renewal
By Mark Edlund
I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. You also possess endurance and have tolerated [many things] because of My name, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you: you have abandoned the love [you had] at first. Rev. 2:2 – 4
The above scripture is familiar to many believers. It is Christ’s words to the church in Ephesus as He is addressing the “seven churches of Revelation.” Christ compliments the church on her attention to theological purity and her perseverance in weathering various trials and persecution. Then there is the “but …” This church that is commended for doing business correctly, fails to do the main thing. They’ve abandoned their first love – a passion for sharing His love. Their obligation was to see the Great Commission fulfilled. If one goes on to verse 5 we see that Christ tells the church to repent and get back to the main thing or their “lampstand” will be removed. In other words get back to the main focus or God will remove His blessing.
The final draft of the Great Commission Task Force was released on May 3rd. There were some changes from the original draft. The language was certainly modulated. I’m appreciative of the Task Force’s diligent work and their willingness to meet and discuss concerns raised by the initial progress report. I certainly resonate with the mission statement and core values. Although the Cooperative Program is given a priority, I was disappointed to see that "Great Commission Giving" remains as a new category to recognize giving to Southern Baptists causes outside of the Cooperative Program.
My biggest disappointment however is that the North American Mission Board and its cooperative agreements with the states appear to continue to shoulder most of the responsibility for Southern Baptists’ “failure to reach America for Christ.” I disagree. I believe that the responsibility for our failure to reach America rests directly on Southern Baptist believers and the churches in which they congregate.
The report seems to assume that if we change structures, if we change definitions, if we change the “rules of engagement”, we will see a resurgence in the advancement of the Great Commission. For me this is the proverbial rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. I believe to the very depth of my being that if we want to see a Great Commission Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention we must have a spiritual awakening. We have the theology right. We have the mission statement right. But we’ve lost our first love. We’ve lost the passion for sharing the Gospel with the lost. The Great Commission was given to the individual disciples gathered at Jesus’ feet just before his ascension. It is the individual church (as in the gathered disciples) that is responsible for the Great Commission. It is not the association, the state convention or the national convention. If Southern Baptists are to see a resurgence in the Great Commission, it will start with the individual disciple and the local church. A change in structure will not fix a spiritual problem.
Colorado Baptists let’s make sure that we’ve not lost sight of the first love. Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit will move in each of our hearts and that daily we will see our own Great Commission Resurgence. Unless we experience a revival in our own hearts we risk the removal of His blessing on our churches and our state and national conventions.