The radical makeover of the Southern Baptist Convention continues to move faster than a starving alligator chasing down its next meal. With the release of their report and recommendations on September 23 at historic Lake Yale, the “Imagine If Great Commission Resurgence Task Force,” appointed last year by Florida Baptist Convention President John Cross, appears poised to lead Florida Baptists to become the first Baptist State Convention under the GCR to become a subsidiary of the national SBC. In June, just after the SBC in Orlando, I predicted to my brother-in-law, a Florida Baptist pastor, that the Imagine If Task Force would recommend a 50-50 split of CP funds. I just didn’t predict the four year timeframe.
As a Florida native who was ordained as a deacon and licensed to the Gospel ministry at First Baptist Church of Lake Placid, a church where my mother still actively serves, I am not at all surprised at the recommendations that will be voted on at the Florida Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting in November. I can’t wait to hear the rhetoric that will be used by the Imagine If Task Force, especially when grass-roots Florida Baptists speak out against it. Oh, wait. I’ve heard it before — rebellious spies, skunks, liberals. Look for a repeat of Orlando.
Whether or not grass-roots Florida Baptists approve or reject the Task Force’s report will be a major signal in the coming state-by-state battle shaping up between the two competing philosophies in the SBC. What are those competing philosophies? The one, which I subscribe to, is a bottom-up, grass-roots model where cooperation begins at the local and state levels and then goes upward. The other, which is the philosophy of many in the ruling class within the SBC, is one that is a top-down, corporate denominational approach that does not see any need for local Associations or State Conventions.
If that sounds too harsh, then why do so many, including Florida’s John Cross, who appointed the Imagine If Task Force, serve in churches that give so little to CP, the vehicle that we were assured by the GCRTF was the primary means of supporting the SBC? If your church is giving less than 1% to CP, I’m not sure that most rank and file Southern Baptists would consider that primary! Do actions really speak louder than words? We shall see. I will have much more on these developments next week both here and at SBCVoices, where I will contribute a weekly blog post. If you think you understand the “historic 50-50 split” of CP funds that the establishment in Florida and elsewhere keeps pushing for, you may be in for a real surprise. Stay tuned. Until then, enjoy another great weekend of football. Go Gators!