The GCR & A New War Between The States

With great excitement and enthusiasm, 95% of the messengers (including this one) at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting in Louisville, Ky in June 2009 approved the creation of a Great Commission Task Force.  The mandate, as authorized by the messengers, was straightforward and unambiguous:

authorize the President of the Southern Baptist Convention to appoint a Great Commission Task Force charged to bring a report and any recommendations to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Orlando, Florida, June 15-16, 2010, concerning how Southern Baptists can work more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission.

The Task Force did indeed bring their report and seven recommendations to Orlando.  The messengers, even fewer in number than the year before, approved the report and all seven recommendations as a whole.  In the end, the report and recommendations were approved only after Component Three, “Encouraging Cooperative Program Giving and Other Great Commission Giving,” was revised to give the appearance that the Cooperative Program was strengthened.

This apparent strengthening of the Cooperative Program came about after a somewhat contentious debate, a split vote on the floor which should have gone to a written ballot, parliamentary shenanigans that are inexcusable, and some fast wheeling and dealing by the Task Force to save their report.

Because of the negative consequences that I see from an “independent/societal giving” model, I was hoping that the Cooperative Program, as opposed to “Great Commission Giving,” would truly be strengthened.  And, even though the overwhelming majority of messengers to the Convention approved what they thought was a strong CP statement, I came away from Orlando convinced that there were some that day, including many within the SBC establishment, who thought (and knew) otherwise.

Now, several months after the GCRTF Report and Recommendations were “overwhelmingly” approved, including the revised Component Three, we are beginning to see divergent interpretations of just what happened in Orlando.  We have state conventions, such as Louisiana, Kansas/Nebraska, and perhaps North Carolina, issuing strong affirmations of the Cooperative Program.  Other state conventions, like Florida, Kentucky, are looking at their CP allocations and overall giving in a new light. 

Most state conventions, including New Mexico where I serve, are cutting their budget because of overall economic factors, but are not otherwise changing their CP allocations.  Right now, it appears that most state conventions will not move to make any radical changes to their CP allocations, although New York did increase the percentage amount that they forward to the SBC by .25%.  

What does all this mean in the life of our churches, associations, state conventions, and the SBC as a whole?  To answer that question, let’s review the mandate that the Task Force was given by the churches who comprise the Southern Baptist Convention:

a Great Commission Task Force charged to bring a report and any recommendations . . . concerning how Southern Baptists can work more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission.

The Task Force, approved by 95% of the messengers, was supposed to bring back a report and recommendations that would help ALL Southern Baptists (not just a select group) work “TOGETHER” to fulfill the Great Commission (not the GCR).  Now, almost 1 1/2 years since the creation of the Task Force and four months after the final report was approved in Orlando, can anyone honestly say that the report and recommendations have brought Southern Baptists TOGETHER?  From almost the beginning until the end, including the lack of transparency, this entire process has not united us, but rather has divided us.  Seems strangely familiar to the Health Care overhaul, but I digress.   

What we are witnessing is a growing division among Southern Baptists that will increasingly manifest itself as a new “war between the states.”  One state convention will buy into the GCR vision while another state convention will not.  Some individual Southern Baptist pastors and churches will look favorably upon the GCR recommendations while others will continue to have questions and concerns. 

But, unless you equate being faithful to the GCR with being faithful to the actual Great Commission (which unfortunately, some are already doing), then just because autonomous state conventions or autonomous churches choose not to accept the GCR vision does not mean that they are any less committed to fulfilling the Great Commission!  The Great Commission should always unite Southern Baptists and bring us closer together.  After all, isn’t that what we voted for in 2009! 





About Howell Scott

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for the last fourteen years. Before entering the ministry, I was a practicing attorney in my homestate of Florida. I have been married to my wife, Brenda, for 18 years and we have three sons, Stephen, Jacob, and Andrew.
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6 Responses to The GCR & A New War Between The States

  1. Because the GCRTF recommendations involved shifting large sums of money, there is not a little friction as a result. Did anyone believe it would be otherwise?

    It is interesting to see the state conventions make their own decisions about CP divisions. It will be interesting as well to see how they react to NAMB’s ending of the Cooperative Agreements.

    Can we justify allotting such small slices of Cooperative Program dollars to our two mission boards? I say ‘no,’ and many churches say the same. The GCRTF is not the cause of churches giving declining percentages to the CP. Such has been the trend for decades and part of the reason IMO is that churches want to see more of their dollars go to more clearly defined ‘mission’ causes.

    Can we justify taking millions of Annie Armstrong money and putting back into states with thousands and thousands of established SBC churches or using it for such things as VBS training in Arkansas? I think not. Of course, states can make a case for this but it makes sense to many of us to put this money elsewhere.

    I don’t equate being faithful to the GCR with being faithful to the Great Commission, neither do I equate being faithful to the Cooperative Program with being faithful to the Great Commission. Both are flawed. But I believe the GCR, in spite of critics, to be a positive adjustment towards greater faithfulness to the Great Commission.

    • Howell Scott says:


      Thanks for taking the time to read and to respond. I think a good deal of the friction has to do with the process. From the composition of the Task Force to the announcement to the unilateral sealing of records to the heavy handed approach in getting this approved, all led to a considerable amount of friction. And, that’s before you even start talking about money.

      I would agree that there are many factors why CP giving is down, not the least of which is that individual giving is down to the church. Your VBS in Arkansas example illustrates the contention regarding allocations. Maybe NAMB money doesn’t need to be given back to the states and we shall see in the next few years how the partnership agreements will be reworked. But, states will determine if certain ministries are important in helping to fulfill the Great Commission, including not only evangelism, but discipleship as well.

      And, no, I don’t equate being faithful to CP or the GCR as being faithful to the Great Commission. While you view the GCR much more favorably than I do, I probably see a lot more politics involved than perhaps you do, although I may be wrong about that. I think this could have been handled a whole lot better from the beginning. While not everyone will agree, I think that you could have had much more unity than what we are seeing now. Thanks again for stopping by. God bless,


  2. Stephen Fox says:


    Hope you will join David Miller’s latest post, this time at, home of Adrian Rogers’ son David.
    I have made a comment there. Hope you will help Monitor Miller on this one that he doesn’t let his bias delete dissenting opinion.
    With some oversight, could be intriguing conversation here a couple weeks before State Conventions gather in earnest.

  3. stephen fox says:

    Add Wade Burleson’s Blog on SBC Fundamentalism to the STew of Miller’s Tug of War at SBC Impact and it looks like the two of you, Scott and Thornton; well Houston, you have a Problem.

  4. stephen fox says:

    I found this explanation of Inerrancy as it inflects the current DNA of the SBC, well a little bizarre; from Impact’s Tug of War:

    36Tim Rogers said:
    Brother Andrew,

    No, I do not value the BF&M over the Bible. However, we are speaking about the people that are paying the bills. This is exactly what the CR was about. Yes, inerrancy was the problem that needed correcting. However, inerrancy was not the issue that everything rested on. Everything rested on the people in the pews believed the Scriptures were inerrant but the Prof–those being paid by the people in the pews–taught the scriptures were inspired in spots and they were inspired to spot the spots. (Tongue in cheek) That is just another way of saying the Profs taught differently than the people in the pews believed.

    f the SBC held that the Bible wasn’t inerrant, on what moral standard would it be wrong for an SBC-supported seminary to teach inerrancy?

    Your question hits at the heart of what we are speaking. The problem with the pre-CR was the people in the pews would receive profs in their churches and depending on the leaning of the church depended on the way the prof would present himself. There were profs at SBTS that were so well-versed in double-speak that a running joke was that regardless of which side prevailed in the CR that particular prof could go either way. So, we had a problem with saying on thing but teaching another. No one ever said that various doctrines should not be taught and studied in the various seminaries. What everyone has always advocated is that the prof’s present the doctrine of inerrancy as the prevailing view. The profs would not do such. As a matter of fact, when inerrancy was explained to the former Pres of SEBTS he replied that he had no prof. that would affirm that view. I say all of this to tell you that if a majority of the SBC held that the Scripture was not inerrant it would be wrong and even a question of integrity to teach inerrancy as a prevailing view. Why? Because the people who are funding the salaries do not expect inerrancy to be taught.


  5. Pingback: GCR: Hand to Hand Combat in the States? | From Law to Grace

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