A Southern Baptist pastor is urging younger Baptists who may have doubts about the denomination not to abandon ship just yet.
As the Southern Baptist Convention prepares to embrace the Great Commission Resurgence this month, Pastor J. D. Greear wants fellow SBC members to know that the new movement is "something of God" and has nothing to do with saving the denomination.
"I want to address those of you who, like me, have a Baptist past but have often found yourself wondering, regarding the Southern Baptist Convention, 'What is the point? Aren’t denominations a thing of the past?'" the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., pastor said in a recent commentary.
"I want to try and persuade you that this movement, the Great Commission Resurgence, is something of God, is valuable for the Kingdom, and worth the investment of your time," he said. "I do so simply as a pastor of a young Southern Baptist church."
Greear was part of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force which drafted a report on how the SBC – the largest Protestant denomination in the country – could work more faithfully, aggressively and effectively together in fulfilling the Great Commission. The final draft was released last month and will be considered at the SBC Annual Meeting in Orlando, June 15-16.
The report includes recommendations that include structural changes and a call to repent of pride and disunity. With some 4 billion people in the world having little to no access to the Gospel, Southern Baptist leaders are seeking to adopt the recommended changes and urgently engage the "lostness."
Anticipating the changes, Greear is asking young Southern Baptists to stick around and consider being a part of the Great Commission Resurgence.
"God may or may not choose to use and preserve the SBC in the future," he said. "The SBC is merely a tool that God has used to assist His churches in accomplishing the Great Commission. The 'tool' for the task is not the point, the task itself is, and if the tool ever gets in the way of the task, we should discard the tool and pursue the task.
"But I believe that there are some things about the SBC that are very strategic in this day and hour for the forward progress of the Great Commission, and I believe that it would be both unhelpful and unwise to walk away from it yet. So all this, for me, is about the Great Commission, and us together getting it accomplished in the world."
He stressed that the new movement would result in more SBC money being directed to the nations.
"More of the money we give to missions needs to go the part of the world with the least access to the Gospel," he said.
Responding to some who feel that's still not enough, he agreed by stating that this is only "the first of many important steps we need to take as a Convention toward greater effectiveness for the nations."
Greear has recognized that younger Southern Baptists who are passionate about reaching the lost are no longer looking to the convention for leadership and are choosing to contribute directly to missions rather than through denominational programs.
He assured fellow Baptists that by adopting the recommendations, local churches will be able to invest not only in the Cooperative Program – an SBC initiative that channels giving to missions and other denominational programs and entities – but also other projects of their choosing.
"Southern Baptist churches have done this for years, and by recognizing it we are simply acknowledging that the local church has the right to determine how to invest her money," he explained.
In a final appeal, Greear said, "I’d urge you not to be caught on the sidelines in this strategic hour of battle.
"I’d urge you not to be caught on the sidelines in this strategic hour of battle."