During a question-and-answer time with South Carolina Baptist pastors March 23 at White Oak Conference Center, Southern Baptist Convention president Johnny Hunt talked about the idea of “Great Commission Giving,” a proposed realignment of resources for the North American Mission Board and a timetable for implementation of the recommendations of the SBC’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.
In response to a question about the proposed creation of a new giving category called Great Commission Giving, which would encompass both Cooperative Program giving and designated giving, he said, “We aren’t encouraging designated giving, but we are counting it. That should be counted in our Great Commission Giving.
“I think some churches have been giving 10 percent for 30 years, and some are declining and plateauing. Some are never sending people out, don’t start churches, don’t send missionaries,” he said.
He said the percentage given to the Cooperative Program matters less than the “real dollars” that churches give toward missions, and that churches should get “credit” for that type of giving.
Hunt said reaching lost people remains the focus of the GCR task force. “We must get our people and money out to the lostness,” he said.
When a pastor stood and asked, “How do we get our people to do that?” Hunt said, “The answer lies in the 43,000 preachers standing every Sunday morning, leading by example. I believe our only hope is for us to rise. We must stop saying ‘this church’ or ‘that church.’ We all need to give more, and it must start with me.”
Hunt also addressed a task force proposal to end “cooperative agreements” between NAMB and state conventions, which would free up $50 million for use by NAMB for church planting, primarily in major cities. “What we want to do is get that $50 million back to really address lostness,” he said.
“We have so many layers of funding. Can we do this more effectively and efficiently? We may have to do some things differently, and some denominational services may need to shift to the local church,” he said.
“We can send more dollars to IMB (International Mission Board) and for church planting and reaching lostness.”
Hunt suggested that if the task force’s recommendations are adopted by messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Orlando in June, they might be subject to a “grace period” that would delay their implementation until January 2012.
– With reporting from Scott Vaughan.