With ‘Great Commission Living’ as guide, panel to develop proposals for ‘enhancement of cooperative work’

In light of the “Great Commission Living” vision theme adopted last fall by messengers to the South Carolina Baptist Convention annual meeting, a subcommittee of the SCBC Executive Board has been tasked with bringing recommendations “regarding the enhancement of our cooperative work in South Carolina.”

Kent Smith, a member of the SCBC Executive Board and pastor of River Hills Baptist Church in Moore, chairs the panel, which was appointed by outgoing Executive Board chairman Tom Tucker last December.

The recommendations will be based on the mission statement and 10 initiatives approved by South Carolina Baptists last November in adopting “Great Commission Living” as the convention’s new vision theme. (See related story below.)

Other members appointed to the subcommittee include Alex Sands, pastor of Kingdom Life Christian Center in Mauldin; and Rocky Purvis, pastor of Northside Baptist Church, West Columbia. Smith said the subcommittee will “also include” Jim Austin, SCBC executive director-treasurer; D.J. Horton, SCBC president and pastor of Anderson Mill Road Baptist Church in Spartanburg County; and Dwight Easler, Executive Board chairman and pastor of Corinth Baptist Church in Gaffney.

Smith said the subcommittee had an initial meeting earlier this year and convened again Feb. 24. As the Courier went to press, additional meetings were scheduled for March 10 and 24.

“Our heart’s intention is endeavoring to highlight the 10 initiatives as the road map for the future of the SCBC, and we want to approach our ministry partners to see how we can work cooperatively to accomplish these initiatives,” said Smith. “Each of our institutions have their own goals and visions, but we see a lot of opportunities for great synergies to be created between the local churches, the convention and our ministry partners.”

“We want to approach these issues prayerfully, so we have not established a timetable” for publishing recommendations, Smith told the Courier. “There are several discussions that likely need to take place before any recommendations are formalized and presented, so it will be a while.”

Smith said any recommendations from the subcommittee would be presented first to the Executive Board for approval before being offered for consideration by SCBC messengers at an annual meeting.

The seven institutions affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention include Anderson, Charleston Southern and North Greenville universities; The Baptist Courier; the Baptist Foundation of South Carolina; Connie Maxwell Children’s Home; and South Carolina Baptist Ministries for the Aging.

In 2011, South Carolina Baptists, in adopting the recommendations of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, approved reductions in funding to The Baptist Courier and Baptist Foundation of South Carolina; a five-year freeze in funding to the SCBC’s three affiliated universities, two retirement centers, a children’s home and South Carolina WMU; and an annual 1 percent cut to Executive Board (Baptist building) ministries for a period of five years.

Smith provided the following statement to the Courier regarding the subcommittee’s task:

“A sub-committee of the SCBC Executive Board was established in December of 2013 by the outgoing president of the Executive Board, Rev. Tom Tucker, to bring recommendations to the Executive Board regarding the enhancement of our cooperative work in South Carolina following the conclusion of the agreements established under Ralph Carter and the [Great Commission Resurgence] team in order to: (A) better support our Convention efforts to fulfill our vision of assisting churches in making disciples who will urgently take the whole gospel to the whole world that all will be whole, and (B) better fulfill the initiatives approved by the Convention and adopted under Great Commission Living at the 2013 South Carolina Convention.”


Great Commission Living

SCBC messengers last November adopted a new vision theme, “Great Commission Living,” which includes the following vision statement: “The South Carolina Baptist Convention will assist churches in making disciples who will urgently take the whole gospel to the world that all will be whole.”

Ten Scripture-based initiatives were also developed, challenging convention staff to:

• Assist all South Carolina Baptist Convention churches in developing and implementing an intentional relational discipleship process (2 Timothy 2:2).

• Involve 8 percent of South Carolina Baptist Convention churches in a church-health process each year (Revelation 2:4-5).

• Cultivate a church-planting movement that assists SCBC churches in annually planting reproducing churches that equal at least 2 percent of the total number of South Carolina Baptist Convention churches (Acts 13:1-5).

• Work toward a climate of prayer, repentance and reconciliation among churches and their members (Mark 9:29).

• Change the culture of pastor-church relationships so that the South Carolina Baptist Convention becomes last in forced terminations and suicides instead of first (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 5:2).

• Create a church-leadership development pipeline for young people and others that will encourage them to respond to God’s call for missions, church planting and church revitalization (Mark 3:13-15).

• Partner with churches to mobilize 700 full-time Southern Baptist Convention missionaries by the year 2024 (Matthew 9:37).

• Encourage Great Commission generosity by increasing Cooperative Program and other mission offerings by one-tenth of 1 percent per year (Luke 6:38).

• Work to enhance alignment of ministries provided by the Southern Baptist Convention, the South Carolina Baptist Convention, and its ministry partners (John 17).

• Pray and realize that without true revival, none of the preceding will ever occur (2 Chronicles 7:14).

To meet the initiatives, the convention staff organizational structure will be built around (1) church-supporting staff, (2) church-strengthening staff and (3) church-sending staff.

The “Great Commission Living” vision theme follows the previous SCBC emphasis, “Experience Kingdom Life,” and, before that, “Empowering Kingdom Growth.”