ORLANDO, Fla.—The Southern Baptist Convention overwhelmingly reaffirmed its intention to spread the gospel throughout the nation and around the world, members of the SBC’s Great Commission Resurgence task force told reporters.
At least 75 percent to 80 percent of messengers to the SBC annual meeting ratified the task force’s seven-part set of recommendations, Chairman Ronnie Floyd told reporters moments after the vote.
The committee drafted the recommendations to turn the convention’s focus toward “penetrating the lostness” of the world. They received stiff opposition from Morris Chapman, retiring president of the SBC Executive Committee, as well as leaders of some Baptist state conventions and others who fear the changes will erode financial support for the convention.
"We thank all Southern Baptist for believing in the Great Commission,” Christ’s mandate to spread the gospel across the globe, Floyd said, flanked by five other members of the task force.
“The convention vote was very clear,” stressed Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark.
“As a convention, we have made some basic statements,” added Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
One of those clear statements is the convention’s priority for telling people the world over about Jesus Christ, insisted Roger Spradlin, pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif., and new chairman of the Executive Committee.
Spradlin noted the convention voted to move 1 percent of the Cooperative Program, the SBC’s unified budget, from the Executive Committee to the International Mission Board. One percent of the IMB budget translates into 46 missionaries, who will present the gospel to people all around the world who never have heard of Jesus, he said.
“That represents more than dollars on a spreadsheet,” he added. “It represents the heart” of Southern Baptists’ passion for the gospel.
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., has experienced that passion through two sons who have served as missionaries among Muslims.
“I saw the lostness of the world. I wanted us—brothers and sisters—to catch a vision for what matters to God,” he said of his motivation for the recommendations.
The past year, every member of the Great Commission task force has been changed by his or her experience, reported Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla.
“We have taken a look, through the Lord’s eyes, to the lostness of the world,” he said. “Lostness has broken our hearts.”
That brokenness and concern extends to the great cities of America, Spradlin said, pointing out his state, California, is home to 30 million people who do not follow Christ. “You can’t think about lostness without it impacting your heart,” he noted.
Passage of the Great Commission Resurgence report was “another step in the right direction” toward energizing the younger generation of Southern Baptists, Akin said.
“I think today will go down as a very decisive moment in the Southern Baptist Convention’s history,” Mohler added, acknowledging the SBC’s history is sprinkled with numerous decisive moments. “This morning, … I prayed the denomination would head toward hope, and I believe that’s what happened today.”
Even though the recommendations encountered spirited opposition, Floyd predicted Southern Baptists would rally behind their decision and move forward together.
“When Baptists have spoken, Baptists get their hearts in line,” he said. “We are optimistic the convention has spoken.”