Task force recommendations could harm cooperation, Chapman insists - Word&Way

Task force recommendations could harm cooperation, Chapman insists

ORLANDO, Fla.—Adopting the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force could have negative repercussions, Morris Chapman warned Southern Baptist Convention messengers during their annual meeting June 15.

In his final report as president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee, Chapman extolled the virtues of the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified giving plan.

While acknowledging the Cooperative Program has never given every entity all it wanted or needed, he insisted it has given every entity some funds to do the work God called them to do.

“The Cooperative Program has survived many years of tough times. It has brought us through every time,” said Chapman, who will retire from his position Sept. 30. If the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force is approved, he warned, the Cooperative Program will not retain the unique place it has held. “It will be one of several offerings, not one of a kind.”

Chapman, who served as president of the convention two years before being elected president of the Executive Committee in 1992, recalled the “conservative resurgence” of the 1970s and 1980s as a “return to Southern Baptists’ roots theologically.”

Chapman said that he fears that the Great Commission Resurgence task force report, if approved, would lead Southern Baptists’ from its funding methodology.

“If we abandon our methodology of cooperation, we will become independent Baptists, not autonomous, cooperating Baptists,” he warned. “If you want to be independent tomorrow, you can declare it so. … You can walk away as an independent Baptist body of people.”

“Failure to fulfill the Great Commission is not a structural problem and that it cannot be accomplished with a structural solution,” he stressed. Failure to fulfill the Great Commission is a “heart problem, a spiritual problem, a stewardship problem,” Chapman said.

He also told messengers: “We can’t manufacture a resurgence of God’s power because someone declares it to be so.”

In referencing the task force report, Chapman spoke specifically against the last five recommendations of the report:

• Request the Executive Committee of the SBC to consider recommending to the SBC the adoption of the language and structure of Great Commission Giving as described in this report in order to enhance and celebrate the Cooperative Program and the generous support of Southern Baptists channeled through their churches …

• Request the Executive Committee to consider any revision to the ministry of the North American Mission Board that may be necessary in order to accomplish the redirection of NAMB as outlined in this report …

• Request that the Executive Committee and the International Mission Board of the SBC consider a revised ministry assignment for the IMB that would remove any geographical  limitation on its mission to reach unreached and underserved people groups wherever they are found.

• Request the Executive Committee to consider working with the leadership of state conventions in developing a comprehensive program of Cooperative Program promotion and stewardship education in alignment with this report.

• Request the Executive Committee to consider recommending an SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget that will increase the percentage allocated to the IMB to 51 percent by decreasing the Executive Committee’s percentage of the SBC Allocation Budget by 1 percent.

“The last five recommendations will never bring resurgence to the Southern Baptist Convention,” Chapman told messengers. Instead, he continued, those recommendations “will bring more confusion and chaos” to the convention. They need more thought, study and prayer, he asserted.

However, he did not dismiss the entire report. There is great truth in the “urgency” pointed out by the task force, Chapman said. “We must be urgent in penetrating the darkness.”

Chapman also called for the adoption of the challenges listed at the end of the task force report.

“The challenges will inspire us to a higher calling, a greater vision,” he said. “These two sections can form the foundation of where God wants us to go together.”