Thursday, June 17, 2010

Our radical SBC president: Bryant Wright

How radical is our new SBC president, Bryant Wright?

Pretty doggone radical, I’d say.

Radical enough to stay at one church for 28 years (and counting).

Radical enough to baptize 478 people last year.

Radical enough to plant seven churches in his church’s area.

Radical enough to lead a church that sent 1,500 members on 70 mission trips last year.

Radical enough to be the top SBC church in Lottie Moon offerings 4 of the past 6 years.

Radical enough to be the top Cooperative Program giver in Georgia, about $8m over the past 10 years.

But SBCers are OK with that kind of radicalism.

But are they OK with radicalism that…

…cuts Cooperative Program giving in order to increase giving to international missions?

Wright said,
"We would very much prefer that all those funds go straight through CP," Wright said, "but there needs to be a radical reprioritization of that money."

…suggests that state conventions need to cut their share of Cooperative Program receipts?

Wright said state convention leaders "can be the real heroes in carrying out the Great Commission" since they control budgets and decide how much goes out of state for distribution to Southern Baptist causes. If more Cooperative Program dollars were sent to the international mission field, Wright said he believes Southern Baptists would see an increased passion for CP giving, especially among younger pastors, the group from whom he has received the greatest support for his stand.

Wright has a new plan for increasing Cooperative Program giving: reprioritize where the money goes. I like the plan.

In a year where there was so much said about the Cooperative Program being undermined and how the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force was doing a disservice to Southern Baptists by recommending “Great Commission Giving,” how could we elect such a radical president?

Simple. We like how Bryant Wright is leading by example in carrying out the Great Commission in his church and we like his plan for the Cooperative Program.

He has my prayers and support.

Wright envisions Baptists returning to first love, making radical shift in CP priorities


Jonathan said...

I don't know much about Wright as a preacher or an individual but based on your description, his election might be as important as Rogers' 31 years ago. In any event, if Wright has been the driving force in his church doing those things, then his election will far over shadow the GCR task force recommendation.

Here's my argument: The church that Wright pastors is doing what the SBC says it wants to be doing but seems unable to do on a wide scale. Why? The theory is that the SBC does things via the central planning model and local churches, at least those that getting the job done, are doing it via a model more approaching the free market. Let's imagine if, last Summer, as a test, the SBC had given $250,000 to both the GCR task force and to the church Wright pastors and we decided to compare the difference in real impact regarding the global mission. After 1 year, the GCR has given us a set of recommendations but Wright's church would have actually funded mission work, possibly planted a church or three, would have exposed actual laypeople to an actual unreached people group. What about after 5, 10, 20 years? My guess is that the $250,000 given through the local body would result in far more baptisms than the funds used to fund a year long blue ribbon panel.

This past week, I had a conversation about this with an MDiv candidate friend of mine. I asked him why he had faith in the GCRTF and its ability to do much regarding the reason for its formation last year (decreasing SBC funding, decreasing baptisms, etc...). His answer, paraphrased, was that we needed to get the best minds in the convention in a single room to find the best solutions for the problem. He called that "leadership". Knowing his political bent, I asked him if that is essentially what President Obama has done in Washington (stocking the Executive branch with truckloads of folks bearing Ivy League degrees and decades of time within the academy). He didn't see the parallel, ultimately because he agreed with the agenda of the one and not the other.

In a nutshell, this is the fundamental flaw standing in the way of the SBC getting the job done.

I pray that Wright has a lot of wind at his back.

William Thornton said...

Aptly put, Jonathan.

I'll have to ruminate a bit on our schizophrenic convention that elects a renegade, CP cutting, state convention cutting president, while passing a document that ends up just a degree or two off the status quo.

If we are to get the best minds of the convention together in a room, how about letting us plodders and peons at least listen to what the brilliantes say...and we will in 2025.