Wednesday, April 20, 2016

J. D. Greear would be a great SBC president

I will likely not attend the SBC Annual meeting this year, since, strangely, no one gives retired pastors a convention allowance. I've been to St. Louis a few times already. It was hot.

If I were present, I'd cast my presidential vote for J. D. Greear. I think he would be a great president. The other two announced nominees would be fine but I'd go with Greear.

No SBC church has more members currently serving with our International Mission Board. The 149 who are Summit members constitute about 4% of the total now serving with IMB. That is beyond impressive, it's astonishing. Many (most?) of those are serving in difficult places.

It's my observation that most any church can generate impressive numbers of short term overseas mission volunteers. If the core of our overseas strategy is built around full-time, career personnel who plant themselves in the culture, learn the language, and serve for years, then someone ought to say that Summit Church is doing something on a scale that SBC churches have never done before.

Baptist Press reported Summit's most recent annual baptism number, 928. That's outstanding but not a compelling motivator. Gaines and Crosby do well. God bless them all in their efforts and success in reaching and baptizing people for the Lord.

Let's be straightforward about the giving pattern for Summit, Bellevue (Gaines' church) and the churches of past SBC megachurch pastors.  Almost all (perhaps a single, maybe two exceptions) such previous presidents were considerably below the SBC average percentage. We have been in a decades long recalibration of SBC giving patterns where the Cooperative Program has consistently declined in importance to individual churches and designated giving has steadily risen. Those who have a nostalgic lament for the years of 10% CP giving should be left alone to revel in their gauzy memories of days past.

Before one criticizes Summit for their 1% or so CP giving, or for past methods of giving where money was sent directly to the Executive Committee rather than through their state convention (both Summit and Bellevue did this, as did Ronnie Floyd's church in earlier years), consider that these churches made conscious decisions to put money directly into theological training and the two mission boards rather than dissipate their mission giving by letting 60+ percent be kept by their legacy southern state convention.

If the question becomes, "But, Plodder, what if every church did that?" I suppose one would have to answer truthfully and admit that our overseas mission force would double, triple or more and the seminaries could offer totally free tuition.

In a day when SBC churches spend a lot of time and money on parachurch ministries (Awana), independent mission organizations (Christmas Child, etc.), independent seminaries (Liberty et al), and a broad panoply of non-SBC sending organizations it is not insignificant that Summit chooses to work through our own seminaries and our own mission boards. Thank God for that.

Like I said, I doubt I'll be there to vote. But, if J. D. is elected, I'll make a deal with him: He sends me some of his hair jell and I send him some of my razors. Might work well for both of us.

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