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Suggestions to the Great Commission Task Force


To: Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Great Commission Task Force Chairman
Dr. Johnny Hunt, SBC President
From: Gary McKean, UISBC MSC Coordinator and SBC Executive Committee Member
Date: March 31, 2010

Subject:  Great Commission Task Force Progress Report: Comments and Proposal 


First, as a member of the SBC Executive Committee, I want to thank you for your efforts and services with the Great Commission Task Force. I take the liberty of sending this memorandum to you with the hope that you will be able to consider and distribute it to the Task Force members for the upcoming Task Force meeting.

Without engaging in a detailed critique of the Progress Report, I do have some comments for your consideration. The proclaimed purpose of the Report is an emphasis and focus on, as well as a call to give a high and effective priority to, the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Although I do not agree altogether with the recommendations set forth in the Progress report, I concur

  • in that proclaimed purpose;
  • that something needs to be done to fulfill that purpose and to do so in a more effective manner; and
  • that there is the need for a meaningful and effective analysis and evaluation.

As to that last point, however, I believe that analysis and evaluation is healthy and should be an ongoing process and that this should include first an analysis and evaluation of the vision and heart of the SBC and then an analysis and evaluation of all, and not just selected, SBC entities, organizations and structures, policies, procedures, programs, and ministries.

Please understand that although I am not in agreement with all of the recommendations set forth in the Progress Report, my main and immediate concern is with the scope, process and procedures which resulted in the Progress Report. Please allow me to mention 5 points of concern along that line.

1.     Lack of Meaningful Methodology

There appears to be a lack of a sound and well-considered methodology, without which, and absent an explanation of such a methodology, the credibility of the Progress Report and its recommendations is certainly detrimentally affected. It is a matter of wisdom and reasonableness to determine and develop an appropriate and meaningful strategy, approach, plan, or methodology before undertaking an assigned task. That can strengthen recommendations whereas the lack of it can weaken the recommendations.

2.     Brevity of Time and Resulting Inadequacy of Study

The time within which the Task Force developed the Progress Report is so short that it raises reasonable concerns about the thoroughness and adequacy and therefore the usefulness of the Progress Report. For example, it is clear that many areas of consequence were not considered or understood in any depth while formulating the major recommendations. There is an obvious need for an in-depth study before major recommendations should be made or considered..

3.     Decision Seeking

A quite disconcerting aspect of this situation is the reported intent of the Task Force to elicit a decision approving and committing to the recommendations at the 2010 SBC Annual Meeting in Orlando. If so, in my opinion that would be ill-advised. There is no compelling reason for the messengers to vote on the substance of the recommendations without any in-depth assessment and study  and without a proposed implementation plan. My suggestion is that the Task Force refrain from seeking any approval or commitment action by the messengers on the Final Report. Change may be necessary but it should be achieved in a manner most likely to succeed and to unify Southern Baptists around the Great Commission.

4.    “Streamlining”, Organizational Changes, and Funding

The call for “streamlining” and structural changes in the Progress Report and the argument that this would be an effective stewardship solution and result in more effective and fiscally efficient ministry is not particularly persuasive without an adequate supporting study and implementation plan. This sort of call has been routinely employed in governmental arenas and has almost always proved to have quite the opposite and unintended effect. Consideration of organizational and stewardship changes is in order and may well be needed and helpful if the SBC is to better fulfill its mission and the Great Commission but not on the basis of a brief review that the Task Force has been able to undertake and the absence of a meaningful in-depth study.

5.     Cooperative Program and Cooperative Agreements

Much more thought needs to go into the recommendations regarding the Cooperative Program as well as NAMB’s cooperative agreements with state conventions and there needs to be a better informed understanding of the ramifications if those recommendations are adopted.

My biggest concern is in the spiritual arena. The Task Force really needs to understand and articulate that the crucial aspect in this Great Commission process is spiritual. The Progress Report well painted the picture of lostness and the need and also the enormity of the task of fulfilling the Great Commission. However, the recommendations in the Progress Report appear to equate “streamlining”, “decentralization” and organizational change with:

  • progress towards fulfilling the Great Commission
  • increased effectiveness
  • increased efficiency

Foregoing any argument on that, the crucial and landmark need is for revival in the churches and God’s people and a greater need than ever for church education. An apt statement was given at a conference for ministers of education at Ridgecrest several years ago:

The Mission is everything
Our mission is to go, reach, teach
My mission is to equip the faithful to fulfill the mission

If the goal for the SBC is a greater fulfillment of the Great Commission, then there is a reasonable argument that the more urgent and primary goals ought to be spiritual renewal and education.  I submit that the spiritual component should be the mainstay of the Progress Report and its recommendations rather than the structural and funding components. Accompanying this memorandum is a memorandum addressing the spiritual aspect, which I hope may be of interest to the Task Force as it considers its Final Report.

Finally, it would be appropriate for the Task Force to consider making a recommendation at the 2010 SBC Annual Meeting that all the SBC entities and agencies jointly:

  • assess the recommendations of the Task Force using a reasonable and meaningful methodology for that assessment;
  • develop a cost analysis and potential implementation plan for the Task Force recommendations and recommendations for alternative or supplemental actions; and
  • submit a joint report to the messengers at the 2011 SBC Annual Meeting.

Thank you for taking the time to read this memorandum I hope that it will prove helpful to you. I shall be praying for you.

Respectfully submitted
Gary O. McKean
Executive Committee Member

cc: Tom Biles, EC Member and task Force Member
Al Gilbert, EC Member and Task Force Member
Roger Spradlin, EC Member and Task Force Member



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