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. For one SBC meeting there I stayed at the Mormon hotel next to the Cardinals’ baseball field. The room had a Book of Mormon next to the Gideon’s Bible. Hotel staff said I could take it, so I did. I got to see some of the Cardinal’s game for free, ‘some’ meaning the center fielder and right fielder only, the rest of the field being blocked by the stadium. It was boring.
If I were present in St. Louis this year I’d skip the baseball and cast my presidential vote for J. D. Greear. I think he would be a great president. I believe he would represent the SBC well. 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 than Summit, Greear’s church. 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. Nothing wrong with that. But 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 and that this is a good thing.
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 patterns for Summit, Bellevue (Gaines’ church) and the churches of the long string of SBC presidents who were megachurch pastors. Almost all (perhaps a single, maybe two exceptions) such previous presidents were considerably below the SBC average Cooperative Program percentage. We have been in a decades long recalibration of SBC giving patterns where, as thousands of local churches made autonomous spending decisions, the Cooperative Program has consistently declined in importance to individual churches and designated giving has steadily risen. A megachurch pastor who is solidly Southern Baptist and whose church does what Summit’s does relative to church planting and overseas missions, and those through our SBC mission boards, is a great choice for SBC president.
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 dilute their mission giving by letting 60+ percent be kept by their legacy southern state conventions.
Summit gives double digit percentages in Great Commission Giving. GCG is, may I gently remind my fellow SBCers, money given to Southern Baptist causes, offerings, entities, and organizations. If we think it would be a positive development to restore the 1,000 or so overseas IMB personnel positions that were recently lost, GCG is the manner in which this will be done. There is absolutely no chance that Cooperative Program revenues will suddenly double and the 20% or so of that which goes to IMB will provide the additional funding for missionary positions.
If the question becomes, “But, Plodder, what if every church gave high GCG percentages and low CP percentages?” 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. Based on the past record of CP spending, if CP revenues were to double, state conventions would suck up most of the revenue and use it to hire new staff and start new programs.
In a day when SBC churches spend a lot of time and money on parachurch ministries (Awana et al), independent mission organizations (Christmas Child, etc.), independent seminaries (Liberty et al), and a broad panoply of non-SBC missions 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.
[Need I say that this is my opinion only, not that of anyone else here or of SBCV?]