In June 2010, almost two years ago now, SBC messengers defeated a proposal to unseal the records of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force meetings, records which the Task Force itself, unilaterally, took the liberty of sealing for a proposed fifteen years.
The strongest argument against unsealing the records had to do with personnel considerations and centered upon the protection of individuals whose testimony about others might in fact jeopardize their jobs. They were promised confidentiality by the task force (who told them they could do that?) and the task force did not want to break their word.
How noble, especially in light of a GCR implementation resulting in the loss of over a hundred jobs at NAMB alone, as employees were let go who, presumably, were told at one time that they had safe jobs by their supervisors, who did not wish to break their words either.
Fast forward two years and what do we have? Some have suggested that the GCR is a dead bird. On this particular matter, I actually agree. Has CP giving increased? No. Is NAMB generating a groundswell of support for its new church planting initiatives? No. The New NAMB is neither popular among new work state conventions nor among established work state conventions. That’s pretty much everybody, right?
Predictably, the “Robin Hood” strategy of raiding relatively wealthy state convention missions resources doing effective work locally in spreading the gospel, and reallocating those same resources toward church planting initiatives in locations where we have not been effective and the fields do not appear nearly as ripe for harvest, has actually met resistance. I know, stunning. Who could have seen this coming?
What GCR proponents must understand is that while they, basically, still do really believe that the state conventions are “bloated bureaucracies,” many within these states see local missions projects that are actually reaching souls being defunded. In my local association, an excellent hispanic mission is taking a cut of $11,000 so NAMB can send it up to New York or somewhere in order to reach souls in a much more “geographically correct” manner. I call this “robbing from Pedro to pay Seinfeld.”
Now local associations and churches are redirecting their giving patterns to express dissatisfaction with the New NAMB in the very same way that NAMB’s current President redirecting giving previously in his weak support of CP and Annie Armstrong to express his former dissatisfaction with the Old NAMB.
To summarize, what we have here is (1) declining CP support, (2) a “dead bird” GCR, (3) lack of support from all types of state conventions, and (4) a growing concern with what is perceived as a “top down” leadership style being orchestrated, primarily, by two of our seminary presidents, Drs. Mohler and Akin, who frankly should be answering to the convention instead of giving the impression that they are dictating to the convention.
Whence this great level of mistrust? Is it possible for us to pinpoint Ground Zero in this lack of transparency in Southern Baptist leadership? Yes, I believe it is. Just as Reagan called upon Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” I believe the time has come for Southern Baptists to make the following demand: “Dr. Mohler, open this box!”
It has been two years. That’s long enough for the dust to settle. If someone loses their job over this, we must at least be open to the possibility that they deserve to lose it. Again, many have lost jobs over GCR. If there is nothing hidden in those records of great import, then we have lost nothing by opening the box except a few hours of time with what may very well prove to be boring reading.
But in our present leadership context, with the crisis of distrust GCR has engendered, one wonders why we must wait until June 2025 to open a box that might provide us with some answers. Surely, the mistrust brought about by this secrecy is doing more damage to the convention than whatever fallout might take place when we peak inside the GCR box.
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her friends are told to “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” They ignored his request and made important discoveries about their leaders. I believe Southern Baptists should do the same by opening the box NOW rather than in June 2025.