By: Danny Akin & Steven McKinion
The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force has proposed the adoption of eight Core Values. We wrote about why we believe the first four of those are important in an earlier post. In this article we want to demonstrate why the next two Core Values are key to ensuring that the churches, agencies and institutions of the Southern Baptist Convention will be more effective in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Value 5: Trust. We tell each other the truth in love and do what we say we will do
If Southern Baptists are to cooperate in the work of the Gospel, we must be able to trust one another. Trust is rooted in our shared faith and commitment to the Truth of Scripture. (John 17:17) Practicing truthfulness in our words and deeds leads to an environment of trust. We earn the trust of other Southern Baptists by acting in a trustworthy manner. Telling the truth is an essential part of living the Truth.
Dishonest speech is perilous in our relationships, and equally perilous in our Gospel proclamation. If we cannot trust one another to deal honestly and with integrity in our partnerships, how can we act deferentially for a common purpose? Just as important, how can we claim to represent the One who Himself is Truth when we cannot be trusted to speak honestly?
Trusting and being trustworthy are inseparable. If we are not trustworthy, we will never foster an environment of trust. Marriages that have been scarred through the infidelity of one party can be healed, but as long as there is no trust, there will be an inadequacy of relationship. We agree with the Task Force that Southern Baptists need to value an environment of trust that is created through trustworthiness. For us to cooperate in the Great Commission we must be able to trust each other. We must learn to give one another “the benefit of the doubt.” And to trust each other, we must act with integrity in ALL of our dealings.
Moreover, a massive barrier to the hearing of the Gospel is the sometimes scandalous behavior of those claiming to be Christians. Our unsaved friends must be able to trust us to speak honestly and deal with them honestly if they are to be open to hearing the Gospel. The nations will always be skeptical of our message of Truth if we cannot be believed.
Value 6: Future. We value Southern Baptists of all generations and embrace our responsibility to pass this charge to a rising generation in every age, faithful until Jesus comes
Disciple-making involves older Christians helping teach younger Christians the implications of the Faith in their lives (Titus 2:1-15). Every generation in the church is essential to the inward progress of the Gospel in the lives of believers and the outward progress of the gospel to the nations. Christians in every generation are valuable as Christ is formed in them. The wisdom that comes from a lifetime of following Jesus is to be passed on to the next generation of Christian whose passion and energy are needed (2 Timothy 2:2). We agree with the GCRTF that for Southern Baptists to participate in the Great Commission we must value every generation. Older Southern Baptists are to be valued not just because of the legacy they have left, but, more importantly, for the role they continue to play in shaping the convention and its member churches. Older Southern Baptists are essential for us to be “the church.”
Younger Southern Baptists are also to be valued, as they are both the present and the future of the convention. Southern Baptist churches that do not reproduce by passing along the faith to the next generation are like mules, whose work is valuable for a time but when they are gone have left no one to carry on the work. For Southern Baptists to refuse to both value the younger generation and to dedicate ourselves to their formation is unconscionable. The Great Commission is of necessity a task of spiritual reproduction. We must be fervent in producing and teaching the next generation of Southern Baptists.
Good parents are those who sacrifice for their children. Good children are those who honor their parents. Parents leave an inheritance to their children so it will be passed on, not so it will be consumed and squandered. For the SBC to accomplish effectively the Great Commission we must be churches that sacrifice for the next generation and that honor the previous generation by continuing their work.
Younger generations cannot be like adolescents who “know everything,” and reject the wisdom of their elders. Longevity in ministry can expose younger Christians to pitfalls that may not easily be seen. It is for this reason that the Bible says a novice should not be appointed as an elder. Older generations cannot simply rely on how things have always been done. What is the best strategy in one generation may not necessarily be the best strategy in the next. My father (Steve) grew up in a home with no indoor plumbing. They took baths in a tub in the kitchen. I am glad that what “worked” for his family was not what he passed on to me!
Can Southern Baptists trust one another to speak the truth in love? Can we be trusted to do what we say, both in our dealings with one another and with the world? Can we be trusted to pass along the Faith to the next generation, even when that involves self-denial and self-sacrifice? If not, then we will never be effective in the work of the Gospel. A GCR will only be a dream that never comes to fruition.