GCR and CPR are Twins

A fine Christian couple, who thought they could never have children, were surprised to learn that they were expecting. It was a miracle to them and a true gift from God. Then came the startling news from the doctor, “Well, you are going to have twins. “Their excitement was doubled, and the journey of joy began for them in indescribable ways. They were the proud parents of two, not one child. It was a double blessing!

I would love to see a double blessing come to Southern Baptists and Alabama Baptists. As many of you well know, GCR was the focus of the 2009 SBC meeting. Since Baptists are extremely fond of acronyms, let me remind you that GCR represents Great Commission Resurgence. It has been the hot topic of Baptist media, the blogosphere and Twitterverse — before the annual meeting, during it and since that time. I predict the interest in this subject will remain high, as we look to the future.

A task force has been named, and a call for 5,000 people to commit to praying for their work has been made. I have contacted several of the task force members, including our SBC president, to pledge my prayer support. You can count me in on any attempt to see a revival of commitment to the Great Commission of our Lord.
In an earlier blog, I attempted to underline the need for a CPR, a Cooperative Program Resurgence, to be an outgrowth of the GCR effort. My prayer is for that desire to become a reality. I do not want to belabor the same point I sought to make in the recent blog, but I do hope my Baptist family will reflect over the data highlighted by the feature.

If the churches of the SBC had maintained the percentage level of giving of 1989, which was slightly above 10 percent, rather than the current 6.6 percent, the missions giving picture would be remarkably improved. Last year alone, the SBC entities would have received $869 million, rather than $539 million. That is a 61 percent increase in one year.

How many missionaries could have been supported by this increased giving? How many more students in our seminaries could have been helped by the enhanced funding level? These are hypothetical questions, but I contend they are legitimate ones to consider. These are people’s lives, not just dollar signs. That is what the Great Commission is all about: namely being obedient to the Lord in Great Commission living and giving.

Ponder with me the broader two-decade period for even more reflection. If the 10 percent level of CP giving from local churches had been maintained from 1989 to 2008, then there would have been an increase of more than $2.77 BILLION, not million, for missions causes. That is a 65 percent increase in giving. For me, that figure is mind boggling. Unless you work in Washington, where talk is made about TRILLIONS of dollars, you too are probably astounded.

I affirm local church autonomy, and I do not want to make the Cooperative Program into a Coercive Program. That is not my point at all. What I would like for the Baptist family to realize is that we have a system of unified giving, which is a major part of the glue holding us together. To even consider departing from that approach is similar to a local church deciding not to have a unified budget for their ministries. That would be unimaginable chaos. The Cooperative Program has been a primary part of our effectiveness as a Baptist family. It can be for generations to come. We can have a Cooperative Program Resurgence along with a Great Commission Resurgence. Like the family I described earlier, we can celebrate a double blessing from our Lord. That is the kind of future I would hope to see for my Baptist family. I refuse to think that our best days are behind us. With a revival of personal commitment to Christ, to His Great Commission and to our proven way of cooperating together we can be like the proud parents of newborn twins. We can look forward to a future of working together for our Lord.

Executive Director of Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions

State Missionary Rick Lance was elected in June of 1998 to serve as executive director of the State Board of Missions and treasurer of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Rick leads state missions efforts and facilitates Great Commission Ministries for the Convention's 3,200+ churches and more than one million Alabama Baptists.

Rick and his wife, Pam, are members at First Baptist Church, Montgomery. They have two daughters.

Any requests for Rick Lance to speak in or visit your church should be directed to Billie Davis at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 253 or (334) 613-2253, bdavis@alsbom.org.

For questions about Dr. Lance's Facebook and Twitter accounts or his blog site, you may contact his social media assistant, Keith Hinson, at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 289 or (334) 613-2289, khinson@alsbom.org.