Thursday, April 27, 2006

Five Suggestions for Doing Missions Better

1. Get Rid of the "Southern" in Southern Baptist. Do people really need to discuss this? It seems so obvious. If we are attempting to win the world to Christ why limit ourselves to a name that reeks of regionalism and separatism? We really need to shed the "guns, grits and gee'-zus" image that the term "Southern" communicates to the minds of more than half the world.

2. Cooperate openly with other evangelicals in strategizing, planning and implementing worldwide missions. If my next door neighbor is a Presbyterian, can't he and I witness to the Mormons across the street together? Of course we can. Then why aren't our denominational mission agencies doing it?

3. Sell those buildings in Atlanta and Richmond and move the staff to the mission fields! The International Mission Board should be headquartered outside of the USA, preferably in a third world country. NAMB should be located outside of the South, preferably in North Dakota. Can you imagine the different perspective that would automatically bring to the professional staff of these boards? When your family meets together with nine other Christians in somebody's living room instead of a mega Church in Atlanta or a large church in Richmond you have a better sense of what it is you're trying to accomplish.

4. De-emphasize the State Conventions. This idea of a State Convention bureauracy that syphons off millions of our mission dollars to do what we as associations of churches can do is getting old and unnecessary. Have a missions coordinator for each state or region, paid by churches in that state or region and establish teams of pastors and laypeople in that state or region to do what is now being done by all these "paid professionals". What a windfall of missions dollars this would free up for real Kingdom work!

Do I honestly think any of these will ever be accepted by Southern Baptists as viable changes? Probably not! But if somebody - somewhere - doesn't rise up as a visionary leader and lead us out of this stagnation we're sinking into, I fear we are close to becoming a footnote in the annals of Christian history.