June 2010


[Excuse me for a moment while I rant about SBC Politics]

In recent years, and especially recent months–in regards to the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR), the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF), and the tome-like report from the task force which includes a more voluminous response in Baptist papers and Baptist blogs all over the world–I am discovering greater and greater misunderstanding of the concept of funding missions through the Cooperative Program (CP).

As simple as it may seem, the difficulty boils down to an exchange of words (more precisely prepositions) that re-orders the whole CP issue. I understand that what I’m about to say will be viewed by some as hair-splitting, but it finds it’s source at the very root CP historically, and Southern Baptism at its core.

From its inception, the designers of the CP had in mind an effort to unify Southern Baptists  and free local pastors from the constant demand from cause representatives (mostly good, worthy causes) who desired two minutes here, five minutes there, and the full service over there, to pitch the local church on supporting this ministry or that. In addressing the outcry from local pastors, the Cooperative Program plan of giving was born. Local pastors could continue to invite whomever they desired into their pulpit to present their ministry, but by giving through the CP toward missions efforts of all stripes, Southern Baptists could join together to support everything from Scripture translation to missionary work in foreign lands. The distribution of those cooperative funds would be determined as the Convention met annual and approved whatever budget they deemed appropriate for the SBC.

The concept of giving through the CP was changed as people began to talk about giving to the CP, turning this unifying concept of giving into just another special offering. Today as I was reading some commentary on what might happen in Orlando as the SBC meets for her annual meeting, I noticed once again that a prolific Southern Baptist voice in the blogosphere had missed the point of CP altogether.

Perhaps it is a result of the greater influx of leaders whose roots are firmly planted in historic Independent Baptism rather than historic Southern Baptism that causes this misunderstanding, but I see it as one of the main reasons that we are struggling with just such a dilemma today–namely, how can we as Southern Baptists find a more effective way to embrace the Great Commission and be a true Kingdom force in the coming years (which is after all the point of the GCR and the GCRTF)?

Just my thoughts, what are yours?

Though technically not a “hymn” this children’s chorus has a great deal to teach us about the love of Christ. The point behind the words–Jesus loves everybody. It’s an all-inclusive, not a semi-exclusive event. The song writer could easily have included young and old, rich and poor in the delineation of those who find themselves loved by Jesus.

Sadly, several years ago, hymn compilers for some of the major denominations took offense at the wording, suggesting that the words were racially inflammatory, and thus exchanging “red and yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight” with “Every color, every race, all are covered by His grace” as a politically correct alternative, which (in politicizing the song) actually changes the point made by Clare H. Woolston in the late 1800s.

Another version attempts to improve on the inclusiveness by inserting “brown” (Red, brown, yellow, black and white), which, at least for me is a less offensive change, but it’s still not what we grew up with.

My point, and why did I choose this song this week(?): Jesus loves you–whoever you are–wherever you are–without distinction. And that, I believe, is what Woolston was after when he wrote the words so long ago. So, sing with me–and since it’s a kid’s song, be a kid again and sing like your life depends on it and you mean it. (Be sure that you are using George Root’s 1864 tune “Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!”)

  1. Jesus calls the children dear,
    “Come to Me and never fear,
    For I love the little children of the world;
    I will take you by the hand,
    Lead you to the better land,
    For I love the little children of the world.”

    • Refrain:
      *Jesus loves the little children,
      [*Jesus died for all the children,]
      All the children of the world;
      Red and yellow, black and white,
      All are precious in His sight,
      *Jesus loves the little children of the world.
      [*Jesus died for all the children of the world.]
  2. Jesus is the Shepherd true,
    And He’ll always stand by you,
    For He loves the little children of the world;
    He’s a Savior great and strong,
    And He’ll shield you from the wrong,
    For He loves the little children of the world.
  3. I am coming, Lord, to Thee,
    And Your soldier I will be,
    For You love the little children of the world;
    And Your cross I’ll always bear,
    And for You I’ll do and dare,
    For You love the little children of the world.

*Alternate text for refrain