The committee will examine how Georgia Baptists can impact lostness around the world without neglecting those in their own backyard, GBC Executive Committee members told The Christian Index, the state convention's newsjournal.
Jeremy Morton, pastor of Cross Point Baptist Church in Perry, made a motion to create the study committee on behalf of himself and five Georgia Baptist pastors during the Executive Committee's Dec. 14 meeting. Joining Morton were Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville; Larry Wynn, pastor of Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula; Don Hattaway, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cartersville; Ernest Easley, pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Roswell; and William "Bill" Harrell, pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez.
Morton said he and the pastors submitted the motion "to ensure that while we are committed to reaching the nations globally, we as Georgia Baptists remain committed to not abandoning the nations that have come to Georgia."
Morton said the intent of the motion was to consider ways of increasing missions support to Southern Baptist mission boards "while strengthening our mission commitment to the work here in Georgia."
Morton, who said he has seen drastic changes in Georgia lostness in his 29 years as a native Georgian, elaborated on the rationale behind the motion.
"In light of dramatic change in direction by leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, many in our churches have grown uneasy about their own mission giving and if it is being used most effectively," Morton said. "It was even suggested at the recent Georgia Baptist Convention meeting in Albany that more money should leave our state in order to reach the nations.
"While reaching the nations with the Gospel is the desire of all Southern Baptists, many of us believe that it may be time to examine if the dollars going to the Southern Baptist Convention from our churches are being used to greatest advantage," Morton said. "Every organization has bureaucracy, including our Southern Baptist entities, that prevents funds from reaching the mission fields of the world. It may be that of the funds going to the Southern Baptist Convention from our churches, more need to be directed to the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board."
Morton said he is "wholeheartedly" behind reaching the nations, which include the nations that are presenting themselves "in our neighborhoods, our schools and at our front doors here in Georgia."
Morton said that in order to be good stewards of the mission dollars that originate from Georgia Baptist churches and are sent through the state convention for distribution on the national level, he was making the motion "in hopes of easing the minds of all Georgia Baptists during this atmosphere of change and arriving at a workable conclusion regarding how we can get more funds to the mission fields of the world, including Georgia."
'MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS'
In an interview with The Index, Morton said: "Without a doubt every Southern Baptist's passion is to take the Gospel to the nations, but at this point there seems to be more questions than answers about how we are going to do that. Therefore, this motion is not designed to be critical or divisive in any way; it is just to find the most logical steps to take the Gospel to the nations without weakening Georgia.
"We feel like having stronger churches in Georgia will produce more missionaries, more pastors, more ministers to take the Gospel to the nations," Morton said. "If Georgia is as strong as it can be, then the world will be reached quicker.
"A strong Georgia can only help the nations to hear the Gospel. Reaching the world is not an either/or, situation, it's a both/and," Morton added. "We've got to reach Georgia and we've got to reach the nations, and that doesn't mean leaving our borders, because we now have internationals in virtually every Georgia city."
Executive Committee member Wayne Bray, pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Douglasville, said he strongly agreed with the motion.
"My opinion is based largely on what I heard about the growing lostness of the state at our annual meeting last month in Albany. The Mission Georgia 2020 report really opened my eyes to how lost we are right here within our own borders.
"There is no denying that Christ's call on us is to reach the nations, but those nations have come to Georgia," Bray said. "To ignore the 70 percent of Georgians who are lost in order to shine the light of the Gospel beyond our front yard would be a tragedy."
Bray said his congregation is "very much a foreign missions-supporting church, but I am acutely aware now of how lost our state really is."
In other business, Executive Committee members approved a 2011 state missions budget of $13,555,940, down 8.04 percent -- or $1,185,590 -- from the previous year's $14,741,530. The state missions offering goal, to which churches contribute each fall, will be $1,750,000, but only $1,300,000 will be budgeted due to the soft economy.
Any overage of the $1.3-million goal will be used for church planting, in accordance with the Urban Atlanta Impact Initiative strategy, chairman Bob Jolly explained.
Joe Westbury is managing editor of The Christian Index (www.christianindex.org), newsjournal of churches affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Copyright (c) 2010 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net