Sunday, July 12, 2009

GCR Pushback?

Unless you don't read this blog or haven't followed it carefully of late, you know that I'm not exactly in the running for head cheerleader of the Great Commission Resurgence. I wrote an early post in which I criticized elements of the GCR Axioms document. I'm not in opposition to the GCR movement; I'm praying for and hopeful about the GCR movement; I'm not pushing for the reorganization.

Personally, I'd like to see some more specifics before I commit too much one way or the other

In that earlier post, I predicted that people would be bullied and categorized based upon their support or lack thereof for the GCR Axioms. People unsure of this particular plan for fulfilling the Great Commission would be derided as being against the Great Commission itself. Sure enough, we've heard some of that.

But now we face the speculation in Southern Baptist circles that SBC Executive Committee Vice President Clark Logan may have lost his job because of his connections with people in favor of the Great Commission Resurgence movement. I have seen several "tweets" on social networking site Twitter in which #clarklogan and #gcr are both listed in the message—an indication that people are linking the two topics.

I, like other Southern Baptists, will not know what to make of this until more information is released about this situation. However, I would like to note that most of our entities contain sizable communities both of those who have affirmed the GCR Axioms and those who have not. I am appreciative, for example, of Dr. Chuck Kelley's statesmanlike articulation of his own reservations regarding the GCR plan (which tracked so closely with my own reservations), which he coupled with a strong affirmation of the liberty of NOBTS employees to choose to sign or not to sign the document. That's the approach that I advocate—view the GCR, like all matters of tumultuous change in the SBC, with the wise eye of appropriate skepticism, but treat one another in a Christlike manner by granting liberty to explore this important topic. That's the stance that I've seen from so many denominational statesmen on both sides of the present question.

Although proponents of the GCR have occasionally slipped to slur the GCR-reluctant as "against the Great Commission," they have not yet fired anyone. Indeed, as a colossal act of statesmanship, SBC President Johnny Hunt has appointed to the Reorganization Task Force some people who never did affirm the GCR Axioms. That's the kind of leadership that Southern Baptists appreciate.

Although my predictions were accurate as far as they went, I am embarrassed not to have anticipated what may have been an even more ferocious anti-GCR reaction of bullying. We will all know more if more facts are ever forthcoming, but if things are ever revealed to be in line with present speculation, I will owe an apology to the leadership behind the GCR for the lopsidedness of my predictions.


Alan Cross said...


I am curious as to why you write this way. You offer not one scintilla of evidence of bullying in the firing of Clark Logan, yet you speculate by pointing to tweets that possibly link the two events. Why? Couldn't the speculation just as easily go the other way?

Bart Barber said...


Absolutely, it could. I am carefully saying that I do not know the truth. But, I was harsh on the pro-GCR folks, asserting forcefully that there would be bullying of people who were not convinced by the GCR movement. If there is a possibility or even a perception that a man has actually lost his job for being PRO-GCR, then I owe it to the people whom I criticized to acknowledge the lopsidedness of my previous statements.

Bart Barber said...

For everyone else reading, please note that it is not a true statement to claim that "[I] speculate by pointing to tweets." I am not speculating; I am observing that other people either are speculating or are in the know.

In response to their speculation, I am acknowledging that my earlier predictions of bullying were one-sided.

Todd Benkert said...


The only speculation I see in your post is on the nature of the task force being a "reorganization" task force.

The motion we approved asked for a task force to study how Southern Baptists can work "more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission."

Whether or not the task force recommends reorganization remains to be seen as well as the nature of such a reorganization if such should be suggested. Granted, it's not an unreasonable speculation, but a speculation nonetheless. :)

I'm looking forward to the year's discussions on the blogs and hope the task force will consider the thoughts of those both for and against whatever ideas surface.

The time for dissention, in my opinion, is when we know what the task force recommends. At that point, I hope there will be healthy discussion and that the messengers will come informed and ready to make a decision one way or another.

As for the question they are considering itself, who could be against asking how we can have a more faithful and effective partnership in Great Commission work?


Alan Cross said...


Gotcha. Thanks for answering. That makes sense now.

Wayne Smith said...

Only Satan divides.

Title: My Utmost for His Highest
Author: Chambers, Oswald, 1874–1917

July 12

The Spiritually Self-Seeking Church 
“… till we all come … to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ …” (Ephesians 4:13).
Reconciliation means the restoring of the relationship between the entire human race and God, putting it back to what God designed it to be. This is what Jesus Christ did in redemption. The church ceases to be spiritual when it becomes self-seeking, only interested in the development of its own organization. The reconciliation of the human race according to His plan means realizing Him not only in our lives individually, but also in our lives collectively. Jesus Christ sent apostles and teachers for this very purpose—that the corporate Person of Christ and His church, made up of many members, might be brought into being and made known. We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy a quiet spiritual retreat. We are here to have the full realization of Jesus Christ, for the purpose of building His body.
Am I building up the body of Christ, or am I only concerned about my own personal development? The essential thing is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ—“… that I may know Him …” (Philippians 3:10). To fulfill God’s perfect design for me requires my total surrender—complete abandonment of myself to Him. Whenever I only want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. And I will suffer great humiliation once I come to acknowledge and understand that I have not really been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ Himself, but only concerned with knowing what He has done for me.
My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God.
Am I measuring my life by this standard or by something less?


Anonymous said...


This is an important post.

I heard Dr. Chapman's speech at the convention. I heard Danny Akin's apology for that speech to the meeting of young church planters/pastors at the Baptist 21 meeting. I had no idea how big the rift was until that point.

I have heard from sources whom I cannot name that Dr. Chapman was VERY angry about the GCR leading up to the convention and at least on one occasion reprimanded staff for looking at the GCR website.

I have also heard that Dr. Chapman became enraged beyond all reason after the convention about the GCR, on one occasion having essentially a "purple fit."

I have never thought that it was the EC's job to support or oppose things like the GCR. I thought that the EC's job was to take direction from the convention and implement that direction. I know this is naive on my part, but that's what I think.

I have also not been a fan of EC "ministry" initiatives. That's not what the EC is for. Things like the past family initiative, EKG and other things are widely ignored by most churches, but lots of money is spent on them at the EC level.

I appreciate Dr. Chapman and his contribution to the CR. I appreciate much that he did in the early years at the EC.

He is now 69 years old. I have noticed for 2 or 3 years that when he speaks publicly that his speech seems slurred. I don't know what, if anything, to make of that. What is going on there is pure speculation on my part.

I know that some of his close friends and family have important positions at the EC. Chapman's son, for example, has a high ranking technology job at the EC, but I thought he trained for the ministry and was unaware that he had significant education or training in technology.

I do not know all that happened in the firing of Logan either. But Logan's job is to run the convention, and by all accounts and appearances, he did a good job.

You add this to Dr. Chapman's bellicose reaction to the GCR (and I can take it or leave it, too, as you know), his age, getting the EC involved in fights or initiatives that it should not be involved in, and it is a cause for concern.

I think that what I would advocate is the EC calling a special meeting to get to the bottom of some of this.

If Dr. Chapman is doing a good job and is stable, then continue on, I suppose. But if there are problems, then maybe it's time for a transition there.

The main thing that I want is some oversight by the committee. The EC is not to be so heavily directed by staff, in my opinion. It needs oversight, just like any administration.


Anonymous said...

Great Commandment Emergence first, then Great Commission Resurgence. Who doesn't get that?--Will we attempt to move forward in the strength of SBC leaders OR in the strenghth of the Holy Spirit working in us from the inside, out?

Consistently accomplishing the Great Commission is something spiritually mature/maturing Christians do, not everyone else (cf. 70 million non-evangelical born-again adults in the U.S., but only 15 million evangelical born-again adults in the U.S.--no wonder . . .).

A resurgence of the Great Commission cannot be declared or resolved into existence, as well-intended as the effort might be. And certainly no one's job should be tied to agreeing or disagreeing with that statement--only an absolute nut would think so!

David Troublefield

P.S. Johnny Hunt may need to get out of his county more often; he only knows the few people appointed recently to the GCR study, rather than the same number of folks from among the SBC's 16 million members (even 8 million)? Do the busy/much-involved people he appointed now have nothing else to do?

Anonymous said...

Didn't Dr. Chapman respond in the negative only to the idea of restructuring the SBC--again? As he has as much invested in the SBC as it currently exists, to expect a different response from him would be foolish, though that doesn't necessarily mean that Dr. Chapman is correct. For the sake of souls (and CP contributions meant to help win them), all options probably always should be on the table; it's what effective/efficient leaders--and formal/informal groups of them--do.

David Troublefield

Anonymous said...


My initial reaction was as yours. I saw Dr. Chapman's speech at the convention and wasn't that bothered.

But then I heard Dr. Akin's talk with the Baptist 21 leaders, and I came away with a different understanding.

In other words, to a casual observer, the disagreement did not seem to be that big a deal.

But to insiders, they knew how angry Dr. Chapman was about the whole thing. Akin could pick up on that better than I could.

Then I heard some of the behind the seens angry fits he allegedly has experienced, and it causes me concern.

We are obviously not in the know as to everything that is going on, so we should be cautious. I am just for the EC riding heard on this and finding out what is going on.

I have heard that Dr. Chapman is now on vacation for a month out west.

Maybe the EC can take all this up when he gets back and get everything smoothed over.


Anonymous said...

Everyone posting here has identified himself.

My reference was to what Dr. Chapman himself has written on the matter--prior to the annual meeting. Everyone would have to be careful not either to put words in his mouth or thoughts in his mind on the matter. And, somedays I act like a child in our office--just ask any of my fellow workers; references to Dr. Chapman and his behavior can be considered the same way. I'm not defending him--or anyone else; "fair and balanced"--and without undue speculation--that's what's called for in the matter, I believe.

But, again, without a GCE the SBC is going nowhere fast, as I mentioned above. And, as the New Testament makes plain, that GCE starts with you and me--so, let it start today!

David Troublefield

Anonymous said...


Good words and a good reminder.



Anonymous said...

It seems safe only to say that four SBC leaders have very strong feelings about proposals that aren't being talked about publicly. And that the "bullying" on both sides has more to do with these practicalities than the document.

So I'm not sure it is fair yet to criticize Chapman for being anti-SBC, as Bart does, as the motion itself was a Rorschach test. It gave Hope for Change to every person -- but Dr. Chapman is reacting to specifics that were not in the motion.

I gather Dr. Chapman believes the GCRTF will effectively end the CP, for a future of less C and more P. He cannot criticize rumors, without the final plan being changed to make him look foolish. And he found out at the SBC that some kinds of criticism undermine his role as "guy-in-charge-of-cooperation." But the GCRTF can tweet about him being an old and embarrassing opponent of the Great Commission without end. So Morris Chapman is doomed to a year of political death by a thousand tweets. That would be...frustrating.

Might he just be defending his turf? I suppose. But the story is still consistent with four highly principled principals, doing what they think is best for the SBC. My guess is that Dr. Chapman thinks the specifics of the GCR plan makes support of it incompatible with the promotion of the CP, which is one of the EC's jobs. Clark Logan probably does not.

But until the principals tell us the practicalities of their principles (both Clark Logan-wise, and Art. IX-wise), we're all just playing identity politics.

Maybe we'll know more after the Union University conference on denominationalism.

Bart Barber said...

I missed the citation of where I was criticizing Chapman for being anti-SBC. Could you provide it please?

Anonymous said...

Bart: I had in mind:

"For SBC employees to be terminated for their entrenched opposition to the viewpoint of the Southern Baptist people is one thing; for them to be terminated for AGREEING with the Southern Baptist people is quite another." (

I don't think Chapman thinks he is firing anyone for them agreeing with Southern Baptists. If the two are related, of course...

Anonymous said...


I am certainly not playing identity politics, nor do I think that Bart is with this issue.

I have not gone on record as being a big GCR guy. I like some of it, not other parts.

But the convention overwhelmingly approved to adopt a task force and to report back.

The EC is not one person's personal fiefdom. Not Dr. Chapman's or anyone else's.

Conversely, Mr. Logan works for the EC, not the GCR.

My concern is that there are enough red flags here that I would like to see the EC at least look into what is going on.

If Mr. Logan did something improper, he should be dealt with. If he did not, and Dr. Chapman is paranoid, or trying to close ranks around his personal vision of the SBC future (when no performance, behavioral, doctrinal or other such issues are at stake), I have concerns about that. That, in my opinion, is not what the EC is about.

The only thing that we know so far is that, 1) Mr. Logan has said he was asked to turn in his resignation, and that there was no ethical issue involved, 2) Dr. Chapman has refused to say whether Mr. Logan was asked to resign and said only that he "doesn't respond to rumors", and 3) Both Mr. Logan and Dr. Chapman have wished the other well in their future endeavors.

And, of course, I mentioned my other concerns that have nothing to do with Mr. Logan.

So my concern is about the effecitveness and stability of the SBC leadership at the EC. I want the EC to make sure that we are not on auto-pilot, and that Dr. Chapman is not piloting the ship without enough oversight and assistance.

This is not political for me. The SBC might decide things politically that I don't like. I am not always going to get my way.

But I do expect things to be run properly.

And I want the EC to look into this as soon as possible, especially in light of all the rumblings.

I (and apparently a lot of other people) suspect that something is going on here. I want the EC to either confirm that and deal with it properly or to bat it down, and let's get on with business.

I don't believe that is political.

I do agree with you in one respect. If the EC does not address this, or it comes to light that Mr. Logan was mistreated for reaons that have nothing to do with his job (or they do, only by pretext), then the "death by a thousand tweets" may come to pass. But the EC can head that off by being responsive and proactive.



Bart Barber said...


"...if the two are related, of course."

It seems to me that my "if"s ought to carry as much weight as yours. I've acknowledged all along that I do not know what is the story behind all of this. This is not a topic that I have raised in Southern Baptist life, but it having been raised, I've commented. And my comments have indicated that, if this is the case, then it is inappropriate.

The comment at SBC Today was given in the context of the accusation that Clark Logan's firing, EVEN IF it were because of the GCR, was no different than the firing of Mr. Debusman. I was trying to indicate why the two cases were different. I was not offering a final opinion as to what really is the case with regard to Logan.

Anonymous said...


I didn't mean to offend, and we're not far apart. I'm just cautioning that IF Clark Logan was fired because of his support for the GCR, I do not think we can conclude that Morris Chapman had an improper motive.

We might conclude it was mishandled. I hope that Paul gave Barnabas a severance, too.

But we cannot say Paul was suffering from "paranoia" or selfishly "protecting his vision" of early-church missions, as some might. We do not have to conclude that disagreements are the result of lost principles.

Much of the twittering-class suggests that Morris Chapman is angry about asking "how can we do better," because he's afraid it will diminish his personal fiefdom. Dr. Chapman doesn't have a history of this kind of pettiness, as far as I know. And he has few years of fiefdom left, assuming regular retirement.

So, one explanation that leaves Morris Chapman not being selfish and petty is that he believes the GCRTF will propose changes that violate the principles behind the Cooperative Program, damaging the SBC of the future.

If that is his conclusion, it is a short hop to say that supporting that kind of re-arrangement is incompatible with employment at the EC, as the EC is charged with supporting the CP.

Does he have grounds for such a conclusion or would that be hasty? That, I think, is the big question -- we're all left to wait and see.

Bart Barber said...

Thanks, Anonymous. Sometimes I banter not because I am offended, but just because I enjoy the repartée.

Anyway, in the average situation I would agree with you. The problem in this instance is simply this: Once the messengers to the SBC Annual Meeting have determined that something is not detrimental to the CP and is in the best interests of the convention, it is Dr. Chapman's job to set his personal sentiments aside and carry out the will expressed by the convention. That sentiment could not have been clearer in Louisville.

Thus, if Logan's departure were, as you have theorized, connected to a hypothetical belief that the Reorganization Task Force poses a danger to the Cooperative Program, then his actions, even if well-intentioned, are still highly inappropriate and offensive to the convention. They are so not because he is necessarily wrong is his analysis, but because he has usurped the authority of the churches. Such could not be allowed to stand.

Anonymous said...

All workers in at-will employment states for whom a contract is not in place to the contrary may be terminated for good cause, bad cause, and no cause at all. In any case, it's unfortunate when it happens.


Bart Barber said...


That's precisely correct. Are you citing that law to us with regard to Clark Logan, or with regard to Morris Chapman?

In either regard, the question before us is not whether the action is legal, but whether it represents the will of the Southern Baptist churches.

Anonymous said...

Anon and Bart:

Great discussion. Anon, you are right on the law. And Chapman will be given wide birth if it is truly a performance issue, but if he just said, "I fired him because I wanted to" that would be legal, but not be acceptable.

I would be very interested in hearing some of the details of the severance package. One can tell a lot sometimes by that. If Mr. Logan is worthy of the compliments that Dr. Chapman gave him, and did not do anything unethical or immoral, as Dr. Chapman has confirmed, then I would expect a fair and reasonable severance, especially in light of a "turn in your resignation" by the end of the day type demand. Otherwise, you would expect giving Mr. Logan a few months to start looking.

It seems inconsistent to tell someone to leave that day, but say that they are a persons of great value and did not do anything unethical or immoral. Usually people like that are given a gentle transition.

So, let's see if the severance was reasonable and fair. Hopefully, we all can agree that will be a good indicator of things.

I agree with Bart on the relationship of the GCR and the EC. The convention has spoken, at least with regard to a task force. Dr. Chapman opposed that, and was angry about it.

I do not fault Dr. Chapman for having a feeling about the GCR. We all do. However, if he is positioning the EC against the messengers, I do fault him.

I would fault him further IF he decided to terminate Mr. Logan just because a belief or concern about Mr. Logan's friendships with people who are for the GCR.

And I would fault Mr. Logan if he was using the EC to promote the GCR.

Dr. Chapman only has a "few years of fiefdom left, assuming regular retirement."

I thought regular retirement was 65? He is already 69. I remember when Keith Parks was turning 70 and the FMB board told him that it was time for him to retire. He wanted to keep working till 74 or so.

Again, all I am wanting is for the EC to look into this. I am very concerned. It's not just about Mr. Logan. I am concerned that may be emblematic.


Anonymous said...


In regard to Logan or Morris, or you or me.

The will of the SBC plays no part in Logan's employment by the convention or the lack of it. He likely was hired by Morris--who, admittedly, was hired by the EC board or equivalent.

Personnel matters are a different bird, everywhere. Got to do it right, and really can't talk much about it one way or the other.

I don't know what happened with Logan, and neither does almost anyone else. If it's handled correctly, few folks ever will know--unless Logan himself speaks out (a separation agreement can prevent that if one were signed).

Just saying, that's all, brother.

David Troublefield