Great Commission Resurgence: An Interview with Dr. Danny Akin (3)
Trevin Wax: Your Great Commission Resurgence document has a number of points related to the gospel. The document itself does not define the gospel. How you would define the gospel?
Daniel Akin: I define the gospel in my Axioms message as being the good news that Jesus Christ came from heaven, died on the cross having lived a perfect sinless life, bore then in His body the full penalty of our sins, was raised from the dead. Those who repent of sin and place their faith in the perfect work of Christ can and will be saved. There’s the gospel.
Trevin Wax: There has been a lot of discussion regarding the axiom that calls for a denominational restructuring. What specific areas do you think can be streamlined for maximum effectiveness?
Daniel Akin: Church planting.
If you, for example, wanted to be a church planter right now, and you wanted to work through the system, you would be interviewed and would seek funding from your local association, from the state convention where you want to go and plant a church, and from the North American Mission Board where you want to go and plant a church.
There is a three-tiered – not duplication – but triplication in this system that is only going to provide nominal funding for you to actually accomplish what you need to do. There are also strings attached to those funds that limit what you can do to earn additional income. You can’t be a tentmaker like the apostle Paul, working to compliment and supplement what you would need to live on.
Classic example. We just sent a student from here up into the Washington D.C. area to plant a church. He went through the three avenues I just described, and it took months to pull everything together. He was able to put together $36,000 for his first year. Try and live in Washington D.C. You can’t pay rent and utilities for $36,000 a year.
But he is informed by NAMB that if he received funding from them, he can do nothing more than occupy a part-time job. That’s insane. So he will have to do what everybody else does: raise funds outside our structure.
This is why a lot of people are getting frustrated. Let’s take a large church like Highview Baptist in Louisville. If they were to give 10% of their monies through the Cooperative Program, they would probably be giving somewhere around $400,000 a year. I’m not even counting Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong or anything else they do. Let’s just say they give around $400,000 a year.
First and foremost, 60% of that money is going to stay in Kentucky. That money is never even going to get out of the state.
Then, let’s say they send Trevin Wax from Highview to be a church planter. You appeal to the Kentucky Baptist Convention for funding. Even though Highview has been giving around $260,000 to $280,000 a year for a number of years to that state convention, when you go to get funding, you’ll be lucky to get $12,000 a year from them for three years. After three years, they’re not going to give you another dime.
Suddenly Highview says, “What are we doing? What are we doing? Why should we give $280,000 a year to the Kentucky Baptist Convention when we try to plant a church? Why should we work through the system that we are funding if, because of the overhead and the bureaucracy and other things, we are only going to be able to get back from them maybe $25,000 to $30,000 over three years? That doesn’t sound like a good deal.” So all of a sudden, you have people saying, “We can do it better without partnering with a state convention.”
What part of Article 9 of the Great Commission Resurgence document is trying to say to our state conventions is: Look, we actually are your friend. We are on your side. Danny Akin and Johnny Hunt are not your enemies. But you cannot keep doing things the way you’ve been doing then, because these young guys are not like an older generation.
My parents came through World War II and Korea. They came through a period of time where you simply support the structures that are in place.
If you go to a church, for example, and your church goes through a split, do you leave? No, you don’t leave.
If you have to fire a pastor, do you leave? No, you don’t leave. You just stay because that’s your church.
You give to the government because you give to the government.
You give to the church because you give to the church.
You give to the Cooperative Program because you give to the Cooperative Program.
My generation (I’m 52 now) was less inclined to just give and trust that the folks you give money to will be good stewards of it. Your generation is not at all inclined to do that.
Your generation – and this is both good and bad – has very little loyalty to anything. I hope you have (and I do believe you have) a loyalty to the gospel. But your level of loyalty is very thin.
Therefore, if you do not believe in these various entities, if you have an option, then you are not going to give. That is what Article 9 is trying to help those who are in a position of leadership right now understand.
We can’t keep doing it like this because these guys aren’t going to participate. They are not going to buy into this. They are not going to support this, and this is not going to work.
Tomorrow, we’ll discuss the rise of Reformed theology in the Southern Baptist Convention and the relationship between Southern Baptists and the wider world of evangelicalism.