This post comes from Tony Hopkins, pastor of First Baptist Church, Greenwood, S.C., and a member of the 2012 Task Force.
As I reflect on my experience with the 2012 Task Force, three observations bubble to the top. The first is: people care about CBF! We hosted more than 100 listening sessions, and in every one of them, we heard how much people love CBF. There were many opinions—we are Baptist, after all. There were suggestions, recommendations, even criticisms, but they all shared a common characteristic: they were offered with the sincere hope of making CBF better. We didn’t hear a single comment designed to undermine or diminish CBF. People shared their thoughts—and the Task Force listened—because we all care about CBF and want it to be better.
Second, I have been very impressed by my fellow Task Force members. They represent a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, diverse in gender, age, and geographical regions. They include laypersons, ministers, seminary faculty, national CBF staff, state/regional CBF staff, employees of partner organizations, and business persons. They are very bright and gifted, and they use their gifts with a gracious, caring spirit. Most important, though, the entire group has been bound together by a common faith in Jesus Christ, a shared love for CBF, and a mutual openness to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, I am struck by the centrality of the church in this entire process. The listening sessions were filled with concerns about and hopes for the church. The church facilitates the spiritual formation of Christian individuals, and it brings those individuals together in Christian community. The church is at the center of CBF’s mission: CBF exists to help churches and their members discover and fulfill God’s purpose for them. At the same time, the church is the locus of the resources and giftedness which make it possible for CBF to fulfill its mission. In short, the church is the lifeblood of CBF. Recognizing this truth, the Task Force’s recommendations are designed to enable CBF and its churches to help and strengthen one another, to be part of a mutually beneficial relationship. Confident that you share this goal, the Task Force invites you to read, study, engage, and critique our recommendations.