The recently formed Council on Family Life announced plans Thursday, March 15, 2001, to introduce during the SBC in New Orleans a motion aimed at establishing "Great Commission Families." This action is but the first by the Council, which was proposed by Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, at the 2000 SBC in Orlando. The Council was assigned to lead SBC churches to help families not only survive, but thrive. Starting initially as an ad hoc study committee, it was changed to a special "blue ribbon" council by action of the Executive Committee in its February meeting.
Many Southern Baptists have become dulled to shocking statistics revealing divorce rates that are as high among church attenders as nonchurch attenders. The proliferation of violent media programming and reporting has apparently created a society that is no longer alarmed by accounts of the most recent bizarre violence of teenagers against other teens or adults, acts which are an evidence that the family in America is struggling to effectively communicate in the home a respect for life and authority. It is indisputable that most families portrayed in media programming are at great variance with God's pattern for families revealed in Scripture, yet the longing for a stable and happy home environment is virtually universal.
The Council on Family Life believes that families associated with local Southern Baptist churches can become the pacesetters in their communities for building strong "Great Commission Families." A "Great Commission Family" is defined as a family that has agreed to make a sincere effort to develop a life-style that includes the following:
• Faithfulness in the ministries of their local church, including worship, Bible study, fellowship, and prayer.
• A consistent "Family Time" together, conducted on a regularly scheduled basis, that will include such elements as prayer, Bible study, and preparation for family participation in "Great Commission" projects.
• The determination to gain and practice a life-style of financial responsibility and biblical stewardship, which includes faithful support of their local church.
• Involvement in specific activities which cultivate a passion for fulfilling both the intent and purpose of The Great Commission to evangelize and disciple everyone, beginning with the family and reaching around the world.
• The practice and teaching of marital fidelity and moral purity as consistent with the desires of God for each individual and family.
The Council on Family Life is seeking to develop means for "Great Commission Families" to receive effective training and encouragement on a regular basis through the combined efforts of Southern Baptist entities. From time to time, through sermons, Bible lessons, and special emphases, "Great Commission Families" can be encouraged and strengthened both locally and nationally.
The vision and intent of the Council is that commitment by individual families to these principles will result in a movement among Southern Baptists for strong, healthy families that will permeate and grow strong, healthy churches, demonstrating to the nation and the world a living example of the biblical principles that God has given to mature His own family, the Bride of Christ.
Additionally, the Council on Family Life is seeking appropriate means for developing a nationwide public emphasis on the importance of following God's plan for the family. At the heart of this emphasis will be a media campaign offering a twenty-four hour prayer hotline for those struggling with family issues. Several of our entities have already found that such an emphasis on a targeted basis has been met with great success. This ongoing campaign will be conducted in concert with Dr. Chapman's call to prayer on a Convention-wide basis.
The Council recommendations are that the Southern Baptist Convention: (1) authorize the Southern Baptist Convention Council on Family Life to design and implement a strategy for developing "Great Commission Families;" (2) encourage the Southern Baptist Convention Council on Family Life to seek means of communicating on a nationwide basis the desire of the Southern Baptist Convention to provide authentic ministry to those whose lives and families have been fractured and ravaged by the adversary; and (3) lead in coordinated efforts with all our entities in seeking to provide both a scriptural role model for families and the compassionate restoration and encouragement typified by our Savior and made possible through the grace of God.
Pending Executive Committee review and approval, these recommendations are to be presented during the EC report at the SBC meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 12-13, 2001.