“When people think of us, I want them to think ‘that’s the group that focuses on loving God and loving others and making disciples,’” said Dr. David Hardage, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, addressing a workshop gathered on Monday morning at the 2021 Annual Meeting in Galveston.
The workshop was held to provide background and vision for the GC2 movement, which Hardage introduced last year via the virtual Annual Meeting.
“GC2 stands for the Great Commandment of Matthew 22, to love God and love others. The other part is the Great Commission, where we are commanded to make disciples,” explained Hardage. “It seems to me that a healthy, balanced place would be centered on giving time, energy and resources to making sure we are loving others but also remembering that we are in the disciple-making business. There are two parts to that: you tell someone about Jesus, then hopefully they can get into a church and grow into loving Him and loving others.”
Hardage, who celebrates 10 years in the executive director role in January 2022, said the idea began a few years ago after he felt convicted about the need to serve “the least of these” in addition to the vital work of evangelism and discipleship. After much prayer and continued learning about the ministries of the state’s churches and entities, the GC2 idea was born.
“It should be our driving passion to follow the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. We call it a movement because it’s not necessarily planned. There’s not a lot of organized structure,” he said. “It’s a movement that we’re letting God take over, and [He can] do with that whatever He wants and however He leads. We want to be in a flexible place of obedience.”
Hardage pointed out that many Texas Baptists churches are already doing this well, such as those participating in the 52 year-long River Ministry endeavors along the Rio Grande border of Texas. Furthermore, the Missionary Adoption Program (MAP), which was introduced four years ago, has grown to provide monthly financial support for 83 missionaries in nine countries, with more countries continuing to reach out to join.
Yet Hardage said he knows God has even more ideas for Texas churches to embrace in the future if “we just try to be obedient and go through those doors as He leads.”
Hardage noted that the convention leadership adopted a statement of faith he called “simple but steady and firm” to undergird the GC2 Movement. Specifically related to the GC2 movement is the affirmation of “the urgent need to reach the lost with the Good News of Jesus.”
Hardage said despite the pandemic and challenges faced, churches have already signed on to join the movement, and he is hearing regularly from pastors about their excitement to work within their church to see that fleshed out in practice. He also said he felt encouraged that the initial vision of seeing churches emphasize both the Great Commission and the Great Commandment was resonating both across the state and beyond the Texas borders. Already, he noted, 30 congregations outside of Texas have joined the movement.
He also noted that conversations are ongoing with the National Baptist Convention, composed heavily of African American churches, on how they can adopt the movement and even partner with the BGCT in appropriate ways that will help achieve the GC2 focus.
Hardage said while he’s encouraged with the organic growth of the movement as churches catch the vision, he foresees the need to add some structure in coming years and grow the program more officially under the Texas Baptists banner.
The workshop concluded with a time for questions and comments from attendees.