The BGCT search committee charged with the responsibility of hiring an executive director recently announced that it would not be likely that they would have a candidate to present by the time the September exec board meeting rolls around. Personally, I think that’s a good sign. You never really know what happens in committee sessions like that, but it appears that this committee is, at the very least, taking their time.
It also appears that they are seeking the advice and counsel of Texas Baptists in making this decision. They’ve scheduled listening sessions around the state in order to hear what people have to say about the selection process, and the qualifications of the person to be named. I must admit, I am somewhat skeptical when a denominational committee says, “We want to hear from you.” I’ve heard that a little too often when the results have demonstrated a complete lack of concern for the opinions and input of all but a small, narrow group of good-ole-boys. I’m a bit optimistic about this particular decision partly because, in the wake of Valleygate, there is heightened awareness of the fact that a lot of churches may base their future support of the BGCT on the committee’s choice of an executive director, and partly because there has been a drop-off in Cooperative Program giving to the BGCT since last November’s state convention meeting. I also know a couple of the members of the search committee, and I believe they want to be fair in their decision making, and want to present the BGCT with the best possible candidate who will lead the BGCT forward.
These listening sessions are sort of like voting. You’ve heard the old saying that if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain. Well, believing the same about these listening sessions, I plan to attend the one in Waco on August 10.
It is my intention to express my view that the next executive director of the BGCT needs to be separated from convention politics, “insider” groups and circles of influence. He or she needs to bring a fresh perspective into the cooperative missions and ministry aspect of the state convention, and a renewed focus on our cooperation. We need someone who is willing and able to work with the diverse theological, political and cultural constituencies within the BGCT. It should be someone who is not associated with any particular interest group in the convention, whether that be CBF, TBC, or SBC loyalists, but who is visionary enough to understand that a Baptist convention is a servant to all of its independent, autonomous congregations and that cooperation in missions and ministry can succeed in spite of secondary differences of opinion.
Frankly, I would be disappointed in a candidate whose resume includes a long list of committee memberships, trustee board appointments and denominational power positions. I’d rather see someone who has a record of success in a job that required administrative skills and good personal relationships than someone who has a pedigree of positions that were more the result of knowing the right people than actual ability to do the job. I’m totally opposed to someone who gets the job because they’ve “paid their dues” by being “loyal” to someone’s idea of a cause, and in this particular instance, I’m absolutely opposed to any current BGCT executives being “promoted.” I think our current situation demands that we bring in someone from the outside, who is not steeped in “convention culture” and who is not associated with any of the dissention or discord that has marked the convention in recent months.
There are a lot of people who are watching this development. I believe the future effectiveness of the BGCT rests on this decision. If it is perceived that there is an interest group that has influenced the decision, you will see much more than the current 3-4% drop off in Cooperative Program support for the BGCT.
Thursday, Aug. 2, 10:02 p.m. Tim Dahl, “Tike’s Best Friend,” has a couple of excellent articles on this subject at http://www.tikesbestfriend.blogspot.com/ . Take a look at what he has to say. It’s right on target. Visionary leadership for the BGCT will require deep change in the way the convention does things and relates to its churches. The “same ole same ole” will lead to continued decline. We need to make a choice between preserving the status quo long enough for a few prominent people to squeeze some prosperity out of it for themselves, or a leader who understands that the way we are doing business now is going to lead to the rapid decline of the convention and its churches into complete irrelevance. It’s time for an out of the box decision from a progressive committee.