In addition to the selection of a new Executive Director for the BGCT, another item is on the plate for the coming year that, in my opinion, is just as important to the future of the BGCT, and that is the creation of the study committee moved by Ed Jackson from Garland. The article which explains the content of that motion is linked above. In spite of the motion being amended by recommendation of the executive board prior to its adoption, I believe this committee’s study, and recommendations, could be crucial to the vitality and relevance of the BGCT in the future.
There is a crisis rolling toward the BGCT, as well as the other Baptist state conventions and the SBC. It is obvious that the vast majority of people participating in convention life are well past 60 years of age. Statistics tell us that at least half of our current Sunday School enrollment is 60 or older, convention wide. These are the people who are also the biggest financial supporters of their local churches, and I have seen estimates that place the percentage of their gifts as high as 75% of the total current income. This generation has already begun to die off, and the impact of that is already being felt, but again, the experts tell us it will reach crisis proportions by the year 2020.
Not only that, but there is very little interest in “convention life” among those under 60. That’s understandable. The convention is generally still operating using the methods and strategies it developed in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and those over 60 are familiar with it, and understand it. Younger people don’t. Combine that with the fact that there are studies pointing us to the fact that 80% of our young people leave our churches during their college years, and you have good reason for the lack of younger participants as messengers. The “Baptist Wars” and the elitist exclusion of all but a few people from a small group of pre-selected churches for boards and committees have driven all but a few hard core seminarians and recent graduates from the ranks of both convention leadership and participation. And nothing at all has yet been done to either reverse this trend, or prepare to deal with the coming crisis.
So, we have Ed Jackson’s proposed motion for forming a study committee to make recommendations to the BGCT. Something is being done. The question is, will it be enough, and will it be in time? And is it possible for an organization that is dominated by “grayhead thinking” to come up with ways and means for a Baptist state convention to have a relevant, vital, meaningful future existence? I believe it is possible, but this opportunity must not be botched. Here are a few suggestions.
1. Please, please, PLEASE do not resort to the typical choices of committee members by chosing people off the exclusive, narrow list of prominent people who are the typical choices for BGCT trustee boards and committees.
2. The committee needs to be made up entirely of people who have never served on a BGCT board or committee, or as an officer. Period. More than any committee in the BGCT, this is one that absolutely must NOT be made up of the status quo, or the recycled prominents who rotate from board to board. Get some fresh faces, and build some trust while you are at it.
3. The members of this committee need to be visionaries who are under 60 years of age, and have some kind of grasp on what the future holds in terms of cooperative missions ministry.
4. The members of this committee need to come from churches that, at the very least, have a viable small groups ministry and a genuine contemporary worship service. Sorry, but you are not going to get many cutting edge thinkers from churches that use 19th century worship music, and a liturgy.
This is a big job, and it won’t be an easy one. Everything in convention “life” will have to be open to evaluation and to whatever change is necessary to be relevant, and they will need our prayers for the necessary discernment and wisdom they will need from God to accomplish this task.