http://www.baptiststandard.com/postnuke/index.php?module=htmlpages&func=display&pid=7673

Ed Jackson’s motion to form a committee “to address the relationship between the BGCT and its institutions, set priorities, study changing missions strategies and analyze the impact of innovation on our ministries and the sustainability of all programs”, was replaced by a substitute motion from Phillip Wise, adjusting the number of reports back to the executive board.  The substance of it reads like this:

“The committee will study, analyze and project income for the BGCT and address relationships between the BGCT and its institutions. The purpose of the committee is to determine the best use of resources to win Texas and the world to Jesus Christ and to encourage and support the ministries to which God has called us.”

The phrases “study changing mission strategies” and “analyzing the impact of innovation” were key, as far as I am concerned.  It is becoming increasingly clear that denominational structures and organizations have entered into a post-denominational period in which their relevance, importance, and value have experienced a rather sudden and sharp decline.  The terms “change” and “innovation” are key, in my opinion, if the BGCT is going to move toward any kind of future usefulness and relevance. 

The chairman of the committee, Andy Pittman, whom I met briefly in Amarillo last October, is a very young man whose age and appearance would suggest that he has a strong grasp on the situation as it currently exists, and comprehends the need for deep change.  You might be wondering how I could have gathered all of that from one brief meeting, and the fact is that it is an assumption for sure.  But he has taken on the challenge of pastoring an extremely traditional church in East Texas, and appears to be moving it toward an effective future of ministry.  And I do read his blog.  David Lowrie’s presence on the committee is also a positive aspect of it. 

I believe the BGCT’s universities and educational institutions are the key component of its ministry.  Small, Christian affiliated universities have fallen on hard times in the past couple of decades, and many have closed their doors or merged with larger schools.  Those are the places where our future church leaders are trained, and not only do they need to survive, and thrive, but they need to be on the cutting edge of the kinds of things that will help the ministers and church leaders they train be equipped and prepared to serve in a fast-changing world.  I realize university presidents are busy men, but I am glad to see Paul Armes name on that list.  Having other university officials or faculty from some of the other schools wouldn’t have been a bad thing, either. 

I have trouble believing that in the 5,700 churches of the BGCT, which report something like 2.25 million members and a worship attendance of 700,000, enough individuals cannot be found to avoid putting some of the same old names and faces, some of whom have served on multiple committees and boards, on this committee.  There isn’t anything wrong with these individuals, but one of the things that is wrong with the BGCT, and one of the reasons that it is now struggling with relevance, is the fact that its leadership is not broadened.  Do we have to resort to passage of a bylaw restricting committee members and trustees to two terms of service on one board, and no duplicate members of the same church on any board to get that point across?

 

Advertisements

About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

12 responses

  1. Dylan says:

    The very nature of the way this is being handled is a major clue that this committee is flawed from the outset. This is an issue which requires out of the box thinking. But what do Baptists do? Crawl down deeper in the box they are already in to utilize old-line thinking to try to move into the future. Appointing a committee stacked with people who are steeped in old habits and old convention institutions is a waste of time and effort. Nothing will come of this, I promise you. The committee will meet, shuffle papers around, make self-important statements and then drift off into irrelevance after spending a boatload of money on their “expenses.”

  2. Colby says:

    Good to see David Lowrie on the committee, though he does serve elsewhere in the BGCT and it would be nice if they would spread things around a bit more. Mark Wingfield served on the resolutions committee, and there are plenty of Wilshire members everywhere. Elizabeth Hanna is also a name that rotates from committee to committee, already on the executive board. Steve Vernon just finished two terms as BGCT president. How many members of Green Acres are scattered on boards and committees? Russell Dilday and Bob Schmeltekopf are nice guys, but they’ve already been involved in all kinds of service. This is a committee that should have been filled with leaders from cutting edge churches which have been able to make the changes and adjustments necessary to reach into the culture. Instead, with a few notable exceptions, the status quo seems to have prevailed. This is exactly why there is so little involvement of “younger leaders” in the BGCT, the SBC, and other Baptist bodies. There is never any room, and unless you are well connected, and can peddle influence and have close friends in high places, you’re never going to be included in leadership. I’m not sure that the BGCT leadership has actually caught on to the fact that it is slowly fading into irrelevance, and that the loss of involvement of the younger generation is a potentially fatal development. If they did, the makeup of this committee would reflect that. Either there is no real intention to make any changes, or there are no longer enough innovative, cutting edge churches in the BGCT to fill a small committee like this with people who know what needs to be done. Or perhaps, those people see that there is no real need to try to revive a dinosaur.

    Dylan, you hit it right on the head.

  3. I have a hard time totally giving up hope that some changes are possible. I know several of the members of the committee, and definitely know that my pastor, Jeff Harris, is someone committed to the same kind of innovative impact you guys are discussing. He is definitely the kind of out of the box leader this committee needs. Let’s hope and pray for a move in whatever direction a postmodern denominational institution needs.

  4. Tim Dahl says:

    I also wish that some of the names would be different. There are some people that have definately been around the baptist block, so to speak. However, I’m also glad to see some of the names that are mentioned. Any Pittman is a stand up guy, with a great head on his shoulders. David Lowriel…well, its David…what can you say. He’s been the unofficial pointman for change in the BGCT since the last election. Jeff Harris is another one that has a great head on his shoulders. And finally, after having Dilday in class, and getting to know him on a more personal level, he isn’t the “same ole, same ole” guy that people make him out to be. He has a heart for the future, and the vision to match. Yes, he’s been around the baptist block a couple of dozen times over; but he has something the younger generation doesn’t have…wisdom gained from experience.

    As in all things, it is all “just my opinion.”

    Be Well,

    Tim

  5. David Lowrie says:

    Hey guys,

    Thank you for your perspective. I think anyone paying attention knows that if all we do is shuffle some papers and come back with a business as usual plan, the BGCT will be in big trouble in just a matter of years.

    We are on the brink of a generation change in leadership. We need to embrace the realities of a “smaller world” due to technology and ability to travel. In addition we need to face a changing world in the pews of our churches. Most of our churches are treading water, and have little hope of impacting the next two generations if significant changes do not happen. The BGCT depends on the health and vitality of the local church, but it is local churches who voluntarily choose to cooperative together on missions, higher education, ministry, etc…

    In defense of some of the old guard being on the committee, we need some perspective on where we are and how we got here so we can lay the plans for how to move forward. We also need to remember that “new” and “innovative” does not necessarily mean better or more effective. At our church I am leading us to reexamine our commitment to the “basics” of ministry because too often we run off to a conference looking for a program when we might be better off doing the basic more effectively.

    As you can tell I am trying to stay in touch with the heart beat of those willing to post. Keep our feet to the fire. It is going to take all of us working together to get where we need to be.

    David Lowrie

  6. Ken Coffee says:

    Yeah, these leaders who have been around for a while are just so dumb they couldn’t find a spoon in a coffee cup. They know nothing. That’s why they keep getting asked to serve. They are all just so old and out of date we cannot rely on them for thoughtful deliberation. Yeah, they are old, worn out relics of the past. Why don’t we create a Baptist elimination furnace and just eliminate them all so that younger, less experienced people who have never led anytthing can be given the keys to the kingdom? Give me a break. One meeting and we have decided it has failed.

  7. Colby says:

    Ken,
    Perhaps there is a fine line between “experience in leadership” and elitist exclusion. There is enough evidence in the recent history of the BGCT to point to committees that are stacked with the right people, either to the benefit of one particular denominational political view, or because they know who the string pullers are.

    Do you want the BGCT to have a future? Then this ridicilous political charade you call a “convention” had better open the door to some younger leadership, and stop this patting each other on the collective back, or the BGCT will not be around in a decade. You can take that to the bank.

    Younger does not mean “less experienced.” Look around. While Baptist “leaders” are fiddling with their own self importance and their protectionist attitudes, young leadership is proving its effectiveness in being used by God to reach into a generation and culture that a traditional, typical Baptist church couldn’t dream of doing, and probably doesn’t want to. They are mostly in non-denominational ministries where they are not loaded down with rules and regulations designed to protect special interests, and where someone with power and influence cannot step in and stop someone they perceive as an”enemy” from doing what they are called to do. The biggest difference is that they step out on faith, and without some “big brother” organization telling them they “can’t” do something, they listen to the Spirit’s call and leading instead. I’m from Missouri, where the older, “more experienced” Baptist leaders you are talking about want to jerk church planting money out of the hands of its single most effective congregation in terms of reaching young adults under 40 for Christ, simply because they aren’t doing it the way the “older, more experienced” leaders decided it should be done.

    You’ve pretty well convinced me that, at 25, and just beginning a professional career, there is no place for someone like me in the BGCT. No problem. I’ll take my church membership and my money, and my time, and the ten years of personal involvement in church ministry that I already have under my belt, and I’ll go to a non-denominational church where what I have to offer will be welcomed, and where I do not have to depend on someone who can pull strings to find a place of service in leadership.

  8. Tim Dahl says:

    Colby,

    The energy that is behind your misplaced anger is the most valuable thing that young adults can give the church. Lets not pretend that the young adults “money” will make that much of a difference. We’ve never been good givers…ever. I understand your anger, but if you want to be spiritually honest, then you need to understand where Ken finds his animosity as well. After being in hospital ministry for 4 years, youth and college for around 2 years, music for 2.5 years, and now a pastor for over 5 years; I’ve seen enough age-discrimination (from both sides) to make my heart sink.

    I’ve found that I’m honored as a “young pastor” more as I honor those older (and more life-experienced) than I.

    Tim Dahl

  9. Lee says:

    I didn’t mean to open a can of worms here. I know Colby personally, but I don’t want to put any of my spin on what he said. I don’t believe there is a mention in his comments regarding age discrimination. I think his point is about individuals whose names always seem to come up on committees. Mark Wingfield and Steve Vernon aren’t older, at least by my measure of age at the present time. I don’t think his argument is eliminating older people from the process, I think he is arguing against the influence peddling and denominational politics that has a tendency to narrow the “gene pool” so to speak in terms of bringing in new ideas and new experiences to the denominational boards and committees.

    I’ve served in churches in four different Baptist state conventions, and I’ve had a number of close friends and college buddies who have, at one time or another, either served in a leadership position or worked for a state convention and I know how it works. Ken made the statement, “That’s why they keep getting asked to serve.” In many cases, most from my observation, those who get asked to serve do so because they have influence, power, or friends in position to get their name in front of the right committee or individual who has the power to put them where they want to go. A close friend of mine in a fairly high ranking position in a state convention office flat out told me that the time he spent making phone calls and pulling strings to get the board members he wanted into position was an investment in his own job security. I know how the game is played, and so, when I see a committee like this, with half a dozen names that I recognize right off of people who have been on up to half a dozen committees and boards, or who have served as officers, I know that the game has been played.

    That doesn’t mean I think at the outset that the committee will be a failure. Anyone who has pastored or served a church for a while has a fairly clear understanding of the obstacles that churches face in translating the gospel message so that it is heard and received in the culture and society in which we find ourselves today. On the other hand, as a fairly conventional thinker myself, one who finds that old habits sometimes keep you in the box when you think you’ve moved on, the best way Baptists have found to stonewall action on anything they don’t want to really face is to form a committee to study something and “report back.” Maybe that is where the real problem lies, and forming a committee is still thinking “in the box.”

    I can assure you, Ken, that Colby wouldn’t want to form a “Baptist elimination furnance.” He’s a young guy who is smart, appropriately ambitious, servant-hearted, has been committed to service in volunteer ministry through the church since he was a sophomore in high school, caught fire from the Spirit at a World Changers project, graduated from college and grad school with a 4.0 GPA, landed a good job and is passionate for reaching people in his own age group and culture who are turned off to church, and is involved in a ministry that is doing exactly that. If he didn’t have to change jobs, I would pressure him to move to Houston, join our church, and start a new small group.

  10. Ken Coffee says:

    I apologize for going off like that. That is not my nature. I guess I woke up badly today. I defer to David Lowrie’s comment. He makes sense.

  11. Lee says:

    David makes a good point, and there are some on that committee who won’t allow it to drift, and he’s one of them.

    I just hope it is not already too late.

  12. Colby says:

    Didn’t mean to sound like an “angry young man,” but I’ve been in a couple of encounters where the Baptist elite have no understanding about a ministry going on which is successful in bringing unchurched young people to Christ, and since they didn’t come up with the idea themselves, or don’t like it, and have control of some of the purse strings, they are prone to be critical and use their power to shut it down. Several of the “elite” have enough influence to keep any new ideas, or the movement of the Holy Spirit, out of the picture by getting themselves nominated to serve over and over again. Then here comes a BGCT committee, formed from a motion that the leadership already watered down from its original version, and the committee contains six or seven names of people who are either on, or have been on, half a dozen other committees and boards. This isn’t an issue that a committee can “dialogue” about for much longer, the crisis is already at the door.