The “Future Focus” committee of the BGCT has met, divided into subcommittees and has begun the work brought forward in a motion made by Ed Jackson of Garland at the 2007 BGCT annual meeting. The four priorities mentioned by the article in the Baptist Standard, unity, commitment to missions and evangelism, increased giving throught the Cooperative Program, and the involvement and engagement of younger people in convention life, gives the impression that they are off to a good start.
I will be looking forward to hearing more from this group as they continue their work, particularly with regard to the issues of unity and commitment to missions and evangelism. Achieving unity in the BGCT will not be easy. There are very likely a whole lot of opinions about what that looks like. There are those who think that it lies in preserving the status quo, and that the way things are represents the best balance we can achieve. There are others who think that the BGCT needs to work on restoring a closer relationship with the SBC. Personally, I think unity can be achieved without trampling on any particular constituency in the state convention, and without disenfranchising anyone. That requires rising above the bickering and the retaliation that has gone on for a decade. This is the biggest issue we face as we look at moving into the future.
Cooperative Program support is an issue, but is simply finding ways to get more money the answer? I’m not really sure. If we realistically look down the road at what is coming with regard to financial support for denominational programs, our current way of doing things doesn’t seem to match up well with what other organizations have discovered. Even among Baptists, there are groups that have discovered that networking and streamlining in their organizations is much more suited to a post-denominational future than the existing denominational structures, with large executive staffs, and high dollar expenses. CBF has been touting a “new way to be Baptist” in which they have eliminated a heirarchy of executive positions vested with influence and power, and have streamlined their operations to a small office staff that easily administers a $15 million per year budget, with the vast amount of the money going to the institutions, agencies and mission field. The priority needs to be on finding ways to continue to have effective ministries on a budget that, in a couple of decades, could very well be half of what it is now. That is the reality of the future.
The fact that this group selected a subcommittee on institutions is a big plus. The universities owned and operated by the BGCT are gems. More than any other aspect of denominational life, especially at the state convention level, the institutions of higher education are essential to providing leadership for the churches in the future. Many of our schools have made the post-denominational transition, and are capable of attracting non-Baptist Christians into their student body, evidenced by the fact that several of them have more non-Baptist students on their campus. As the cost of higher education rises, I believe the best thing the BGCT could do would be everything within its power to keep the universities affordable. It would be ideal if the BGCT could work toward making its institutions of higher learning affordable for every young person in a BGCT congregation.
This committee deserves our prayers. And as we pray for them, I hope they will be open to our input as well.