October is just around the corner.  So far, by my count, four people have been announced as candidates for various offices in the BGCT, which will not meet until November. 

Advance announcements of candidates have become commonplace.  I am old enough to remember a time when nominations for these positions generally came from the floor of the convention just prior to the election being held.  The politics of the past thirty years have certainly changed that.  Generally, there is not much in the way of campaigning.  The announcement is made, an article appears in the Standard, the nominee’s friends make some phone calls and pass around some emails.  They may take some folks out for coffee or do some surreptitious campaigning once the convention starts.  In recent years, with Texas Baptists Committed endorsing a slate of candidates that usually ran unopposed, the outcome, and the perspective of those elected, was known in advance.

Even now, the outcome will be determined by the vote that shows up at the convention.  Since most messengers are either pastors and their wives, or older adult members of churches who don’t have to worry about taking vacation time to attend the convention, those who represent a traditional perspective in the convention have an advantage.  In a BGCT reduced in size by controversy, with declining Cooperative Program support and a declining number of messengers registering to do convention business each year, facing a future in a post-denominational world, that is probably not an ideal situation.

Without naming any names at this point, there are some who have been nominated for BGCT office whom I believe are too representative of the past to carry the BGCT into the future in the direction it needs to go.  A Baptist pedigree, a prominent name, being well connected to influential people, are all things that weighed heavily in the past in determining Baptist leadership.  But the place where the convention sits today, diminished by the theological battles of past years, seeing Cooperative Program resources decline, and facing a post-denominational paradigm shift, requires cutting edge leaders who have been educated in the kind of ministry that groups such as the BGCT will need to do to be successful in the future, and who have had some experience in that kind of ministry. 

We also seem to have difficulty accepting new people into leadership roles.  Check a BGCT annual, or look at news reports covering several years and you will discover that there is a very small core of leaders, many of whom rotate from board to board, committee to committee, office to office.  These leaders come from a relatively small group of churches, some of which have six or seven of their members serving on boards and committees simultaneously.  It is hard to admit that there is an elite, exclusive core of individuals who have their hands on the steering wheel of the convention, but that is the case.  It is one reason, cited frequently, for many, many churches to simply stay away and as they do, their financial support declines as well. 

It is not likely that this pattern will change in the near future.  What is more likely is that the drain of cooperating churches to the rival state convention, and the decline of Cooperative Program giving among the remaining churches, will continue.  There’s been talk of needed change, and even a committee formed to make it seem like something is being done, but in the long run, the status quo prevails.

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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.

10 responses

  1. Colby Evans says:

    An excellent analysis.

    It may be merely anecdotal, but among the few ministers-in-training that I occasionally hang with, there is no interest in convention stuff. None. Zilch. They see no need for the bureaucracy, and these are guys raised in Baptist church youth groups.

    My church is electing me as a messenger, and I agreed. They know I won’t support the “status quo.” Unfortunately, it looks like there won’t be a choice.

  2. Ken Coffee says:

    To really affect change, there will need to be at least two of the three officers who think alike. Our system does not place a lot of power in the president, as in the SBC. To nominate change-minded people will require two of the officers to be in agreement. I remember years ago when Joel Gregory was president, but had two vice presidents who did not think along his lines, Joel complained that he didn’t get any of his guys appointed. The veeps overuled him. So, it is imperative that we elect at least one vice president who thinks along the same lines as the president or, if possible, two vice presidents who think alike. The appointment process in the BGCT is done by all three officers.

  3. Lee says:

    Ken, with your expertise and knowledge of the BGCT, looking at the two announced candidates for first and second VP, Carolyn Strickland and Bobby Broyles, who IMHO are both great people, but are both virtually stereotypical traditionalists with regard to convention operations, is there a possibility that someone else could get elected to those positions? Carolyn has the proverbial Baptist pedigree, as well as the name recognition from her husband’s career in the building. Bobby is the small town West Texas pastor with a similar pedigree. I respect both of them, but frankly I do not see them as the kind of leaders who are progressive enough to see where the BGCT needs to go. Suppose a more progressive president is elected, such as David Lowrie. Can either of them be talked into supporting his slate of appointments or are they going to turn to the elite inner circle once again, in spite of what David may do?

    I am particularly concerned about Carolyn Strickland. She is a member of Wilshire, a fine church but one that has far too many of its members involved on committees and boards. There are supposed to be 5,700 churches and missions affiliated with the BGCT, far too many for one church to have as many of its members on boards, committees and as officers as Wilshire does.

  4. anonymous says:

    Quote from the Baptist Standard:

    “Bobby Broyles is Texas Baptist born and bred,” noted Kyle Streun, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hereford, who announced he will nominate Broyles during the BGCT annual meeting in Fort Worth Nov. 10-11.”

    Perhaps it is time for someone who is not so “Texas Baptist bred” to come in and bring some fresh ideas.

  5. Ken Coffee says:

    I have confidence that David is a leader. I believe he and Broyles could do something together to chang some perceptions and directions.

  6. David Lowrie says:

    Lee,

    To be frank status quo will not cut it if we are serious about being a force for the Kingdom in the years to come.

    I have a Baptist heritage as can be confirmed by looking over two decades of Baptist Standard issues looking for the name Dr. D.L. Lowrie. My father set a great example before me of being a leader who would think independently and strategically during times of great change and turmoil.

    I hope I have learned from him, and he is still a great mentor to me.

    I don’t know how much one voice can do, but I am willing to be that voice for change. I hope to set an example by my actions, the values of my church, and those who I call to my side in leadership.

    I am simply encouraging our people to show up in Fort Worth and vote their sense of God’s will.

    Thanks for your voice and perspective.

    David Lowrie
    Canyon

  7. Lee says:

    One voice can do a lot, David, which is why I plan to go to Ft. Worth and participate in the convention. It is also why I plan to support you in your desire to serve as convention president. I’m hoping there will be a couple of others who will run in the other positions “on your ticket” so to speak.

  8. rick davis says:

    Lee,

    If the convention is its churches, the convention is dying. Churches are dying across this state. Most are committing suicide. I do not think this can be helped from the convention level.

    I have said, and still say, the convention must decide what it is now. If it is a pass-through channel to missions, it is over-staffed and under-efficient. If it is trying to be a staff presence for all the churches in the convention, it is sadly deficient. At either strait, the reefs it strikes are leaving their marks on the ship of state.

  9. spiritualsamurai says:

    Wow, Lee, wow! The truth well spoken. Every Baptist who loves the BGCT and has been duped by the elite needs to read!

  10. spiritualsamurai says:

    I wish Ken Coffee would allow himself to be nominated for a Vice-President!!