From the June 26 edition of A Rancher’s Rumblings, by Texas Baptists Committed director David Currie:
Last year, TBC decided to not endorse candidates for BGCT office, because some people had expressed a perception that we were “controlling” the process. Although we at TBC never intended to exercise any control over the process, I understood this perception, and I agreed with the decision to not endorse any candidates.
But now I have a huge concern about this decision. Without TBC’s leadership, will the BGCT continue to share, or will we get into combative elections between churches that support SBC ministries vs. persons who support CBF ministries vs. persons who are mostly just Texas-focused? And will there still be a place of leadership for women, as well as people from minority ethnic groups?
Friends, the key to our unity in the future is SHARED leadership. Will this happen without TBC leading the way through endorsements? I hope so, but it scares me that we could easily get divided after coming so far as a state convention. We could wind up right back where we started, with all of our leaders coming from one group, and with minorities and women being left out. Shared leadership doesn’t just happen – it has to be intentional. That’s where TBC’s leadership has made a difference in recent years – by providing an intentional plan to share leadership.
I can’t say that I see anything which would ring alarm bells and signal that the BGCT is in some kind of danger of a fundamentalist takeover. Maybe David Currie’s information regarding the committee appointments of the current BGCT officers includes some individuals he considers “red flags” with regard to who might wind up on the boards or committees. Considering the way committee appointments are made, and the fact that the other two officers have input, I don’t see that anything of that sort could happen. David Lowrie did promise, prior to both times he ran for BGCT President, that he would open the committee appointments and bring in as many new faces as he could. I would guess that he has probably had some limited success in accomplishing that.
The idea that only TBC is qualified or capable of coming up with an “intentional” plan to share BGCT leadership just doesn’t hold water, unless your idea of “intentional” is to make sure that the same people get appointed to committees and boards over and over, that your former endorsed officers (and TBC board members) are rewarded with executive leadership positions in the Baptist Building, and that your supporters can serve on more than one committee at a time. It is also hard for me to understand that concept of shared leadership when over 700 churches are automatically excluded because they are dually affiliated with another in-state Baptist body, and others which have remained loyal in their support of the SBC are under-represented, compared to those who come from CBF-friendly churches. Shared, apparently, doesn’t mean equally shared.
There comes a time, in the life of most political organizations, when they either accomplish their goals, or the issues have moved beyond where their vision is focused. Beyond a certain point, they begin to look more like a clique with the power to grant favors to friends and supporters than a champion of Baptist diversity, autonomy and historical principles. Texas Baptists do not need to be told how to share their leadership and they especially do not need to be shown the door if they happen not to share the view of the prevailing power clique. The intentional efforts that now need to be made involve finding a way to engage younger church leaders in the convention and most of them are not going to wait around for someone’s best school buddy, or some prominent preacher’s son, to get tired of having their name in the paper and their rear end in a committee or board seat.
Genuinely shared leadership would occur if every vacant committee and board seat were filled with someone who has never been involved in convention leadership. They’ll have plenty of time to learn the ropes in the eight or twelve years they would serve, and then they could step away and share the leadership with someone else who hasn’t yet had the opportunity to contribute. If the focus is on the mission and vision of the convention, instead of making sure that the hand-picked, approved individuals are in the right places, all the worries of conflict, politics, exclusion and “fundamentalist takeovers” will dissipate.