For the BGCT to embrace its future, a compelling vision of the future will be essential. In a large diverse organization like the BGCT it is critical that a bold picture of the future be painted in front of the people with words and images that capture their imaginations and calls for commitment. Have you ever wondered why Jesus kept talking time and time again about the Kingdom. Simply put, the Kingdom was His vision of the present and the future. As Rick McKinley notes “The Kingdom IS” was the focus of the life and teaching of Jesus.
We would be wise to learn from the Master. In one generation the early followers of Jesus turn the world upside down, and we can do the same when we rally around a bold, broad vision of our future inspired by God.
The stated vision of the BGCT is as follows:
The Baptist General Convention of Texas encourages, facilitates and connects churches in their work to fulfill God’s mission of reconciling the world to himself.
This vision statement seeks to capture the heart of who we are and what we are trying to do together. It fits George Barna’s principle which states a vision statement needs to be “a simplified statement of vision set forth in a short phrase” (Barna, The Power of Vision). He adds the old adage the KISS principle (keep it short and simple) so people can remember it.
The three actions stated in our vision statement are “encourages, facilitates, and connects”. Here is the rub for me. One of the challenges we face in our vision of tomorrow is who is the BGCT. As I read and seek to understand this statement it appears that the BGCT exists separately from the churches to “encourage, facilitate, and connect” the churches “in their work”. The image that comes to my mind is that the BGCT is like a consultant that helps others do the work.
I realize this is a safe approach to draw a clear line of distinction between the convention and the churches. The convention is not like the hierarchy of the Catholic Church dictating to its parishes it mission and direction. This is true without doubt, but by separating the convention from the churches we lose the power of the vision.
I am going to go out on a limb. I believe the BGCT is the churches. It is the churches working together to change the world, and to advance the Kingdom. I believe a subtle change in our vision statement would make a big difference in our sense of empowerment and accountability to each other.
The Baptist General Convention of Texas encourages, facilitates and connects OUR churches, institutions, and people in THE work OF FULFILLING God’s mission of reconciling the world to himself.
I may be in over my head, but here is the thrust of what I am trying to say. For our vision to be worth sacrificing for it cannot be passive or a consulting role. It must be a mission seeking to change the world and advance the Kingdom. The vision must be what WE DO, not what someone does to us or for us. The work of fulfilling the Great Commission is the work of the churches, but remember the BGCT is the churches.
To implement this vision it boils down to making the heart beat of our convention–encouraging each other in our work, facilitating with each other about how to do our work more effectively together, and connecting our churches with each other to accomplish our mission. When one church succeeds we all succeed. When a BGCT event or institution meets a need or accomplishes a goal we all succeed. We need to get away from the idea that we send our money to Dallas so someone else can go do our mission. Our CP gifts are investments in what WE are doing not what someone else is doing for us.
To be even bolder, I would suggest another change:
The Baptist General Convention of Texas advances the Kingdom (changes the world) by encouraging, facilitating and connecting OUR churches, institutions, and people in THE work OF FULFILLING God’s mission of reconciling the world to himself.
The more active and bold our vision is the more it will call for commitment rather than compliance. We need the hearts and hands of our people if we are going to change the world for the sake of the Kingdom.