I suspect new Executive Director Randel Everett of the Baptist General Convention of Texas is still working around the packing boxes in his office and he is already the target of much discussion and blogging. As most readers of this blog are aware, Everett did not have much of a honeymoon with the recent announcement of the Executive Board study committee that the BGCT will have to tighten its belt over the next few months and operate on 90% of the projected budget resources.
In Baptist Standard editor Marv Knox called on a stop to the “feeding frenzy” on Randel Everett. Even though for some there is blood in the water, Knox challenged us as good faithful Baptists to give our new leader time to get his sea legs as he seeks to right the ship. It seems course corrections will need to be made, and a damage control investigation will need to be conducted, but all of these things take time. In a matter of minutes bloggers can solve problem in cyberspace, but the BGCT is a huge family of faith. It is living breathing organism that moves to the beat of nature not of the computer world. I believe Jesus and Paul used agriculture parables and illustrations of about the church and the work of the Kingdom because the natural world of nature reflects the rhythms of the spiritual world.
If we are going to change the crop, we must clear the fields, plant good seed, water, weed, pray for sunshine and rain, and trust the power of God to breathe life into our efforts.
Knox called on our people to lay aside our fixations on “Valley Gate”, the reorganization of the BGCT staff, and our connections to national conventions like the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Since Knox brought these topics up, I decided to give my perspective on these matters.
“Valley Gate”: I agree with Knox, we need to give Everett a pass on this issue. He had nothing to do with this dark chapter in our mission efforts. We must learn the expensive lessons “Valleygate” taught us about accountability, communication, trust, and inspections of the fruit, but we cannot live in the past on this issue. The people responsible for these events for the most part are no longer in leadership, so let’s move on.
“BGCT Staff” reorganization: We have kept consultants busy trying to do more with less. I suspect more changes will come, but let’s give Everett a chance to learn the lay of the land before we expect him to chart a new course of our BGCT staff and staffing. Obviously in light of our finances our leadership team will need to be “lean and mean” as the saying goes. Everett will need to surround him with the best leaders the Lord can call to his side. Some have suggested we have had a “brain drain” over the past twenty years in our leadership at the BGCT. I cannot speak to the past, but I pray the Lord will call out the best and finest of our leaders to join Everett and dreaming new dreams about tomorrow. Pray for our staff. Encourage them. The BGCT has a good team of leaders who have been fighting an uphill battle on many fronts. They don’t need critics right now, they need friends and encouragers.
“National Conventions”: I learned my lesson on this topic last year. When I was in the election process for BGCT president I spoke of moving the BGCT closer to the SBC. This idea created shockwaves in some quarters. I misspoke and paid for it dearly. The mission and vision of the BGCT and its leadership needs to move closer to its member churches. In my opinion this move must be toward its BGCT/SBC churches. That being said national convention relationships should have little if anything to do with how our BGCT churches work together. What a church does on a national or even local level is a local church issue. If a church chooses to be part of the mission of the BGCT by its mission giving then they should be full partners regardless of who they also cooperate with. The litmus test for our convention needs to be the passion of the local church to advance the work of the Kingdom by working together with the BGCT on its stated mission and purposes, not where it sends its additional mission dollars. I totally agree with Knox. Those of us who love the BGCT need to lay aside the labels that divide us and we need to find ways to come together.
Final thought: I think Paul has a good word for how to deal with “feeding frenzies” in our relationships. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:14-16 NIV)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)
I also learn as a child that getting your mouth washed out with soap has a way of getting you to think before you speak. Does anyone know where we can get a “Texas-sized” bar of Ivory soap?