A Good Word from Marv!

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?

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “A Good Word from Marv!

  1. I could not agree with Marv more and thank you for posting this. I am looking forward to having Dr. Everett in our pulpit this coming Sunday. From all I have heard he is a fine man and will be a good leader. I cannot wait to meet him. For the most part, I think the bloggers have determined to take a wait and see attitude, but I fear each has their own criteria for his success. Give the man a break. Let him establish himself, first. He is making a gargantuan effort to get around the state and meet people. I don’t think size of church is an issue with him. Invite him to come to your area. Invite others to come in with you. Get to know him before setting a criteria for his success.

  2. spiritualsamurai

    Obviously I do not agree with Marv. Marv did write two strong editorials after it became clear that a scandal had occurred, but he has not helped Texas Baptist come to closure on this issue. He has spent more time supported Ken Hall than anything else.

    There are still people who were involved in ValleyGate that have never faced what they have done. E.B. Brooks has never been put under oath. Otto is still walking free fleecing other denominations as is Jon Becker. We are like the Catholic leadership that covered up for pedophile priests.

    The only people really crying for us to move on are those with political aspirations that ValleyGate hurts.

  3. David (Samurai),

    Granted you have championed this cause for justice from the earliest days. If it was not for guys like you who waved the “red flag” who knows how much more would have be squandered.

    From my perspective organizationally much has already been done. Charles, David, and Ron are no longer in their posts of leadership for a variety of reasons. E.B. has stepped aside. To our knowledge the information has been passed on to the appropriate authorities. Since we believe the civil authorities serve as the “arm” of the Lord in matters of justice we are going to have to trust this matter to their hands and ultimately to the hands of the Lord.

    Randel Everett can and should look into the matter to assure the BGCT churches that this matter has been completely investigated and dealt with but this cannot and should not be his primary focus. As I stated earlier, we have learned some hard and expensive lessons that we cannot repeat, but our future rests on moving forward with aggressive church planting rather than investigates.

    David, I commend you on your relentless pursuit of justice. I would encourage you to keep a watchful eye on what happens, but channel this passion in a relentless pursuit of getting of to a good start under Everett’s administration.

    There may be truth to those who fear the investigation suggesting we move on. Let’s face it the Lord is more than big enough to handle this situation. It was His money not ours that was lost. My dad warned me as a young pastor with this sage advice “don’t touch the girls, don’t touch the gold, and don’t touch the glory”. Remember the judgment seat of Christ awaits us all, so we need not fear if justice will be served. However remember our Lord’s amazing tendency toward “grace”.

    David Lowrie

  4. Bob Cheatheam

    David, Good blog. I agree with you, Randal Everett needs to be given a chance. Keep up the good work.
    Bob Cheatheam

  5. ellis orozco

    David:

    Excellent post. You (and Marv) are right on target. Thank you for your words of wisdom. Dr. Everett is on my daily prayer list.

    Blessings,
    ellis

  6. JND

    A layman’s perspective:

    I completely agree that Dr. Everett should have every opportunity to succeed. For better or worse, his success—or lack thereof—will substantially overlap, for better or worse, with the BGCT’s success—or lack thereof.

    I do have a concern about what has come to be called ValleyGate. You wrote, “The people responsible for these events for the most part are no longer in leadership, so let’s move on.”

    I have no personal knowledge of whether or not anyone responsible still remains to be held accountable. I hope you are right. Although clearly, at least some people of good will disagree on this. I leave it for others much better qualified than I to comment on this.

    My concern is organizational. It is at least possible that the BGCT as an organization (or convention or system or organism or structure or whatever term one might find more appropriate) is flawed and that the ValleyGate debacle (or whatever preferred term) revealed those flaws.

    If that is true (and, of course, it might not be), I’ll make the moral judgment that those flaws ought to be corrected, and I don’t think those flaws can be corrected by moving on. Instead, the BGCT would require a comprehensive relook leading to organization change so that (1) people of good will don’t get caught up in a bad organization and do things they wouldn’t otherwise do, and (2) people of not so good will (There may be one or two) have fewer opportunities to do wrong in the organization.

    The good news here is that Dr. Everett, as someone not previously involved in this, has a near perfect opportunity to lead in making the necessary changes. As your paragraph on ValleyGate notes, Dr. Everett should get a pass. I would submit, however, that we will not “learn the expensive lessons” by moving on. Likewise, we need not “live in the past” to make changes for the future.

    Your response to Samurai seems to me to go in the direction I am suggesting. But knowing that certain persons “are no longer in their posts of leadership” isn’t sufficient if the organization itself is flawed. In that case, changing people without changing the organization would allow similar problems to recur.

    My thought is that organizational rewards, relationships, budgets, policies, procedures, practices, etc. also need to change specifically to correct the organizational flaws that allowed ValleyGate to happen. Your paragraph on BGCT Staff reorganization recognizes that changes are coming. Making the needed “ValleyGate corrections” as part of comprehensive change can reduce finger pointing and resentment and increase acceptance and actual organizational improvement.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment. May God bless your continued service in His name.

  7. David,

    I just have to ask; what feeding frenzy? I announced a six month plus moratorium weeks ago on aintsobad. Montoya’s has issued one praise blog after another applauding Everett’s actions (which I think have more to do with WJ Dahnert at this point but who is quibling?).

    I asked people just to pray for Randel and let the rest of the earth rotate on its own for awhile. To me, this recent diatribe from the Standard seems more political to me than anything Montoya has laid down; just set up a straw man and kick it in truisms so trivial as to be irrelevant.

  8. JND,

    Thank you for your layman’s perspective. We need to look at this situation from every angle and perspective.

    I appreciate your concerns about organizational flaws. I must confess I have limited knowledge like most of us who only know what is publicly reported. It appears from published reports that a new system of checks and balances are in place and have teeth to them.

    Our church is a mission church sponsor and I know that in our dealings with the BGCT staff they are on top of the information. They check and confirm the actions we agree to.

    I fully support Everett taking every necessary step to establish a mission funding process that can be trusted, and holds all parties accountable. When I was a church planter a number of years ago I remember vividly the reporting demands and the accountability. At times they were cumbersome, but I knew they were for my good and for the good of the organization. However, we must remember that by nature ours is a “trusting” Kingdom so we are at risk when we deal with those who are loose with the truth, or intentional seek to deceive.

    Thanks again for your input.

    David

  9. Rick,

    I must agree you have a point. I guess like good ol’ Barney File from Mayberry RFD it is better to “nip it in the bud” before it begins!

    I doubt Marv has an political agenda in all of this. I guess he wanted Everett to be given a half decent chance to get off to a good start. Unfortunately the budget woes and continued layoffs have undermined this plan.

    I am glad you are feeling better.

    David

  10. I loved what the layman had to say about the organization. Generally speaking, there are three reasons why an organization and its processes fail.

    1. The organization may not be adequate to meet the needs.

    2. Those who run the organization and its processes are incompetent or inconsistent in their decision-making.

    3. Executive leaders go around the organization to make deals with persuasive petitioners.

    I will be blogging about these things in the next few days, but thought it worthy to mention in the stream of this discussion. Now, I have no inside knowledge of how any of these three things apply to the B.G.C.T., only what I have heard others speculate and/or report. I only know that these are the kinds of torpedoes that can wreck any organization.

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