As the Baptist General Convention of Texas moves toward its annual meeting in Fort Worth, many may be wondering what the future holds. Some suggest that “something good is dying”, and there may more truth to their sentiments than we might dare to face. Others believe things will be fine, we just need to “hunker down” and weather the storm like our friends on the coast did as Hurricane Ike blew and blew against their homes. Some believe the basic mission and vision of the convention is fine we just need to “tinker” with the engine—all we need is a “tune up.” Some take the long look into the future and believe we are entering a new day, and that God is calling on His people to follow Him in new ways.
Loren B. Mead, in his book The Once and Future Church suggested that the church of today needs to take the long look into the future. He wrote:
“If we are, as I am convinced, in a time in which the paradigms are changing, a cosmetic approach to change, the kind that deals with surface appearances, is inadequate. Organizational specialists distinguish between ‘transitional’ and ‘transformational’ change. By transitional change they mean the adaptations and shifts brought on by temporary dislocations and discomforts, moving to a new stability. By transformational change they mean the shattering of the foundations and the reconstitution of a new entity.”
“Churches that tinker with program and marketing are barely beginning to be on the edge of transitional change, but the building of the future church requires transformation at it very core.”
As I read his prophetic words written in 1991, and reflect upon the harsh realities and struggles we face today. I must agree that we need to stop “tinkering” and start seeking a “transformation” led by the Spirit to cast a new vision for cooperation and networking among Baptists for years to come. As we seek change we must remind ourselves we are dealing with a “living organism” of interdependent relationships not a machine that needs on overhaul. The change will probably proceed at the pace of natural growth and change. There will be seasons. It’s my prayer we are in the “winter” of deadness and hibernation, but the “spring” will soon break out all around us.