This journal will be more about observations and thoughts rather than actions. I started the week attending Patriot Day at Dallas Baptist University with my wife and youngest two daughters. My third daughter Jamie is graduating from Canyon High in a few weeks and is very interested in attending either Dallas Baptist University or Howard Payne University the alma mater of her two older sisters. This trip to Dallas was to give her a chance to interact with the student body of DBU, and to get a feel for campus life. We started the day off by a brief visit with Dr. Gary Cook, who has become a very dear friend and mentor to me. He was very gracious to us, and encouraged Jamie to prayerfully seek God’s will for her life. Following this visit, we participated in the Patriot Day events.
One of the highlights was attending chapel with the student body. I would encourage all Texas Baptists to attend a chapel service of one of Baptist universities near by. Being in a room full of young men and women praising God, and seeking His face in the middle of a busy school week is exhilarating. It will also make you proud to be part of the BGCT. Our commitment to higher Christian education is an investment that will pay dividends for many years to come. During the chapel service I had the honor to be part of Jim Denison’s first speaking engagement as the theologian in residence for the BGCT. He spoke powerfully on how to seek God in the midst of uncertain and difficult days. He shared the life struggle of his father a WWII veteran who along with 16 comrades were abandoned and left to die on a small island in the Pacific. Denison pointed out how the grace of God can turn tragedy into hope, and how even though his father never returned to church God redeemed his suffering in his life and ministry. It was a powerful word for these young students living in the midst of a chaotic storm, but it spoke volumes to me as well.
One note about DBU, I deeply appreciated the fact that in their presentation to the potential students and parents, that the vice president spoke of how DBU was “not simply a Christian school, but rather a Christ-centered institution.” Christian is not merely a tag line in their profile, but rather the heart beat of its ministry and education plan. I especially enjoyed hearing three deans of the University speak about how they integrate Christ and Christian values into their curriculum and training of young servant leaders.
On Monday afternoon I caught a plane to travel to Nashville to participate in the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. All the state convention presidents and executive directors are invited and encouraged to participate in the EC meeting. It is a way to build relationships and to find ways to work together as Baptists to accomplish the Great Commission. During my time with the EC I had the opportunity to stand with Broadway Baptist Church as they sought to remain in friendly cooperation with the SBC. A motion at the Indianapolis convention to remove them from fellowship was made and this decision was referred to the EC. The day began with a long productive meeting with the Bylaws workgroup lead by Dr. Stephen Wilson.
I won’t go into all the details of the meeting because there are press reports that can do a better job, but I will share my heart in going. I shared with the EC that I was not there representing the BGCT because no one can speak for the BGCT, rather I was there as a loyal SBC/BGCT pastor. I interceded on Broadway’s behalf that the EC give this struggling church in crisis the opportunity to deal with the issues that they were facing without punitive action from the SBC. I stated that I believed that Broadway’s leadership was acting in good faith and desired to remain in friendly cooperation. I also warned the EC of the media blitz that would happen if the EC recommended punitive action against Broadway. I feared that every media outlet would quickly spread the word of this action and that our cooperative work together would be deeply hindered by the negative press. (Clearly, we cannot make decisions based on the fear of the media, but in this case we were dealing with a church trying to work through this situation, and I believe we could handle this matter in a much more productive way). I also shared with them as a BGCT pastor that I hoped and prayed that we could take the stones that we had used to build walls between us to build bridges we could cross to work together to accomplish Kingdom work and the Great Commission of our LORD. I was deeply moved by the positive reception I received both in public statements and in private conversations.
After the EC voted to give Broadway more time to deal with this situation at home and gave them proactive means they could take to stay in friendly cooperation. I stood to thank them for their deliberations and decisions. I was especially thankful for whoever made the decision to send this matter to the EC rather than to the floor of the annual meeting. If this motion had gone to the floor of the convention in Indianapolis with only the news articles and headlines to base a decision on I have no doubt the SBC would have ousted Broadway. However, by choosing this course of action I believe God used this situation for good on all fronts. A standard for Christian conduct was established, and deeper understanding on all sides was realized. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to be on the front row watching the leaders of the SBC and Broadway Baptist Church work together in humility and openness to find common ground and a way to work together. To be fair, we must realize the journey is not over and much still needs to be done, but what a wonderful start we are off too.
I believe fresh winds of the Spirit are blowing among us as Baptists and a new day of cooperation for the sake of the Kingdom is dawning.