The Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas is an amazing collection of men and women from across the state. I discovered they come to the table with one heart and mind to accomplish our Kingdom assignment. However this mission is much easier said than done. In times of seismic change like we are going through these able leaders must wrestle with difficult and complex decisions.
As president of the convention I have the honor to serve on the executive board this year. I must admit I show up for the meeting “wet behind the ears” with a great deal to learn. As I sat in on the meetings I gained a much better grasp of the challenges we face together. There are very few easy choices these days.
The most daunting challenge we face today as Texas Baptists is our financial crisis. The plunge in the giving of our churches reflects the state of affairs on the local level. One must never forget the BGCT is not a staff in Dallas gathered in the Baptist Building. The BGCT is our member churches who have voluntarily agreed to work together on the God sized tasks of missions and evangelism, Christian education, and being an advocate for the least of these.
From my limited perspective of the past, I suspect much of our financial crisis came from somewhat self-inflicted wounds. Over the past ten years as we struggled for our identify and place within the Kingdom at times our message and mission was lost in a fog of fringe agendas and actions. The genius of Texas Hope 2010 revolves around the clarion call to return to our core values of missions and evangelism, and helping those on the margins of life.
There is good news to report on this front, last year we only lost twenty churches from cooperation and we birthed ninety-one new churches. Granted the Cooperative Program giving in the transaction was a wash this year but in the years to come as these new churches grow and develop we will be able to do more and more together.
In addition, I learned that the success rate of our new church plants is now over 90%. This percent is unheard of in the world of church planting. Having been a church planter years ago I remember when a 33% success rate was accepted as an industry standard.
The genius behind this transformation was born out of a simple change in strategy. Instead of funding church planters, the BGCT helps churches plant churches. The BGCT helps churches with training, equipping, and financial support. Instead of being a “missions bank” and simply throwing money at the problem, the BGCT strives to be a mission partner helping our churches to be effective at reaching their communities and context.
I believe church planting must play a major role as we embrace our future together. This year we will fund these partnerships to the tune of $3.9 million but I pray in the years to come we will be able to double our efforts and more. We must never forget as I learn as a church planter in Flower Mound, “the resources are in the harvest.”
Simply put, our future rests on “making the main thing the main thing,” closing the back door by staying on task and on mission, and kicking the front door wide open through missions and evangelism.