WorldconneX: A Glimpse into the Future of Missions

On April 16th the WorldconneX Board of Trustees affirmed the recommendation from the executive leadership of the Baptist General Convention of Texas to dissolve the organization and to move three key facets of its work directly into the mission of the convention. This action ends a seven-year adventure of faith and creativity led by Bill Tinsley, a creative and loyal BGCT leader. I must confess my reflections on this transition in the life of WorldconneX will be colored by my long-term relationship with Tinsley. He has been my mentor, friend, and example in ministry now for over twenty-five years. We served shoulder to shoulder together in the Minnesota/Wisconsin Baptist Convention for several years. In my opinion, you will not find a better friend to the local pastor and a more passionate follower of Jesus than Tinsley.

I want to make two observations about WorldconneX as this chapter in our mission journey ends, and a new day dawns. It is my opinion that WorldConnex was hindered and limited by the struggles of the BGCT. Since WorldconneX was so closely linked to the BGCT, it suffered along with the BGCT leadership. While this dream was trying to take form and shape, the mission endeavors of the BGCT were struggling on many fronts. It is hard enough to dream new dreams and to be on the cutting edge of a new day in missions without struggling against the tide.

Secondly, I believe WorldconneX was just a bit ahead of its time. Pioneers and trailblazers are often misunderstood, and sadly sometimes the enemy of those who are in power. Change means new paradigms and possibly the ending of some long term efforts. The paradigms and ideas espoused by WorldconneX from my perspective were old and new at the same time. The vision of WorldconneX was as old as the book of Acts that paints a picture of local churches on mission to reach the world. WorldconneX envisioned a return of the local church to the front lines of missions. As the world increasingly became “flat” and advances in technology, communication, and travel made the world much smaller and much more interconnected, Tinsley and others saw an open door for the local church, big and small, to be one of the primary forces behind the Great Commission. Out of this old vision emerged its commitment to “front-line services” which help local churches deploy their own missionaries with the technical and practical help provided by WorldconneX. In addition, the “Inside/Out” weekends were designed to help each local church discover its own unique “Kingdom assignment.” These old ideas and paradigms were also taking on new shades of color and vibrancy. WorldconneX cut new ground in creating networks around the world for individuals and churches to do more together while following their own sense of the movement of the Holy Spirit.

We live in a time when hard decisions have to be made. I was not in the loop on the timing or all the deliberations behind this decision, but I strongly support Randel Everett and Bill Tinsley as they seek to pursue a new day in Texas Baptist life. Even though it saddens me to see WorldconneX end as an organization, much like an organ transplant gives new life and vitality to a body struggling for life, I believe the infusion of life coming from WorldconneX into the mission of the BGCT will lead to greater good, and possibly even a greater reality than WorldconneX could have seen on their own. Now these creative and innovative tools, ideas, and concepts will be mainstream in BGCT life. No longer will these endeavors be a sidebar to our work together, but will be part of our identity as a Kingdom, missional movement. Tinsley and his team of creative, innovative and persistent leaders have given Texas Baptists a gift that will color and shape our future for many years to come. For this I am personally and deeply grateful.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “WorldconneX: A Glimpse into the Future of Missions

  1. 100% agreement with all you said here. I, too, am a big Tinsley fan and long time friend. Will he be coming to the BGCT staff?

  2. I remember more than just 2 people working for World ConneX. How many lost their jobs?

    I have to admit that their assumption into the missions/evangelism area of the BGCT brings sadness to my heart. I remember hearing from people on the EB of the BGCT that I knew, talking about how they didn’t like how WConn was working. They wanted an old school MSO. They just aren’t able to see what God is doing today as they reminisce for the good ole’ days.

    WConn wasn’t on the cutting edge as much as in the center of what God is doing today. I chalk this up as another bad decision of the BGCT leadership. The same kind of bad thinking that took out the Missional department.

    We aren’t going to get out of the mess we are in by the the methods of the 1950-60s. Why do we keep getting rid of our greatest thinkers?

    Tim

  3. David,

    I’ve been thinking about it. Even though it pains my heart to see WConneX get the axe, I understand the drastic cuts that need to be made w/in the BGCT. They just don’t have the money to keep everyone, and do everything. I hurts to think of the people that lost their jobs. I hope we are doing something to help them.

    However, I still lament the loss of such great thinkers/doers as Minatrea. I can only pray that Tinsley doesn’t suffer the same fate.

    Tim

  4. Concerning the staff changes, I don’t know how many will lose their jobs. I know that Bill Tinsley has a position for the rest of this year but is currently looking for a new Kingdom assignment.

    Changes like this are always hard when dreams seem to fade or die, and when good people lose their places of service. However, we must be encouraged by our faith that God works in all things for good, and we need to be looking for His hand in all these things.

    • I look for His hands in this. Not in the firings? No, I believe that would be a miss application of Romans 8:28. However, He often takes the mistakes that we make, and turn them around for Kingdom Benefit. I can only believe that he will continue to use people like Tinsley, as they continue to stay in the center of His will.

      Tim

  5. Lee

    I think WorldconneX might have been a victim of the same thing that has hurt many state convention programs in the BGCT in recent years. It does not seem that the BGCT has found an effective way of getting the word out on many of the things it does and as a result, people either don’t know enough about it to feel led to give it their full support, or the perception develops that the BGCT’s programs are the personal kingdoms and domains of its leaders.

    How much missions education goes on in our churches these days?

    • As soon as WorldConneX came out, people in Fort Worth started mouthing off against it. Why? Because they weren’t the “traditional” MSO. To many pastors are mired in a missions methodology that became ineffectual in the 1950s.

      WorldconneX was right in the center of God’s will. It was trying to propagate among TX Baptists, exactly what is calling us to. Their demise is not a “win” for God’s Kingdom, nor TX Baptist.

      Tim

  6. Tim,

    I pray we gained from all that was invested in Worldconnex and from lessons learned. I do regret that this chapter is ending. The demise of this endeavor is quite complicated at best, but I believe God will bring good out of this chapter in our lives.

    We must come to grip with the reality that not everything that we start is intended to last forever. Some “wins” are temporary in nature. I pray this adventure of missions and learning in the end will be a “win” for the Kingdom.

    David

  7. Lee,

    Your comments and observations are quite insightful. I agree that communication and understanding the mission of Worldconnex contributed to its stumbling at times.

    I also fear it was dragged down by its connection to the BGCT during its days of struggle. It’s mission was so interconnected with the BGCT that it was hard for it to define itself otherwise.

    We will have to dream new dreams about how to educate our churches and the generations to come in the area of missions. We must invest in “new wineskins” because we truly are entering a new day in this adventure of faith.

    David

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