The destination for this week’s travels was to Dallas for the BGCT Executive Board meeting. The Executive Board is a working board charged with the responsibilities of overseeing the work of the BGCT between annual meetings. The board divides its work between its missions and ministries and its institutions. The board is ably led by John Petty.
This week the board focused on two primary opportunities, the reorganization of the Executive board staff by Executive Director Randel Everett, and the move to disband WorldconneX. These two moves were intended to streamline or flatten the work of the BGCT, and to narrow the focus of the work.
The reorganization revolved around focusing the work of the convention on its three historic values and Kingdom assignments: Evangelism & Missions, Christian Education, and Advocacy/Care. Simply put the mission of the BGCT is to work together to reach, teach, and care. Three new “centers” have been established led by long term BGCT staffers. Wayne Shuffield will be the director of the Evangelism/Missions Center, Chris Liebrum will lead the Education/Discipleship Center, and Suzii Paynter assisted by Ferrell Foster will lead the Advocacy/Care center. This reshaping of the staff was so current that the ink was still wet, and some final assignments had not been totally confirmed.
One of the keys to this move is to enable the staff to work more as collaborative teams, especially in this day of downsizing of the staff. The BGCT staff has had a staff reduction from over 400 to just 270 staffers which include the Baptist Student Ministry staffers scattered across the state. Under Everett’s leadership and vision the BGCT staff will seek to be creative in their efforts to do “more with less.”
Another key component of the new vision of the BGCT work will be making the mission of WorldconneX as now mainstream in the work of the convention. WorldconneX led by Dr. Bill Tinsley sought to be cutting edge in its mission innovations and networks. At times there seemed to be much confusion among some about the mission and purpose of WorldconneX. In an effort to mainstream its innovation the WorldconneX board resolved to disband its organization and to join forces with the BGCT in reaching the world. Two key contributions of WorldconneX were its creation of “Inside/Out Weekends” designed to help local churches uncover their Kingdom assignments, and “Front Line Missions” which sought to help local churches send out their own missionaries instead of depending on national mission sending organizations. From my perspective, WorldconneX may have been just ahead of its time, but has given Texas Baptists two great innovations to help position the convention to be a key player on the world stage in the decades to come. I believe WorldconneX has a good investment that will pay long term dividends. We must remember in the rapidly changing world of today that there will be very few endeavors that will last over the long haul. This should not discourage innovation and risk taking; rather these qualities need to be at the cutting edge of our work together.
In addition, the Executive Board is still grappling with the effects of the slow down in the Texas economy. It appears the lagging Cooperative Program gifts reflect the state of the economy rather than an indictment of the work of the convention. In fact last year the BGCT only lost 18 churches and had a net gain of over 50 churches. I believe much of this turn around can be attributed to making Texas Hope 2010 the focus of our work together. Vision and mission brings diverse groups together especially when the mission strikes at the heart of why a group exists.
Overall I sensed a positive spirit at the Executive Board meeting. Fresh winds are blowing, and God is at work among us and within us.