Plainview: This week I had the opportunity to participate in a strategy planning meeting for the new Wayland Missions Center led by Dr. Rick Shaw. This new mission center located on the high plains of Texas has a vision to touch the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Dr. Rick Shaw, a former international missionary to Albania, brings an inspiring and challenging perspective to his Kingdom assignment. Not only does he oversee the work of the missions center, but he is overseeing the Wayland Baptist University, Kenya campus. Yes, you read right “KENYA” campus.
In some ways Wayland Missions Center is one of the best kept secrets in Texas Baptist life. Dr. Shaw is an amazing missional leader, and the students I had the opportunity to interact with are some of the finest I have met in recent years.
During the strategic dialogue among a wide host of Baptist leaders and pastors from West Texas it was the consensus of the group that the face of missions today is changing. No longer does missions boil down to sending money through the Cooperative Program to national sending organizations like the International Mission Board or the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Missions today is more “hands on” and under the control and direction of the local church. In addition, this generation of students feels God’s calling to missions in ever increasing numbers. The harsh reality is that today there are more mission volunteers than resources to send them.
One of the challenges I gave to Dr. Shaw was to work on develop models for Kingdom cooperation and collaboration in the future. The Cooperative Program was the genius of the modern missionary movement, but it must change to embrace the new realities of missions today. For Western Christianity to be a player in the future of missions, and it needs to be, new models, processes, and networks for doing work together must be developed. In the development of these models, I believe this young passionate generation of leaders must be heavily involved in the dreaming and implementation. Young leaders are not going to lay down their lives for the old bureaucracies of yesterday.
The “top down” hierarchies of yesterday are being replaced rapidly by “flatter” more mobile systems and networks. These new models are much more relational and “hands on” in the past. Struggles for control are being replaced by collaboration and networking among leaders who are passionate about common Kingdom assignments. Centers like the Wayland Mission Center need to be places where older and younger generations talk and work together to create the models for tomorrow.
I hope and pray Wayland Baptist University will be leaders in the conversation and transition under the vision and leadership of Dr. Paul Armes, president, and Dr. Rick Shaw, director of the Wayland Missions Center. Out on the plains of West Texas God is up to something big for the future of His Kingdom.