Dallas: Have you make your travel plans to travel to McAllen for the BGCT Annual Meeting? If not, why not? One of my priorities this year as president is the make the annual meeting a meeting you will not want to miss.
As you probably know, last year in Houston we had the fewest number of messengers in years. In jest, I attributed this downturn in attendance to my effective leadership and the restored trust of the people. The harsh reality I believe we were hit by a perfect storm of circumstances including an economic downturn, high cost of a downtown venue, lack of meaningful elections or controversial issues, and a continued downward spiral of denominational interest. If the BGCT had a hard time drawing a “crowd” in Houston, imagine the challenge we face going to the Valley.
In light of this reality, I have led the Committee on Convention Business (COCB) to color outside the lines a bit and to put together a meeting that will not resemble what we have done in recent years. Of course, there is very little that is new under the sun, so these innovations are really not radical, but I hope they will bring freshness to our gathering.
We are currently in the dreaming and planning stage, but let me paint with a broad brush where we are heading. Many of the suggested innovations were a byproduct of my personal reflections after meeting with the committee appointed to study our annual meeting. This committee under the leadership of Kyle Henderson, pastor of First Baptist Church of Athens, has nicknamed themselves “The Green Hat” committee. The “Green Hat” represents their passion and priority to present “new ideas” for our future. During their meeting, Kyle encouraged the committee to think “outside the box.” However, I loved the comment by Dub Oliver, president of East Texas Baptist University, when he suggested that we get rid of the box altogether. I suspect this excites some and terrifies others!
So if you come to McAllen what will be different?
- The corporate meetings will be divided between inspirational meetings and business meetings. In others words, we will not try to blend the business and inspiration together. Each gathering will have a purpose and a focus. So we will have three “empower sessions” and two “business sessions.” During empower sessions we will focus on casting vision, inspiration and telling our story. During the business sessions we will do the “work” we were sent to accomplish.
- The schedule of the sessions will be as follows: We will open on Monday afternoon with our first empower session during which the Executive Director and the President will cast the vision for the future. After this session, we will take a break and return in the middle of the afternoon for an hour and half business session during which we will seat messengers, approved the agenda, elect officers, introduce new business and have the Executive Board report.
After this first business session we will break for the dinners. We will end the day with an empower rally that will focus on telling the amazing stories of what Texas Baptists are doing together, and we also will have a nationally known speaker who will challenge us to be the people of God.
On Tuesday morning, we will have a “morning on mission.” During this morning, the messengers and guests will be invited to get their hands dirty in ministry or to go exploring the mission opportunities in the Valley and along the River. It is the hope that this morning will instill in us the importance of missions, and will make a positive impression on the people of McAllen. How this morning will flesh out is still in the works, but the commitment is in place to do this.
On Tuesday afternoon, we will return for a second and final business session. During this business session we will elect any remaining officers, approved the budget, elect trustees and Executive board members, and handle any business that needs to be addressed by the body. (Note: The exhibit areas will only close during the evening empower rallies and during the “morning on mission.” Otherwise, they will be open for fellowship and networking.) After this business session we will break for another set of dinners and reunion events.
The “official” convention will conclude Tuesday evening with our final empower session. This session will feature the annual sermon this year by Victor Rodriguez, the president of the Hispanic Baptist Convention, and an address by a second nationally known speaker. This second speaker will also stay over to be the keynote speaker at our G5 meeting that will be help on Wednesday morning.
As you can tell we are intentionally lengthening the meeting rather than shortening it. The reason is simple. We want to slow the pace, so we can have more time for fellowship and networking. I don’t believe shorter is better. Most of us go to the convention to do the business of our convention, but also to be with our friends. This takes time.
- Morning on Mission
The “Morning on Mission” will still need to be fleshed out, but it will take two tracts. One track will be hands on mission projects in cooperation with local churches and agencies. The second track will be exploring mission possibilities for future partnerships.
Other items: This new format will extend the time available to our exhibitors since we will only close the booths during the evening sessions. The exhibit area will open on Monday morning rather than Sunday and will close at approximately 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday. The format will also provide two prime times for alumni events and institutional gatherings on Monday and Tuesday evening. There will also be a projected reduction of workshops due to the format change and limited space available.
These projected changes are still in the works, but I am excited to see the possibilities of this new format for our annual meeting.