Monthly Archives: September 2011

Unintended Consequences: The BGCT and Southwestern Seminary

The firing of Russell Dilday in March 1994 by the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) was like a shot heard around the world among Texas Baptists. This act of control and dominance by the fundamentalists who sat on the board sent a message far and wide among loyal Texas Baptists that the bloody conflict that had marred the landscape of Baptist life across the nation now had come home to Texas. Texans do not take lightly to being bullied and so a groundswell of support arose among leaders of the Baptist General Convention of Texas to distance itself from SWBTS. This choice and many like it may now be having significant consequences in the churches across the state.

For decades SWBTS had been the training ground for the dynamic gifted leaders of BGCT churches. A few churches would bring in pastors with training from back East or even on the West Coast, but for the most part a Southwestern grad was the first choice in the pulpit and in the pew. During the following years after 1994 the BGCT became the enemy and with its financial commitment to Truett and Logsdon the competition to SWBTS. This break in relationship sipped into the classrooms and filled the minds of the young men preparing for the pastorate with suspicions and doubts about the BGCT.

Now fast forward twenty-five years, many of the strong middle-sized and large BGCT churches face a dilemma as they look for new senior pastors. Most of these churches look for pastors who have experience and whose ages rang between 35-50 years old. Due to the fact that Truett and Logsdon could not produce enough pastors, plus many of the students in the seminaries these days have no interest in traditional pastoral ministry, most of the qualified candidates are Southwestern grads, and many of these young men are loyal Southern Baptists and some are now pastors of Southern Baptist of Texas (SBTC) churches or churches that are dually aligned with the BGCT and the SBTC.

These young experienced pastors offer our churches the seasoning, experience, and skill they are looking for, and the pulpit committees are more concerned about the future of their churches than they are about the convention loyalty of these young men. What a pulpit committee looks for is someone who can preach the Word effectively, lead the church, love the people and help the church to grow in an increasing secular society.

Case in point, a few weeks ago First Baptist Church of Canyon called an outstanding young man to be their pastor Steve Olsen. Steve came from FBC Bellsville. He served on staff at Prestonwood Baptist Church with Jack Graham. His convention background is Southern Baptist of Texas. So in one pastoral change FBC Canyon went from having the President of the Baptist General Convention of Texas as their pastor to having a young man who cut his teeth in ministry under the shadow of the SBTC. This story is one of many I could share with you.

Broken relationships in our past can often come back to haunt us today. In light of this situation it is critically important that the BGCT begin to reach out and restore relationships with these young upcoming leaders. The BGCT leadership needs to tells its story and cast a compelling vision of tomorrow these young leaders can embrace. It would also be very wise for BGCT leaders to sit down with pencil and paper in hand and listen to these young leaders tell their story and listen to their dreams and vision for tomorrow.

Another application revolves around Baylor University. In recent months the relationship between Baylor and the BGCT has been tested. The regents of Baylor voted to allow non-Baptist fellow Christians to join the Baylor board. For many this was a last straw and some want to distance themselves from Baylor. Before the BGCT takes this step it would wise to step back and take a long look at history. If the BGCT is serious about claiming tomorrow it must strengthen its relationship with Baylor but especially with the young men and women who are being trained and equipped in its classrooms. The leaders of tomorrow are forming their opinions about their future relationships today.

The writer of Proverbs wrote:

28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
set up by your forefathers. (Proverbs 22:28 NIV)

Broken relationships have consequences…sometimes it takes years for these consequences to bubble to the surface.  Be careful.


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Intentionality: Dr. Glen Booth

A few days ago, I found myself staying in Dallas overnight in the neighborhood near to Love Field. I got up early to go jogging and as is my custom I love to run in the neighborhoods. You see and learn a great deal about a city by running its streets. On this morning I made my way near Harry Hines and glanced at a distance a building that brought back a flood of memories from days gone by.

In the high-rise building I spotted Dr. Glen Booth once worked as the counselor for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. He provided his expertise and service to the pastors and families of our convention at no charge. I must confess his ministry made a world of difference in my life.

At the time I was planting a church in the North Dallas area. Robyn and I had been married for less than ten years. We had two little girls, a mortgage, a struggling church, and I was working day and night trying to get the church off the ground. As a young pastor I was trying to fill the “big shoes” of following my father’s example in ministry, and was probably close to burning out, and without doubt my choices hurt my marriage.

In his gentle firm way, Dr. Booth listened to our story. He could tell I was embarrassed to be there, but desperate for help. Robyn was tired and frustrated and probably felt a bit neglected. He listened. It was obvious he cared. He gave us one word of advice that still guides our path today. I can still see him writing this word on a big note pad the word “intentionality.” In a firm gentle way he taught me the importance of being “intentional” in the expressions of my love for Robyn.

I have learned to be “intentional” in planning time for my wife and children. I fill my calendar with appointments to be with them. Robyn and I still to this day each lunch together at least once a week. We try to have a “date” each weekend, just the two of us. We block out weekends and vacations to protect family time. We don’t leave our relationship to chance or circumstances. I learned this lesson from Dr. Booth.

Today Dr. Booth is with our Lord but his influence continues in my life and ministry. As I jogged by his old office building, I whispered a prayer thanking God for someone who “intentionally” touched my life and taught me the power moving past good intentions to actually putting my intentions on the calendar.

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Change the Face of the World: 19 or 12

The ten-year remembrance of September 11, 2001 has come and gone. The attention of the nation once again was drawn to that dark fateful day when nineteen young terrorist set out to change the face of the world. Without doubt these sold-out young men accomplished their mission by projecting vividly the face of hatred and evil by the smoke pouring out of Manhattan after the collapse of the Twin Towers.

As I reflected on this dark day and its death toll over the past ten years, it was truly a game changer. The world will never really be the same. As our church remembered the events of ten years ago we prayed over a handful of young men who will be deployed this week to a field of battle. The march continues.

Jesus confronted injustice, hatred, and evil in a totally different way. He too changed the world and continues to change the world for good. He started with twelve men who were equally sold-out. Men willing to lay down their lives for what they believe. Men willing to love rather than hate. Men willing to build bridges of hope rather than walls of hostility.

I believe as a follower of Jesus it is more important to look forward rather than backwards. We need to learn from the past but not live there. Our gaze must be on the future–God’s future. I believe today God is looking for a generation of young men and women who are willing to sell-out to His vision of tomorrow. A world marching in step with the beat of the Kingdom of God rather than the kingdoms of this world.

We will not win this war on terror fighting fire with fire alone. I believe we must take Jesus’ commands and example seriously. I wonder what would happen if we implemented His strategic plan found in His “Sermon on the Mount”? I wonder how the face of the world would look different if we truly “loved our enemies and blessed those who cursed us.” I suspect many in the “real world” would argue Jesus was out of touch, but what if His ways are right?

Ten years ago nineteen young men set out to change the world and did. I wonder what would happen if as few as twelve of us who are followers of Jesus set out to change the world for good. Can you imagine what God could do in the next ten years if we willing to give our lives for His cause?

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Leadership Quote from Teddy Roosevelt–1910

Over one hundred years ago, Teddy Roosevelt speaking at the Sorbonne in Paris said:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

As I reflected on this great insight into life and leadership the imagery of the arena gripped me. The writer of Hebrews wrote:

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

Clearly the arena calls those who seek to follow Jesus with abandonment. Leaders know all too well the sharp sting of criticism, and the wounds of faithful friends. Leaders stumble and fall–it comes with the territory. Leadership in the long run may have more to do with the ability to keep getting up rather than never making mistakes.

Fix your eyes on Jesus and seek to live a life “without regrets.”

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El Paso: A City Searching for Its Soul

This week the El Paso Times reported that El Paso city leaders were surveying business and community leaders about its image and the impact of the violence in Juarez on the business and tourism climate. Three of the ten question directed related to the bloody violence in Juarez and its economic impact.  Sadly the Times misrepresented the survey saying:

“El Paso officials want to know whether the city should take the first steps toward ending its ‘sister city’ relationship with Juarez”

In addition, the Times ran an online survey with this provocative question:

“Should El Paso distance itself from Juarez in trying to draw business to the city?”

Of the 2809 who responded:

74.54% “Yes, the violence in Juarez hurts El Paso’s image

25.45% “No, El Paso should embrace being a border city

Marketing does not create the character and image of a city–the actions of its leaders and people make a name for a city. Sadly asking questions like these only reveals how far our society has moved toward success rather than significance. You cannot measure character in dollars and cents. Greatest has more to do with how we treat each other than whether or not we get ahead.

Our “sister city Juarez” is fighting for her very life. If we turn our back on her now we too have sold our souls to the dark side. Recently a Juarez pastor spoke to a gathering of pastor at our church. He told a story about two sisters who were trying to deal with the bloody violence.  One sister’s children were gunned down. Meanwhile, the other sister pulled away from her family and tried to protect her children. She ignored and abandoned her sister in crisis. Then the pastor scanned the room and said, “The sister who is protecting her children is El Paso.” Like the crooked finger of Nathan pointing at David and saying “Thou are the man.” I felt the tinge of guilt knowing all too well the truth captured in the parable.

I have no aspiration about being a great business mind nor corporate guru, but I do know a bit about Kingdom of God. Jesus told a story about a man beaten and left by the road by a band of robbers to die. A priest and a Levite saw the man…these men of faith saw the plight of the dying man and “walked by on the other side.” Meanwhile, a hated Samaritan stumbled upon the dying Jew. At great personal risk and expense he stopped and cared for the man. He loaded him on his own donkey. He nursed his wounds during a long night in the inn. He left enough money to provide for the stranger’s needs. He demonstrated what it meant to be a neighbor…a true neighbor.

So what is El Paso going to do? Are we going to go on about our normal lives and walk by on the other side of the road or are we going to stop and give of ourselves for our “sister” in need. When it comes to greatness–character counts! We must also remember “character costs.” It cost Jesus’ His life as He laid down His life for His friends. I challenge us to follow His example and to draw closer to our “sister” in her time of need!


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