Months ago I started a book length series of posts directed to persons who must choose a leader in an era crying for leadership. I intended this series particularly for a small committee of good persons who must choose a director for the Baptist General Convention of Texas (now called the Texas Baptist Convention).
At some future date, you know not when, this committee will bring forth a candidate. He may be the fellow holding the spot now but that would be a serious error. There may just not be anyone else who would take it, or, at least, no one who would take it who would be any better. The interim fellow is not able, in large part because of a long standing commitment to the old TBC and in large part because he is simply not capable.
If leadership is chosen this time because it is in place and inexpensive, you will have settled, perhaps for the last time. There are many who will celebrate the end of the BGCT/TBC.
Yet, the end is not pre-determined. The climb out of these Stygean depths will be long and slow. Much of the money, influence and presence you lost will not return. More churches consider leaving you every week, according to information that comes this way. They delay their decision only to maintain decorum in the local congregation. The slightest slip by the BGCT/TBC gives a church all the cover it needs to take its presence away.
Yet, your end is not predetermined. Nothing is inevitable until it occurs. There was a reason for you once. You fumbled terribly, bumbling away your powerful place.
You can find a new way. You can make a place for yourself by service. No decision should be made as if the next stop is the funeral home.
At some point someone will be put forward to hold the spot. He must do much more. A hero will not work, nor will a champion be believed. He must, however, be an admirable person. The committee will have to be able to articulate why he is admirable.
Tactically, he will have to do these things:
- Refresh a diminished staff
- Give the universities and other entities leadership in remaking their charters to protect them from a take-over by any group in the future
- Give the universities and other entities good cause to stay connected with the BGCT/TBC while the other convention gains strength and support and even while the BGCT has even less to give in support each year
- Avoid scandal and withdraw from those who involve themselves in scandal
- Increase accountability in special offerings before they dwindle to nothing
- Stop the stone-walling about past scandals. It did not work for Nixon or Clinton, it is not working for Rupert Murdoch and it will not work for you. You are too late for the high road and your protestations to the contrary only make you look more ridiculous. People in the pew have not bought your excuses.
Strategically, he will have to find a way to tie together the various ethnic groups making up the Texas population, without pandering. He must be more careful than the last fellows in picking his partners. If he plans to share leadership with anyone he must ask them to show good faith and some knowledge of baptist polity.
I do not know his name. I do know some really good people are on the committee to find him. I do know he should be one of the more experienced associational directors, like Tom Billings of Union Baptist Association. An experienced associational leader has the right mix of preaching/speaking ability, along with administrative expertise. In addition he will be one who has navigated the territoral wars of the last thirty plus years.
He must be a politician but not a partisan.
The fellows who call for some young man from out of state border on insanity. By the time the unknown fellow builds a reputation his convention may cease to exist.
Please do not tell me you have to get a younger fellow because you do not want to do this again in three years. The last fellow lasted less than three years, all the while telling you it was your turn to shoulder the load.
The new fellow must be a man of experience and ability. He must be a proven leader, not just a big church preacher or a wit.
He must not be a fellow who wants to hold the spot until he finds a better position or reaches a comfortable retirement. He must come willingly to the call. He must come soon.
He must be admirable.
The committee will have to tell those who might follow him why he is admirable.
I have here written 40,000 or so words to say what a reasonable religious person might consider admirable. Godspeed you on your course from here.
Opinions expressed here are mine alone.