The present configuration of the BGCT is not sustainable. The reserve money, as well as estates and gifts coming into convention control, will keep the organizational brain wave from a flat line. The absence of a meaningful, transforming mission imperative will render it more and more irrelevant as the years speed by us.
The Service Center offers anecdotes about lonely pastors whom they contact just before the end. This is the Convention in its pastoral role but the convention is not intended, fit or able to be pastoral in its function.
The Research and Development Center is woefully underfunded and overcomplicated. The least research and development project requires massive funding, expert information gathering and analysts able to synthesize, not just compile, information.
The Communications Center is groping their way to blogger status but is plagued by inconsistent messaging, intervals of screaming silence and the necessity to fulfill their core mission to a constituency of dubious technological abilities.
The Missions and Evangelism Center is wedded, by necessity, to past glories. I hate to shoot at them. Those are my boys over there. I hired all of them or fought for them when Wade and Brooks wanted to sack them one by one. I was all but ordered to fire Wayne Shuffield, who now heads up the Center, or what is left of it. My refusal to discharge him was one of the things that marked me as "not a team player."
In a ten minute conversation one day, Wade told me "Anyone can have a camp. Why do we need Super Summer? Get us out of that."
I did not get us out of Super Summer. I was not a good team player.
To be frank, I am very glad I did not play on that team. My name is not mentioned on any investigative reports, either, as result. I was forced from the office by little men who have themselves been forced from office now, one remembered as an incompetent bungler and the other branded a liar. My ideas remain, along with the things I fought for without money and in the face of the studied duplicity of the Wade Administration.
What is a sustainable convention? Well, what is a sustainable community in a post-modern context?
A post-modern sustainable community will have to be energy efficient/productive in terms of conservation and production of energy. This community will have to be relevant to the pressing needs of this day without forfeiture of core values.
Let me write it this way. In a day when it is increasingly cost prohibitive to own/operate an individual motor vehicle powered by fossil fuel, a sustainable community will have to include mass transit, alternative energy sources, improved efficiency of availabe personnel and use of technology.
The suburban model, where persons of a certain socio-economic grouping flee to live apart from the teeming, brutish masses, will no longer serve as sustainable model. This may be bad news for sprawling suburban mega-churches, which have long benefitted form culturally homogenuous populations compressed in a manageable space.
Sustainable communities may be those where a person lives within walking distance of home, work, shopping, education, entertainment and, oh, yes, worship. A convention of churches intending to sustain itself meaningfully will help its clientele plan, adjust, adapt, build and spend according to what is coming, not in line with what has been.
Years ago, Gus Reyes and I sat to talk about what ethnic ministry at the convention level should look like. I remember listening to him at length and finally saying, "You know, Augustin, what you are saying is that Latin American citizens/immigrants, of whatever generation would benefit greatly if they could come to Christ, graduate high school, finish at least that primary educational level without producing children and then go on to some training, either college or technology related without a crushing familial load to carry."
Our plans thereafter reflected this thinking.
I do not hear much "thinking" from our convention now. I hear sloganneering, cheerleading, appeals for greater funding without greater accountability and endless, monotonous demands to "move on." In fact, I am repeatedly told, if we stopped to deal with the basic honesty issues facing us, a meaningful revelation of the facts would destroy us. The odd reasoning seems to be, as long as we ignore the outright deceit and dishonesty practiced against us, all will be well.
The present circumstances of the BGCT are not sustainable. The massive monies amassed over a century of life together will keep the organization afloat. Yet, "float" seems to be the only way to describe the movement of this little ship of state. There is no discernible purposive movement. So long as we are not taken over by the Fundamentalists we appear to have no other purpose.
This will not go on forever.