Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Whirlwind Week and a Half

Last week was pretty much a blur for me and this one has been almost equally busy. I flew to Dallas Love Field a week ago Sunday evening to attend a 2-day board meeting of WorldconneX. It was a difficult meeting in some respects, as the BGCT's financial situation has prompted the finance committee to propose a deeper cut in WorldconneX's budget. I think the organization is doing some wonderful, innovative things and is filling a niche in Baptist life as a missions networking organization that practically no one else is addressing. Their plight though in some respects is like the individual in the Civil War who wished to show his sympathies for both sides so he donned the gray jacket of the Confederacy and the blue trousers of the Union. The result was that he was shot at by both sides.

WorldconneX was born out of controversy at a time when some Texas Baptists were upset with the general direction of the SBC and specifically the decision of the IMB to require missionaries to sign the BF&M 2000 when they had been told they would not have to do so. Many also resisted the changes introduced in the document, preferring the language and spirit of the 1963 BF&M. Some in this camp evidently anticipated that WorldconneX would become a missionary sending agency and were disappointed when it did not. On the other hand, those who continued to strongly support the SBC and the IMB feared that WorldconneX would indeed become a sending agency and interpreted steps taken to enable local churches to send and support their own missionaries through the Front-Line Sending focus of WorldconneX as confirmation that the organization was trying to supplant the IMB.

The truth is that WorldconneX isn't a sending agency but does facilitate helping local churches to engage the world with a strategic missions focus. That in some cases has included these churches choosing to send out missionaries from their own congregations with WorldconneX's assistance, but not in the traditional sense of a sending agency that directly interviews, appoints, supports, and directs the activities of these missionaries. WorldconneX's task is to help churches with things like logistics, training, and assisting with money transfers, etc.

WorldconneX will continue to operate with a reduced budget, drawing upon reserves that it has and carrying on its ministry for the time being. My hope and prayer is that Texas Baptists will recognize the unique contribution WorldconneX is making to global missions and will take concrete steps to ensure its future vitality, or at the very least, to preserve the focus and emphasis of the organization.

Following the board meeting, I rented a car and drove to Granbury where I spent the rest of Tuesday through Thursday afternoon visiting with my mother in a rehab center where she is recovering from a fall that produced 3 fractures of her pelvis. She's making some slow progress but has had a few setbacks along the way also. I flew home on Thursday evening, arriving home about 11:00 p.m.

Friday morning early it was off to Columbia, MO for a quarterly meeting of the BGCM board of directors. We had a very positive meeting and I was able to give an update on our partnership work in Guatemala that was well-received. It appears that we will have a larger group of pastors participating in the next leadership training trip in January and I'm extremely grateful for that. I've been hoping that more would participate so that they in turn will lead their churches to engage in some church-to-church partnerships and trips.

I arrived home about 5:30 and since I hadn't seen the family in a week, we went out to eat Mexican food and catch up a bit. Afterwards, it was off to meet with a family in preparation for a funeral message on Saturday morning. The man was an outstanding Christian who had been a member of our church for almost 40 years and had served as a deacon, Sunday School superintendent, teacher, etc. I visited with them as they reminisced about his life, jotting down notes to help prepare a fitting eulogy. His favorite Bible verse was Romans 6:23 so I used this as the basis for the message. The funeral was a wonderful celebration of a life lived well.

On Monday and Tuesday our senior pastor and I traveled together to Windermere Baptist Encampment for the annual CBF pastors' retreat. It was a wonderful gathering with excellent fellowship, and some quality teaching from Dr. Mike Graves, a homiletics professor, and Bo Prosser, coordinator for Congregational Life with CBF National. Danny Chisolm has shared some reflections about the gathering over on his blog.

With Scott, our senior pastor, heading for Denver to visit his daughter in her new apartment this weekend, I also get the chance to preach this Sunday. That has kept me busy with sermon preparation the last couple of days. A phone call this morning means that I'll be presiding over my second Saturday funeral in a row also.

I'm looking forward to next week when, the good Lord willing, life returns to more of a normal pace. I apologize for the lack of posting in these days, but things have been a bit hectic.

6 comments:

Kaylor said...

Wow! I'm tired just reading that. Thanks for the update on WorldconneX.

Gary Snowden said...

Brian,

Thanks for stopping by. How are classes going, prof? Missed you at the board meeting last Friday, but it was a good gathering.

Joel said...

You did more in that one week than I do in a month. I finished up all my out processing stuff, so I'm on vacation all next week. Zzzzz time!

Gary Snowden said...

Joel,

Thanks for stopping by. I'm jealous of the Zzzzz time on vacation. Hope you enjoy the R&R before shipping out.

GuyMuse said...

It almost sounds as if WorldconneX's "mistake" was just being ahead of the times when most Baptists were ready for it. My understanding of the changes being implemented right now in the IMB sound very much like those which WorldconneX has been trying to do for several years now.

With the mission/vision of the IMB being less on sending missionaries and more on assisting the churches to fulfill their call in the Great Commission, NOW may be the time for WorldConneX to shift into high gear and complement what the IMB will be doing more and more of.

Gary Snowden said...

Guy,

I think you are absolutely right. Bill Tinsley and his staff have a wonderful vision of mobilizing churches to think strategically about missions and to do more than just engage in an occasional missions trip, as important as those are for achieving a vision of what is going on in missions around the world. I would hope and pray that their passion and approach would survive--either as the existing organization of WorldconneX (which I think would be the ideal), or at least within the structure of the BGCT's overall missions network.