Editorial: The knock-kneed need not apply

Inset from “The Parable of the Talents” by John Morgan (Wikipedia Image)

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The BGCT must transform itself in order to achieve a successful, effective future.Last week’s editorial focused on Texas Baptist leader David Hardage’s challenge to rethink and reorganize the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

knox newEditor Marv KnoxHardage recently told the BGCT Executive Board: “I really am giving some long and serious thought to our future. What will we—what should we—look like? … I don’t want to make decisions to keep people happy, but to reach Texas with the gospel. … The future—not just of the Texas Baptist convention, but of Texas and of what we need to do for (God’s) kingdom—weighs in the balance. We must adjust our mindset and our hearts to do whatever it takes to impact Texas for the gospel.”

He invited Texas Baptists to email him suggesting how to reorganize and improve the state convention. “Send me your thoughts. Send me your ideas. Think. Pray. Dream,” he urged. “Let’s put something out there that will be exciting for the future of Texas Baptists.”

The BGCT must transform itself

Hardage is correct. The BGCT must transform itself in order to achieve a successful, effective future. I hope you’ve sent him your ideas. More than that, I hope you’re praying for him and for the process.

A reader sent me an email, suggesting Texas Baptists consider Jesus’ parable of the talents—or parable of the bags of gold or story about investment—as we set priorities and cast a vision.

You remember what happened: A wealthy business leader took a long trip and left three associates in charge of his affairs. One looked after 5,000 shares, another 2,000 and another 1,000. The associates who managed the larger portions both doubled his money. When he returned, he praised them and gave them promotions.

But the one who managed only 1,000 shares buried it for safekeeping as soon as the leader left. When the leader returned, he explained: “‘I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound, down to the last cent.’

“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness’” (Matthew 25:24-30, The Message).

Time to act boldly

This parable applies to Texas Baptists today as well as it has applied to anyone in 2,000 years. We have been entrusted with unimaginable resources amidst unfathomable need and unprecedented opportunity. God expects us to do our best.

So, now is the time to act boldly, not play it safe. As Eugene Peterson paraphrases Jesus’ words about avoiding risk: “That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that!”

Texas Baptists should follow these principles as we chart our course:

Act boldly. Dream big. Take great risk. This is called faith.

Invest wisely. Right now, more than any time in recent memory, funding is tight. We owe the Lord and a hurting world our smartest investment. That means increasing support for effective ministries and eliminating ineffective ones.

Look for “vacuum” opportunities. We’ve been investing in all kinds of ministries others are doing effectively or maybe even better than we do them. We should maintain ministries others are not doing or cannot do, and do them excellently. We should fill important vacuums and let go of over-crowded ministry areas.

Barbecue sacred cows. We can’t afford to keep on keeping on, just because we’ve always done something. We should focus on the future. We may appreciate programs and projects from the past. But if they don’t meet future need, or they don’t rank among the top priorities, or we cannot complete them with excellence, then we must let them go.

Texas Baptists’ future isn’t for the knock-kneed or faint-of-heart. If the timid set our course, it won’t be worth traveling. And God won’t bless it.

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Care to comment? Send an email to our interim opinion editor, Blake Atwood. Maximum length for publication is 250 words.