Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thinking Strategically about the Future

Our Board of Directors voted to approve a strategy planning proposal during our June Board Meeting. It seems incredible, but we are already in the fifth year of implementation of our First Priority Strategic Plan. Our current 5-year plan was developed during a comprehensive process implemented during the 2004-2005 convention year. Since we are in the final year of the plan, it is again appropriate to begin thinking about the future.

Joel Barker in his video Leadershift says, leaders must focus the majority of their efforts on the future. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me the future usually arrives before I expect it and often before I am ready for it. The Baptist General Convention of Missouri is beginning its eight year. We are a young convention, but God has already blessed our cooperative ministry in a wonderful way. From the very beginning we have sought to be a different type of denominational entity. I have served in a wide variety of denominational roles, and I have come to realize that it is incredibly easy for these organizations to believe the churches exist for their benefit. Nothing could be further from the truth. The denomination exists to serve churches and to facilitate the joint efforts of local congregations.

Our current plan says the Baptist General Convention of Missouri’s mission is to serve churches and church leaders as they fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Our vision has been to be an organization that gives first priority to serving churches. I believe we have taken some significant steps toward realizing this vision. Several years ago our board voted to serve any church desiring our assistance whether the congregation was supporting our ministries or not. Our convention staff is made up of practitioners who are located throughout our state as we seek to be accessible to our churches. Our team leaders include specialists in the areas of leadership development, congregational health, church planting and missions mobilization. We have put in place retirement and health insurance programs for church staff members. We also provide comprehensive search committee resources and services.

Over the last four years we have become members of the North American Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist World Alliance. We have become a part of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, and established partnerships and relationships with Baptist conventions in Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Our have built a missions partnership with the Baptists in Guatemala and China. In addition to supporting all our Missouri Baptist institutions and agencies, our convention also supports the Baptist Center for Ethics, the Associated Baptist Press, and Central Baptist Theological Seminary. I am incredibly proud to be a part of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri.

However, as proud as we are of our early years as a convention, we know God has more in store in the years ahead. We are beginning the planning process for the next five years. A leadership team will begin leading the process in the next couple of months as we begin thinking strategically about the future. We want to “think outside the traditional paradigms.” What is the nature of the world where we serve today? What are the challenges and concerns of the churches we serve? How can we most effectively serve these churches? What new opportunities confront us today? What does God want us to be and to do in the next five years? I am very excited about the opportunity to gather with Baptists from across our state and explore the answers to these and other important questions. We will be providing an invitation to participate in an online survey as a part of our planning process, but I want to invite you to send me your suggestions and thoughts. Let us know how we can better serve your church.

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