As I think about the future of the SBC, I think about the leaders, the decisions and the direction. What is happening today, will it be continued and build upon, or will there be a new direction? Will things change and make sweeping changes? Will all the decisions and direction of today be wiped away in 20 years? I guess you will have to ask the leaders who will be leading in twenty years. That will be. . . me and my friends. Scary thought isn’t it.
At the risk of losing all credibility, I am 35 years old. I have waited for the day I’ll be old enough to be taken seriously, but I have seriously began to doubt that will ever happen, and that’s ok. The truth is, in 25 years, I’ll be 60. How old will the current leaders of the SBC be? Who do you think is going to be in charge? It’s the guys who care at 20, 25 and 30. I have been in ministry my entire adult life. Even when I left the traditional church, I am working on non-profits, looking to do ministry, wanting to start house churches, I still dream of getting my Ph.D so I can teach seminary. I am writing for blogs like Voices. I am not saying that because I do this stuff, that somehow someday I’ll be SBC President, what I am saying is that as I get older, I will remain involved. Someone from my generation who is involved and talented (probably someone like Trevin Wax). In the years to come, it’s this group, me and my peers that will be making the decisions.
So here is the question, what are you doing with us? Are you investing in the 25-40 crowd? All the work you are doing now, the directions you are setting, the courses you are plotting, the strategies you are writing, who are you sharing them with? If you are sitting in a room, and you are the youngest guy and you are over 50, you may need to re-think your plan. You will turn the entire organization one day to someone who you have never passed your passion or legacy too.
What my opinion? You must, you are still reading. We have done this WAY too much in Baptist Life and, to quote Emperor Palpatine “you will pay the price for your lack of vision”. (As a sidenote, you need to be investing in someone who understands that quote, knows where it came from). We have made long term plans with short term means. Is there an SBC plan to mentor you guys at Lifeway or NAMB or the IMB? There may be and I didn’t make the cut, but I know many in my generation are just waiting for the day we will get to be in charge so we can change things to make them make sense to us.
I think there is a better way. I was thrilled to get to sit on a panel with emerging and incumbent leaders to talk about how to bridge the gaps. I know as an emerging (not emergent) leader that I need to learn and mature and I need to learn the where, what and why of things at the SBC. On the other hand, I don’t see a lot of leaders looking to give me the helps. I know there are some young shining starts, like Wax, who are doing amazing things. What about the ones who shine a little less but will one day step up? What are you going to do to show them your vision? Dr. Rainer, I am reading your books, but how do I really get to know what you are thinking? Dr. Ezell, I am not sure I understand everything you are doing with NAMB, you can teach me so much, will you? Dr. Elliff, would you take time to spend with someone like me? Trustees and Presidents, State Execs, would you help me? Let me give you my bio.
We are Busters, most of you know us as your “kids” and we are the same age as your kids. I am part of Gen X, which was told we were lazy and disrespectful, and maybe we are. We are not sold on the concept of denominations, so when you find us, please try to keep us. We won’t sacrifice ourselves for our jobs, we won’t lose relationships for status, we watched our parents do that. We want to be authentic and real and we want you to care about us. Most of you know that, I have read your blogs, seen your articles, read your books, seen the research. You work with us, live with us, shake your heads at us, but are you ready for us to take over? Are you ready to give the reigns of the SBC to me and my fellow under 40 bloggers?
In the next few years, I feel led to start a ministry to help people start Bible Studies at work, on campus, in schools, dorms and apartment complexes, if you want information go here. I feel led to start a house church network to help us grow churches in rural places like Iowa where I live that don’t have the resources to buy land, pay a pastor and build a building. I feel led to coach (because some great men coached me, thanks Richard). I feel let to help, to support, and to occasionally write for Voices. I am not sure where I will be in 25 years, if Jesus tarries until then, but if He does, and if I am left in charge, what do you want me and my friends to know?