Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Managing rapid decline: Baptist General Convention of Texas

Pity the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Be it a church or a state convention, going through lean times is depressing and no Baptist entity seems to be going through a more demoralizing period than the venerable BGCT.

There are lots of Texas Baptist bloggers but I get heads-up stuff on the BGCT (which state would be right next door to me save for Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana) from David Montoya at Spiritual Samurai. Montoya might be the most effective squeaky voice in blogdom. His continual yipping about ValleyGate was eventually heard and consequences continue to be felt.

The BGCT’s downsizing is put in numerical perspective in this Baptist Standard story.

In 2006, the BGCT employed 406 staff, with 315 in full-time positions. After the latest cuts take effect, staff will number 268, with 213 full-time positions.

Over one hundred full-time staff positions cut in the last four years. Egad.

The upstart convention in Texas, Southern Baptists of Texas, is due some credit for the BGCT’s woes because the SBT provides an attractive choice for Texas churches. Surely some credit is due the BGCT itself for its propensity for self-inflicted wounds.

In the link above note Samurai’s mention of nepotism at the BGCT. To be fair, Montoya has not always been accurate, but if he is, such would be hard to justify in a time of downsizing.

I see no great revival of enthusiasm for denominational (Cooperative Program) giving and our current SBC president, Bryant Wright, has famously said that state conventions should make drastic, radical cuts in what they keep out of CP gifts. Unless something not anticipated occurrs, other state conventions may be following the BGCT in decline. Call this pessimism if you wish. I rather think it is realism.

If so, the most valuable people in the SBC might be those who have the skills to shepherd our entities in a time of radical reprioritization, er, decline. One cannot say that the BGCT has done this well, but it has done it.

Maybe lessons can be learned from it.

9 comments:

tikesbestfriend said...

I emailed you the general cooperative agreement that I was able to get my hands on. If it doesn't come thru, let me know.

Tim

Norm said...

William: Pity the Baptist General Convention of Texas ... The upstart convention in Texas, Southern Baptists of Texas, is due some credit for the BGCT’s woes ....

Norm: Reported in December by The Christian Index, North Carolina, now controlled by fundamentalists, reduced its budget at greater than 11.4% (2001 level), which is hardly far removed from Texas’ current blues of lagging at 11.39% (but 90% of 2009 year-to-date receipts). Still, both are suffering a bit more than Georgia, also a fundamentalist dominated state convention, which was reported to have reduced its budget by 8.2% (2005 level). Not enough difference in giving percentages, however, to afford Georgia, or any of its constituent members, any room to pass judgment. Seems the recession has affected fundamentalist organizations, too; but the reality of such is no reason to gloat, only to have concern and be saddened that ministry is attenuated.

Jon L. Estes said...

we raised our associational giving by 2% and lowered our CP percentage by 5%. We also budget 5% now to be set aside for our own mission endeavors. Previously we had a budget line for this. We took that line out since we were going to set back 5%. Good thing, our mission endeavor money is double what we budgeted in previous years.

William Thornton said...

It's just anecdotal, but I read that a number of churches are making similar decisions to cut CP and do (or send money to) direct missions. THat was Bryant Wright church's decision.

William Thornton said...

Even considering that Rick Davis is a former BGCT staff member and may hold some ill will, his recent blog is still striking.

http://aintsobad.typepad.com/aintsobad/2010/08/bgct-staff-cuts.html

Norm said...

aintsobad: [1] One consistently continues to hear the old "tritism" that goes "we can do more together than separately" [2] but it actually ought to read, "We can pay fewer of our friends if you do not give."

Norm: [1] For a positive outcome, it is contingent to a large degree on whether there is agreement on the goals. [2] Which pastor does not try to influence who is appointed to certain committees? Can what happens at the local level not be expected to occur at the state and national levels? Pastors may complain about the way state personnel are selected and perceived, but, at their level, they engage in the same practices that they decry at another.

David Montoya said...

Whoa there Norm,

Not every pastor tries to influence committees. I do not attend nominating committee meetings nor do I make recommendations (formal or other).

If the church cannot staff positions without my input, what does that say about the church?

The nepotism and good old boy systems that have staffed conventions in the past, as well as our dividing up sides in our Baptist wars, has created a corrupt corporate culture in our conventions. Technology and cultural shifts have made it time to rethink our cooperative efforts. Conventions need to be restructured to help churches with needs rather than have churches work for what the convention thinks it needs. However this will not happen till the old system dies.

Norm said...

David: Not every pastor tries to influence committees. I do not attend nominating committee meetings nor do I make recommendations (formal or other). If the church cannot staff positions without my input, what does that say about the church?

Norm: Assuming the second sentence means the pastor should have input, then the first sentence is in conflict. By virtue of the pastoral position, the input is influence. It is doubtful that the practices at the state level occurred/emerged ex nihilo, especially given that most state people first served at the local level. Last, for those with significant organizational experience to deny the political nature of any organization is to be willfully ignorant.

Christa Brown said...

Yup. "Corrupt corporate culture."