Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's Time for Leadership Change

Dr. Ron Crawford, President of the Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, has posted a thorough and insightful blog about the recent meeting of "CBF Leaders" at Callaway Gardens. Dr. Crawford revealed information that neither Associated Baptist Press nor Ethics Daily disclosed:
Dan Vestal mentioned a process of discernment about his retirement. He noted at the end of the meeting he is clear he should lead the organization through the June 2011 celebration of the 20th anniversary, but not clear about thereafter. I suspect Dan will become increasingly clear about his retirement plans as the June 2010 General Assembly approaches. Let me say what we all know, organizations are not apt to get much of anything done if the leader is unclear about a retirement date. Organizations can't live long with the kind of ambiguity that is natural and normal for individuals.
This makes it clear that a transition in CBF leadership is on the horizon. Only the timing is in doubt.

In my humble opinion, it's time.

The generation that gave birth to the organization needs to give a another generation responsibility for projecting a vision for the future while we still have the health and energy to assist them in achieving their goals and objectives.

I believe that the future of CBF will necessarily have to differ from the models for ministry and mission that have prevailed in CBF life. Both our churches and our institutions are proving to be too slow to adapt to the needs of our changing situation and we are not allocating our financial resources as efficiently as necessary.

In our first twenty years, CBF leadership has successfully created a network of institutions and agencies that can support ministry and missions with moral, spiritual and theological integrity. For too long, however, CBF has also been a safety net for ministers, educators, missionaries and denominational executives who were displaced by the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC. It is time for the founding generation to move on to lower profile forms of service and let another generation fulfill their calling.

CBF has been blessed with an overabundance of highly qualified, well educated leaders, particularly women, who feel called by God to commit their lives to full-time Christian service. At the same time, the number of places where they can receive any monetary compensation while fulfilling their calling are too few.

The career missionary programs and the traditional church ministry models that served us well in the past are not providing an adequate number of opportunities for full-time service. Entrepreneurial people, full of faith and confident in their calling, are launching their own ministries and prompting the creation of new networks of support. CBF needs to stop being threatened by this movement of God's Spirit and start encouraging it while finding ways to forge some links to it.

It's time for another generation to begin the process of envisioning a future for CBF that is more interconnected, innovative, flexible and entrepreneurial than any of us in the founding generation can now imagine.

1 comment:

Ircel said...

I value the leadership provided to CBF by Cecil Sherman and Daniel Vestal. Both have made siginificant contributions to this movement of Baptists through challenging times. I agree,however, that it is time to move on. I stepped down as coordinator of the Tennessee CBF after ten years for several reasons, but a primary one was to open the door for new leadership.

This is a time for new ideas and initiatives that are responsive to the needs of our churches and our world. God will provide the leaders, but we must be ready to listen and respond to their leadership