Have you seen those signs in government, non-profit, and some company offices that have an expensive plaque that displays the organization’s mission statement?
“We at company ABC will be customer centric and use new and existing technologies to maximize resources to increase shareholder value.” In other words, we have a business like every other business in town. I wonder how long it takes people to come up with different ways to say are a normal business.
The same is true for churches. “Church ABC is an authentic community that blah, blah, blah and does the same general things that churches have done for centuries.” I guess there are a few people who actually read these statements beyond the first sentence, but they are likely the kind of people already know what the Bible instructs churches to do.
How about state Baptist conventions? What’s the Baptist Convention of Iowa’s mission statement? How is that different from our vision statement? As a new executive director should I call for a special blue ribbon committee of our most trusted leaders to lock ourselves in a room for hours and create a new vision that preserves the values and history of every church of the Baptist Convention of Iowa while at the same time presents a glorious future of what we can be?
Not that we can’t benefit from meeting and discussing the future of the BCI, but for now I’d rather use the 8:00am on Monday morning test. If a mission statement doesn’t help us all to know what to do on Monday morning at 8:00am, it isn’t practical enough. For example, a mission statement for churches should help church leadership to focus on improving teaching and worship, developing small groups, and providing structure for missions locally and beyond.
What about a state convention? I’ve completed four weeks as executive director and so far I’m suggesting three initiatives to begin on Monday morning or as soon as possible:
1) We’ve had a bumpy ride with changes in our association structure over the last three or four years. In some cases churches are finding natural ways to connect for mutual encouragement, support, and shared ministry; but in other cases these structures are developing more slowly that we would like. BCI is preparing to assign at least one staff member beginning in May who has the primary assignment of facilitating and supporting these networks. We will also commit convention funds to accelerate and develop this process.
2) I believe that one of our primary church planting strategies is to identify and develop healthy churches and networks of churches among us to start new churches in needy areas. I propose that BCI offer matching start-up funds and other support for the first two or three years to qualified church planters. We will assign two or three staff members to this priority.
3) I propose that BCI lead the pace in establishing a culture of generosity by increasing our giving to the Cooperative Program by twenty-five percent beginning January 1, 2015. I’m proposing something significant, not one percent per year for twenty-five years. If we want Iowa churches to give generously to the cooperative program, the BCI will do its part by increasing the share sent on for missions. We will not first take state convention expenses off the top before calculating the amount we give, as other state conventions are apt to do. If a church member calculated his tithe after paying his mortgage I don’t think we would say he is tithing.
I’m still in major learning mode and have been running around the state listening to as many of our leaders as I can. These are still proposals, not decisions… please send me your comments or suggestions.