Why the BGCT is relevant

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For several years now, the term “relevant” has been the buzz word in Christian circles. Churches are trying to be relevant. Christians are trying to make the gospel relevant. People are wondering if denominational bodies are relevant.

Truth is, I can’t find anyone with a good definition of the word. So I made one up. Being relevant means meeting people at their place of need, no matter what form that need may take.

And by that definition, I believe the Baptist General Convention of Texas is relevant. We as Texas Baptists are relevant to the world around us. Take last week, for example.

Since Dolly struck the state, four members of the Texas Baptist family that are supported in part by the BGCT Cooperative Program — Texas Baptist Men, Buckner, Baptist Child & Family Services and the BGCT executive board staff — have been working long hours to assess needs in the region and meet them.

Each group has taken on part of the disaster relief effort. Together, Texas Baptists are making living conditions in the Rio Grande Valley better.

Texas Baptists are helping flood victims in colonias. They are feeding people who have been forced from their homes. They are providing medical care for those who cannot attain it otherwise. They are supporting church architecture specialists to follow up with congregations that have damaged facilities.

Ask a person who was affected by Hurricane Dolly and is receiving a bottle of water or a warm meal this week if Texas Baptists are relevant. Ask people who have little hope, if a kind word in a quiet moment was relevant to them.

I’m not completely naive. Not every person who receives Texas Baptist help will know about the Baptist General Convention of Texas or what it supports. But they will remember the volunteer that offered a bit of hope in a trying time, offered a bit of tangible help when there wasn’t any around.

They’ll remember the person who met them at their point of need. It may even change their lives.

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8 Responses to “Why the BGCT is relevant”

  1. Andy Says:

    So, let me see if I understand the line of reasoning: (1) select a nebulous buzzword; (2) craft a definition for said buzzword; and (3) apply your crafted definition to the BGCT and claim relevancy. You have got to be kidding me. If the BGCT wants to be relevant it will need to be more than just another Red Cross type agency with disaster relief photo ops to make us feel good. Come on! Is this the best we can do?

  2. David Says:

    Andy:

    From http://www.webster.com: relevant (\ˈre-lə-vənt\ –adjective); 1 a: having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand b: affording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion c: having social relevance.

    Unless someone’s crafting an additional meaning for the word today which none of the rest know about yet, I’d say John hit the buzzword on the head with his definition and descriptions posted above.

    For the convention (that’d be you and me together) to maintain a ministry truly holistic for Texas residents, literally tens of thousands of examples of relevant service must exist; John tells about a few in this posting. He might not have described what you know ones near you regularly need; invite him to come to see your circumstances–and buy his lunch while he’s there; that’d be a relevant ministry done to him!

  3. John Says:

    Andy, thanks for the feedback. I think I’ve defined the word in a way most people can agree upon, and apparently it generally agrees with the way Webster defines it (Thanks, David). If there’s a better definition, I’m open to that.

    Bigger picture, you’re correct. The BGCT can’t simply be a Red Cross-like agency. We’re not called to do that. The BGCT is called to help Texas Baptists be the presence of Christ, and one of the ways some Texas Baptists express that is through disaster relief. They do a great job of providing help and hope to those in need. If you’ve ever served with one of these groups, you know it’s much more than a photo op. These people pull long, grueling days doing tough and often dirty work.

    What I was attempting do (apparently not very well) was provide a look at the tip of the iceberg, if you will. To be honest, I could do this pretty much any day with any number of things Texas Baptists do through the BGCT.

    For a few examples, I could talk about BGCT chaplains ministering to the military or to the sick in hospitals.

    I could talk about BGCT-affiliated child care institutions who care for children every day.

    I could talk about ministry students who receive scholarships through the BGCT. I could talk about the service of Baptist Student Ministries across the state.

    I could talk about churches the BGCT has helped start that are now reaching and baptizing new believers. I could talk about the extraordinary growth of the cowboy churches.

    In the coming days, Rex will share about the Texas Baptist All-State Choir and Band, which is a collection of the best young Texas Baptist musicians. They’re using their talents to spread the gospel through music. I hope everyone sticks around to follow the group on its journey.

    Each of these ministries is meeting people at their point of need in many different forms. And to me, that’s the essence of being relevant.

  4. Andy Says:

    I am very familiar with the on-going work of the BGCT. I have watched as the organization has reeled from splits and reorganizations and scandals and layoffs. It just caught me in an odd way that the BGCT blog would try to draw attention to “Why the BGCT is Relevant.” Those who don’t think it is probably won’t be reading the blog. Those who think it is probably think so for the reasons that are listed in the above replies. I think that we need to be careful when we begin to defend the relevancy of a group rather than allow the group to be relevant. I am not trying to devalue any of the very worthwhile ministries that the BGCT as an organization initiates and sustains. But I have seen individual Baptists and Baptist Churches attempt to defend their relevancy in a way that only amplified their irrelevancy to the culture around them. I think that we as followers of Christ must continually seek out those who most need Him (even if no one is there to hand out attaboys).

  5. David Says:

    Andy:

    I agree with your posting just above–and with John’s initial posting about the ministry of BGCT churches and the convention’s staff.

    Again, there must be a jillion ways that Christians and churches do RELEVANT ministry–the relevancy of that ministry and the degree of it depend upon the need it endeavors to meet in people’s lives (and recipients confirm that the ministry was or wasn’t relevant to them).

    Research worldwide demonstrates what, I think, you’ve tried to point out: e.g., “small groups which are holistic relevantly” is one of eight primary characteristics of churches to which the lost/unchurched world readily respond, and those congregations/small groups experience numerical growth as a result (they’ve experienced some degree of spiritual growth in order to be “holistic relevantly”). And, believers consistently doing ministry which is relevant probably aren’t seeking any attaboys from men–they simply want needs met, in Jesus’ name; the accolades can wait until the Judgment Seat when rewards are distributed and then returned to the King.

    As in all churches: for each real or imagined problem in the BGCT, there are a thousand great things happening (though, as in many churches, the BGCT’s very real problems of recent days have been serious ones calling for true spirituality and great leadership in order to solve). But, that’s only so if the convention acts relevantly–which, in my opinion, it does. Perfect?–No. Relevant?–Yes! Becoming more relevant?–If you and I help keep the convention on that track.

  6. Ken Coffee Says:

    Frankly, I dislike this discussion about relevancy. I have always felt that if we had to go around telling everyone we are relevant it serves only to accentuate our irrelevancy. Te only thing relevant to this discussion is….Are we pleasing God, doing His will, and giving Him the glory? While I understand the piece John wrote, I do not think it was necessary. Those of us who love and support the BGCT do not need to be told how relevant the convention is. If it wasn’t relevant, we would not suport it.

  7. David Says:

    “Relevant” is another way of saying “adaptation”–which is any purposeful people-group’s way of turning outward to face the culture it seeks to serve in a way that culture can understand/relate to. If the BGCT was a donut shop and wanted to stay in business as one, it’d be doing lots and lots of “adaptation” or checking for relevancy. Churches, too–though we’re less afraid that we ever could “go out of business” (though, on the average, over 2500 U.S. churches fail annually; were those congregations doing ministry in relevant ways?–apparently, they failed to do lots of things, including relevant ministry in lots of way).

  8. St Upid Says:

    Relevancy is dead. Long live relevancy!

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