Weekly Update

Filling in the gaps in the Great Commission task

May 30, 2024

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:15, NIV)

What a privilege it is to be part of the body of Christ. The Bible tells us that speaking the truth in love contributes to the growth and maturity of Christ’s body. We strive to be about that.

Last week, I shared with you briefly about our Executive Board meeting. You can read a recap of the board meeting and a recap of my report, or watch a video of my report.

The reports and the approved recommendations have generated much conversation. Baptist publications at state and national levels across the spectrum of Baptist life published articles. Editors and social media users have given their input and have raised good questions.

The questions include our intentions regarding the GC2 initiative, the direction in which we are heading in regard to women in ministerial positions, and our relationship with the SBC. Particularly, my statement regarding NAMB’s policy about working with BGCT churches to start new congregations in Texas has generated multiple questions and conversations.

I hope to answer some of these questions over the next few weeks via this weekly update. I will begin with my statement regarding NAMB and church starting in Texas:

“I have learned that the North American Mission Board will no longer fund any church starts of singly aligned BGCT churches in Texas. They will only work with SBTC sponsor churches, and they will only fund SBTC church starts in Texas. When I asked for the reason, I was told it was because the BGCT has not adopted the BFM 2000.”

I also stated that my intent for communicating this was not to be divisive or contentious but to inform our executive board and our churches, and also to highlight the need for additional church starting resources for BGCT churches in Texas. My main concern is God’s mission.

My initial inquiry about NAMB funding for BGCT church starts came after multiple pastors asked me about the matter. As the new executive director, I inquired with NAMB leadership and reported my findings to these pastors and our board. In response, NAMB indicated that this was not a new policy but had been practiced, perhaps as far back as 2012.

Regardless of how far back the practice goes, it is news to many of our people, including executive board members, evidenced by the amount of dialogue it has generated. To be clear, annually, NAMB has given Texas Baptists $200,000 a year for evangelism and $100,000 for church starting. We are thankful for this.

BGCT invests approximately $33,000 per church start, and over the last three years, we have helped BGCT churches start an average of about 45 churches per year. This translates to almost $1.5 million a year for church starting.

In order to reach our growing population in Texas, we need to increase significantly, if not double, our church starting efforts. NAMB has said they will partner with any BGCT church to start new churches in any state other than Texas. The bottom line remains our need to find and provide additional funding to help our BGCT churches plant new congregations in Texas.

Voluntary cooperation and autonomy mean that NAMB has the right to decide whom and what to fund. It also means our churches have the right to give to cooperative missions as they feel led (all of the funds BGCT sends to NAMB are directed by the churches). And it means that Texas Baptists have the freedom to seek funding and partnerships that will help further God’s mission in Texas and beyond.

We are not trying to compete with the SBC or her agencies. BGCT partners with the IMB in South Asia through our Missionary Adoption Program. The ERLC and BGCT have partnered to provide sonogram machines to crisis pregnancy centers outside of Texas. The ERLC provides the connections and BGCT provides the funds. In Laredo, Texas Baptists have partnered with NAMB Send Relief to support a Ministry Center. These are only three examples of multiple ways in which we partner with these SBC entities.

For us, this is a matter of stewardship. It is about filling the gaps in the Great Commission task. It is a matter of our call and responsibility to reach a state for Christ. There is too much lostness in the world for any entity to think it can do the task by herself. We cannot do it alone. We are better together.

We will partner with like-minded churches and entities who are willing to partner with us for God’s mission. We will strive to be the best stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us. And we will do our best to speak the truth in love.

Thank you for your support, prayers and cooperation.

Dr. Guarneri is the 21st executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. He holds degrees from Texas A&M University Kingsville, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Dallas Baptist University. He has more than 39 years of ministerial experience and is passionate about sharing the Gospel with the nations and cross-cultural missions and ministry.