By Fellowship Southwest
A dynamic future looms over the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Texas, according to Coordinator Rick McClatchy.
“The church is making transitions of a magnitude we haven’t seen in five centuries,” he explained. “This puts tremendous stress on ministers, particularly young ministers, and upon their congregations.”
That’s why CBF Texas is placing a major emphasis on cultivating young pastors, McClatchy noted. “He or she is having to not only figure out the small issues that enable a church to be vibrant—worship, structure, pastoral ministry—but also figure out how to help form a cultural expression of Christianity that will be around for centuries.
“Pastors must have one foot in the old and then stick the other foot out to find solid ground for this new, emerging understanding of Christianity and the church. I don’t want young ministers to be so frustrated they burn themselves out. I want them to feel supported and fortunate to live in such an exciting time.”
CBF Texas faces a unique opportunity to help young ministers “create something better than any of us could have imagined,” McClatchy said. So, it is initiating two training programs.
The Iona Initiative, launched this spring, teaches young ministers “to understand how three big cultural shifts will require positive responses, not frightful reaction,” he reported. “Participants learn about postmodern thinking, the idea that our world cannot be fully comprehended by our minds. The simple way to grasp it is people don’t want to know data about God; they want to experience God.”
Participants also come to grips with post-Christendom, which recognizes “the church is not the major player in the culture’s values,” he said. “The response is to be missional. You earn your place in the community by being engaged and helpful.”
Iona also examines multiculturalism. “We live in a culture with immigrants and refugee resettlement groups all around us,” he observed. “This is not only changing our cities, but many of our smaller towns have diverse populations.”
So, this fall, CBF Texas will begin offering multicultural competency conferences, McClatchy announced. It will co-sponsor the conferences with seminaries and universities. Professors will talk about cross-cultural understanding, and church leaders will describe what that means to congregations. “We’ll have the best of scholarship and practical application,” he said. “We need both.”
CBF Texas also maintains its “historic” commitments, McClatchy stressed. They include:
- Helping churches engage in missions through TogetherFor Hope, CBF’s rural development coalition.
- Church starting in the state’s cities and suburbs, as well as theRio Grande Valley. (Read about CBF Texas Associate Coordinator Jorge Zapata’s leadership in church starting on pp. 26-27).
- Training seminarians and young ministers.
- Connecting churches with CBF field personnel in Texas.
- Advocating for church-stateseparation.
- Responding to disasters—floods, fires, tornados and hurricanes.
“This is basic, historic Baptist work,” McClatchy said. “We try to work from a broad consensus of things churches want to be involved in and supportive of.”