June 1, 2020
By Paul Baxley
Today our Discovery Team has released the findings of the discovery phase of Toward Bold Faithfulness. You can read their report revealing the most powerful gifts given to our congregations and our Fellowship, along with the most urgent needs facing our congregations, our communities and our Fellowship. The Discovery Team’s work and its report was based on the prayerful exploration of a series of essential questions that flow from the conviction that calling emerges at the intersection of the gifts and graces given by the Holy Spirit, the needs of congregations and the world, and the opportunities for growth and expansion.
The team identified these gifts and needs by listening in different ways to more than 4,600 Cooperative Baptists from 762 congregations. The materials available online today include not only their full report but also all of the data used by the team. Each day this week, a video will be released regarding a different aspect of the process or the report.
It has been an amazing privilege to share this journey of discovery with a truly remarkable team. They prayed fervently, listened attentively, handled all the data carefully and sensed the work of the Holy Spirit all along the way. The outline of the report being presented this week came into view in a retreat March 9-11, just as our communities and congregations were starting to grapple with the Coronavirus pandemic. We immediately wondered if the pandemic would force us to reconsider the findings. We found, instead, that in the season of the pandemic, the most powerful gifts were even more powerful, and the most urgent needs took on even more urgency.
In recent days, as our congregations and our country have been confronted by obvious evidence of a different pandemic, namely one of racial injustice and hate, the same is true again. It is incredibly important that listening done in January and February gave evidence that our Fellowship possesses a longing for diversity and a recognition that racial justice and reconciliation is an urgent need in our communities our Fellowship. Today, that is even more intense.
To me, it is a sign of the Spirit’s work that these tumultuous weeks have not confused our calling or our mission, but rather revealed just how critical is the calling we have received. This should give us even more faithful resolve to use all the gifts we have been given to do what the Holy Spirit is doing. Much is at stake. Our life together is not optional, and our shared mission is essential.
As you review the findings report, scan the data and watch the videos, please remember that this is not the end of the journey Toward Bold Faithfulness. We are actually only at the midpoint. These gifts and needs indicate our shared calling, as we believe the Holy Spirit is calling us to use these powerful gifts to address the most urgent needs. After providing space for our Fellowship community to respond to what is being presented and engage in clarifying conversations, we will move into the response phase of Toward Bold Faithfulness, in which we will make sure our Fellowship’s life is organized so that we can pursue this calling that is coming into view.
I hope you will spend careful and prayerful time with the findings report from the discovery phase. By Thursday, June 4, please sign up for one of the Zoom listening sessions being hosted by Discovery Team members. Those sessions will give you a chance to ask clarifying questions of the team but also give the team space to ask clarifying questions of you so that we understand even more completely what we have heard before transitioning to the response phase. By the virtual General Assembly, June 25-26, we will make detailed presentations about the work to come.
The biblical foundation for this entire process has been Acts 16:6-10. At Troas, Paul and his companions hear a compelling call and then they immediately try to cross over in response. Our Discovery Team believes they have been at Troas and prays you will sense the same. Then we will cross over being convinced that God has called us toward and gifted us for a bold participation in Jesus’ life and mission of love.
Explore the Discovery Team’s full report at www.cbf.net/tbf. There, you will find videos, frequently asked questions, and a review of the process. You’ll also be able to explore the interactive Discovery Findings and interactive Discovery Data.
Sign up today for a Zoom session between June 8 and June 17 to respond to the report. We value your feedback! Choose your session at www.cbf.net/discovery-sessions.