Future Buckner…to the ends of the earth

Today the BCFS Leadership Team is closing in on the final stretch of growth planning for the future of BCFS. We will be drafting our Growth Plan as we meet over the next two days and we will also spend some time reflecting on growth plans for global initiatives. Up to this point we have been developing plans for growth in the United States. We identified six tier one states and six tier two states but we have only mentioned global expansion on a few occasions. We will hit this subject pretty heavily on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Randy Daniels will help us reflect on a global strategy as it relates to the countries where we have established new work. We will develop a set of criteria that helps us determine where we should invest our resources. Then we will ask where we should go in the future. Obviously, we will follow the Lord’s leadership to go to all the places He is going. But what if we have a choice? What if we have freedom in determining where we should go? Where will we invest our resources? We will be informed by both of Phillip Jenkins’ books: The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity and The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South. We will be informed by data collected by this leadership team under the leadership of Karen Waddell, our consultant. If you don’t have a copy of these, I would suggest you pick up a copy to read about the future of Christianity.

We also need to reflect missiologically regarding our strategy. We need to affirm or modify our model of missions and consider ways we might enhance what has become a new model for missions in the 21st century. For a broader perspective and prophetic voice on this issue, see Ken Hall’s blog, dated July 9, 2007 entitled “Buckner Model Could Be the Future of Missions” at www.bucknerprez.typepad.com . The timing of our conversation is critical. The field of missions, Missiology, is changing as I write this note. Did you know that third-world nations now send more missionaries each year than the USA? Congregations are moving to a hands-on approach and individual Christians want to be personally engaged in missions both here and abroad. You will want to read this week’s issue of the Baptist Standard featuring the story “What is the future of missions?” There are several stories in this issue that speak to this question. You can also go to www.baptiststandard.com to read some of these stories.

Last week I spoke to 30 missions interns from all over the USA at a Buckner Intern Orientation Session in Dallas. These college interns were headed to Latvia, Romania, Guatemala, Peru, and Kenya. These students had a gleam in their eyes and a sense of eagerness. We talked about one of my favorite topics: Cross Cultural Competency. I recommended two indispensable books for anyone seriously considering a cross-cultural experience here or abroad: Ministering Cross-Culturally by Sherwood Lingenfelter and Marvin K. Mayers and Cross-Cultural Conflict by Duane Elmer. Pray for the safety and ministry of these interns as they invest their lives for four weeks in cross-cultural settings.

We currently send about 2,500 to 3,000 short-term volunteers on 80 mission trips per year. How many will we send three years from now? Where will we send them? What is the best strategic use of our resources in order to the Redeemer of History at the edge of his activity? My prayer is that we are awakened to his Spirit in the next two days of planning. Pray that we hear a word from the Lord. Pray that we dream and plan toward the ends of the earth.

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