Home > Spotlight > spotlight: GM, the future of the SBC?

spotlight: GM, the future of the SBC?

Some of you need to try not to look so shocked.

If you are sitting in a coffee shop, work, or some other public place, you may be making a scene right now.

Pick your jaw up off of the table . . . your hands are up in the air, do something about that . . . have a little composure people.

I know that it is shocking that I am posting something about the Southern Baptist Denomination on the blog.

Its kind of surprising to me too.

The way I figure it, there are more than enough hotheaded bloggers piping off about their opinions of this or that denominational issue, and I just prefer to not be one of those guys.

. . . . .

Some of you could care less about the Southern Baptist Convention.  Some of you may actually be surprised that people still identify themselves as “baptist”.  Some of you may think that denominations are silly, pointless, or (perhaps) even sinister and divisive.

But let’s not go there right now.

chevytailgateThis morning I encountered an article that may be one of the most insightful that I have read about the future of the SBC.

As you read – if you keep reading – think about the Southern Baptist Convention as the largest existing method of Christians cooperating to send missionaries around the globe to spread the news of Jesus Christ’s life, his crucifixion, and resurrection.

Put aside denominational politics, nostalgia, or past offense and ask the question: “what happens if the support system for 5,656 missionaries goes the way of General Motors, crumbling and disintegrating under the weight of its own archaic structure?”

Here’s what Don Dunavant has to say:

GM and the SBC

Monday morning, June 1, 2009, General Motors filed for bankruptcy.  The once number one car maker in the world came to an ignoble demise.  Started in 1908, for most of its one hundred and one year history GM was synonymous with the America idea of success, an industrial icon that was as American as apple pie.  That has all changed now.  Speaking of GM’s bankruptcy President Obama optimistically asserted that the trauma of bankruptcy will help GM be a more viable company in the future.  Yet he pointed to dark days ahead saying that more plants will close, more dealerships will shut their doors and more people will lose their jobs.  GM as it has been up until June 1, 2009, will never be again.

What happened to cause the downfall of the car-making giant?  Some will point to the economic downturn as the culprit.  But, GM had survived all other economic downturns and even the Great Depression.  No, there was something more systemic behind its failure.  GM had developed a management culture so entrenched in the way it had always done business that  it lost touch with the rapid changes taking place in the car-buying public and a union culture so  preoccupied with self preservation that it entrenched itself against any change in the business model.  Together both made GM too inflexible in a world of rapid change.

No one did anything on purpose to undermine GM.  In fact, up until a few weeks before June 1, both management and labor argued passionately that what they were doing was the best for GM.  But now their words sound hollow and their arguments mute in the wake of the ruins of GM.  Inflexibility trumped the best of intentions.

Are there lessons the Southern Baptist Convention needs to learn from what has happened to GM?  The SBC touts itself as the largest Protestant denomination in America, boasting sixteen million plus members.  Together Southern Baptist have stood in the forefront of other denominations in sending missionaries around the world and across the nations, supporting  theological education and so much more noble work.  But does success in the past guarantee continued success in the midst of the seismic cultural shifts taking place in American culture and in the emerging generation of pastors?

[To read Dr. Dunavant’s answer to this question and his commentary on the future of the Southern Baptist Convention, visit the full post at Between The Times)

Before today, I had no clue who Don Dunavant was, but I intend to pay attention to what he has to say in the future.

Let’s hope that the Southern Baptist Convention, its members and leaders, are paying attention, too.

There is a great deal at stake.

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