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Redefining the Baptist Meeting

Humor columnist Dave Barry once quipped, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.'”

How many times have you been in “that” meeting? You know the one. The meeting at work or church that seems to go on forever.

The meeting when one person takes over detailing inconsequential points and unimportant facts. The meeting when the pontificator gets on a roll about a personal story that you cannot interrupt because it would be rude. You know, those meetings.

As bad as meetings can be, there have been moments in biblical history where meetings changed the course of the spiritual narrative:

God and Abraham.

Moses and the Pharaoh.

Ruth and Naomi.

David and Nathan.

Jesus and Mary Magdalene in the garden.

Jesus and Paul on the Damascus Road.

While meetings are a reality of life, there are no hard-and-fast rules that demand they be boring or unproductive.

In fact, a correctly timed and well-constructed meeting can shape the future of any organization and any person for years to come.

As you read this column, I am currently meeting with colleagues in my very first board meeting for the Baptist Center for Ethics.

We are meeting in San Antonio, Texas, this week to discuss our organizational future.

We have decided that our annual board meetings will be events where theological reflection, creative entrepreneurship and passionate imagination will guide us.

The Baptist Center for Ethics has 26 years of history to build upon now. Because of the foresight and commitment of Robert Parham, BCE and EthicsDaily.com are positioned to be a strong voice for ethics and social justice to the next generation of Baptists.

Also, we want our voice to evolve into opportunities for engagement and empowerment.

Building on the momentum generated from past Baptist leadership, the next generation of Baptists eagerly awaits the future.

Therefore, the meetings I have been a part of over the last five years in Baptist life are starting to take on a new vibe. They are beginning to feel more like theological strategy sessions for the future.

As this new generation of Baptist leadership emerges, exciting and creative pathways arise with them.

The Baptist Center for Ethics and EthicsDaily.com will engage with faithful individuals who serve on our board, attend productive meetings and apply theological ethics to the struggle for social justice.

We will partner with churches and organizations that are tired of the status quo, knowing the future will bring both an abundance of change and an unending supply of opportunities.

We will work with people and communities breaking down walls of division to build tables of inclusion. We will recruit relationships with groups already ministering among the poor, marginalized and neglected.

We will stand beside the difference-makers, so that we can tell their stories, offer opportunities for others to engage with them and empower them to keep up the success.

With our annual board meeting underway, I am thrilled to be part of an organization looking toward the future. I am excited about working with Baptist clergy and laity who are meeting to cast a vision for the future.

While conferences can often be tedious, the current sessions taking place in Baptist life are not that any longer. Enthusiasm, excitement and engagement for the future fill the room.

If you would like to work alongside BCE and EthicsDaily.com, please email me so we can begin a conversation.

If you would like to invest in the future, you may do so here.

Together, we can become a movement where conscience and opportunity meet. Now, that’s a meeting I will attend every single time.

Mitch Randall is executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics and executive editor of EthicsDaily.com. You can follow him on Twitter @rmitchrandall.