After what appeared to be a precipitous and unexpected retreat from New Mexico just a few years ago, Lifeway’s World Changers Student Missions Projects (Gospel + Construction) are once again galloping back into the state. That’s good news, not just for the lost in Gallup, NM, where next summer’s mission project will take place, but for Southern Baptists like me who serve in the Land of Enchantment.
Three years ago, our Student group was blessed to be part of the World Changers’ mission project in Gallup. We were looking forward to returning the following year, only to learn that the project had been canceled. Although our students were able to participate in a World Changers’ mission project in Ft. Smith, Arkansas the last two years, it was a pleasant surprise to learn from FBC Gallup’s Pastor, Jay McCollum, that his church would be hosting a mission project in the summer of 2015.
I don’t know why Lifeway pulled out of Gallup nor why only three western projects are scheduled for 2015 (CA, NM, and OR). Perhaps limited resources — in finances and people — are/were to blame. Of course, a restructuring of the new NAMB, whereby they jettisoned World Changers because this type of ministry doesn’t plant churches, is largely responsible for where we find ourselves today with WCers, along with a whole host of other ministries too numerous to list in this post.
Coupled with the demise of Glorieta Conference Center and subsequent sale of the property, Lifeway’s decision to downsize their World Changer’s project in Gallup caused their stock to tumble with many Southern Baptists in this part of the country. Of course, compared to the new NAMB — whose stock continues to trade at or below zero in the state — Lifeway’s stock is on the rise! It goes without saying that when you don’t know how to play well with others (i.e., cooperate) and, when your partnership agreements aren’t worth the piece of paper they’re written on, then what can you expect? But, that’s a post for another day.
I do appreciate Dr. Thom Rainer’s leadership at Lifeway. Although I may not always agree with some of the decisions that he and other Lifeway leadership make, I know that I can trust what he says. Trust — and respect — goes a long way in developing and/or continuing strong, cooperative relationships among Southern Baptists. That’s something that leadership in every SBC entity would do well to model, especially those leaders with a penchant or personality for top-down, dictatorial decision-making.
Lastly, would it be too much to ask for Lifeway to open a store somewhere in the Land of Enchantment? Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Santa Fe or, maybe even Alamogordo? After all, you have not because you ask not.