Friday, December 18, 2015

Six interesting SBC items of 2015 that you might have missed

Most of these weren't big news items but got my attention nonetheless. In no particular order:

"...while shared ministries are supported at all levels of Southern Baptist life, the phrase itself and the concept in general are no longer communicating the allocation of funds clearly, [Alabama Baptist State Convention Executive Director Rick] Lance explained. So going forward, the budget language in Alabama will only deal with state and national percentages."  

So, the ABSC will no longer make confusing statements like, "we divide Cooperative Program receipts equally with SBC entities," While a technically correct statement, since the division was 45% state convention, 45% SBC entities, and 10% "shared ministries," it was deceptive in that ABSC actually kept the shared ministries money.

I recognize that it has been the system for years but this misleading accounting technique that has vague categories in state budgets like "shared ministries" should end. Rick Lance's explanation reported in the article (link) summarizes the situation: the phrase itself and the concept in general no longer communicate the allocation of funds clearly. I don't know if the concept and terminology ever communicated accurately this allocation business between state conventions and the SBC but it is certainly recognizing current reality to thus conclude. Good work, Rick Lance and ABSC. All state conventions should do likewise.

"We are a mission sending agency in Georgia"

Robert White, the CEO for our state convention, commenting on the "reinvention" of the Georgia Baptist Convention. The "reinvention" includes a public (but not corporate or legal) change of name to "Georgia Baptist Mission Board."

Some were confused by this, thinking that the new GBMB was going to compete with our North American and International Mission Boards in appointing and sending missionaries. No. The GBC administrative leadership has tried for years to brand Georgia Baptist pastors and churches to see state staff as "Georgia Baptist missionaries." While I value our state workers and while they are send to serve us, there is considerable distance between consulting on church music, preschool, or student ministry with a Georgia Baptist church in Thomasville, Georgia, USA and serving in Tbilisi, Georgia, Asia. The GBMB will do the former, not the latter.

[Florida Baptist Convention] staff persons will no longer serve as interim pastors,
So declared Thomas Green, new CEO of the Florida Baptist Convention. He added the obvious reason for the change in policy, because serving a single church for an extended period of time prevents them from visiting churches every week.

Let's see. A state's churches pay a good salary to a state worker. He does his work during the week but on the Lord's Day is in the one church that pays him a salary, and thus for six months or a year of Sundays. Get your workaday, average SBC pastor talking and this will be a sore spot. It makes sense to put state workers in as many churches as possible, not have them fill an endless series of paid positions with a few churches.

Thomas Green made a wise decision here. At least all of the legacy state conventions should do the same.

[The Missouri Baptist Convention is] not primarily a provider of goods and services to [Missouri Baptist] churches 
John Yeats, Missouri Baptist Convention CEO, explaining part of the MBC's "reorientation."

Yeat's full statement, one of four numbered points under a list that elaborated the MBC "reorientation" plan, was: "A strategically driven staff. While we continue to counsel with church leaders and meet their needs, we are strategically driven to transform lives and communities with the Gospel. Therefore, we are not primarily a provider of goods and services to churches, but a strategic leader offering a clear, compelling, and cooperative vision for Missouri Baptists."

Does this make the MBC a para church organization?

This is rather tricky and, since I'm not in Missouri, perhaps some Missourian will, uh, show me, what this means if it is more than just corporate buzz speak.

The Christian Index, the oldest Southern Baptist newspaper, stops the presses, disbands trustee board, becomes the publicity arm of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
Well, circulation is down all over and the CI will go to a free online presence. The paper did some pretty good reporting in the past. I understand numbers and dollars (there is a considerable savings in Cooperative Program expenditures in this change) but I hope the CI will still have the independence to report on some hard SBC stories. You don't often see a Baptist board of trustees vote themselves out of existence.

"In January, 2016 there will also be a second phase [of the IMB personnel reduction plan] - a "Hand Raising Opportunity" - for all personnel and staff to pray about whether the Lord is leading them to a new place of involvement in mission outside the IMB."
I didn't capitalize the Hand Raising Opportunity, that was from IMB. The HRO to follow as phase two after the VRIs. This is a little obscure to me. Will certain personnel be given a hint that their positions will be terminated and they might want to pray about raising their hand? Will further non-retirement incentives be offered before the HROs? We will see soon.

As always, I'm wide open to being told what I missed, misunderstood, or where I am off-the-wall.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I'm in Missouri and was at the annual meeting. A lot of us are still trying to figure out what the "reorientation" means practically. Lots of buzzwords, not a lot of concrete examples.

I think the section you are quoting is about the MO Baptist staff acting less like shop keepers and more like missionaries. Our church doesn't really use the convention for training or consulting. We support CP because we care about missions, not so we can get free Lifeway samples.

A big part of me feels like state conventions are not needed in this new information age, but then again it doesn't seem like NAMB is not interested in any mission work outside of St. Louis and Kansas City. I'm afraid if we lost our state convention, we would loose good work going on in other areas of the state.