“The Southern Baptist Convention is made up of many individuals, churches, and entities. Although most people understand the term Southern Baptist Convention to refer to the ongoing cooperative efforts of Southern Baptists, it can also be understood as referring to the annual two-day meeting. At this convention, messengers from Southern Baptist churches approve, adjust, or disapprove budgets, committee appointments, resolutions, and more. Though there is no literal convention for the balance of the year, denominational entities carry out their respective responsibilities until the next annual meeting.
The SBC is made up of more than 16 million members who hold membership in 44,848 autonomous, local churches.(1) By calling the churches autonomous, we mean that they make their own decisions on staffing, budget, and program. No one outside the churches holds this authority.
These churches join in 1,200 local associations. Associations place churches in close-knit networks for reaching an area. Some of these associations are supported by the state conventions, while some are not.
On a larger scale, the churches assemble in 41 state or regional conventions.(2) The state conventions (such as those of Alabama and Indiana) or regional conventions (such as those in New England and the Pacific Northwest) join with the associations in such efforts as evangelism training, church planting, Cooperative Program promotion, campus ministry, camp programs, and in many cases, they establish their own children’s homes and colleges.
Finally, Southern Baptist churches partner together at the national level, with several entities: six Southern Baptist seminaries, provide theological education— Southeastern in Wake Forest, North Carolina; Southern in Louisville, Kentucky; Southwestern in Ft. Worth, Texas; Golden Gate, in the San Francisco, California, area; Midwestern in Kansas City, Missouri; and New Orleans in, of course, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Besides the six seminaries, the SBC also has an International Mission Board, which sends and supports missionaries all over the world; an Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, providing resources and leadership on ethical issues; Guidestone Financial Resources providing financial planning, insurance, and annuities for church and denomination staff members; a North American Mission Board, supporting the state conventions in evangelism, missions, and ministry, such as disaster relief; an Historical Library and Archive, preserving the denomination’s heritage and assisting scholars in their studies; LifeWay Christian Resources, the SBC publishing house, with “biblical solutions for life”; and an Executive Committee coordinating the day-to-day functions of the SBC. In addition, the Women’s Missionary Union serves as an auxiliary in promoting missions.
The doctrinal center of this massive effort is the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, expressing what Southern Baptists believe the Bible teaches about itself, and about God, man, Jesus, salvation, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, to name seven of its eighteen topics. While there are many things that are not covered in this document, Southern Baptists do believe that it addresses the key issues needed for cooperation.
The funding mechanism Southern Baptists use to support their various entities and ministries is called the Cooperative Program (CP). Established in 1925, the CP depends upon the undesignated gifts given to it by Southern Baptist churches. By unifying the funding, the CP provides a workable way through which tens of thousands of like-minded churches can cooperate for the advancement and application of the gospel.
Just as every family determines how much money to give to the local church, each Southern Baptist church determines how much to give to the Cooperative Program. Each state convention, then, determines how much money to keep in state and how much to send on to the national level. The SBC then divides the dollars it receives among its entities…. On average, state or regional conventions keep 63 percent of every CP dollar, while sending 37 percent on to the national level.
Of the money that reaches the SBC, 50 percent goes to the International Mission Board (IMB), 22.79 per- cent to the North American Mission Board (NAMB), 22.16 percent collectively to the six seminaries and the Historical Library and Archives, 1.65 percent to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), and 3.40 percent to the Executive Committee.(3)
Assuming the average state allocation, each CP dollar sent from the local church is divided along these lines: 63 cents for the state, 18.5 cents for the IMB, 8.43 cents for NAMB, 8.2 cents for the six seminaries, .61 cents for ERLC, and 1.26 cents for the Executive Committee. Guidestone, LifeWay, and the WMU do not receive CP funding.
It is also worth mentioning that there are a number of special missions offerings that take place throughout the year. The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering goes directly to the North American Mission Board and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering sends all its money directly to the International Mission Board….
… A basic understanding of the Southern Baptist Convention should provide Southern Baptists with a great sense of appreciation and ownership. The massive denominational effort did not come about easily and it will not stay faithful easily. We have all been given a gift. But this gift comes with responsibility. Southern Baptists must take ownership of their roles, asking the hard questions that our predecessors were willing to ask. With a laser beam focus on the advancement of the Great Commission, we must ask what the SBC should look like from top to bottom in order to be effective and faithful in the twenty-first century.”
Be sure to sign up for the Baptist21 panel where keynote speakers will talk about pressing and hot topics in the convention. Join B21, David Platt, Matt Chandler, Al Mohler, Thom Rainer, and Danny Akin during the lunch slot Thursday at this year’s convention. Register here.
Excerpt from my chapter in Retreat or Risk: A Call for a Great Commission Resurgence.
1. See www.sbc.net/aboutus/default.asp (accessed Feb. 10, 2010).
2. See http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/default.asp (accessed Feb. 10, 2010).
3. See http://www.cpmissions.net/2003/CPStatistics.asp (accessed Feb. 10, 2010).
Post by Jed Coppenger
Every so often I have a conversation with a dude that is considering church planting. And most of the conversations I have with guys considering or pursuing church planting include questions about what practical essentials a church planter should have. Over the past several years, through tons of conversations with church planters, people who train church planters, and my experience as a church planter, I have found that when these 9 essentials are present in the life of a church planter, the church planter is effective. The first four essentials were posted in Part 1. Here are the rest.
5. Growing in Self-Awareness – Assessments are important. But often their importance is misunderstood. Assessments aren’t important because they are some kind of test you pass or diploma you earn so you can go on and do what you want. Instead, they are a means by which you grow in your self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to discern your strengths and weaknesses, the way you handle situations and people, the way you handle those things under pressure, the way you respond to a crisis, and more. Self-awareness is a journey, not a destination. The greater self-awareness you have, the greater ability you will have to keep bombs from blowing up in your blind spots.
6. Growing in Idolatry-Awareness – Everyone is tempted to sin but everyone isn’t tempted to sin in the same ways. If you don’t know your idolatrous tendencies then you won’t know how to battle them and ask others help you battle them. If you don’t know how to do that, you’re going to ruin yourself, your family, and maybe everything else on the altar to that idol that is really in control. Your idol is what’s most important to you. And what’s most important to you defines your identity. And when your identity misplaced, bad things happen—really bad. Idolatry awareness is one level deeper than self-awareness. It isn’t afraid to ask questions like: If you were going to do this for the wrong reasons, what would those be? It finds out the reasons you’re so anxious, anger, and depressed. Growing in your idolatry awareness will help you battle every challenge that is making its way to your front door a few months in to your church plant. Rejecting your idols and finding your identity in Christ will enable you to live in peace, even when “failure” is staring you in the face.
7. Develop a Team With Complimentary Strengths – Once you have self-awareness and idol-awareness, you can better build out your team, whether these are paid or unpaid team members. Because you are aware of your idols and secure with your identity in Christ, you can freely face up to your weaknesses and shortcomings. You don’t have to hide or lie about them. Instead, you have the courage to identify weaknesses and shortcomings. Because you are self-aware, you know how to compensate for your weaknesses by building a team made up of people who have strengths where you don’t. Don’t hire someone with your strengths and wonder why things didn’t change. Become aware of your idols, strengths, and weaknesses, so you can put together a great team.
8. Lock Arms With Other Church Planters – Even though you may have a great team in place, it will be difficult for anyone on your team to know what your role is like. That’s why church planters are greatly helped by other church planters. You need brothers. You need camaraderie. You need to be able to hear church planters struggles and successes and be heard by them. You will see yourself in them and they in you. You will find encouragement even in struggle. You will find soberness even in success. Fellow church planters will have a perspective from which to encourage and challenge you in a way that no one else will. Don’t plant alone, lock arms with other church planters.
9. Identify an Experienced Church Planting Coach – Fellow church planters are important, but you also need father church planters. That is, you need a father in the faith that has church planting experience. You need someone who has actually done what you’re doing. And you want someone that has gone through all of the mess and difficulties of church planting life that you are facing without becoming bitter, resentful, and critical. You want someone who has walked through the fire of church planting and has come out refined, not hardened. Their perspective will give you the wisdom, confidence, encouragement, and inspiration you need to start and continue this new work.
The way these 9 essentials play out in the church planter’s life is messy. It’s always messy. And, of course, there’s more to church planting than these few things. But I haven’t come across an effective church planter that didn’t at least have these 9 essentials present in their life to one degree or another.
Every so often I have a conversation with a dude that is considering church planting. And most of the conversations I have with guys considering or pursuing church planting include questions about what practical essentials a church planter should have. Over the past several years, through tons of conversations with church planters, people who train church planters, and my experience as a church planter, I have found that when these 9 essentials are present in the life of a church planter, the church planter is effective.
1. Strong Sense of God’s Leading – Planting church can’t be about your daddy, proving that you’re “somebody,” or anything like this. This isn’t some high school clothing fad that you need to be a part of so you know you’re cool. The reason you’re starting this new church has to include you sensing God leading you to take these next steps—in a life of limited steps—for the advancement of his kingdom. When you get this undeniable sense of his leading on your heart, you have something you’ll need throughout your church planting experience—the ability to follow God’s leading into the unknown. Sensing God’s leading isn’t just about an initial call, although it includes that. It’s about being a man of faith who is able to take courageous steps into the unknown of the mission of God for the glory of God. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to continue this pattern throughout your ministry.
2. Have a Committed Family – When you have a strong sense of God’s leading to church planting, you also need a family that is committed. Although the call begins personally, it has to include a committed family. Any new job opportunity impacts a family, regardless of the profession. But there are hardly any opportunities that will impact your family more than church planting. Your family will become a strategic target for the Enemy. The enemy will pay special attention to you and your family. And so will the folks in your church, regardless of your context. Because of this, your family will experience unique challenges. They aren’t called to be your staff, although they’ll probably help like it a time or two (or ten!). Church planting is messy, which is why you really need a committed family to be an effective church planter.
3. Be Local Church Proven – Local churches plant churches by sending qualified men out to start new endeavors. By qualified men, I mean a lot of things. Primarily, I mean that you should have a track record of being a faithful, effective, and catalytic leader within the local church. If you haven’t started a growing small group, you probably shouldn’t try to start a church. If you haven’t been the kind of church member needed to grow a church, you probably shouldn’t try to start a church. You may not be a part of a local church that has the vision to plant churches, but people that are considering investing in you should be able to easily track down a proven local church track record. If they can’t, push church planting into the future and invest in a local church for a while.
4. Have a Compelling Plan – There are a lot of gifted guys and gals talking about vision, mission, strategy, and all the rest these days. Of course, they disagree with one another on the nuanced definitions of each of those things. It can be a bit overwhelming. However you slice it, they are saying the same thing: you need a compelling plan. A compelling plan is clear about what you want to see happen, how you hope to see it happen in your particular context, and why it needs to happen in your particular context. A compelling plan is unshakably aligned with the Great Commission. This isn’t a plug-and-play plan that you heard at the last conference you went too. It is something that you have wrestled (and are wrestling with) with personally for a specific context for a specific time. Although this plan isn’t perfect, it has to be compelling enough to move people—some people—to join and fund this new work.
B21 is very committed to advancing discussions about the gospel and its implications for all the areas of Christ’s mission through the church. As you know, gospel-centered ministry isn’t gender neutral. In our culture (and in our churches!) there is great confusion over what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. Although we have addressed these issues to some degree, we have not addressed the role of women as thoroughly as we would have liked. So when an opportunity presented itself to devote some of our blog schedule to this topic, we thought it would be wise to take it.
Starting tonight and continuing through the next couple of days, we will have a couple of ladies, Melanie Coppenger and Lindsay Swartz, live blogging the “True Woman” conference, which is meeting in Indianapolis. The speakers include Nancy Leigh Demoss, Mary Kassian, and more. If you aren’t familiar with this conference, the related ministries, or the speakers, we’d like to introduce you to them. They provide some of the most helpful voices in evangelicalism on the issue of what it means to be a woman. We hope that this is helpful to your ministries.
The level of excitement amongst Southern Baptists leading up to the 2010 SBC in Orlando was, to say the least, unusually high. With the Orlando convention in our past, we thought we’d offer a few thoughts about the things that greatly encouraged us (in no particular order).
1. The Passing of GCRTF Recommendations – Over a year and four months ago, Dr. Danny Akin preached a sermon on the “Axioms of a Great Commission Resurgence.” Since this sermon was delivered, there has been much said, prayed, written, and researched about. Although there was some disagreement, Southern Baptists overwhelmingly voted in favor of the GCRTF recommendations. The approval of these recommendations is not the last step. It is a very critical first step though.
2. Election of Bryant Wright as the President of the SBC – There were four presidential candidates that Southern Baptists had to choose from. All four were godly men with great ministry experience. Two of the candidates were for the GCRTF recommendations and two were not (although they were for the Great Commission, of course). On the second ballot, Southern Baptists elected Bryant Wright to be the President of the SBC. We are very encouraged to have a president who is fiercely committed to the Great Commission.
3. B21 Panel – With around 1300 people of all ages in attendance, many of whom had never attended the Southern Baptist Convention, and eight of the most important voices in Southern Baptist life on stage, the B21 panel took an hour or so to talk about the most important issues facing Southern Baptists today. Also, because of the great generosity of others, the attendees received 4 free books. B21 is excited that younger Southern Baptists are rallying around a vision of greater Great Commission effectiveness within the SBC instead of outside of it.
4. Pastor’s Conference – The pastors that make up the over 44,000 churches of the SBC have very different tastes when it comes to “good preaching.” Thus, it is impossible to satisfy everyone. Yet, by our estimation, Pastor Kevin Ezell, the president of this years Pastor’s Conference, did an excellent job. Placing a number of “new faces” on the preaching schedule, provided the diversity necessary to excite a wide range of Southern Baptists. We are grateful for the leadership that Pastor Ezell provided for the pastors of the SBC.
5. Meal with Dr. Rainer, Dr. Waggoner, and Dr. Moore – While there are some who whine about the lack of connection between older and younger pastors, many Southern Baptists are doing something about it. Dr. Thom Rainer and Dr. Brad Waggoner spent a good bit of time with about 12 young SBC leaders over a meal talking about the SBC, church issues, the gospel, and football. It was a great time of fellowship and conversation for the advancement of the kingdom. Also, a similar gathering was held on Sunday night with Dr. Russell Moore. These types of get-togethers are a great sign of health.
6. The Way Southern Baptists Disagreed – Southern Baptists are passionate people. They believe in the gospel and its advancement with great conviction. Yet, Southern Baptists have not always discussed the manner in which the gospel should be advanced with humility and grace. And this is no small thing. Yet, we believe that the disagreements that took place on the floor by opposing sides of the GCR were honoring to Christ. We believe that this is one of the greatest things that happened at the SBC this year and we hope it is a sign of things to come.
7. The Resolutions – Anyone can write and submit a resolution to the Resolutions Committee. This can make for some interesting resolutions. The difficult job of deciding on which resolutions should be placed before Southern Baptists belongs to the Resolutions Committee. This years chairman, Dr. Russell Moore, did an excellent job with the committee, providing resolutions that speak to being gospel-centered, the oil spill in the gulf of Mexico, family worship, and the scandal of Southern Baptist divorce. We think the tone and direction that these resolutions took are a great sign of maturity on the part of Southern Baptists.
8. Johnny Hunt – It’s hard to overestimate the importance of Johnny Hunt for the kingdom in general and for Southern Baptists in particular. The unique and infectious passion for the advancement of Christ amongst the nations embodied in Johnny Hunt is amazing. God has been gracious to Southern Baptists in giving us a leader who brought together so many types of Southern Baptists for the cause of Christ. The humility and courage that characterized Johnny Hunt’s presidency will be, in our opinion, an important part of the Southern Baptist story when it is all said and done.
9. 9 Marks at 9 – 9 Marks ministries, like last year, provided an interesting and provocative discussion on two nights of the SBC. Attendees received a number of free books and refreshments each night. This is the second year that 9 Marks has had these late night sessions. Both years, these 9 Marks events have offered something unique and helpful to the many young Southern Baptists in attendance.