“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.
Shared expenses and Southern Baptist State Conventions
In our previous post (SBC Loyalty?) we focused mainly on our generation, but this post speaks more to the generation before us. It would seem that there is a lack of transparency when it comes to allocating the CP dollars that ma and pa Southern Baptist are sacrificially giving, specifically in terms of shared expenses between the state conventions and the SBC. Since the inception of the CP, “the SBC recognized its obligation to compensate the state conventions for their partnership in promoting the entire Cooperative Program.” There are questions that need to be asked: (1) Are we being transparent about where CP money is going and (2) What are legitimate shared expenses?
The recent impulse has been to see state conventions move to a 50/50 split for CP funds. Our fear is that this category of “shared expenses” is being used to mask the fact that some state conventions are not moving towards more for the SBC and less for the state convention. This fear in many ways is being confirmed by the numbers. State conventions designated 9.2 million dollars as shared expenses in 2011, but that has risen 116% over the last two years to 19.9 million dollars being designated as shared expenses in 2013. Over the last two years we have seen an increase from only 4 state conventions that separated out shared expenses as a separate line item from the percent of funds kept in state to 17 state conventions. In many ways these budget categories of shared expenses make it look like conventions are moving closer to or have achieved a 50/50 split when it’s not actually happening.
In the past Baptist21 has let our readers know about a church-planting network in NC called PlantNC. It is their mission to be a network of churches, pastors, leaders and planters whose mission is to make disciples through the planting of gospel centered churches. So, in order to carry out that mission PlantNC has an exciting opportunity coming up that Baptist21 would like our readers to know about: Porterbrook NC Training
Recommendations for Porterbrook:
Tim Keller “The Porterbrook Network is an innovative resource that offers affordable, high quality training for mission and ministry in the 21st century. I warmly recommend it.”
Alan Hirsch “Porterbrook? Do it!”
As we close out 2010, Baptist21 wants to take a look back on the year in the SBC. We will list the top ten stories of the year in the SBC, as best we can.
1. The Passing of the GCR: the passing of the GCR could be one of the most significant moments in SBC history, though the full impact of this motion will be unknown for some time. However, the potential impact is great. Some impact is already being made (see below on State Conventions and NAMB). Follow the links below to learn all about the recommendations and challenges included in the GCR report. B21 is excited about the passing of this motion and what it may have in store for our future as Southern Baptists. It is our hope that all will strive to take up the challenges offered in this motion that was approved by an overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists at this past year’s Southern Baptist Convention.
2. Reaction by State Conventions to the GCR: The state conventions have had varied reactions to the GCR report, particularly the challenge in the report for state conventions to move to a 50/50 split in CP allocation. Some states formed GCR task forces and voted to move to 50/50 over time (Kentucky and Florida), while others voted to keep far less in their states (Tennessee, Nevada, New York). This means more resources will make their way to the underserved and unreached areas of our nation and the world. Other state conventions have taken a slower posture, while some have opposed the GCR.
Accompanying Resources: A Baptist Press article detailing some of the varied responses to the GCR. See also the Encouraging Trends B21 Post.
3. Election of Bryant Wright as President of the SBC: The election of Bryant Wright seems to signal the sentiment of the SBC in a pro-GCR direction. Bryant Wright had been very critical about the amount of Cooperative Program resources that stayed in the U.S. He had even suggested in the Christian Index that we needed “a radical reprioritizing of Cooperative Program funds through our state conventions” calling for the state conventions to keep no more than 25-30% of CP dollars so that more money will make its way to those people groups that have no access to the gospel. Wright’s faithful and focused service as a pastor is now coming to bear on the SBC.
Accompanying Resources: Christian Index article on Wright and Bryant Wright’s Monthly videos to Southern Baptists
4. Election of Kevin Ezell as President of the NAMB: The election of Kevin Ezell to the NAMB Presidency was a bold move that has B21 excited about the future of the SBC. Kevin Ezell has been tasked with focusing NAMB’s efforts, giving it a new look. At the heart of this commission is the call to focus primarily on Church Planting, especially in the underserved areas of North America. Ezell has been busy restructuring NAMB so they can focus on Church Planting (see article below). Ezell has stated, “every reduction we make is to put more missionaries in the field.” Church Planting’s popularity is on the rise in several different evangelical denominations, and the SBC is no different. The election of Ezell and the refocusing of NAMB coincide with this rise in popularity of church planting among the other evangelical denominations. We hope that this focus on church planting in the SBC is not a fad. B21 is very excited about the future of NAMB and its future in helping churches plant churches.
Accompanying Resources: Baptist Press article detailing some of the downsizing
5. IMB still without a President: 2009 saw vacancies at the President position in three SBC agencies: IMB, NAMB, and the Executive Committee (EC). Two of those agencies (NAMB and EC) filled their vacancies, however, one is still open. The IMB, which many consider the “bell cow” of the SBC, is still without a president. This is certainly a big story, and perhaps the most disheartening story of 2010. Not much information is known about why this is the case, and it has not been discussed whether the IMB trustees are taking steps to re-assemble a new selection committee or sticking with the one that has been doing the work so far. Whatever the case is, it is our hope that the IMB will make a bold move with this vacancy. It is our hope that this bold move might see the IMB focus on the primacy of the local church in sending missionaries, new business initiatives overseas, and team planting. Let’s all commit to pray for the search committee and the next president.
Accompanying Resources: IMB Homepage