Month: April 2010

SBTC Exec. Board hires mission strategist, hears favorable reports

FORT WORTH  The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention will have a new ministry associate to help engage international people groups and connect Texas Southern Baptists to related ministry opportunities in the Lone Star state.

The SBTC Executive Board, in its spring meeting April 27 in Fort Worth, elected Chad Vandiver, a third-generation missionary raised in West Africa who has served with the International Mission Board, as the new missions strategies associate.

Also, the board heard favorable reports regarding the convention’s annual financial audit and from the nine convention ministry departments. Cooperative Program receipts were ahead of budget at the end of 2009 and have run slightly below budget so far this year, though ahead of last year’s pace during the same timeframe, reported SBTC Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis.

Vandiver has served the SBTC part time in a similar role since 2007. “Many of our mission strategies have developed to a point where they really need more attention,” SBTC Missions Director Terry Coy told the board. “There are so many more people groups, so many more opportunities in multi-housing ministry and other mission strategies that need significant time and investment.”

“There is a system of mobilizing volunteers that we are really not tapping into regarding people-group outreach and multi-housing outreach, refugee missions, literacy missions ? we need to be more strategic in connecting SBTC churches with these opportunities,” Coy added. “Therefore, we wanted to bring in someone with Chad’s skills to connect those dots.”

In addition to serving three years as an IMB team leader, he has experience in the financial services industry, most recently at the SBC’s GuideStone Financial Services in Dallas. In sharing his testimony with the board, Vandiver told of growing up on the Ivory Coast of West Africa, coming to saving faith in Christ at age 8, and playing soccer with Muslim playmates.

“The Lord has just continually opened the door to share with Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists throughout my life,” Vandiver said.

Coy said Vandiver would “hit the ground running in his new role.”

FINANCIALLY BLESSED

Davis, the CFO, told the board that giving from churches through the Cooperative Program missions funding channel was $354,112 ahead of budget to close 2009, ending with a net operating income of nearly $2.6 million because of faithful giving, spending restraints and interest income of $153,631.

“We feel blessed to have been there with the economy as it has been,” Davis said of 2009. Through March, CP receipts were $263,807 behind budget but $133,006 higher than last year at that point. “March was not a good month, but looking at the bar graph it looks like every March has tended to be down.” Davis said he anticipated April’s receipts would meet or exceed budget.

Compared to last year’s numbers through March, Davis reported that giving to the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions is up?$7.02 million over $5.89 million in 2009?while giving is down for the Annie Armstrong North American Missions offering ($378,710 compared to $431,866 in ’09) and the SBTC’s Reach Texas Offering ($958,152 compared to $1.02 million in ’09).

Following Davis’ report, board chairman John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless, said he was glad to be part of a convention forwarding 55 percent of CP receipts for Southern Baptist causes beyond Texas. Acknowledging God’s faithful provision, he encouraged fellow board members to make the convention budget a matter of frequent prayer.

ANNUAL AUDIT

Verne Hargrave of the auditing firm PSK said they found “everything in pristine order” in the convention’s annual financial audit.

Hargrave said the firm’s philosophy is to also offer clients advice to enhance accounting effectiveness. Repeatedly, Hargrave said, the SBTC’s response reflects “strong stewardship and administration of the convention.”

EXECUTIVE REPORT

<P style=”MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt” class=MsoNorm

Cooperative missions cannot run on designated giving

Southern Baptists in the early 20th century had a problem: Their various benevolent causes, including foreign and domestic missions, had uncoordinated fundraising campaigns that resulted in unpredictable revenue streams and hobbling debt. Although the SBC was denominational in many ways, its ministries also worked as a collection of independent “societies” whose growth was inconsistent and whose planning was uncorrelated. The desire of the churches was that the convention have a budget and a funding plan that would fairly provide for all the things they undertook. The result was the Cooperative Program. By this means churches contributed to a budget convention messengers approved for the support of missions, education, resource development, and other kingdom causes. The institutions our churches supported no longer operated like independent kingdoms that stood or fell based their relative success in fundraising.

To the degree that Baptists have taken a thorough, strategic view to address the Great Commission, CP has worked for the past 85 years. Yet the animated but dead idea of societal giving walks among us today. It has for years. Baptist groups that rejected cooperative giving decades ago now see the shortcomings of their own, more societal plan and admire ours. Some Southern Baptists have the opposite attitude?they see the shortcomings of cooperative giving and admire societal giving. It’s a common trait among people to admire what is foreign and despise what is familiar.

Our current focus on Cooperative Program as part of a larger Great Commission resurgence discussion has caused many to reexamine the what and how of our cooperative funding for missions. In fact, I’d say the discussion regarding the best way to support our common missionary causes is a primary point of contention among those who are committed to obeying our Lord’s Great Commission. Hear this please: the debate is not between those who are committed to reaching the world for Christ and those who are not; it is between those who favor one of two competing plans for funding that cause.

Retiring International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin has done us all a favor by candidly laying out the case for a renewed acceptance of societal missions funding in the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Rankin’s recent blog posts have spoken in favor of calling all designated giving to SBC causes “Cooperative Program,” and called concerns about a return to societal giving “paranoia.” OK, that’s one thing I’ve always respected about Jerry Rankin; he says what he means. Understanding that I see things from a different perspective, let’s consider the pros and cons of societal giving.

Pro: It’s the ultimate expression of local church decision-making. Churches can do as they wish, support only the closest seminary, support an orphanage overseas, form their own mission-sending strategy, give to causes that seem most effective and personal to them, give everything to a local association or network, whatever they like. That kind of local initiative is easy to get excited about. It’s a lot more work to stir up enthusiasm for ministry to people we can’t see or visit.

Con: As I said, it’s a lot more work to stir up enthusiasm for ministry to people we can’t see or visit. Difficult things are not necessarily bad. A virtue of cooperative missions is that we can support ministries beyond our own reach or imagination. If we dissipate our limited funds, manpower, and enthusiasm a nickel at a time for a seemingly endless number of good and worthy causes, we’ll tend to neglect important causes that may have less emotional appeal.

Pro: We’re already supporting many things societally. Dr. Rankin is right when he points out that many things we do, from renovations for the local Baptist camp to gift boxes for children at Christmas to Lottie Moon herself give a nod to societal giving. The fact that we do engage in some societal giving is a sure indicator of its appeal.

Con: I actually have no quarrel with this, except as noted earlier. We do it and it allows for church or community-specific ministries, causes that our denomination doesn’t and shouldn’t add to its wide span of ministries. It is up to church and denominational leadership if we are to let the fact that we raise money for orphans at Christmas grow into recommending that every church should design its own denominational budget.

Pro: Calling everything we give to SBC causes “Cooperative Program” would likely get more dollars on the mission field, at least the international mission field. Compare your church’s response to Lottie Moon with that to Annie Armstrong. Lottie has always been a more successful missions offering and that has accelerated in recent years. There is more of a tug toward exotic cultures and hundreds of millions who live in spiritual darkness. The IMB would be the undisputed winner if SBC agencies compete once again for missions dollars. That’s why you did not hear this idea championed by institutions or missionaries in new work areas. These brethren would be at a decided disadvantage if they had to compete for dollars in the region where dollars are plentiful and the perceived need for work in the West and North is so great.

Con: This is a short-term vision. It seems to assume that the decline of agencies that will not do as well in some kind of fundraising competition will not diminish our Great Commission work. Instead, I see a real possibility that the neglect of cooperative missions could result in today’s Bible Belt (the South) becoming more like yesterday’s Bible Belt (New England). Places already “reached” are the foundation of our work. And they tend to not stay reached without a lot of continued nurture. In the states where the first Baptist church, Christian universities, and fiery orthodox preachers were born, 90 percent or better of those populations do not attend church today. Even the places we consider adequately reached today were more reached 20 years ago. Places where Christianity was the most influential force in the community during the 18th century are now largely pagan.

I’ve not forgotten that funding God’s work is a matter of many parts, each with a will of its own. Individuals decide to what degree they will exercise biblical stewardship; most decide to do nothing. Churches decide if and how they will participate in funding a thorough mission strategy that goes beyond their own vision. State conventions get to choose what percentage of their undesignated gifts they’ll pass along for worldwide missions, and SBC agencies make a lot of decisions that reflect their own version of stewardship and focus. Autonomy gets more pronounced the closer one gets to the headwaters of missionary funding?churches and individuals are the ones who really decide how much money will be available and for what causes. But the decisions we make at that level eventually determine whether being a Southern Baptist church or person has any meaning. I can believe nearly all of what the Baptist Faith and Message says and be an Independent Baptist or a Bible Church member. Those good folks give to many of the same organizations that my church supports, but not the Cooperative Program.

“Designated Cooperative Program” is an oxymoron, historically and practically. By any name, attempting to fund our SBC work by a return to societal giving will give rise to a new set of problems more detrimental to our work than the flaws present in the current system. Regional and institutional loyalties would likely cause a heightened spirit of competition and resentment. Our convention is a national one now, different from the “southwide” SBC of the 1920s. A perceived disregard for new work areas of our country (and disregard wo

For Ft. Worth church, annual spring break mission trip opens gospel-sharing doors

NEW ORLEANS?More than 100 people ages 6 to 72 loaded up the Glenview Baptist Church mini-bus and vans to participate in their fourth consecutive spring break family mission trip.

“The trip made a difference in our lives, not just [the lives] of the people in New Orleans,” said Zach Zettler, a Glenview associate pastor.

This year marked their third trip to New Orleans for rebuilding and relief work; last year the team offered assistance to Hurricane Ike-ravaged Galveston.

While there are numerous options available for mission trips, a trip focused on doing skilled labor “was an excellent way to mix older and younger generations. The older generations teach the younger ones how to do the skilled labor,” Zettler said.

“We noticed that there are a lot of people in our congregation with construction experience. We decided to take a mission trip where they can use their talents and abilities,” Zettler added.

According to Zettler, a family trip is an opportunity for parents and children to serve together and see each other as missionaries. Parents have a hands-on opportunity to disciple their children and show them how to share the gospel through the platform of serving.

David Henn was a team leader on a paint crew this year. His family (wife and three children) participates every year.
“We’ve been able to talk to people who walk up [when we are working] and share the gospel. They are very receptive and open to hearing why we’re there,” Henn said.

Henn’s daughter was able to share the gospel with a few girls she met in a low-income housing area. The Henns were in a low-income housing area to give away free socks. As they gave away the socks, more people from the neighborhood came to see what was going on.

“There’s an opportunity to share while you’re serving,” Henn emphasized.

The church’s associate worship leader, Sam Jones III, leads the 6th-10th grade musical group Chosen. The group uses step, dance, and trashcan/bucket percussion performances to attract listeners. This year, members of Chosen performed in New Orleans schools, a juvenile detention center, and Jackson Square.

With the approval of school principals, Jones “brought the gospel in the schools ? they let me share what we are about and why we do what we do,” he said.

Providing an opportunity for the entire family to participate in mission trips benefits the church and family.

The trips “intentionally move the church across age barriers ? and cross generations in our church so that we do not separate kids and adults,” Zettler said.

“Our church rallies around the mission trip. It’s brought our church closer together,” Henn said.

“Working side by side with my family ? seeing my kids catch a vision for mission trips is really an exciting experience,” Brenda Olson said.

The Olsons have “experienced bringing hope to hurting people” on mission trips.

For Brenda, seeing new families and individuals participate in the trip is rewarding; it continues to ignite a passion for missions within the church body.

Returning to New Orleans year after year has allowed returning team members to “see the transformation from studs to sheetrock, to now living in the home,” Zettler said.

The group is divided into small teams; each team completes distinct tasks throughout the week. Some teams sheetrock while others paint and do landscape work.

Regardless of the teams’ tasks, every location a team works, they find the opportunity to pray with homeowners and share the gospel, planting seeds within everyone who asks, “Why are you here for your spring break?”

“The people of New Orleans see people willing to give back during spring break. It’s been years since Hurricane Katrina but there are still churches that care about New Orleans?it’s opened doors for evangelism,” Zettler said.

“I’m proud of my church. People are excited about this trip and look forward to this trip every year,” Zettler said.

CP trending up in some churches

In an era when the average Southern Baptist church’s giving through the Cooperative Program missions funding channel has steadily declined, a few Texas churches have bucked the trend, according to recent giving figures released by the SBTC’s financial department.

Some of the increases can be attributed to membership growth, pastors said. For others contacted by the TEXAN, it was a conscious choice to recommit to the time-proven method of shared funding for SBC missions and ministries, from in-state church planting to seminary education to international missions.

BACK TO BASICS
Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin has steadily increased its CP giving since 2006 by 20.5 percent. It continued its ascent last year?a 28 percent increase over 2008?even as it seeks a pastor.

Mike Mericle, pastor for administration and missions at Great Hills, said while it is “emphatically true” that the church has a heart for the nations, “the history behind this answer is that our church experienced severe economic difficulties during the economic downturn of the late 80s and early 90s. This resulted in substantial reduction of our CP giving for a period of years. Our recent increase in CP giving is an effort to recognize with our actions the words we speak with regard to the critical importance of seeing the Great Commission carried out.”

Mericle said the “cumulative power of cooperation” creates unparalleled opportunities for ministry.

For some churches in a growth mode, there is often pressure to reduce the percentage of missions giving to fund infrastructure, added staff and other needs. But for the growing congregation of First Baptist Church of Wimberley, the percentage of undesignated offerings the church gives through CP missions has remained steady.

FBC Wimberley gave $12,840 through CP in 2006; in 2009 that figure was $120,688.

“We had an emphasis on stewardship?that gifts to the building fund are over and above the tithe,” explained Wyatt Warren, associate pastor of administration and education. “With the capital campaign came additional gifts to the general fund, and with undesignated gifts we give 11 percent through the CP.”

“The CP is a way to fund everything we hold dear?educational institutions, missions. It also alleviates the need to have different agencies and other fund-raising, which might take away from worship.”

The CP giving at First Baptist Church of Euless has dramatically increased since 2006 when Pastor John Meador arrived, from $363,950 that year to $790,952 last year.

With a retirement of $6 million in debt through the sacrificial giving of its members, the church opted to take its generous giving beyond the walls of the church.

“Our increased giving was motivated by our desire to see funds used to reach the unreached people groups,” Meador told the TEXAN. “We believe the SBTC is doing that effectively and our encouragement to our leaders and people is to give generously so that more investment can be made into the gospel.”

“The Cooperative Program, to us, is more than any one element, and we like many things about the CP. The kingdom cooperation is huge?realizing we can be a significant part of a movement, not just a mission. We love partnering with other churches and sharing resources and people. We also value the fact that Southern Baptists have the infrastructure in place to continue to impact the world in the years ahead?as we must do.

“So, we’re grateful to be a part of a mission movement, and feel that we want to share what God has blessed us with.”

For Tim Webb, pastor of Champion Fellowship in Brenham, its CP giving has more than doubled in three years, from $21,000 in 2007 to $50,000 in 2009.

“Our church wanted to keep our giving toward missions at 20 percent of our budget. Our CP giving did not represent the total 20 percent. We also give to individual missionaries that Champion Fellowship has developed relations with. We also give to local mission endeavors here in the Brenham area. Missions are a vital part of our vision as a church.

“As for CP, our leadership wanted to be a part of supporting various ministries through our conservative convention?mainly as a way to be a good steward of what God has blessed us with.”

?With reporting by Stacey Billger

Diverse options available for those traveling to Israel

JERUSALEM?Many Christians would cherish the opportunity to travel to Israel and visit the places where our Lord Jesus Christ walked, taught, died and rose again. Such a trip, which some say is akin to a spiritual journey, takes much prayer, money, and preparation.

Unless, of course, you’re a Southern Baptist TEXAN reporter and you get a mid-afternoon call that goes something like this:

Editor: “Hi, Bonnie. I have a proposition for you.”

Me: “Sure. Whatcha got?”

Editor: “How would you like to go to Israel? You don’t have to pay anything. The Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT) is sponsoring a press junket and I can’t go so I thought I’d ask you?. And I need to know this afternoon if you can go.”

Me: “Uhhh.”

Such was the beginning of my whirlwind tour of the land of our Lord. I made the list of 12 evangelical writers and broadcasters invited on the trip. By March 6 our party was en route to Tel Aviv, all but one of us being a first-time visitor to Israel. The entire trip was a sprint to see as much as possible in as little time as possible, racing against an unseen clock that would time out before we, as reporters, could confirm that the tomb was, indeed, empty.

Atop Mount Carmel (Actually, atop the gift shop of the monastery whose monks tend the site) I briefly reflected on one of my favorite Old Testament stories: Elijah vs. the prophets of Baal. The tourist-condensed version went something like this: “God 1, prophets of Baal 0. God wins. Everyone, back on the bus!”

There is so much of spiritual and historical significance to see in Israel that one could easily lose sight of them by focusing on the schedule. But in the end, I was thankful for that bus and our very able and long-suffering guide, Rivka Cohen-Berman.
Those whose business and pleasure it is to organize tours to Israel recommend first-time travelers not on a press junket utilize the experience and money-saving expertise of tour agencies or well-established individuals who regularly host travels to Israel.

To make the most of your time in the Promised Land, Joe Diaz, a U.S. regional representative for IMOT, highly recommends traveling with a tour group. First-time visitors can just concentrate on enjoying the sights and experiences without concerning themselves with the minutiae, delegating day-to-day details of transportation, food, and accommodations.

Although some people would rather not travel with a group, the trade-off of solitude for convenience and a lower price could make a bus ride with strangers-soon-to-be-friends more palatable, especially if you think you might return to Israel. And, Diaz said, Israel is one of the most frequently revisited countries. Those who make frequent trips with a tour group are then better suited to travel on their own or with a smaller group of family and friends. But for an introductory visit, it’s much more affordable when you go with a group.

“The guide alone is $300 a day,” he said.

Tony Derrick, president of Ideal Travel and Tours in Dallas, said the costs are shared by the group and therefore go down as the size of the group goes up. One tour bus can hold 50 passengers, but ideally, he said, the number in a group should be between 20-30 people.

“Most of our clients are first-time and probably only-time [travelers to Israel],” Derrick said. “They want to see and experience the things they’ve read in the Bible. This is a pilgrim journey, a completion of their biblical education.”
With that in mind the tours are arranged to stop at many places where the stories of the Bible unfolded.

The president of Pilgrim Tours, David Nyce, concurred that traveling with a tour group provides the best opportunity to educate oneself about the land of Jesus. The company caters to predominantly Baptist and evangelical groups and the devotionals given at each site add to the depth of spiritual and academic knowledge that a traveler takes home.

Leading the way on all bus tours are guides trained and certified by the State of Israel. They can be Jewish, Arab, or Christian. Each adds his own unique perspective to the trip?within prescribed limits?offering new information for repeat travelers who will most likely get a different guide on a return trip. Pilgrim tours, though, has an established relationship with a pool of guides who are Messianic believers.

Although all tours require travelers to be in good health?there is a great deal of walking, climbing stairs, and, on occasion, squeezing through ancient water ways?some groups go off the beaten bus path in order to feel the parch of their throat after days in the desert and the grit on their face and hands from digging for long-lost civilizations.

Jim Sibley, director of the Pasche Institute for Jewish Studies and associate professor of Jewish ministry at Criswell College in Dallas, takes regular trips to the country as part of ongoing archaeological projects associated with Criswell College. A group is leaving in May for a two-week project at a site near Qumran, the region where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.

Sibley said there will be some opportunity for sightseeing but most of their time will be spent on archaeological work.
For those who want to go even farther off the bus path can hike the lands of Scripture with GTI Tours. A hike leaves mid-April led by Houston-area pastor Brian Haynes, a Southern Baptist. The company coordinates study tours throughout the biblical lands. Travelers have little more than a backpack and a Bible.

“It’s intense,” Haynes said. “I think I teach 50 times in 10 days. The hikes are brutal?it’s physical, spiritual, emotional.”

But Haynes added, he has never had a more spiritually rewarding experience in his life.

That’s worth getting off the bus.

Regional Bible Drill winners

The SBTC Regional Bible Drill/Speakers’ Tournaments were held last month in Spring and Euless. Those receiving a perfect score of 24 receive an award of State Winner Perfect.

The top six youth and high school drillers, along with the top six Speakers’ Tournament winners from each location, competed for scholarships at the SBTC offices on April 24 (See the May 17 TEXAN for results). Three scholarships were awarded to the top three winners in each category.

For more information on Bible Drill or the Speakers’ Tournament, contact Kenneth Priest at kpriest@sbtexas.com or call him toll-free at 877-953-7282 (SBTC).

State Winners Perfect
Cassie Anderson, Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston; Brianna Baird, First Baptist Church, De Kalb; Noah Boyd, Lake O’ the Pines Baptist Church, Avinger; Brock Burkett and Brooklyn Burkett, First Baptist Church, Euless; Jacob Buttry, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano; Elaina Carbo, First Baptist Church, Euless; Grace Carroll, Forest Home Baptist Church, Kilgore; John Christopherson, First Baptist Church, Euless; Lane Collins, First Baptist Church, Archer City.

Allie Davis, The Church at West Mountain, Gilmer; Mary Claire Engstrom, Tate Springs Baptist Church, Arlington; Austin Forbus, Carbon Community Baptist Church, Carbon; Ryan Hall, First Baptist Church, Wake Village; Madre Harper, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Arlington; Philip Hawthorne, First Baptist Church, Forney.

Robert Hill, North Oaks Baptist Church, Spring; Emily Hodges, First Baptist Church, Keller; Carolyn Johnston, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano; Nathan Kavels, Westwood Baptist Church, Palestine; Kara Langford, First Baptist Church, Forney; Shelby Lantz, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano; Gracie Leone, First Baptist Church, Keller; Taylor Lunsford, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano; Jonathan Matthews, Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston; Joey McLeran, First Baptist Church, Forney; Michelle Moeller, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano.

Natalie O’Quinn, Forest Home Baptist Church, Kilgore; Zack Phelps, Evangelistic Temple, Palestine; Emily Pierce, Forest Home Baptist Church, Kilgore.

Robby Porter, First Baptist Church, Keller; Victoria Price, First Baptist Church, Euless; Brianna Pyron, First Baptist Church, Keller; Chord Ramsey, North Oaks Baptist Church, Spring; Hannah Richmond, Evangelistic Temple, Palestine; Davis Robinson, Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston; Jeremiah Spears, First Baptist Church, Euless; Haley Spoonemore, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano; Tracy Tannehill, First Baptist Church, Sinton; Steven Yates, Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston.

If 1% shift from Exec. Committee budget approved, entity would require deep cuts

NASHVILLE?Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Chairman Ronnie Floyd believes Southern Baptists want to see more of their dollars reaching the nations with the gospel. By cutting a slightly more generous slice for the International Mission Board’s piece of the Cooperative Program pie, another $1.4 million will be provided for this effort.

In the process, the portion set aside for Facilitating Ministries?largely the SBC Executive Committee?would be cut by almost a third.

“It’s a matter of what we would rather see it go towards,” Floyd said in a Feb. 24 interview, acknowledging the lower funding of the SBC Executive Committee (EC) budget. The task force progress report asks state conventions to take primary responsibility for Cooperative Program promotion and stewardship education (see April 19 TEXAN), freeing up much of the $1.2 million allocated for that EC ministry assignment.

When asked where the rest of the cuts might come, Floyd said that’s outside the role of the task force. “It will simply be our goal and our intention that we allocate 51 percent in the coming budget year to the IMB and we do that by taking from the facilitating ministries budget.”

When the SBC was restructured in 1995, the Annuity Board and Executive Committee were classified as facilitating ministries, however the insurance, retirement and investments provider (now known as GuideStone) opted out of receiving CP funds in 2007, leaving only the Executive Committee under that budget category.

As the Executive Committee assumed responsibilities previously held by the Stewardship and Education commissions and gained the Southern Baptist Foundation, the portion allocated for areas under EC supervision grew from 2.22 percent in 1995-96 to 3.03 percent in 1996-1977; it now stands at 3.4 percent.

The EC’s role is administrative, carrying out the will of SBC messengers between annual meetings by disbursing convention budget allocations to the SBC entities, which include two mission boards, six seminaries, and a social concerns agency.

With the task force proposing that the EC relinquish primary responsibility for stewardship and CP promotion, freeing up about $1.4 million in the EC budget, another $600,000 in cuts will still be needed for the committee to operate within a CP allocation of 2.4 percent.

The convention’s operating budget administered by the Executive Committee is divided into two categories. Convention administration expenses include SBC general operations, SBC committees, annual meeting, SBC building management and operating reserves.

The category of Executive Committee operations, with figures for the 2008-2009 budget, includes administration ($1.7 million), convention policy ($599,515), convention relations ($1 million), convention news ($802,908) and the $1.4 million cost of CP/stewardship. The 2009-2010 budget was reduced for 2009-2010 by $321,000 due to CP shortfall.

Seminary trustees elect board officers, affirm redeveloped counseling program

FORT WORTH?The trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary approved six new faculty members and a $34 million budget, and affirmed plans for a modified counseling degree program during their spring meeting on April 7.

Trustees elected as chairman Geoffrey Kolander, vice president and general counsel of the Austin-based Citizens insurance holding company. A member of Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, he has been on the board since 2004, previously serving as vice chairman.

The board also elected Hance Dilbeck, pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, as vice chairman. Harlan Lee, a business owner in Phoenix, was re-elected secretary.

The $34 million budget for 2011 is shy of an earlier proposal of $34.5 million. The slight scale-back was on advice from outside financial advisers, who cited uncertainties in financial markets.

Kolander told the TEXAN, “In an economy that no one can predict what’s going to happen, we have to be very prudent managers of this seminary’s endowment,” a key to developing an operating budget. “We’re very cognizant of the strain on the endowment at a hard time like this.”

Speaking on behalf of the academic administration committee, trustee Van McClain of Schenectady, N.Y., updated trustees on the seminary’s progress in modifying its counseling degree program. Trustees affirmed the process, anticipating a review of curriculum changes next fall.

Earlier this year, the seminary announced the appointment of a committee chaired by the dean of the Terry School of Church and Family Ministries, Waylan Owens, to shape a distinctively Southwestern approach to teaching counseling. “It will emphasize biblical principles set in the context of developing a biblical worldview and perspective on life,” Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson stated after announcing the process for the new program to be developed.

Six new faculty members were elected, all of them to begin teaching in August, with the exception of an archaeology professor whose assignment begins a year later. New faculty include:

?Thomas Davis as professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds in the school of theology. Davis has been director of Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute since 2003 and served as assistant vice president and archaeological investigator for R. Christopher Goodwin and Associates from 1991 to 2003. He has participated in research excavations in locations such as Cyprus, Egypt and Jordan, and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.

?Ira “Mack” Jones as associate professor of Christian education in the Havard School for Theological Studies where he has served as adjunct professor since 2004 and pastored Wooster Baptist Church in Baytown since 1999. He spent 16 years as an IMB missionary in Brazil, where he also taught in several seminaries and earned a master of arts in religious education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a Ed.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

?Donald Kim as an assistant professor in the College at Southwestern, currently a Ph.D. student in New Testament who has taught adjunctively since 2007. He earned his M.Div. from Yale University Divinity School and serves as assistant editor and research librarian at the Institute for Biblical Research (IBR) Library located on Southwestern’s campus.

?Matthew McKellar as associate professor of preaching in the school of theology where he has served under presidential appointment since January. He pastored Sylvania Church in Tyler, for 22 years and earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southwestern. He taught adjunctively for Dallas Baptist University, Criswell College and East Texas Baptist University.

?John Michael Morris as assistant professor of missions in the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions. He has served as pastor and church planter of Fayette Baptist Mission in Williston, Tenn., since 2007, and previously served as an IMB missionary and team leader from 1995 to 2006. He earned his M.Div. from Southwestern and a Ph.D. in Missiology from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.

?Matthew Queen as assistant professor of evangelism in the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions. He has served as associate pastor of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C. since 2006, and as an adjunct professor in the Southeastern College of Wake Forest and the Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism teaching fellow at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1999 to 2002. He earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In his report to the trustees, Patterson spoke of the evangelistic atmosphere on campus, recent faculty publications and the most pressing needs of the seminary.

“The first and most important need that we have at this seminary touches all of you,” Patterson said. “We desperately need revival in our churches and on our campus. And let’s not forget that these things are spiritual, not physical.”

Among the remaining needs of the seminary, Patterson mentioned scholarships, final funds to renovate the Walsh Counseling Center, and money to build new student housing and to make renovations to existing housing. Institutional advancement committee chairman Steven James said his committee supports the initiative to pursue student housing.

“We’ve made that a priority,” James told trustees. “We’re taking a strong look at that and how we can help move that along.”
Student Services committee chairman Hance Dilbeck agreed, saying, “We also talked about the importance of improved student housing and how that will help with student recruitment.”

?Based on reporting from Keith Collier of Southwestern Seminary and Tammi Ledbetter of the TEXAN.

DR work in Haiti continues

Beginning this month, the SBTC will be assisting Baptist Global Response, the International and North American mission boards, and Florida Baptists in rebuilding areas around partner churches in Haiti with concrete block homes.

SBTC DR Director Jim Richardson said the projects are good mission opportunities for Adult Sunday School classes, churches, and associations. The projects are scheduled to be ongoing through July.

SBTC volunteers are also partnering with disaster relief teams from Oklahoma to provide hand-driven pumps for existing water wells on church-owned property and pastors homes in Haiti. These teams will also be serving with Haitians to drill or hand-dig wells that have been closed by the recent earthquake.

For more information on how to volunteer, contact Richardson by e-mail at jrichardson@sbtexas.com or by phone at 940-704-9346.

Rankin: IMB unlikely to appoint missionaries, planters in North America

NASHVILLE–The proposal of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force to remove geographical barriers preventing the International Mission Board from working with unreached people groups on American soil will not likely result in missionaries being assigned stateside, nor will it result in churches planted by IMB personnel, outgoing IMB President Jerry Rankin contends.

For the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, the task of engaging unreached people groups (UPGs) with missionaries who work in an international culture on domestic soil is already afoot. The Texas Missions Initiative (TxMI) launched by the SBTC last year includes the priority of reaching the rising number of UPGs and immigrant groups to the state by assigning people group missionaries to work with specific ethno-linguistic people groups.

In an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness, Rankin said he supports Component 3 of the GCRTF progress report, made to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee on Feb. 22, which asks “Southern Baptists to entrust to the International Mission Board the ministry to reach the unreached and under-served people groups without regard to any geographic limitations.”

Rankin said, however, there should not be an expectation that the IMB will place missionaries throughout the United States because “it’s a matter of proportion” and indigenous strategies. Instead, Rankin, who plans to retire July 31, said he envisions the IMB’s primary role will be to mobilize, train, equip and mentor local churches, associations, state conventions and the North American Mission Board.

“It will be a partnership,” Rankin said. “It’s not an exclusive role that the IMB is going to do for Southern Baptists in this assignment. Our role is to facilitate, enable all Southern Baptists to fulfill the Great Commission, and so that’s how I would anticipate our approaching this aspect of the Great Commission task in America.”

Although the progress report indicates the GCRTF is “unleashing the International Mission Board upon American soil,” Rankin said NAMB and others have already encouraged IMB to help them reach ethnic and other peoples in the states.

“I don’t see this really as very radical. I don’t see it as conflicting and overlapping of turf with North American Mission Board, a potential conflict as some had conjectured,” Rankin said. He noted IMB and NAMB administrators and boards already meet twice a year to collaborate on some efforts.

UNENGAGED AND UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUPS
Rankin said the top priority for the IMB is the Unengaged Unreached People Groups (UUPG), of which there are 41 with a population of more than a million and 469 with a population of more than 100,000. These groups have no access to churches, other Christians, Scripture or Christian resources in their heart language –and no mission agency.

The GCRTF believes a new synergy can be created in international missions as the SBC makes use of IMB expertise. “Most of the 586 people groups that do not speak English in the United States have strategy coordinators working overseas with the same groups,” stated GCRTF chairman Ronnie Floyd in making his report.

Among UPGs, Rankin said, less than 2 percent of the population is born again, and there is no active church planting movement or gospel witness for the remaining 98 percent. Of 11,000 people groups throughout the world, over 4,000 are considered unreached.

Considering the hundreds of UUPGs around the world who have no access to the gospel, and over 4,000 UPGs who have limited exposure to the gospel, Rankin said he is positive about the proposed new strategy.

Citing prolific work among immigrant groups in the U.S., such as Vietnamese, Hispanics, Slavs and Haitians, Rankin said the state conventions “don’t have the capacity, the focus” to reach other people groups that are less populous. “They really don’t have the training or the expertise in those cultural worldviews that we would have,” he said.

As an example of the type of training the IMB could provide for North American missions, Rankin noted the “Great Commission Initiative,” which grew out of a group of urban Baptist directors of missions, including some from Texas. The GCI website says the training is possible because of CP and “Associational Missions Gifts” and lists the IMB as one provider of “intensive training and networking opportunities designed to equip highly motivated Christians to identify, engage, evangelize and disciple unreached people groups.”

Terry Coy, missions director for the SBTC, said the SBTC’s people group strategy grew out of GCI training. The TxMI strategy is focused on training and mobilizing churches to reach the lost in Texas in creative ways. Striving to reach ethno-linguistic people groups and immigrants to the state, the SBTC partners with people group missionaries to specific ethno-linguistic people groups to do evangelism, discipleship and church planting.

“For the last five to seven years, the urban associations in Texas have emphasized the needs for an ethno-linguistic people group (EPGs) approach to missions,” Coy said in an interview with the TEXAN, adding that these associations are already receiving IMB-based training. “But yes, we are glad to see this emphasis. Certain personnel at NAMB have been pushing for it for the last several years.”

Currently, there are four people group missionary couples supported by the SBTC: two in Houston; one in Dallas and one in Port Arthur. There are plans to add an additional missionary to focus on a people group of Eastern origin. The SBTC is also awaiting executive board action on adding a full-time mission strategies associate in May who will spend about half his time on EPG strategies.

Despite appreciation for EPG-oriented mission strategies, Coy said the SBTC missions staff has wondered exactly how well the IMB-based EPG approach will be fleshed out in Texas.

“An IMB EPG approach can be used in principle in the U.S., but perhaps not in totality,” Coy said. “For example, once the Dinka people group of the Sudan land as immigrants in the United States, then they are no longer the Dinka people group of Sudan They are the Dinka people group in the United States. Therefore, the missiological principle of engaging them as a people group stands, but their Dinka culture is no longer ‘pure,’ so to speak, but is in the process of becoming Americanized. The question becomes, therefore, what adjustments need to be made to an ethnolinguistic people group strategy in the North American context?”

“We have already found that the tribal, ethnic and language barriers in India, for example, are not as deep once they arrive in the U.S.,” Coy explained.

CP INCREASE PROPOSED
Speaking to Component 6 of the GCRTF report, which calls for increasing the IMB portion of Cooperative Program funds from 50 to 51 percent, Rankin said he is appreciative of the increase, described by the GCRTF as “symbolic and substantial.”

However, the additional 1 percent of what he labeled “diminishing” CP receipts–about $2 million–is not going to make a lot of difference to a $283 million budget or “open up a flow of missionaries to the field,” Rankin said.

Less than half of the IMB’s funding comes from CP. The remaining budget comes from the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and other sources. The task force’s final component suggests facilitating the increase by reducing 1 percent in funding for the Facilitating Ministries of the SBC within the Executive Committee budget.

Tangibly, the increase in resources could mean 20 more couples on the field, Rankin said. Still, he said, it’s not enough.

“Is it enough for what? Enough for reaching a lost world? Not hardly. That’s how we gauge everything. The remaining lostness, what does it take?” Rankin asked “So, no, 1 percent is not enough.”

Rankin said the way CP funds are divided “will never work” and will always be a “win-lose.”

“I think it can be a win-win,” he said.

In addition to providing “adequate” funding for each entity, determining just how much each ministry needs to carry out its ministry assignment could be part of thinking creatively and differently in order to adapt to new paradigms of doing missions, Rankin said.

“One thing is you’ve got to give the churches flexibility,” Rankin said.

Another way to adjust would be the GCRTF’s proposal related to the category of Great Commission Giving, Rankin said, suggesting a seemingly different giving definition that the one proposed in the progress report, a subject addressed in the April 19 issue of the TEXAN.

“The whole idea of Great Commission Giving is that anything a church designates to a recipient of CP funds should count as CP funding, not as a separate category,” Rankin said. In clarifying his comments to the Witness, Rankin added, “As long as churches feel led to designate additional funds to any entity that is a recipient of CP, state or national, it should be credited to CP.

He pressed the point further in a recent post at rankinconnecting.com, calling for a new paradigm, “something no one seems willing to talk about.”

“We have tried to convince churches that they get to cooperate in all the work of the state convention, Baptist colleges, SBC seminaries, missionary work and a host of other ministries by just making a regular financial contribution. They don’t have to do anything. But is simply giving truly cooperation without involvement and ownership in the decision of what one gives to?”

Ultimately, Rankin said both of the components are positive, removing geographic restrictions to allow IMB to assist with stateside UPGs and the boost in CP funding—even 1 percent. “I think this is significant that once that 50 percent barrier is broken, it does create that flexibility to make adjustments in what our allocations are,” he said.

That’s more along the lines of what GCRTF member David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn., had in mind when he updated a local forum on the percentage increase. “We want to begin to develop a trajectory, just a start, but something that we hope can move forward.”

Dockery recognized the difficulty of budget planning, statin, “Changing something by 1 percent is very hard. You often have to chip away at something over here to add something over there.”

Also concerned by the number of mission volunteers delayed by a lack of sufficient funds, Dockery added, “The first step is to ask the convention to rearrange its budgeting priorities, voe the 50 percent that goes to international missions and make that 51 percent, and find ways to grow that each year.”

–Primary reporting by Joni B. Hannigan of the Florida Baptist Witness with additional reporting by Southern Baptist TEXAN correspondent Melissa Deming.