Convention Sets the Course for 2003

Proverbs 30:7-9 records a prayer to God. The request is simple; remove falsehood and lies from me and provide the exact amount to supply my material need. The wise writer was saying, “If I have too much, I may deny the Lord. If I do not have enough, I may steal and then profane the name of the Lord.” Jesus modeled this concept when He said, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

God has blessed the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. In four short years the number of churches has grown from 120 to 1200. Financially, the growth has been equally phenomenal. From a budget of $900,000 in 1999 to projected Cooperative Program receipts of $13 million this year, the churches have expressed their confidence in the vision and ministry of the SBTC.

While the SBTC sends on to the SBC more than it retains in Texas, the in-state funds are spent according to the approved budget. Missions and evangelism remain the priority of the funding allocation. In the 2003 proposed budget the largest line item remains new church plants. Missions and evangelism grows to 37 percent. Even with the emphasis, new church starts depend on the state missions offering as well.

Varied ministry services for churches require a significant financial outlay. Vacation bible school training, a Church Growth and Leadership Conference, bible drills, women’s retreats, associational partnerships and a myriad of other items too numerous to list are ministries of the SBTC. One of the most rewarding major expenditures is contributing to the church staff retirement through the Annuity Board of the SBC.

Next year two new areas of ministry will be started. Missions Services will assist in disaster response, church builders, chaplaincy and many other volunteer efforts. Human Care and Family Ministry is the second challenge as the SBTC seeks to assist churches in this vital work.

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has purposely set a course to avoid being institution dominated. The Business and Financial Plan calls for a cap of 15% for institutional expenditures. The SBTC does recognize the importance of institutions. The Criswell College is supported through the in-state Cooperative Program. There may be others in the future, but they will fit within the core values of the SBTC.

I could go on about the mission and ministry of the SBTC. I hope you get the picture. We are doing state convention differently from others. Although the SBTC is the only state convention that gives away more than it retains, it does not mean that Texas is without pressing needs. We are seeking to do more with less.

Currently, the SBTC has a small amount of funds set aside for the construction of a permanent facility. The messengers made this decision at the 2001 annual meeting. It will enable us to maximize the dollars for our Lord’s work, while reducing overhead. The SBTC constitution has a “no debt” clause. We are committed to building the structure without taking out a loan. The SBTC has no endowment fund, no massive reserves and no plan to plunge into debt. We will do God’s work with the provisions He gives us.

Last year another state convention cut funding to the SBC, placing in danger some of our cooperative efforts. The SBTC gave over $1 million dollars to SBC ministries out of in-state surplus to make up the difference. You have our pledge that when the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has “extra” money, it will be used according to the wishes of the churches constituting our fellowship. Our prayer is that God will continue to supply the needs through the Cooperative Program. I don’t think we will ever have so much that we can’t spend it all; Kingdom needs here and around the world will always be adequate to utilize all that God entrusts to us.

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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