SBTC Executive Board affirms NAMB collaboration and $26.5 million budget, creates Israel opportunity for pastors

Garland pastor Tony Mathews was elected senior strategist for the largest of the SBTC’s ministry divisions, missional ministries, which includes evangelism, missions and church planting. Photo by Jose Santiago

GRAPEVINEA new church planting collaboration with the SBC North American Mission Board, the election of two ministry staff leaders, the creation of an Israel travel opportunity for pastors and the posthumous conferral of the Leaders Legacy Award upon Jimmy D. Pritchard highlighted the Aug. 24 meeting of the Executive Board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. The board met at the convention’s Grapevine offices, and also approved a $26.5 million proposed budget for 2022. Annual meeting messengers will consider the budget during their November meeting. 

Texas to become a SEND state

Beginning in 2022, Texas will become a SEND state through the North American Mission Board’s SEND Network. Until recently, the SEND initiative targeted significant cities in North America. SEND states, like SEND cities, will be the focus of church planting resources to address rising populations and lostness. Under the plan, NAMB will take on a significant role in planter assessment, training and coaching, orientation, care and funding. SBTC staff and consultants will be trained in SEND Network processes. While NAMB will fund planter support and other areas, the SBTC will continue to make grants, host church planter retreats and provide additional care for planters. All Texas churches planted under this program will be SBTC-affiliated and affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. 

The expectation for the collaboration is that SBTC church planting will be enhanced, resulting in increases in number, health, and sustainability of church plants. Either party may terminate the relationship with a six-month written notice. Statewide church planting relationships currently exist between NAMB and state conventions in Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma and Virginia.

NAMB president Kevin Ezell said of the effort, “We really are stronger together. I know we say that all the time, but this shows that it’s true.”

SBTC executive director Nathan Lorick expressed confidence that the agreement would result in an increase in the number of church planters in Texas, calling the SEND network the “gold standard” in church planting. 

Budget increases 1.51 percent from 2021

The board voted to recommend for approval at the 2021 annual meeting a $26.5 million budget for 2022, reflecting an increase from 2021 of 1.51 percent. The 2022 budget continues the convention’s practice of forwarding 55 percent, or $14.3 million, to the national SBC Cooperative Program while retaining 45 percent, or $11.7 million, within Texas for state ministries. 

Significant budgetary changes for 2022 include a $300,000 reduction in church planting expenditures because of NAMB’s increased funding in that area, an amount expected to exceed $1 million. Salary and benefits for as-yet unfilled ministry associate positions are also included in the budget. 

A $104,500 budget reallocation to the state missions offering for evangelism events, personal evangelism and church planting consultants is also included, as are smaller increases for technology maintenance and an all-ministry staff retreat. The budget also includes a first-time allocation of $10,000 for Woman’s Missionary Union efforts in SBTC churches. The WMU and the SBTC are currently exploring a formal relationship. 

Jayson Larson Editor
Jayson Larson was elected as an associate of the Digital Ministries and Communications department during the Aug. 24 SBTC Executive Board meeting in Grapevine. He will edit the Southern Baptist TEXAN beginning in 2022. Photo by Jose Santiago

New leaders for missional ministries, TEXAN 

Garland pastor Tony Mathews was elected senior strategist for the largest of the SBTC’s ministry divisions, missional ministries, which includes evangelism, missions and church planting. Mathews has been pastor of North Garland Fellowship Baptist Church for 29 years and is currently also the interim director for SBTC missional ministries. He will continue in an interim role with the SBTC until March, when he transitions from his pastorate at North Garland Fellowship.

Mathews’ church has been very involved in missions. Under his leadership, North Garland Fellowship has assisted with 10 church starts and has traveled in 17 countries on mission. The church has grown from 70 to about 700 during his tenure as pastor.

His service to the denomination includes being vice president of the SBTC, president of the SBTC African-American Fellowship and vice chairman of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary board of trustees.

Mathews holds a Doctor of Ministry and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership from Criswell College and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Angelo State University. He is married to Angela and they have three children.

The board additionally approved the hiring of Jayson Larson as Digital Ministries and Communications associate. Larson will become the editor of the TEXAN, the print and digital newsjournal of the SBTC, in 2022 as Gary Ledbetter moves to an advisory position with the publication. 

Larson, currently senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Prineville, Ore., served as associate pastor of First Baptist Church Vidor from 2015-2019. He earned a degree in journalism/communications from Trinity Valley Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in communication and biblical study from Liberty University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

DMC Senior Strategist Lance Crowell described Larson as “understanding the news side of the TEXAN and also having a pastor’s heart.”

Larson has extensive experience in journalism, having been a sports and news writer and editor for the Athens Daily Review and other newspapers. He has won numerous awards from the Associated Press Managing Editors Association, Texas Press Association and Northeast Texas Press Association. He also formerly served as a public relations officer for Trinity Valley Community College.

He is married to Brandi and they have two children.

Israel initiative for pastor travel approved

A reserves funding grant of $100,000 was approved to subsidize the first-time travel of pastors to Israel on a tour hosted by the SBTC. The convention last hosted an Israel trip in May 2019; the trip planned for 2020 was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and any future travel will be planned with consideration of ongoing regional conditions. The grant would provide $1,000 toward the travel costs of 100 pastors who have never been to Israel.

Pritchard honored

The board voted unanimously to honor the late Jimmy D. Pritchard with the first Leaders Legacy Award from the Southern Baptists of Texas Foundation. The foundation recently voted to create the award to honor individuals who have distinguished themselves by their service to Christ through the SBTC.

Pritchard, who died of COVID-19 on Feb. 24, was SBTC president from 2014-2015. For 39 years, he served churches in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas. During his long tenure at First Baptist Forney, Pritchard led the church in its move to a $36 million suburban facility and saw 38 men and women surrender to vocational ministry. In that time, the church welcomed 6,500 new members, more than 2,900 through baptism.

In addition to his time as SBTC president, Pritchard also served the denomination as trustee and chairman of the International Mission Board from 2006-2014, and trustee and board chairman of Criswell College from 2002-2007 and 2010-2015.

The Leaders Legacy Award will be awarded by the SBTC Executive Board’s Executive Committee and the SBT Foundation and is funded by the foundation’s Leaders Legacy Endowment.

Other business

In other business, the board voted to continue a cooperative ministry relationship with the Texas Baptist Home for Children and fraternal ministry relationships with the Conference of Texas Baptist Evangelists, the Korean Baptist Fellowship of Texas, and the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas. Continuing cooperative relationships with Jacksonville College and Criswell College were not reviewed in 2021.

The board approved the awarding of a reserves funding grant of $100,000 to the SBC Executive Committee as a designated gift to support the committee’s new initiative of assisting churches in prayer ministry. The SBC Executive Committee was assigned prayer leadership during the SBC meeting in June. SBTC is the first state convention to lend financial support to the work.

A reserves funding allocation was approved for the purpose of engaging the organization Future Church Company as a consultant for the convention. For the next three years, Future Church Company’s services will include general consulting, training, tool development, process design and implementation.

The board also approved a reserves funding grant of $100,000 to be used for one-time grants to pastors in affiliated churches for the purpose of assisting with mission trip expenses.

A reserves funding grant of $118,000 was approved to support a new NAMB-approved church plant led by Doug Hixson, former SBTC director of church planting, in Longmont, Co.

A reserves funding grant of up to $40,000 was approved to augment the Nov. 8-9 annual meeting at Flint Baptist Church.

A grant of $150,000 was approved to establish the SBTC Student Scholarship Endowment at the Southern Baptists of Texas Foundation for the purpose of making scholarship awards to students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, with priority given to non-Anglo students.

The board also approved a motion concerning the disposition of the property of the former Dellwood Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant. In 2004, Dellwood gifted its property to the SBTC and the convention in turn gifted it to South Jefferson Baptist Church for use as a Hispanic mission, which has now closed its doors. The property is for sale and the board voted to approve the recommendation that upon that sale, one half of the proceeds will be delivered to the SBTC as a designated gift for Hispanic ministries and one half retained by South Jefferson Baptist, which has absorbed the expenses of the Hispanic mission.

The board approved 16 churches for affiliation and 16 more were removed from affiliation, including those that have disbanded, merged or no longer desired to be affiliated. One of the removals was approved upon request from the Credentials Committee. With those actions, there are now 2,682 affiliated churches.

The board will meet again Nov. 10 in Tyler, following the SBTC annual meeting at Flint Baptist Church.

—With reporting by Jane Rodgers and Gary Ledbetter

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