Archive for the ‘Missions’ Category

In the last installment this writer expressed his concern about where he saw the Seminaries, The ELRC and Executive Committee, and Doctrine  in 2025.  In this post we will look at this writer’s non-scientific future prediction for the Mission Organizations, Local Associations, and the Cooperative Program in 2025.

Mission Organizations

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At Ebenezer Baptist Church, where I serve, various ministry groups visit and we often take up special offerings for them.  Many times we would find out months later that some members continued to send money to that particular ministry, designating it through the church.  But we eventually took a stand and set a policy that the church would only forward funds to outside ministries specifically approved by the whole body and we asked individuals to send contributions to their special interest ministries directly and without the imprimatur of the congregation.

We felt it was inappropriate to tie the church to a ministry without the consensus support of the entire membership.

Now Southern Baptists have learned that the North American Mission Board is not using this same type of discretion in the distribution of church planting funds Southern Baptists have contributed through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

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A Church Plant Needs Help

Posted: October 19, 2010 in Missions

The following is a letter sent to our Director of Missions and our Mission’s Committee Chairman.  The church is a church plant that was established and is reaching the Hispanic Community here in Monroe, NC.  According to what I understand it is the only Hispanic church in the area.  You can read the letter and if any of you have been praying about helping fund a missionary this may be a possible start for you.  If you sense God’s leading in this direction, you can email me and I will give you the Pastor’s contact information.

Dear Henry and Dennis,                                              October 10, 2010

We give thanks to the Lord for the donations we had received so far from churches and individuals such as Wingate Baptist and Sardis Baptist Churches. Today we had the privilege of seeing 8  people baptized in our church (see attached photos).  Even though people are getting saved by the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, we are still struggling with our significantly low offerings.   Congregants continue to lose jobs each week and hours continue to diminish.  Our budget is $1034 per week.  On average, our current weekly offerings are around $600 per week, last week dropping down to under $570 (see attached report for last three weeks) .

Eighteen families/individuals are giving offerings consistently.  With an average of $600/week, that is about $33/family.  We have tried yard sales, church lunches that we pay for, landscape work, etc. and the congregation is just at the end of their resources.  I can not continue to ask them to give more.  They are truly giving sacrificially.  We are at a point that even with the mortgage freeze and cutting my salary from $1600 to $1200/mo., we still are approximately $200/week short of budget.  Our savings have dwindled to very low and we are praying that the Lord will have even more mercy upon us to maintain my position as a pastor with our congregation.

In my opinion, the only solution I see for our church mission is to ask churches to adopt me, the pastor, as a missionary and provide us with consistent monthly support.  I would like to propose illustrating to the 85 churches within the association that if they can add $20/month to their missionary budget, they could provide the $1600/month salary that El Buen Pastor church needs to keep it’s bi-vocational pastor.  Perhaps if they can see it in this manner, they can realize that we are not in need of very much at all from each church if indeed each one can contribute.

One time giving love offerings are needed and very helpful, but they have neither been in the past nor are they in the present a permanent solution.   El Buen Pastor is not a church capable of being financially independent due to the nature of it’s ministry as mentioned in our first letter to the churches, especially now in this economy and the Lord is showing this very clearly.  If the pastor of this church is not supported as a “missionary” to the immigrant Hispanic community, the church as it stands in its current course can not maintain a pastoral position.

Please provide your thoughts and prayers around this crucial situation we are in.  Please feel free to contact me at any time to discuss this topic in more detail.

Sincerely,

Pastor Carlos Tellez

Louisiana Baptist (LBC) must be drinking from the same fountain that I am drinking.  I sent a resolution to the Resolution Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) entitled “Accentuating the Cooperative Program”.  In that three and one-half page resolution it was a history lesson in the “Whereas” statements on the Cooperative Program (CP).  The resolves called on the BSCNC to recognize the CP as the only missions giving platform.  Shortly after that resolution was affirmed as being recieved by the BSCNC committee, the LBC resolution ran in Baptist Press.  Boy, what a shot in the arm it was for me to see, not only a state convention Executive Committee affirm their Executive Director, but also recognize the CP as their main funding source for missions.

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Dr. Kevin Ezell, North American Mission Board Presidential Nominee

In a message to Highview Baptist Church this past weekend, Dr. Kevin Ezell made a statement that speaks volumes to the attitude of his leadership style.  It appears that Dr. Ezell’s position toward someone in disagreement with him is to paint their disagreement with a broad brush.  Thus, making the disagreement about the person instead of dealing with the disagreement.  In Dr. Ezell’s message he said concerning those that were issuing critical assessments;

“Typically those are bloggers who live with their mother and wear a housecoat during the day. Just ignore them, but I apologize if you are hurt by anything that they might say about me or indirectly about you.”

The apology to his congregation certainly reveals the heart of a pastor for his people. But, it must be pointed out that no one has attacked the congregation of Highview Baptist Church. Every article and blog I have read expressed the  great work that Highview Baptist was doing.  However, when one looks more closely at the statement one sees a clear tactic that certainly should be called into question.  First, I am one that has been critical and I do not live with my mother and I certainly do not wear a housecoat around all day.  Second, his attitude is to “Just ignore them”.  No dear reader you do not ignore legitimate concerns.  When legitimate concerns are raised one must address the concerns.  If Dr. Ezell would have addressed the concerns when it was announced he would be the nominee it would never have gotten to this.  However, Dr. Ezell has just raised the stakes by complaining that those who were critical are “living with their mothers and wearing housecoats”.  Excuse me, but I do not believe Dr. Hankins lives with his mother, nor does Dr. Emil.  These two men are Executive Directors of states that Dr. Ezell is supposed to be working with.

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david-and-tim-rogers-12-2-07.jpgWe had another Special Guest with us this past Sunday morning. Brother David Rogers, serving with the IMB as a Missionary to Spain and a fellow blogger, honored me by accepting my invitation to be with us as we began the week of prayer for Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Brother David did a superb job exegesis of the text and applying it to the lives of our Congregation.

He arrived by himself on Saturday afternoon and Gail, Rebekah and myself went to supper with him. I am sorry that his family was not able to make it with him. I was at a dilemma as to where he would like to eat. With him serving in Spain, I wasn’t david-rogers-12-2-07.jpgsure exactly what his tastes were. He was very agreeable as to where we went to supper. (Dinner is the middle of the day meal) Thus, we went to Cracker Barrel. Brother David ordered as one of his sides “fried okra”. He is a redneck! :^)

After services on Sunday AM we went to K&W Cafeteria. Brother David and I sat an talked after Gail and Rebekah left us. We spoke of our agreements and our disagreements. He is one of the most pleasurable persons I have been around. His attitude is that of humility and his debate is one of grace. As I took him back to his car, we stopped and both prayed for each other. What a blessing it is to serve our Lord with my Brother in Christ.

Recently I was called by the editor of the Biblical Recorder to question if there was forthcoming a motion from me concerning combining the giving plans of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention (BSCNC). In the course of the interview I made it abundantly clear that this motion did not hold with it the intention for anyone to leave the convention. While some may offer comments otherwise, I promise you my heart is clear on the intent of this motion. I honestly believe that if we are going to be united in North Carolina we must unite the giving plans. Uniting the giving plans unite NC Baptist in three ways.

Intention

What is the intent of those giving to the various plans? There are different ideas all across the state about who deserves what and how much each entity should get. However, as you look at the plans you find that it is more than just a disagreement on who gets what. The plans were developed and designed out of vengeance. The first division of the giving plan came because some desired to hurt SBC causes due to the Conservative Resurgence, but they did not want North Carolina affected. That plan is now called Plan B. When that plan was not doing as much as some thought it should there came forth a new plan that placed nothing in the SBC coffers and helped fund a new start-up denomination called Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, but they still did not desire to hurt North Carolina. That plan is known as Plan C. When conservatives came into leadership prominence, there was decided that another plan was needed in order to keep the conservatives from doing completely away with Plan C. This plan is known as Plan D. This plan allows for lest to go to North Carolina, but more to in-state pet projects of the Conservatives. Fruitland Bible Institute is a huge recipient of this plan. Once again, notice how this plan came about. It was done to keep the conservatives from deleting Plan C.

Which brings me to a question. What is the intent in our giving? Do we give because we do not like something? Do we give more because we like something? In 1 Corinthians 8:3 the Apostle Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that the Macedonians gave to a poverty relief fund out of their own poverty. I can imagine some in the churches there in Macedonia saying, we are just as poor as those in Jerusalem we are not giving to help them. No, they gave above their ability and the Bible goes on to tell us that they pleaded with Paul to allow them the opportunity to give. It seems that we in North Carolina need to return to our intention of giving. What is the reason I lead my church to support our Cooperative Missions Giving Offering? What is the reason that you lead yours? Returning to one giving plan will unite North Carolina Baptist on intent.

Insinuation

What does four giving plans insinuate about North Carolina Baptist? Not only that, but what do giving plans that give directly to CBF insinuate about North Carolina Baptist? According to CBF website the BSCNC is listed as a Congregational Partner. Who knows exactly what that means. If you follow this link on Congregational Life it says the CBF will fund up to $20k of certain projects. I do not believe the BSCNC is receiving any funds from CBF. However, the insinuation that we are Partners with CBF tells the world that BSCNC is supporting the CBF in their mission through our budget.

Let’s not leave Plan D out. What is the insinuation of Plan D? Well it tells the world that there are things going on in the BSCNC that is not acceptable. Plan D has grown the most in the past couple of years. Shouldn’t that say something to our leaders? What is going on that makes churches move their giving from Plan A to Plan D? Plan D gives less to the BSCNC but gives the same amount to the SBC as Plan A. Plan D insinuates that there is not enough votes for me to change something at the convention level so instead of pulling out altogether, I will give a nominal amount. But I do not want to hurt Fruitland and by giving to this plan I can still have a voice in the convention.

Multiple giving plans insinuate to the world that we are not together in North Carolina. The insinuation further brings about division within the local associations and also even comes to the church. Some churches giving to Plan C do not realize they are not supporting Southern Baptist causes. Plan D was presented as a plan that would allow more SB causes to be funded. However, most churches giving to Plan D do not realize they are giving no more % to Southern Baptist causes than a church giving to Plan A.

The insinuation of a united front is the first thing that is brought to light when you call a budget consultant to your church. I had the opportunity to use a consultant from the BSCNC to help our church make certain that our budget was doing what we desired it to do. The first thing he pointed to was the various “love” offerings we involved ourselves in. He commented that a church was not united in cause when there were small groups of people pushing for a love offering for their pet projects. What a unique concept.

Therefore uniting the giving plans into one plan insinuates to the world that we are united. We are together in what we are about and that we plan to accomplish our tasks under a united banner.

Mission

What is our mission as a convention? According to our Articles of Incorporation we see two purposes of our formation.

A. To assist the churches in their divinely appointed mission; to promote missions, evangelism, education, social services, the distribution of the Bible and sound religious literature; and to cooperate with the work of the Southern Baptist Convention; and

B. To do any and all acts and things which may be deemed desirable or expedient for the benefit of the programs of the Convention.

This mission should be funded through one budget. If we relegate our responsibility of education to the CBF, then let the schools be under the banner of CBF. We should not set up a separate budget in order to accommodate our purpose for education.

I will not try to explain how we are able to have a budget designated to the CBF when our mission plainly states we are “to cooperate with the work of the Southern Baptist Convention“. Suffice it to say that a study in 2001-02 produced a decision by lawyers that this statement did not restrict us from setting up a plan giving directly to the CBF. However, I still ask the same question.

We need to focus on our mission and it is evident from the WMU-NC’s latest move that we are not united on mission. Mrs. Ruby Fulbright, Executive Director of the WMU-NC, said in a meeting that BSCNC was focused on Evangelism and Church Planting and WMU-NC was focused on Evangelism and Social Ministry. This statement was a shock to many in the meeting. However, if you look at our budget one can see how these various mission visions compete with one another. If we had one budget then we would be able to clearly define the mission because it would be reflected in the budget. If an entity or auxiliary were then to say their mission was different we would be surprised for a reason.

Conclusion

Will we lose congregations if this motion passes and the study committee returns a recommendation to return to one budget? We probably will. Will we lose congregations if we continue with separate giving plans? We most definitely will. This trend has already been noted especially among churches giving to Plans B & C. Many are wondering aloud the reason we are bending over backwards trying to salvage relationships when we are constantly getting bombarded with walk outs. I have also spoken with some that desire to see these issues settled in court. What many do not realize is that the Baptist Retirement Homes of North Carolina did not allow the new trustees chosen by the BSCNC to attend their first trustee meeting. Why? BRHNC does not recognize BSCNC’s right to seat trustees. This is wrong, but I do not believe court action is the answer.  If we have one giving plan will this keep these incidents from taking place in the future? Probably not. But, if we have one giving plan we will certainly tell everyone that takes money out of the pot that those placing money in the pot are united.

Thus, the time is now for the BSCNC to begin the process to return us to one giving plan. Whoever we lose I bid them Godspeed in their endeavors. Whoever we gain I praise God for their addition and desire to seek God’s will through their participation in the BSCNC.