Whenever the US Congress says they made a budget cut they use a funny way to go about reporting it. What Congress calls cuts we citizens call tax increases. We find that Congress predicts that they may need $200 million for something and when they budget it they only budget $175 million. When this is reported it is reported as a $25 million savings. Sounds good, but the problem exists that the predicted amount was not in the budget in the first place. Thus, the $25 million savings, in reality is a $175 million increase added to the bloat of the bureaucracy that we know as the Federal Government.
“Bloated Bureaucracy” was a term that Dr. Akin used when he first spoke about the need for a Great Commission Resurgence. Using that term brought push back from many executives in various state conventions. When Milton Hollifield spoke about the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report, he expressed some of his concerns but overall he supported the recommendation. In an interview after the GCRTF vote Brother Milton said:
What this means is that we are at a new point of beginning as the SBC. This is not the end, this is the beginning. What we’re going to be watching now is to see how committed Southern Baptists are to carrying the Gospel around the world, and how committed Southern Baptists are to supporting missions through the Cooperative Program.
Dr. Akin’s original Axioms called for the state conventions to look at their respective organizations and remove replication wherever it existed. What do we find our State Convention doing after the GCRTF vote in Orlando? Well, we are cutting the budget.
It seems that, according to a Biblical Recorder report, we are nearly 11% behind in receipts coming into the Baptist building through Cooperative Program giving. Because of this decrease in giving, we find the Budget Committee recommending a $2.1 million cut in the budget. Well, it appears that we NC Baptist can now report we are doing our part in cutting “bloat” in the convention. However, before we make such a report we need to examine something else that came to light as a result of the July Executive Committee meeting.
In this article we see a report that the Executive Committee approved a new office to be added in the North Carolina Baptist State Convention. It is the office for Great Commission Partnerships. It seems the Baptist Men of North Carolina were responsible for the Great Commission Partnerships before the ExComm meeting in July. Thus, this office will be funded with $307,000 that is appropriated for Partnership Missions and the Baptist Men are allowed to fund their work from this fund. One may say this seems to be a great idea, but there seems to be some questions that are still bugging me.
First, why do we have the Baptist Men of North Carolina with a Missions Partnership office along with the NCBSC? According to this article, the Baptist Men will continue forming partnerships and now the NCBSC will be in the partnership business. I thought what we voted on in Orlando was to call on the state conventions to stop duplicating efforts. Doesn’t it seem that the NC Baptist men need to drop their partnership strategy? Also, the NCBSC has over $300,000 in a fund that the Baptist Men of North Carolina controlled. Why do we have two different funds for Great Commission Partnerships? If we are going to do all we can to do away with replication, should we not have someone on the Board of Directors to ask the hard questions?
Second, with the case being that the NC Baptist Men no longer will be responsible for the NCBSC partnership does that mean that their portion of the NCMO offering will decrease? Brother Austin Rammell may be on to something about NCMO concerning placing only the things that are fringe items in that offering. If the NC Baptist Men are continuing to form partnerships then we should tell them to do in on their own dime. The NCMO offering should be closely watched to see if any goes to forming partnership because we are funding this office in the NCBSC budget to the tune of $300,000.
Third, with $300,000 that is in the partnership portion of the NCBSC Budget it appears it was there to be used for straight partnership expenses. Why? The NC Baptist Men have their own administration. Now we have added administrative expenses to that amount and thus we will have to fund that amount yearly, plus the administration expenses. Because of the added administration expenses we will lose the full capacity of getting these funds to the field. We are cutting the budget this year, thus, the $300,000 used for partnership will not be available for partnership but will only partially fund partnership because of the added administration expenses. Therefore, Dr. Akin’s charge about “Bloated Bureaucracy” may gain traction.
Fourth, the question needs to be asked about the purpose of the NC Baptist Men approaching the convention leaders with this idea? According to the initial report in July, the NC Baptist Men initiated this request for them to stop overseeing the partnership. Which brings me back to an earlier question; Why should the Baptist Men continue forming partnerships? It appears this was something that was in the making for some time. Why would I say that? It appears that within three weeks of the announcement of the office we have announced someone in the position and this person was on the NC Baptist Men staff. Thus, the question must be asked; When was this position seen as something needed in the NCBSC? Was it a result of the GCR report approved by the SBC in Orlando? Will this office work with the Church Planting office in the NCBSC identifying churches that desire to plant churches? According to the August interview with the head of this office there will also be Global Impact Networks (GIN) established. Establishing the GIN means we now have an office in Cary, NC to help us make phone calls to NAMB in Georgia, and the IMB in Virginia. Of course we know making phone calls is not all that is needed and my satire probably is not well received. However, we understand that someone is needed to help local church pastors to get the information that is needed to do the partnerships established. But, it seems that we are creating an office to do the work of our local Association. When I want to go on mission trips with my church I always check first with my local association office for informative insight. The association will direct me to partnerships created through the NAMB and the IMB depending on the geographical emphasis that our church feels led. Thus, the creation of this partnership office adds another level of bureaucracy to be funded with Cooperative Program income.
While I understand the desire of our leaders to empower local churches in mission endeavors, one must admit there is no way we will increase the state convention portion to the SBC while creating new offices in the state convention. We in North Carolina are on a course to increase the % going to the SBC by .5% each year. However, with income down and cutting budgets and adding new offices, that .5% will hurt if it becomes reality. I also understand the desire to involve local churches in missional living and affirm our leaders in their desire. But, whatever happened to the NCBSC working with the Directors of Missions? Doesn’t it seem that something could be done to incorporate the various associations in this process? I mean, they already have the administration in place and can certainly be trained for less than $300,000.
As we strive to be part of the Great Commission Resurgence in the BSCNC we should identify items presented in Orlando that do not cost anything. There are items that the messengers asked state conventions to consider that will cost a very negligible amount to accomplish. Why not start there, instead of tapping $300,000 that was being used to get to the mission field but now has administrative costs coming out of it. Also, Brother Milton is now looking to see who is committed to the Cooperative Program. If this move is indicative of the future, I doubt one will see many pastors jumping at the opportunity in leading their churches to give more to the Cooperative Program.