Leaders of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) celebrated how God moved in 2018 and outlined some ministry initiatives for the year ahead during the state convention’s first board of directors meeting of 2019.
The highlights came from BSCNC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. and other members of the state convention’s executive leadership team during the board meeting held Jan. 28-29 at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro.
Hollifield said a significant task in 2019 will involve evaluating the state convention’s strategy of “impacting lostness through disciple-making,” which was adopted in 2013 and implemented at the beginning of 2014. The strategy evaluation will include electronic surveys, personal interviews and a series of public forums to be held across the state.
More details about the strategy evaluation will be announced in the near future, said Brian Davis, BSCNC associate executive director-treasurer.
Church Planting and Missions Partnerships
Church Planting, Collegiate Partnerships and Office of Great Commission Partnerships are three of the ministries under the umbrella of the Church Planting and Missions Partnerships (CPMP) group. Chuck Register, the executive leader for CPMP, said these strategic efforts will continue to to be emphasized in 2019.
A new church planting initiative called the Sending Church Collective will bring together churches that desire to multiply by planting new churches. The collective will provide training, best practices and assistance in developing church planting strategies.
In the five years since the strategy’s implementation, the state convention has welcomed 488 new churches into its fellowship and increased ministry on college campuses, growing disciple-making efforts by going from nine campuses in 2014 to 51 currently thanks to a paradigm shift that encourages more local church involvement.
In 2018 alone, the convention welcomed 80 new churches into its fellowship as church plants and new affiliate churches. Those churches collectively reported more than 7,000 professions of faith and more than $126,000 in Cooperative Program giving.
In 2019, the Collegiate Partnerships Team will focus on helping local churches develop a reproducing gospel presence on the state’s large number of community college campuses, Register said, while also working with churches who already engaging in ministry on one campus to expand to two or more campuses.
Register said the Office of Great Commission Partnerships will focus on continued gospel engagement with unreached people groups in the state, as well those who live in multifamily housing complexes across the state. The overwhelming majority of each of those populations are unchurched.
Evangelism and Discipleship
Lynn Sasser, executive leader for the state convention’s Evangelism and Discipleship Group, said the various ministries which comprise his group are working to reverse the trend of declining baptisms within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Part of that solutions is encouraging and equipping others to engage in more gospel conversations.
“All of us need to do a better job of sharing the gospel,” Sasser said.
Sasser said several gospel conversations trainings are planned throughout the state in 2019, and the BSCNC will support the forthcoming initiative by SBC President J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham area, titled “Who’s Your One?” The “Who’s Your One?” initiative encourages every Southern Baptist to be intentional about sharing their faith while praying that God would allow them to lead at least one person to faith in Christ in the coming year.
Sasser said he is also working with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) to bring a “Gospel Above All” tour featuring longtime pastor and current NAMB Senior Vice President for Evangelism and Leadership Johnny Hunt to the state.
Sasser also reported that 64 pastors are currently involved in a church revitalization cohort. Two more cohorts are scheduled to begin in the near future, bringing that total to 74. Two local Baptist associations have expressed interest in developing additional cohorts.
Additionally, Asians are one of the fastest-growing populations in North Carolina, Sasser said, and many Asians are coming from the “10/40 Window” — the geographic area between 10 and 40 degrees latitude north of the equator that includes North Africa, the Middle East and Asia where the largest population of unreached people groups live. The BSCNC is currently engaged with 130 Asian churches representing 15 distinct language groups. Plans are in the works to expand that reach.
Although the state convention finished 2018 more than $3.3 million or 10.85 percent below its $31 million budget, BSCNC Executive Leader for Business Services John Butler said the final financial report did include a few “bright spots.”
Giving to the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) exceeded the $2.1 million offering goal by nearly $26,000. Additionally, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, the state convention received more than $6 million in designated giving for disaster relief through Baptists on Mission, also known as N.C. Baptist Men.
Butler noted that giving has been strong through the first part of 2019, but warned that budget reductions would most likely be recommended as part of the proposed 2020 budget.
(See separate article on the final 2018 financial report.)
In other business, the board approved a motion requesting that the Executive Committee develop a policy that would permit the removal of a board member if circumstances warranted such a decision. The motion was presented during time allotted for miscellaneous business by board member Curtis Williams, pastor of Brown Creek Baptist Church in Wadesboro. In his explanation of his motion, Williams noted that a process is necessary in light of moral failures among several ministry leaders across the county in recent years.
Currently, neither the state convention’s bylaws nor the policies of the board of directors include a formal process for removing individuals for what would be deemed disqualifying behavior, said BSCNC Associate Executive Director-Treasurer Brian Davis. In the few previous instances where such actions had to be addressed, Davis said individuals resigned on their own. The board concluded that it would be wise to have a policy in place before ever having to address such an issue.
The Executive Committee will report on its progress on the motion at the May board meeting.
The board also approved a motion by the Business Services Special Committee authorizing the construction of two new cottages at the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell.
Executive Committee additions
The board elected four individuals to serve as at-large members of the BSCNC’s Executive Committee. They are:
· Noah Crowe, member of First Baptist Church of Robbinsville.
· Troy Grant, lead pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Hickory.
· James Harrington, pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Moyock and associational missions strategist for the Chowan Baptist Association.
· Keith Stephenson, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Rutherfordton.
Business Services at-large members
The board president informed the board of two individuals appointed to serve as at-large members of the Business Services Special Committee. They are:
· Ben Francis of Parkwood Baptist Church in Gastonia.
· Delores Thomas representing the Woman’s Missionary Union North Carolina.
Nominating committee additions
The board approved six individuals to serve on the BSCNC’s Committee on Nominations based on recommendations by the state convention officers. They are:
· David Duarte of Daystar Church in Greensboro.
· Amy Harrison of Trinity Baptist Church in Mooresville.
· Pao Ly of First Hmong Baptist Church in Morganton.
· Robin Fisher of Sunset Avenue Baptist Church in Rocky Mount.
· David Mace of Blackburn Baptist Church in Hickory.
· Gene Roberts of Newfound Baptist Church in Leicester.
Fisher will serve as the committee chairman.
New board secretary
The board also elected Kathy Bennett, executive assistant to BSCNC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr., as board secretary. Former board secretary Ginger Brown retired in late December.
The next board meeting is scheduled for May 20-21 at Caraway Conference Center.