Anytime a new leader steps into an organization, change certainly follows. While the degree of change varies from leader to leader, every leader is a change agent. With the SBC Executive Committee (EC) in the process of prayerfully searching for its new CEO, it’s a great time for us to consider what types of changes are needed at the Executive Committee.
There’s a good chance that many of you don’t know what the Executive Committee is. The EC is one of the 12 entities of the SBC. The official role of the EC is “to minister to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by acting for the Convention ad interim in all matters not otherwise provided for in a manner that encourages the cooperation and confidence of the churches, associations, and state conventions and facilitates maximum support for worldwide missions and ministries.” (full explanation)
The EC is a vital part of our convention and serves as “home base” for convention oversight, including the website, all Cooperative Program (CP) funds, and Baptist Press, the news arm of the SBC. The next person who becomes the President of this organization will have the opportunity to shape who we are as Southern Baptists for as long as he is in his role. With this in mind, I want to offer 8 suggestions for the next President of the SBC Executive Committee.
1. See the local church as the #1 priority. Every entity leader must remember that the local church is the reason they do what they do. The leader of the EC is called to steward the monies given through the CP well. Prioritizing the local church helps give the CEO the right perspective in his decision making.
2. Be committed to the CP. The CP is the funding mechanism for all we do as Southern Baptists, therefore the next CEO must have a proven commitment to the CP. The leader of the EC must be able to adequately communicate a compelling vision for the CP for our churches.
3. Have a global mentality. The next leader of the EC must have a heart for the nations. We need a person who is not satisfied that over 6000 people groups still have not heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need a person who lets that number drive them to recruit new churches and more money for the CP. We need a person who will call our churches to give more and go. A global mentality is a must.
4. Challenge State Convention giving. Independent of the twelve SBC entities, there are 34 State Conventions throughout the U.S. Each State Convention sets their own boards, their own budgets, and their own staff. Churches give their CP dollars through their State Convention. When State Conventions first formed, it was agreed upon that 50% of the money given would stay in state for church planting, evangelism, and church support, while the other 50% would be sent on to the Executive Committee to be dispersed for our entities, with a large portion of that going to international missions.
Over time, State Conventions began keeping more and more in state. Currently, Indiana, Louisiana, and Mississippi all keep over 60% in state, while Georgia, Arkansas, and Missouri all keep just under 60% in state. In the last ten years, the State Convention Executive Directors have been encouraged to keep less money in state and instead send it where it’s needed most, to the nations. The President of the EC should foster relationships that continue to encourage State Convention Executive Directors to mobilize more money away from their budgets and to where it’s most needed.
One of challenges offered to State Conventions in the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force’s final report in 2010, was the return to a 50/50 split in CP dollars. The messengers voted overwhelmingly to approve the final report. Here we are eight years later and it seems as though many of our State Conventions are not eager to move to a 50/50 split anytime soon. The next President of the EC should work to engage the leaders of the State Conventions and ensure the request of the churches in regards to CP allocations become a reality from state to state.
5. Educate current and new churches on SBC polity. One of the most frequent questions I get as a pastor from other SBC pastors is “how does SBC polity work?” I believe one of the EC’s roles should be to educate new churches joining our SBC family and new pastors planting churches through our denomination. This can easily be done through video-driven explanations asking several pastors to answer questions such as:
- What is the role of the President of the SBC?
- What are the functions of the Committee on Committees and Committee on Nominations? How are they appointed?
- How are the SBC entity trustees appointed?
Educating current and new SBC pastors will help engage them across the board in SBC life. It gives them perspective on why it is important for them to engage in our polity and in the annual meeting. It also gives them a greater appreciation for the cooperative program and all that we do as Southern Baptists.
6. Foster healthy diversity in the SBC. As the home base of SBC operations, the EC should prioritize recruiting and engaging pastors and churches from varying ethnic backgrounds. When it comes to appointing committees, boards, trustees, or task forces, the EC should have a working list of various pastors and leaders from a diverse background. The CEO of the EC could have the opportunity to shape the SBC into the most diverse denomination the world has ever seen.
7. Communicate our wins. One of the areas where I hope we can grow as Baptists is to better communicate what is taking place across the SBC denominationally. We live in a social media-driven world. While the EC has made significant strides here, I believe we are still behind the technological curve when it comes to communicating who we are and what we do.
Our churches need to hear stories of what’s taking place at IMB, NAMB, the ERLC, and in our seminaries. The EC can be constantly recruiting new stories to tell, sharing videos, and crafting an exciting vision and narrative to what it means to be a Great Commission Baptist in the 21stCentury. We need a pastor’s heart who can tell a good story!
8. Budget for scholarships to the annual meeting. I had the privilege of serving behind the scenes in a key role with Dr. Ronnie Floyd while he was the President of the SBC from 2014-2016. One struggle we faced when it came time to appoint committee members for the Committee on Committees was the simple reality that some pastors cannot afford the trip. It’s vital that a committee member be at the annual meeting, but that often means 3-4 nights in a hotel, airfare, the cost of food, and other items.
With over 80% of our churches having less that 100 people, it’s challenging to find people who can afford the trip. I was told by the EC that there was no money budgeted for such an expense. Some of those Committee members were so important to Dr. Floyd that he ended up funding them himself.
In order for us to engage and lift up small church pastors and pastors of all demographics, a scholarship program should be considered so those who cannot afford to be sent by their church will have the opportunity to receive CP dollars for their involvement.
These are eight suggestions from one pastor in the SBC. There are many other items that could be tackled, but I believe these are some of the top few that must be considered. As we await the search team’s nomination for the next President and CEO of the Executive Committee, let’s commit to pray for the committee and the man. Only God knows who and where he is. The next person is vital to who we will be as Southern Baptists over the next generation of this great commission network of churches.