State conventions serve a valuable role in the cooperative partnerships of missions and ministry life within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). In North Carolina, our purpose and our mission as a state convention is to assist member churches in fulfilling God’s mandate to evangelize and disciple the lost for His glory in local and global missions. This is how we partner together in our marching orders of fulfilling the Great Commission. Working together through voluntary relationships and combining manpower and financial resources is what has enabled the SBC to become the largest Protestant Christian mission force in our world. Individual churches cannot fulfill all the missions needs here or abroad by working alone, but we can make a difference by cooperating together.
A state convention is a group of diverse churches within a state or states that voluntarily choose to cooperate in obedience to an Acts 1:8 model for missions. The SBC has not assigned the responsibility of reaching and discipling the lost in North Carolina as a primary task to any of its entities – that is our responsibility.
There are some who may feel that the SBC would function better financially if local churches did not choose to channel their mission dollars through their state convention in supporting missions through the Cooperative Program.
I respectfully disagree.
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) is a leading convention in the financial support of SBC missions through the Cooperative Program, in addition to the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong special mission offerings. I believe this level of support from our churches has been impacted positively because our convention staff strongly encourage North Carolina churches to support these mission offerings in their work with individual churches.
Cooperating together, the churches of the BSC have created missions-based ministries that are not operated by the SBC, but are instead operated by our state convention. North Carolina Baptists decided that these ministries were necessary, appropriate and beneficial for our state, and therefore, they decided to cooperate together and launch, adopt, cooperate with and help fund them.
This includes the Biblical Recorder, Fruitland Baptist Bible College, Baptist Children’s Homes, N.C. Baptist Foundation, Baptist Hospital and North Carolina Baptist Men who are primarily funded by the N.C. Missions Offering. In the history of the BSC, other institutions were started or adopted by this convention and funded for a period of years. Most of them continue to work in a relationship with the BSC and our member churches, even though they no longer have to rely on financial support from this convention’s budget.
Each year, messengers from N.C. Baptist churches consider and adopt a budget that has been prepared by a budget committee made up of individuals from our churches. This means our churches determine what they want to do in continuing financial support for these ministries and also how much they want this convention to forward to the SBC in our partnership.
Some of the BSC’s 4,300 Baptist churches do not have sufficient means to carry out some aspects of missions and ministry alone. The convention acts almost as auxiliary staff for the churches, providing them vision and information about how we can help them get started in developing and conducting these ministries. This is a unique model of cooperation without control – the convention preserves the autonomy of the individual churches.
The desire of many North Carolina Baptists to receive assistance from the BSC becomes obvious when you consider how many local congregations contact the BSC for assistance or counsel. During the month of April, we received 154,354 emails. We average 5,000 incoming phone calls per month. This number does not include cell phone calls that our staff receive from church leaders. In addition, convention and entity employees drive thousands of miles each year to preach, teach and lead many meetings in N.C. Baptist churches and associations.
Some of our medium size and smaller churches do not have the means to plant churches by themselves. This convention has a church-planting and evangelism focus, and helps existing churches plant an average of one church every 4.3 days. No other church or organization has matched that statistic – it is only made possible through local convention work.
North Carolina Baptist people – whether ministers or lay leaders – can take part in convention affairs by becoming part of various committees and boards that direct the work we do. They can also represent their church as a messenger to our annual meeting and cast their vote in our decision-making process.
The convention is a great funnel, a distributor, a vehicle and network for doing missions and carrying out Christ’s mandate by partnering and cooperating together. Local churches can always turn to the convention and their local Baptist association when they need assistance. We are here to serve as strategic partners in church strengthening, church planting and church revitalization. Our commitment is to help churches advance the Kingdom of God to their fullest potential in North Carolina, North America and the world