Significant changes involving the structure and staff of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) could be unavoidable in the coming year if N.C. Baptists are to reach their full potential for ministry, Milton Hollifield Jr. told the BSC’s Board of Directors (BOD) Jan. 29.
A proposal to restructure and reassign convention staff will be presented to the BSC’s Executive Committee in April, Hollifield, executive director-treasurer, told the board during their first meeting of the year at Caraway Conference Center in Sophia. If approved by the Executive Committee, the proposal will go before the board in May. And, ultimately, it could go before messengers during the annual meeting in November.
If approved by messengers, the implementation of this strategy would begin in 2014, and it would impact the BSC’s budget for that year, Hollifield said. The new strategy and structure also would require amendments to the bylaws of the convention.
Milton Hollifield Jr.
For now a team of 18 convention staff members, called the Strategic Development Committee, will continue their work to complete a five-year strategy for the BSC. Once the strategy is completed, Hollifield said, he will wrap up his work on a new structure that will support the plan.
“Here’s when the water hits the wheel … changes will need to occur,” Hollifield told the board. “It is impractical, as well as impossible, for everything that the convention has ever conducted, ever supported or ever supplied in ministry to continue. But that which supports the strategy must receive our best effort, our best investment and our best energies.
“In simplest terms, the strategy will be all about strengthening churches in order to impact lostness through the making of disciples. … It’s going to aid us in our mission efforts in North Carolina, North America … and even in reaching unreached people groups in the world.
And cutting more expenses in the coming year will be part of the plan, said Hollifield, adding that these decisions will be “difficult and painful.” He reported that significant cuts have already been made to the 2013 budget.
In 2012, the N.C. Missions Offering was down by 3 percent, and the convention finished the year $3.5 million dollars under budget. Still, the organization made necessary cuts and finished last year in the black with $48,000 remaining in the budget. In addition to attrition and trimming staff expenditures for the 2013 budget, messengers at last year’s annual meeting approved a 3 percent decrease for most of the BSC’s institutions and agencies with exceptions to the Baptist Children’s Homes and Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute.
“ … And not without impact on our effectiveness in some areas of ministry,” he said. “At times we have to make tough decisions about choosing to fund one thing over [another] … [rather than] funding everything that we’ve always funded.”
Hollifield explained to the 32 new board members who rotated on this year that these upcoming strategy and structural proposals are the result of the BSC’s Vision Fulfillment Committee. The committee was formed in 2010 in an effort to better position the organization toward ministry effectiveness.
In 2011 the Vision Fulfillment Committee, made up of people from N.C. churches, conducted 16 “listening sessions” with Baptists around the state. That committee brought recommendations back to the Executive Committee in August of that year.
“The single most significant matter addressed in the report was the need for a convention-wide, five-year strategy,” Hollifield said.
The Executive Committee then called on BSC staff to develop a response to the report. Throughout last year, the Strategic Development Committee worked toward developing a strategy.
The ministry needs in N.C. alone are significant, said Hollifield, pointing out one possible aspect of the proposed strategy.
“There are 5.6 million lost people living in N.C. … well, that number continues to grow,” Hollifield said. “Our research [conducted by the Strategic Development Committee] has identified the top 100 pockets of lostness within this state.”
“These 100 pockets are found in eight areas across our state,” he added. “These are the areas where the greatest concentration of lost people have been identified.”
In order to reach these areas, Hollifield said, the convention must assist churches through two primary channels – strengthening existing churches and planting new churches.
“At the present, we do not have staff assigned in each of these [eight] areas … but this is something that we must do in order to fulfill the strategy,” he said. “I’ll give you the specifics of how we will do this when we meet again in May.”
In other business, the board elected new officers. Michael Barrett pastor of Pleasant Garden Baptist Church in Pleasant Garden, was re-elected as president of the board.
Perry Brindley, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Canton, was elected as vice president. Teresa Jones, executive assistant for the administration of the BSC, was re-elected as board secretary. All officers ran unopposed.
For more reports and stories related to the board meeting look for the Biblical Recorder’s Feb. 16 issue and on its website, brnow.org.