In a report to the board Zac Lyons, the newly named consultant for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) office of Great Commission Partnerships, said, “My hope, my desire as I lead the office of Great Commission Partnerships is to equip pastors and to equip leaders in the church to equip every member to become a disciple maker of all nations.”
Photo by K. Allan Blume
Pointing to Acts 17:26-27, Lyons said God has determined when and where the nations exist in the world and God controls the movements of the nations so they will “feel their way to Him like a blind man.”
Since God has brought so many immigrants to North Carolina, “We have to equip our people to use their vocation for the spread of the gospel among the nations living around us,” Lyons said. He fears many Baptists may have closed our eyes to the open doors for sharing the gospel around us.
“Begin to look in the eyes of the people you have influence with,” said Lyons. “We must realize that the nations are here so they might find their way to our God. … We must go out of our way to discover who these people are.”
The mission statement of the office of Great Commission Partnerships was reviewed for the board members. It reads, “To assist churches in their efforts to fulfill the Great Commission in least reached places and among unreached people groups through
- Peoples Next Door NC,
- North American partnerships, and
- international partnerships with biblical missions strategies.”
“There are large enclaves of unreached people groups in North America and there are large enclaves of unreached people groups in North Carolina,” Lyons explained. “My vision is to laser focus on lostness, running after lostness, not to say there is not lostness everywhere, but I would like for us to prioritize the greatest density of lostness over lesser density of lostness.”
During the meeting, the BSC’s board of directors approved a proposed budget for 2017 totaling $30.375 million and several other measures during its September meeting that will be voted on by messengers attending the BSC annual meeting in November.
The $30.375 million Cooperative Program (CP) budget proposal that was unanimously approved by the board represents a nearly 3 percent increase over the 2016 budget of $29.5 million.
The proposal calls for a 40.5 percent allocation – which would equal approximately $12.3 million – to missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention through CP, an increase of .5 percent over 2016. All institutions and agencies of the BSC, as well as various ministry groups of the state convention, would also receive funding increases under the proposal.
In recommending the budget proposal to the board, Tony Honeycutt, chair of the BSC’s Budget Special Committee, said the committee sought to make budget allocations in accordance with the convention’s strategy of “impacting lostness through disciple-making.” He told the board the increases were based on upward trends in giving by N.C. Baptist churches.
“In 2015, we exceeded the budget numbers for the first time in a decade.” Honeycutt said. “We are also expected to exceed the budget for 2016. So we say, ‘Thank you, God,’ for North Carolina Baptist’s generosity that they are giving [through] the Cooperative Program.”
Through Aug. 31, CP receipts from N.C. Baptist churches totaled nearly $18.9 million, which is about 2 percent ahead of giving totals from the same time period last year. Receipts for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering are also up 11 percent and 3 percent, respectively, so far in 2016.
The board also approved a recommended goal of $2.1 million for the 2017 North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO), which supports BSC church planting efforts as well as the 17 different ministries of N.C. Baptist Men, also known as Baptists on Mission.
As of Aug. 31, NCMO giving from churches totaled slightly less than $565,000, however, the majority of NCMO funds are given in September and October during the annual NCMO promotion and emphasis.
Messengers from N.C. Baptist churches attending this year’s BSC annual meeting – scheduled for Nov 14-15 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro – will vote on the 2017 CP budget and the NCMO giving goal. Messengers who have questions related to the budget may attend a special listening session scheduled Nov. 15 at 7:30 a.m.
The board also gave unanimous approval to other motions that will be presented to messengers at the annual meeting.
They include amendments to BSC’s bylaws to better align the board’s organizational and meeting structure with the state convention’s disciple-making strategy, and to update language in the bylaws that is outdated or inconsistent.
John Mark Harrison, pastor of Apex Baptist Church, recommended on behalf of the Board of Directors’ Meetings Evaluation Task Force that the Articles and Bylaws Committee propose amendments to the BSC’s bylaws that would:
Establish a new Convention Relations Committee within the board structure that would relate to entities for whom the convention elects trustees and allocates Cooperative Program funds.
Move the references to the current Christian Social Services Special Committee into the new Convention Relations Committee.
Include references to the Biblical Recorder and North Carolina Baptist Foundation within the new Convention Relations Committee based upon input from the leadership of those organizations.
Remove the Christian Social Services Special Committee and the Christian Higher Education Special Committee from the current board structure.
The recommended changes were based on proposals made to the board and discussed at their May meeting. The proposals were the result of work completed by the task force that was led by Harrison and included current and former board members, current and former board officers, current convention officers and BSC liaisons.
“We realized that the board of directors was one of the last parts of our convention that had not been aligned with our strategy of impacting lostness through disciple-making,” Harrison said. “That was our purpose. How could we align the board functions and structures to our strategy.”
The board unanimously approved the motion as presented by Harrison. Because the September meeting is the final board meeting of the year, the Articles and Bylaws Committee will bring proposed amendments regarding these matters to the board for consideration in 2017.
John Compton, chair of the Articles and Bylaws Committee, also presented four proposed amendments to the BSC’s bylaws. The motions:
- Update the bylaws to allow greater flexibility in scheduling the board’s regular meetings in January, May and September of each year without the necessity of further bylaw amendments.
- Eliminate limitations placed upon employees, directors and trustees of the BSC’s five affiliated educational institutions from serving in various convention positions. Compton said these restrictions were in place in the past to prevent potential conflicts of interest. Compton noted, however, that those potential conflicts no longer exist because the affiliated educational institutions no longer receive funding from the BSC, and the BSC no longer elects any directors or trustees for the institutions.
- Clarify the roles of members elected to the convention’s Committee on Convention Meetings to allow for greater flexibility by the committee chair to assign committee members to specific tasks during the annual meeting.
- Address several miscellaneous matters that update, correct or bring consistency to various sections of the bylaws.
The board unanimously approved the four motions, which will be presented to messengers at the annual meeting in November.
Messengers will also have an opportunity to ask questions about the proposed bylaw changes at a listening session at annual meeting scheduled for Nov. 15 at 7:30 a.m.
In other business, the Executive Committee approved a personnel request by Richard Brunson, executive director of N.C. Baptist Men, to reclassify a contract worker position at the Red Springs mission camp into a full-time, support staff role. The position would continue to be funded through gifts received through NCMO and would not require Cooperative Program funding.
The board also approved a recommendation made by board President Brian Kinlaw for Seth Norris, pastor of Perkinsville Baptist Church in Boone, and Joe Thigpen, a lay person at Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, to serve as at-large members of the Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee. Norris will serve a one-year term beginning in 2017, and Thigpen will serve a two-year term from 2017-2018.
The board approved an amendment to the Fruitland Baptist Bible College constitution that changes the number required meetings by Fruitland’s Board of Directors from four meetings to three meetings each year.
Board members who complete their terms of service in 2016 were recognized. They are: Gordon Benton, Kelly Bullard, Bob Garbett, Grant Geisler, Bobby Henderson, Tony Honeycutt, Barry Lawrence, Larry Lyon, Lou Jean Manning, Eddie Mauldin, Randy Melton, Dwayne Milioni, Carson Moseley, Buddy Pigg, David Powell, David Putnam, Andy Royals, Bud Russell, Scott Setzer, Tim Wheeler and Steve Williams.