Executive Board adopts Focus 21 report, budget

Published Oct 01, 2013

FRESNO – The final report related to Focus 21 Task Force recommendations and a $13 million budget for 2014 were approved by the California Southern Baptist Convention Executive Board Sept. 12-13.

Focus 21
The Board’s Focus 21 report addresses the final three of seven recommendations, and provides a “response” and “action” for each.
The three are “Prioritizing Church Planting,” “Prioritizing Global Responsibilities” and “Reducing Denominational Overlap.”

The Board suggested no changes in funding for California church planters, in response to the recommendation that 25 percent of California Cooperative Program gifts be “spent directly on funding church planters in California.” The report expresses concern for reaching people in the state through church planting, and concludes the Convention’s commitment “is clearly illustrated” by expenditure of its resources – 33 percent of the CSBC operational budget – when all sources of revenue are considered.

Montia Setzler, Executive Board chairman, said, “If we didn’t receive other money, it would be reasonable for us to reorganize our priorities. Our total commitment to church planting is almost $3,595,000. We need to look at the big picture, not a snapshot, to see what is going on related to church planting.”

While the response did not meet the Task Force recommendation of moving to a 50/50 split of Cooperative Program gifts, the report does recommend that CSBC move from 32.5 to 35 percent to the SBC by 2018. The report also recommends that 100 percent of the CSBC Challenge portion of the budget go the SBC, and that percentage allocations to CSBC institutions – California Baptist Foundation and California Baptist University – remain at 1 and 5 percent, respectively.

The report reveals that the Convention has increased its percentage to worldwide missions from 27 to 32.5 percent since 2004; it also notes having to increase percentage allocations in the jointly funded North American Mission Board budget by 8 percent by 2018.
“Nobody disagrees that we should be putting more money into worldwide missions,” Setzler asserted.

He noted the ideal recommended by the SBC in 1925 – when the Cooperative Program was started – was that state conventions give 50 percent, but also that churches give 50 percent of their gifts to make that happen.

“We’ve fallen a bit short of that goal,” Setzler said wryly, noting the national average of church gifts to CP is less than 5 percent and shrinking.

Setzler observed that the Convention finds itself in a “perfect storm” with reduced CP gifts because of the economy, a greater percentage required to buy NAMB matching funds, and fewer dollars coming to CSBC from the mission board.

“Going immediately to a 50/50 split would be devastating to our Convention.”

Setzler also noted CSBC does not deduct “shared ministry funds” in giving to SBC world missions, which are dollars set aside for state-supported ministries and not included in calculating the percentage allocation forwarded to the SBC. Setzler explained there is no “standard” for determining shared ministry funds, which differ greatly between state conventions.

Regarding “Reducing Denominational Overlap,” Setzler said the Board’s executive committee in its study did not find “overlap” as much as it did “partnership.” He further noted that any overlap they did find related to church planting since churches, associations, the state convention and NAMB all could be involved in the process.

“Much of the overlap has been diminished with NAMB’s creation of ‘Mobilize Me,'” Setzler said.

With modifications in relationship between NAMB and associations, much of the possible perceived overlap is changing.
The Board’s report outlines several suggestions including communication resources and education about Southern Baptist history, doctrine, missions and polity.

In 2012, the Board reported at the state convention annual meeting on four of the seven recommendations initially generated by the Focus 21 Task Force in 2011. Those already addressed are “Clarifying Cooperating Churches,” “Enlarging California’s Influence,” “Communicate More Effectively” and “Planning for the Future.”

2014 Budget
The Board also approved a $13,035,665 operating budget for 2014 with a Cooperative Program objective of $7.14 million. The CP objective is $340,000, or a 5 percent increase, over the 2013 objective of $6.8 million.

The CP allocations call for a half-percent increase in gifts, from 32.5 to 33 percent, for the SBC; CSBC will absorb the difference of a half-percent, bringing its allocation to 61 percent.

If the Cooperative Program objective is met in 2014, the Southern Baptist Convention would receive $2,356,200, or 33 percent (an increase of .5 percent), for world missions; CSBC Executive Board ministries for evangelism, missions and ministry in the Golden State would total $4,355,400, or 61 percent (a decrease of .5 percent); California Baptist University would receive $357,000, or 5 percent (no change); and California Baptist Foundation would receive $71,400, or 1 percent (no change).

Due to alterations in the jointly funded budget with NAMB, the Convention will increase its percentage by two points from 22.5 to 24.5. According to the summary of the proposed budget for 2014, the 2 percent is an increase of $83,718 in CSBC dollars to buy NAMB matching funds.

Included in the budget is a 4.5 percent increase in salaries for CSBC employees, the first increase since January 2009 when they were adjusted down mid-year. In 2010 a shortened work-week resulted in further reductions. Salaries were restored in the 2013 budget, but this will be the first increase since 2009.

Also included in the budget are several staff reductions. Two positions in ministry evangelism will be eliminated, continuing planned reduction due to NAMB strategy changes and funding of field missionaries.

Church planting performance criteria established by the mission board will result in the reduction of seven church planting catalysts, four of whom are CSBC field personnel; three serve as association directors of missions.

The Board’s Other Actions

• approved transferring accumulated earnings for 2013 from the Executive Board reserve and O. Dean Johnson Trust, as well as the Cooperative Program endowment for revenue as needed to meet budget requirements for 2013;
• approved the accounting firm of Linger, Peterson, Shrum & Co. as auditor;
• re-elected Setzler as chairman for 2014 and elected Shawn Beaty, co-lead pastor of Clovis Hills Community Church in Clovis, as vice chairman.