Goals or Prayerful Forecasting for the Future of CSBC?

Written By Lisa Kooiman

Goals or Prayerful Forecasting for the Future of CSBC?

FRESNO, CA  — The California Southern Baptist (CSBC) leaders and staff met October 2-3, just ahead of the 82nd Annual Meeting to be held later this month. Many leaders referenced a 10-year plan for the goal of bringing Jesus to California and the work that lies before them. This meeting provided an opportunity for the team to reconcile ministry statistics and prepare for those who will be attending the widely anticipated convention meeting.

Marc Tempesta, Chief Financial Officer, reported lower-than-expected numbers year-to-date for both the California Mission Offering (CMO) and the Cooperative Program (CP). Plans were laid out of really “digging in” to CP and looking into which churches may have cut back from previous giving patterns.

“I want to be able to speak to that before the Annual Meeting and talk with my fellow leaders on how to better support the financial trends that are occurring. I know there are multiple factors affecting the outcome we are seeing,” said Tempesta, “We have a fantastic Executive Director and Executive committee! Pete has our back, and the executive board really supports what we are doing – great leadership is all I can say!”

Sarah Graham, Communications Director, began her report by presenting three exclusive sticker designs that will be given out at the Annual Meeting. The sticker designs include a rebrand of the Church Matters Initiative, a promotion of This Week at CSBC, and a limited-edition branding of the Annual Meeting itself, Better Together… For What’s Next.

Graham continued by sharing the impact of the release of the Ethnic Letters news story published last week. “Ethnic leaders from across the nation have expressed sincere appreciation for our story. They see how other publications have not understood the full impact of the EC’s decision. California is representing the broader issue for our ethnic family as a region that understands the greater scope of the issue.”

Executive Director Ramirez echoed the sentiment. “There was one key Asian SBC staff member and one key Hispanic at SBC to represent their respective ethnic voice and perspectives at a national level, and the family is hurting at that loss.” He continued, “But people don’t understand the struggles the Executive Committee has had to deal with economically. Until the new leadership is in place, there needs to be an allowance for grace. Our convention needs to look like a representation of our United States. There are people who feel disenfranchised, and we need to be praying for and supporting the entire family.”

Graham closed her report by sharing about the highly anticipated launch of the CSBC podcast, The Great Commission Collective (now available for streaming here). Graham will be one of three featured hosts, including Jason Robertson and Pete Ramirez.

Will Browning, Send Network California Director, reported updates for Send Network California and the activity around church planting for the state.

“Thirteen churches are currently growing church planters from their own ranks. Building church planters in California is critical. Trying to rebuild from within is a key strategy. I’m proud of James Westbrook for his focus on this critical approach,” said Browning. “We are currently working with two church replants, which are revitalized churches in need of a new church planter to help further the church. Healthy things don’t just grow – they also multiply,” Browning concluded.

Jason Blankenship, Evangelism Initiative Team Leader, shared that his team has awarded 258 evangelism grants throughout 2023. To date, 21 Evangelism workshops have been held, and by year’s end, that number will rise to 25 in total. 

“Almost 1,400 decisions for Christ originated from these events alone. They were made possible in part through evangelism grants and skill-building provided during the workshops,” stated Blankenship.

Kendrick Neal, Disaster Relief Director, began his report on the deployments to Guam and Maui by stating, “The numbers simply don’t communicate the wins for God.” He continued with first-hand accounts of the fruitful partnering with FEMA while in Guam and the unexpected revelations that occurred through working with The American Red Cross in Maui. (Those stories will be published in the near future).

Pete Ramirez will be joining Neal this week in Maui to see and experience firsthand the work California Disaster Relief chaplains and other volunteers are enacting with their boots on the ground and flurry of yellow.

Jason Robertson, Church Matters Initiative Team Leader, reported his extensive work with 13 associations in the past month. Robertson found that nearly 80% of CSBC churches have plateaued or declined in growth or size. He inquired with the Directors of Missions to provide him with the names of churches that would be open to considering revitalization methods as he continues to advance the efforts of the Count the Cost Initiative.

For the Missions team, Cathie Smith, Women’s Ministry Director, reported that she will be transitioning from the Missions Initiative team to the Church Matters Initiative effective immediately.

“There is a thread that is sewing all our teams together to create unique opportunities for God. Seeing a new movement of people groups within different language dialects becoming engaged in connections made through the mission’s ministry from Malaysia and the United Kingdom, and even more recently at the Chinese Baptist Summit, is exciting. The missions team is looking to expand partnerships with even more countries,” explained Smith.

Ramirez closed the session, reporting on his recent travels. “The International Mission Board (IMB) is really doing an amazing job. They reported an uptick in California teams going out to Asian countries to spread the gospel. Let’s celebrate that!” Ramirez went on, “My trip to Japan was incredible, visiting with leaders from the Japanese Baptist Convention… Then, after returning from Malaysia,” he continued, “I had the opportunity to see 900 students graduate at the California Baptist University summer graduation. Many people expressed their thanks and gratitude for my being there. This is a relationship I want to extend more focus toward, celebrating the future leaders in faith as they embark out into the world.”

“There is a goal I am considering for us. By 2033, what if 2% of our state was sitting in one of our CSBC churches?” Ramirez urged the team.  “We need to be making more disciples! I think that is something we can measure! It’s going to require a presence and a heart for Jesus! It’s all about what we get to do. It’s what we get to be a part of!”

About the Author

Lisa Kooiman
Executive Assistant, Office of Communications, CSBC

Lisa Kooiman serves as the executive assistant in the Office of Communications for the California Southern Baptist Convention. She is a graduate of California State University, Fresno. Lisa and her husband, Ruben, are enjoying the season of parenthood with their preschool daughter, Everly. They attend the Old Town Campus of Clovis Hills Community Church, the very church (under different leadership and name) where Lisa made a profession of faith and was baptized as a young girl.

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