Messengers approve Focus 21, budget at annual meeting

Messengers approve Focus 21, budget at annual meeting

EL CAJON – Messengers to the California Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting approved all CSBC Executive Board recommendations related to the Focus 21 Task Force, adopted a $13 million budget with an increased Cooperative Program percentage for worldwide missions and elected officers.

“Do it!” based on the calling of the first disciples in Matthew 4:20, was the theme of the meeting, held at Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon Oct. 22-23.

Decisions on Focus 21 report

The Focus 21 Task Force, a “Great Commission resurgence-type” committee, was appointed in 2010 by then-CSBC president Walter Price, and charged with discerning how California Southern Baptists could “most efficiently and effectively focus our efforts for the glory of God in fulfilling the Great Commission.”

The Executive Board’s 2013 Focus 21 report addressed the final three of seven recommendations and provided a “response” and “action” for each: “prioritizing church planting,” “prioritizing global responsibilities” and “reducing denominational overlap.”

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

Montia Setzler, 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 $3,595,000, almost one-third of the total budget. We need to look at the big picture, not a snapshot, to see what is going on related to church planting.”

Noting the “snapshot” of dollars going directly to church planters in 2011 when the task force made its recommendation was $130,311, Setzler said that amount had “more than doubled” to $269,292 in the 2013 budget. In the 2014 spending plan the figure continues to increase to $404,257.

While the Executive Board’s response did not meet the task force recommendation of moving to a 50/50 split of CP gifts, messengers voted for the Convention to increase from 32.5 to 35 percent by 2018, and to then re-evaluate giving.

Setzler pointed out that CSBC has increased its percentage of giving to worldwide missions from 27 to 32.5 percent since 2004.

A challenge to the recommendation came from Chris Cole, pastor of Niblick Road Baptist Church in Paso Robles, who moved to amend the recommendation and allocate 40 percent by 2017. The amendment failed and messengers approved the original motion.

They also approved a recommendation that 100 percent of the “challenge budget” – gifts exceeding the spending plan – go to the SBC, as well as CP percentage allocations for CSBC institutions – California Baptist Foundation and California Baptist University – remaining at 1 and 5 percent, respectively.

In presenting the Cooperative Program recommendations, Setzler said, “Nobody disagrees that we should be putting more money into worldwide missions.”

He also noted the “ideal” for giving recommended by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1925 – when the Cooperative Program was initiated – was that state conventions give 50 percent. And it also was recommended that churches give 50 percent of their gifts to make this happen.

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

The Convention finds itself in a “perfect storm,” Setzler added, with reduced CP gifts due to the economy, a greater percentage required to receive North American Mission Board 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,” he declared.

“Shared ministry funds” – dollars set aside for various state-supported ministries – are not included by CSBC in calculating the percentage allocation forwarded to the SBC. Setzler noted there is no “standard” for determining shared ministry funds, which differ greatly among state conventions.

Regarding the Focus 21 recommendation on “reducing denominational overlap,” Setzler said the Executive Board in its study didn’t find “overlap” as much as it did “partnership.” He further explained that where they did find overlap was 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 asserted.

With modifications in the relationship between the mission board and associations, he said 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 Executive Board reported on four of the seven recommendations generated by the task force in 2011. Recommendations already addressed were “clarifying cooperating churches,” “enlarging
California’s influence,” “communicate more effectively” and “planning for the future.”

Other business
Messengers 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 allocation calls for a half-percent increase in gifts from 32.5 to 33 percent for the SBC. The California Convention 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).

In other business, David Wilson, pastor of Grant Avenue Baptist Church in Redondo Beach, made a motion to amend Article 3, Section 4 of the CSBC constitution to give all churches equal representation at annual meetings.

The 386 messengers approved a resolution thanking Shadow Mountain and the local association for hosting and helping put the event together, as well as a resolution “On Deepening Our Doctrinal Understanding.”

The resolution notes the decline of moral values and biblical knowledge in today’s society, and urges California Southern Baptists to continue to encourage Bible study and “intentional training in the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith, and a deeper awareness of doctrinal truth.” The resolution also calls for churches to increase familiarity with “historic and doctrinal declarations of the Christian faith.”

Election of Officers
Mike Nolen, pastor of Southwinds Church in Tracy, was re-elected as CSBC president; he was nominated by Ron Harvey, associate pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Bakersfield. Nominated by Timothy Bohrer, associate pastor of West Grand Baptist Church in Corona, Joe Slunaker, associate pastor of youth at Hemet Valley Baptist Church in Hemet, was elected first vice president. Both were elected by acclamation. Teresa Watts, worship leader at Woodward Park Baptist Church in Fresno, was named music director.

Sermons and worship
Sermons during the annual meeting included Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC; the convention message from Pete Ramirez, pastor of Iglesia Bautista White Road in San Jose; CSBC executive director Ferm°n A. Whit-taker; and Convention president Mike Nolen.

Ramirez, Whittaker and Nolen all encouraged messengers and guests to trust in the Lord’s sovereignty and control over all things. The three reminded that “God is in control” even in the midst of personal trials, and the current decline in church adherence and Christianity in today’s society.

Dever, keynote speaker for the Tuesday evening session, asked a series of questions leading the audience to think about the church, and God’s plan for discipleship that should lead to planting new congregations.

Roger Byrd, CSBC music and worship specialist and a member of Woodward Park Baptist Church in Fresno, led worship for the annual meeting, along with a group of musicians from Southern California. Scott Wesley Brown, a noted contemporary Christian musician, joined the team during the Wednesday morning session.

Two were named as Heritage Award recipients, an honor given annually by the California Baptist Historical Society. Eloise Kell, along with several family members, received a plaque in honor of her husband, Max, who was given the award posthumously. Paul Wilkerson, pastor and retired director of missions in California, accepted his award, along with his wife Nancy.

Next year’s annual meeting will be held at Clovis Hills Community Church in Clovis Oct. 21-22.

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