Fresno, CA – CSBC leaders and staff convened for the first all-staff meeting of the year, February 5-7, setting a significant tone for the start of 2024. CSBC Initiative Team Leaders and Directors had a recurring theme throughout their presentations, focusing on the appreciation of partnerships both internally and externally with CSBC entity partners. Reports also expressed being prayerfully mindful of the convention’s short- and long-term goals.
With the recent news of the Cooperative Program falling short of meeting the budgeted goal at the close of 2023, CFO and Business Services Team Leader Marc Tempesta assured the team that all measures have been thoroughly analyzed to keep the convention running as smoothly as possible. He noted that because of some good investments, funds were generated to help bridge the gap created by the budget’s shortfall. He cautioned that this is not a wise practice to rely on consistently and thus to prepare for more conservative plans for expense management.
A light-hearted, morale-boosting award presentation coined “The Grahammies” was brought forth by Communications Team Leader Sarah Graham. This exposition was to highlight the success of having each ministry take a monthly lead on content for This Week @ CSBC. Each team was individually celebrated for their triumphs throughout 2023. She recollected, “These successes are something to celebrate not only amongst our teams and with the churches we serve to provide those resources for, but also with our partners. Our partners want to collaborate with us now more than ever because they see what we are doing, and they see that it is working!”
Prayer and partnerships were the two main priorities that Francis Chung, Missions Initiative Team Leader, stressed in the work the CSBC collective has. “We need to remember that partnerships are not just outside the building but inside the building also,” Chung stated as he referenced Ecclesiastes 4:9.
“We are all working, sowing the seed of the Gospel each day,” Jimmie Davidson encouraged while he reported for Send Network California. He informed the team about a Slavic church planting moment catalyzing across North America currently and how efforts are being made to galvanize this movement further to capitalize on the momentum. Davidson pointed out, “Every encounter (we) have is leading to 2 or 3 others (church planters).“
“2023 was an incredible year, and this coming year will be even better,” Jason Blankenship, Evangelism Initiative Team Leader, began his report. He recollected the previous year’s statistics, “In 2022, we awarded 199 evangelism grants, and in 2023 we reached 334. All of our evangelism workshops have been scheduled for 2024. The curriculum for each workshop really leans into who is leading that specific workshop, what they specialize in, and how attendees are developing their individual goals.” Blankenship encouraged all the teams to keep one important question in mind, “How is my team producing results towards Pete’s 2% goal in 2033?”
Through speaking at various events recently, Disaster Relief Director Kendrick Neal discovered that the disaster relief ministry and all the efforts they provide are not as well-known as previously believed and hesitatingly noted them as being “Southern Baptist’s best kept secret.” This revelation has spurred Neal to make it the goal of 2024 for that to no longer be the case. Neal stated, “CSBC has the greatest DR volunteers in the world. We get to share Jesus with people. More people need to hear that!”
The Church Matters Initiative has been busy since the onset of the year with events ranging from Worship Workshop Weekend to Women’s Ministry involvement with Spanish speakers’ association gatherings and continuing to renew and sustain Count the Cost. Jason Robertson, Church Matters Initiative Team Leader, shared, “We continue to resource 500 churches monthly with great impact from all the members of the Church Matters Team.”
Pete Ramirez, Executive Director, touched on a couple of highlights before closing the meeting.
- Be in prayer for the International Mission Board (IMB) to bring Missions College back to the West Coast in 2025 and for California to be able to send even more missionaries out with IMB in the future.
- He encouraged the teams to do all they could to help produce results for his 2033 2% goal, making special note that whatever change is needed, we as a team will be ready to move in whichever direction God calls the team to take.