News Articles

Canadians Baptists to shift from directors of missions

EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada (BP)–The Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists is aiming to put more resources into church planting, via a restructuring which channels funding from associational directors of missions to national church starter and church growth strategists.
Implementation of the restructuring will begin in January 1998 to be in place by June 1998.
“To make it all worthwhile we must be certain that the churches we plant are Bible-believing, soul-winning, disciple-making, multiplying churches,” noted Allen Schmidt, executive director since the convention was organized in 1985.
“If this is their focus they will be growing churches. If this is not our focus we will have just frittered away a lot of resources and have gone through a needless exercise,” Schmidt noted in the convention’s official publication, The Baptist Horizon.
The restructuring, Schmidt wrote, “will take dedication, commitment, hard work and sacrifice from each of us to make this work.”
The convention’s Program and Structure Review Committee, chaired by British Columbia pastor Paul Johnson, made six recommendations at the convention’s late-June gathering at Jasper Place Baptist Church in Edmonton, Alberta.
All were approved by the convention’s messengers, two with amendments:
— Reorganize and rename salaried positions to National Ministry Leader (formerly known as executive director/treasurer), Church Planting Consultant, Church Growth Consultant, Evangelism and Pastoral Consultant and Student Ministry Consultant.
— Employ six Church Planter Catalysts and two Total Church Life Catalysts and locate them throughout Canada. (Amendment: These field workers will be called jointly by the convention and the association(s) in which they will serve.) These catalysts will be funded by money that formerly went to pay associational directors of missions.
— Provide for a financial plan should an association want to hire a director of missions.
— Change to International Missions what formerly was called Foreign Missions.
— Acknowledge the importance of the French language in Quebec and improve communication links between French and English speakers. (Amendment: that the convention acknowledge the importance of the special language needs of non-English-speaking churches throughout Canada and that the convention actively seek to improve language communication.)
— Change to National Leadership Board what formerly was called Executive Board.
“There was a desire to anticipate (the restructuring of the Southern Baptist Convention) with an examination of our structure,” Johnson said in a telephone interview. He is pastor at Royal Heights Baptist Church in Delta, metro Vancouver.
“We felt we should be proactive to anticipate where we would be in five years. We have grown as a convention quickly and with that we have added leadership. We felt we ought to examine our management structure and know how to best utilize the leadership we have,” Johnson said.
The most controversial aspect of the restructure recommendation was the defunding of associational directors of missions, he acknowledged.
“We’re taking a real risk here,” he said. “We’re stepping away from a model that comes from established conventions in the U.S. We’re going to a model that provides specialists as consultants and we’re saying to pastors and leaders you will have to work harder to maintain communication and focus as an association.”
Time will tell if defunding the associational directors of missions was a good move, Johnson said. “We’re watching with bated breath but we’re very confident,” he said. “With the resources the North American Mission Board has given, we feel this is an excellent allocation of funds.”
Full-time, fully funded associational directors of missions are a luxury in Canada, Johnson said. He pointed out Puget Sound Baptist Association in metro Seattle, with one director of missions, has as many congregations as does all of Canada, which had seven directors of missions.
“One of the important areas we felt was investment in the pastoral leadership, someone at the national level whose assignment would be to help pastors develop their leadership skills and spiritual depth,” Johnson said.
“With the inclusion of a pastoral and evangelism consultant, we’re saying our pastors are of such tremendous value to us we have to do everything we can consciously, explicitly to help them. This person is not the national chaplain but is someone to design ways our pastors can grow, using retreats, resources and crisis intervention when necessary.
“The primary term (for convention staffers) went from director to consultant because, again, we said if our convention’s job is to help the churches, then the leadership have to be in a servant mode. If we’re calling them directors are we inferring they’re the boss? Our use of the term ‘consultant’ says we come alongside you to help you.”
Johnson noted Canada is “extremely large geographically, and hardly anybody knows how to unite the nation together, politically and in all ways. We began by asking what’s the best way we can build trust and team spirit. It will take a tremendous amount of trust in our leaders if we are going to stay together. It will take a tremendous amount of communication to make sure people know what’s happening and understand the motives and rationale.”
In other business during its June meeting, the convention approved a $1,748,978 million budget, of which $900,000 is directly for missions work and less than $100,000 for administration, business manager Joan Bruce said. The budget is up about $5,000 from the 1997 budget and up from about $1.28 million in 1990.
Of an anticipated $405,364 in Cooperative Program giving from the convention’s 125 churches and church-type missions, encompassing about 8,000 members, 20.5 percent will be allocated for Southern Baptist Convention causes, the same percentage as last year.
Layman Clare Cremer was elected president of the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists. He is a management consultant in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Mel Blackaby, pastor at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Kamloops, British Columbia, was elected first vice president; Rosemond Jean, pastor at Eglise Evangelique Baptiste Eben-Ezer in Ottawa, Ontario, was elected second vice president.
The meeting included special prayer, laying on of hands and anointing with oil Evans Griffith, the convention’s four-year volunteer Brotherhood director who recently had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
“We have given it over to the Lord,” Griffith said as he expressed his appreciation for the spontaneous outpouring of emotion exhibited by many of the convention’s 250 participants.
With convention goals for the years 2000-2002 including 200 congregations, Schmidt noted, “We have a number of churches that really are growing. It’s significant that while we’re planting churches we’re also showing churches with dynamic growth.”
Outreach Canada, an independent Christian monitoring organization, recently listed the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists as the fastest-growing evangelical group in the nation over the last 10 years.
“I’m excited about the potential and the possibilities before us,” Schmidt said. “We’re looking at least six or eight new Anglo church starts in the next two years here. This is a crucial area since we have only a few small churches in all of Ontario. It’s going to make a significant impact.”
Canada, with almost 3.85 million square miles divided into 10 provinces and two territories, is the largest nation in the Western Hemisphere. About 80 percent of its 28.2 million people live in urban areas. English and French are the nation’s official languages. Canada was named a self-governing dominion within the British Empire in 1931.