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Ga. convention launches reorganization

DULUTH, Ga. (BP) — The Georgia Baptist Convention has reorganized around a more aggressive strategy focused on reaching more of the state’s unchurched through five core initiatives.

The GBC reorganization — the most far-reaching since 1997 — was shared with GBC executive committee members during their fall meeting on Sept. 11 and with convention staff the previous day.

The reorganization reflects the “5 Smooth Stones” strategy approved by messengers at the GBC annual meeting in November — the result of a two-year study of the state convention by a GBC Study Task Force.

The core initiatives include spiritual renewal, kingdom generosity, church revitalization, church planting and authentic evangelism.

“We are going to take the staff into a new alignment around the 5 Smooth Stones,” GBC Executive Director J. Robert White told employees in their meeting. “Some of you will be moved into other work units, others will remain where you are, but all will be focused on these new objectives to reach the growing number of lost in Georgia.”

No staff reductions will be involved and the limited new positions will not require additional funding, White noted.

The state convention already has experienced several rounds of staff reductions amid the economic downturn, with staffing levels down 26 percent since 2008. As recently as late January, 16 employees and two vacant positions were removed from the chart. The convention currently is operating at funding levels akin to 1998.

But with a leaner, more focused staff, White said the state convention is poised to reach Mission Georgia 2020 goals created to reach the estimated 8.1 million unchurched who will be living in Georgia over the next eight years.

The realignment includes revised purpose and vision statements and the creation of workgroups for that address the specific components of the 5 Smooth Stones and provide church strengthening services, White said.

In staffing areas:

— Bobby Boswell was named assistant executive director in charge of day-to-day GBC operations in White’s absence in addition to providing administrative leadership for all ministries.

— Steve Parr will serve as vice president of staff coordination and development and will be responsible for coordinating GBC staff in fulfilling the 5 Smooth Stones vision. He also will oversee five work groups — one for each of the stone themes — that will be integrated into the new structure. Parr previously served as the convention’s evangelism vice president.

— Kevin Smith has been named vice president of operations and will provide leadership for human resources and support ministries. He previously supervised the human resources area.

— Toby Howell, as vice president of finance, will now manage all finances and budgets.

— Larry Wynn will join the staff Oct. 1 as vice president of church revitalization and leadership. In the newly created position, he will coordinate all ministry staffs to undergird revitalization. The longtime Georgia pastor has served as vice president of evangelism at the North American Mission Board since early 2011.

After his introduction Wynn affirmed his passion for Georgia and his sense of following God’s calling. “I have never lived anywhere else. I have never pastored anywhere else. My primary connections are in Georgia.

“I am looking forward to interacting with pastors and asking them, ‘How can we help you?'” Wynn said. “I want to be used of the Lord to help churches break through those barriers that have hindered growth. It will be wonderful to see churches revitalized and experiencing new growth.”

Wynn thanked NAMB President Kevin Ezell for the ministry opportunity afforded him during the early days of Ezell’s administration.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with Kevin and I believe him to be the most godly, visionary man that I know,” Wynn said. “I believe he is taking NAMB in the right direction.”

White said Wynn, in leading the church revitalization area of the 5 Smooth Stones, will be responsible for designing a ministry to help the 72-78 percent of churches that are plateaued or are declining. Benny Pate and Jay Vineyard, who served in leadership ministries, have been assigned to work with Wynn in the new structure. Marcus Merritt, who currently serves in evangelism ministries, will join church-minister relations.

A cluster of workgroups around each of the five emphases will serve as a major linchpin of the new structure, White stated. All staff and ministries will be assigned to one of the groups most closely supporting their assignments.

“Each ministry area will continue to provide church strengthening services that will be multi-faceted in their particular ministry offerings,” he said. “All ministry specialists and consultants will receive training to ensure knowledge sufficient to interact and assist any pastor or church with the fundamental principles of the 5 Smooth Stones.”

The spiritual renewal ministries workgroup will consist of collegiate ministries, discipleship & spiritual renewal, men’s ministries, and WMU & women’s enrichment ministries.

The kingdom generosity ministries workgroup will include Cooperative Program/stewardship and church financial services.

The church revitalization workgroup will include church revitalization & leadership, church-minister relations, regional state missionaries, and music & worship.

The church planting workgroup will include church planting Ministries and intercultural church planting ministries.

The authentic evangelism ministries workgroup will consist of evangelism, associational missions/disaster relief/mobilization, Sunday School/small group, and youth.

The ministry support area will include executive leadership, convention financial services, communication services, conference center services, employee services, information services, research services and support services and will not be assigned to work groups.

Other areas with their own boards and with separate supervision, such as The Christian Index, children’s homes, health care ministries, Baptist Foundation and retirement communities, remain intact in their current roles.

The Georgia convention’s revised staff purpose statement now states: Georgia Baptist state missionaries exist to make disciples and to equip Georgia Baptists to make disciples who intentionally share Christ with the lost.

The revised staff vision statement is: Georgia Baptist Convention state missionaries seek to reduce lostness by focusing with Baptists on spiritual renewal resulting in Kingdom generosity, church revitalization, church planting, and authentic evangelism.
Joe Westbury is managing editor of The Christian Index (www.christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

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