JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP)–The Missouri Baptist Convention would be “devastated” by structural changes being proposed by the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, that group’s executive director, David Tolliver, told convention staff.
If plans outlined by the task force in a Feb. 22 “progress report” were to actually become reality, the state convention would take a $1.8 million hit to its budget and suffer the loss of 26 positions now jointly funded by the state and the North American Mission Board, Tolliver said. The task force’s final report is scheduled to come out May 3.
“Obviously, that’s going to affect all of us, not just the NAMB folks,” Tolliver said during the March 11 meeting. “And it will cause a reduction in staff.”
For example, an idea floated by the task force concerning the reduction of cooperative agreements in Southern Baptist life would mean an annual loss of about $720,000 to the MBC, Tolliver said. Other cuts would be realized in the loss of benefits that are currently being paid to jointly funded employees, as well as a significant change in the percentage of budget allocation between state and national missions causes.
The current Missouri Baptist Convention budget allows for 63.25 percent of receipts from Missouri Baptist churches being kept in the state for missions work there and 36.75 percent being directed to Southern Baptist Convention national and international causes. Tolliver is committed to increasing the amount sent to the SBC by .25 percent annually to get to a 50-50 balance, but the task force appears to be pushing for a quick, if not immediate, ascension to that level.
Tolliver took time with the MBC staff to go over all six components of the task force’s progress report. He explained that he agreed with much of what is being advanced in terms of core values, the Great Commission and developing a compelling missional vision — meaning that he does support the first, third and fourth components of the report. However, he also disagrees with the second, fifth and sixth components and as a result opposes the overall proposal as it now stands.
Tolliver said a cost analysis of the GCR plan would be helpful. He noted that the ultimate price has yet to be tabulated for all the sweeping changes being proposed.
The Missouri Baptist Convention has its own study group looking into the subject of improving missions effectiveness, Tolliver noted. He said he hopes, however, that changes can be made more on a timetable set by the state convention, rather than by a national task force.
Whatever happens from this point on, he said, “it’s going to be a great challenge.”
Allen Palmeri is associate editor of The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.org), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.