DES MOINES, Iowa (BP) – A driving desire to see Cooperative Program dollars make maximum kingdom impact motivated the Baptist Convention of Iowa to make history on Nov. 6. Messengers at the convention’s Annual Meeting voted unanimously to send 75 percent of Cooperative Program funds outside of the state.
“We feel like we’re doing everything we ought to do to reach the people of Iowa with the resources we have and, with our excess resources, we want to contribute to our national entities,” said Tim Lubinus, executive director-treasurer of the BCI.
Lubinus served as an International Mission Board missionary for 16 years before coming to Iowa in 2014. “I understood how the Cooperative Program worked and that most of the funds were retained by the states. I thought maybe 50-50 would be a great target allocation for state conventions,” he said
At his first annual meeting, the BCI’s Executive Committee voted to increase the convention’s out-of-state CP allocation from 20 percent to 50 percent. In 2020, they decided to increase it to 60 percent.
“We sold our office building a few years ago and not only do we not have those expenses, we don’t have the staff to keep up the office building and the other expenses, and then we’ve invested the income from the sale,” Lubinus said, adding that those changes have decreased administrative costs to near nothing.
At the same time, the BCI’s income has more than doubled since 2014, he said.
“When we were looking at the numbers between our income and the reserves that we have, our reserves had grown a bit,” Lubinus said. Executive Committee members were uncomfortable with the level of reserves sitting in the bank, he said, so they found a way to release the funds for ministry.
Willie McLaurin, vice president for Great Commission Relations and Mobilization at the Southern Baptist Convention, said Iowa Baptists have placed a “laser-sharp focus” on advancing the Gospel.
“Baptists of Iowa understand that people need Jesus and people need Jesus now,” he said. “The urgency and intensity grows out of a heart of churches to do everything they can in this season to make a Kingdom-size impact.”
Nevada church planter Vance Pitman led Hope Church, a church located several states away from Iowa, to partner with the Baptist Convention of Iowa in 2018 because of its intentional kingdom focus.
“I have a responsibility as a pastor to help steward the resources that have been entrusted to our church,” Pitman said. “The BCI was doing a much better job of stewarding CP resources at the time we made the move from the Nevada Baptist Convention to the Baptist Convention of Iowa.”
Southern Baptist Churches are free to affiliate with any state Baptist convention, though most partner with the one in their home state, Pitman said.
Lubinus said a number of churches outside Iowa have partnered with BCI, though they spend a significant amount of time discussing the rationale with the churches before they affiliate with the convention.
Pitman said it was an awesome experience to be in the room when the convention voted on increasing the CP allocation.
“What the BCI did in going to 75 percent is a historic day in the SBC. My prayer is that other states with even more resources would follow their example in seeking first the kingdom of God among the nations,” Pitman said.
McLaurin added, “Our state convention networks are not in competition. They work in cooperation for the advancement of the Great Commission. Every percentage point matters and every dollar matters.”