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Stewardship conference gets Fla. boost

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–The Florida Baptist Convention has given a boost to the upcoming “It’s a New Day” stewardship conference March 22-23 in Orlando.

John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida convention, said the conference is so “vital to the future of Florida Baptists” that the convention is helping to defray the cost for Florida pastors.

The two-day conference, sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, is designed to assist pastors with their own financial needs and show how their churches can implement a comprehensive stewardship ministry. The SBC is partnering with Crown Financial Ministries to teach and deliver the stewardship emphasis and its various resources.

The conference “offers a great measure of hope for directly improving stewardship and indirectly improving Cooperative Program giving in our churches,” said Ed Johnson, director of Florida Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program department.

“The average American spends $1.20 for every dollar earned. Many pastors and church members are in financial bondage. They would love to give more but they are drowning in a sea of financial indebtedness,” Johnson said.

“If we could help those pastors and church members become financially unencumbered, we would see an upsurge in giving through the local church. That increase in budget giving to the church would result in increased Cooperative Program giving by the church through the SBC.”

The Florida convention’s assistance for the state’s pastors will reduce the cost of the conference, encompassing registration fee, lodging, meals and resources, from $169 to $99 per person. Pastors who registered at the earlier rate will receive a $70 refund by notifying Terry Doherty at the SBC Executive Committee at 615-782-8680 or e-mail [email protected].

Featured speakers for the Orlando conference include two Florida Baptist pastors, Ken Whitten of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz and Hayes Wicker of First Baptist Church in Naples. The conference will be held at Orlando’s Rosen Plaza Hotel.

Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee, and Howard Dayton, co-founder of Crown Financial Ministries, will be among the other speakers.

“What we intend to happen at these conferences,” Ashley Clayton, associate vice president for stewardship at the Executive Committee, said in a Dec. 19 Baptist Press story, “is to expose the pastor to some great resources and to create an awareness of the dilemma that families are facing. What we believe is that the lack of financial stewardship is what is causing churches to stumble in a lot of areas.

“For example, it’s not that people don’t want to witness and tell people about Christ,” Clayton said. “You can motivate a crowd on Sunday morning about sharing their faith and they’re ready to go. What happens is Monday morning comes around and these people are in debt and have absolutely nothing before them except the fact that they can’t pay their bills.”

At the conferences, pastors will be introduced to three main resources produced by Crown Financial Ministries. One is the “10 Week Biblical Financial Study Set” for use in small groups, which is available to Southern Baptist churches at a 40 percent discounted rate through the fall of 2007 by calling 1-866-902-6578. Another is the “Road to Financial Freedom” four-week church stewardship emphasis. A third resource is the “Crown Money Map,” setting forth seven destinations for individuals and families to reach in their journey to financial freedom.

“What we’re going to ask pastors to do at these conferences is to go home and be a catalyst for change in their church,” Clayton said. “The way we believe a pastor does that is to not tip his hat to it; it’s where he says, ‘Will you join my wife and I? We’re going to be going through some personal money management materials and we want you to go with us.’ It will be good for the pastors and it will certainly be good for the church.”
For more information, visit www.sbc.net/newday or visit www.sbc.net and click on the It’s A New Day banner.

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