NASHVILLE (BP) — Church planting and Gospel unity anchored much of the dialogue during the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s September meeting, spotlighting a new mission emphasis and encouraging civility and understanding during the upcoming U.S. election cycle.
SBC President J.D. Greear launched the “Send Every Member” challenge encouraging churches to send more missionaries and plant more churches. Both Greear and SBC EC President Ronnie Floyd encouraged Southern Baptist leaders to embrace Gospel unity. Also, see Monday evening’s coverage of Floyd’s inauguration service.
Four new entity presidents delivered their first reports to the EC, noting some of the challenges they face and thanking churches for supporting their work through the Cooperative Program. Reporting were Ben Mandrell of LifeWay Christian Resources, Jamie Dew of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Adam Greenway of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Paul Chitwood of the International Mission Board.
Among other action, the EC approved a referral to modernize the nomination process for SBC committees and boards, added a day of prayer for the persecuted church to the SBC Calendar, and approved a detailed EC and SBC operating budget.
Send Every Member
Church planting, not megachurches, remains the most effective way of multiplying the body of Christ, Greear told the EC, referencing the growth of the early church.
“We have seen the limitations of the megachurch and large-audience evangelism. Even while some megachurches have grown larger and larger, the percentage of the population actively involved in church has steadily decreased,” Greear said. “Now more than ever, churches are rediscovering that the most effective and most sustainable growth happens through multiplication. The future belongs to those who send.”
Both the North American Mission Board and IMB have more money than planters and missionaries, Greear said. “We want to change that.”
Greear commended the Go2 challenge for young adults to spend the first two years of their career working in a place where they can assist with a new church plant, NAMB’s Send City emphasis and IMB’s journeymen program.
Gospel unity should encourage Christ-like love and mutual respect during the upcoming U.S. election cycle, Greear and Floyd indicated in their EC addresses.
Southern Baptists must not allow politics to displace the Gospel, Greear said. While most evangelical Christians agree on the issues, he said, they sometimes disagree on the priority of each concern. The Gospel remains too great a concern, he said, to allow differing priorities to interfere with the church’s mission.
It’s undeniable that much is at stake in every U.S. election, Floyd said, but the unity of the Spirit is more important.
“We can disagree over various matters, but let’s be careful how we do that. Let’s do it in a way that would honor Christ,” he said. “Even as important as our elections are, let’s remember that there is coming a day when all the kings and the kingdoms of this world will pass away, and the greatest need we have in this country is the Gospel of Jesus Christ going to everyone’s life.”
— approved a referral to modernize the nomination process for SBC committees and boards, agreeing to post appropriate information and nomination forms at SBC.net “for use by any Southern Baptist who is a member of a church in friendly cooperation with the Convention, and will continue to take steps to promote wider participation in the nomination of committee persons and trustees among Southern Baptists;”
— approved a referral to recommend that messengers add “A Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church” to the SBC Calendar of Activities on a date provided by IMB;
— approved a Dishonesty, Fraud and Whistleblower Protection Policy. The EC designated as its chief compliance officer William “Bill” Townes, vice president for convention finance. Townes will investigate any reports and advise the EC president and/or chair of the EC audit workgroup as necessary;
— declined a referral to study the biblical position of a woman serving as SBC president, affirming that SBC messengers “are capable of expressing their collective opinion on the topic … through the nominating and voting process for SBC officers at each SBC annual meeting;”
— declined a referral to study the feasibility of distance voting and remote participation in SBC annual meetings;
— declined to establish a plan to help churches conduct or procure their own investigations of reported sexual abuse, leaving such investigations to appropriate law enforcement officers. Additionally, the EC recommended churches use resources already provided through SBC.net, state conventions, local associations, individual insurance providers, GuideStone Financial Resources at GuideStonePropertyCasualty.org, and the recently resourced Caring Well Initiative at caringwell.com.;
— approved a detailed 2019-20 EC and SBC operating budget of $7.866 million, an increase over the current budget of $7.575 million.
Resolutions of appreciation
Resolutions of appreciation were approved for three Baptist leaders who are retiring: D. August “Augie” Boto, the EC’s executive vice president and general counsel, on Sept. 30; Jim Futral, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, on Oct. 31; and Garvon Golden, executive director-treasurer of the Dakota Baptist Convention, on Dec. 31.
Boto has served 21 years with the EC — in his current role since 2007 and as vice president for convention policy from 1998-2007. He served as the EC’s only interim president in its 100-year history from April 2018 to May 2019. Prior to joining the EC staff, he had been an EC member from Texas for three years.
In his work with the Executive Committee, Boto was involved in the creation and content of the SBC.net web pages and in the framing of scores of SBC policy documents, including amendments to the convention’s constitution and bylaws, SBC entity ministry assignments; motions by messengers referred from the annual meeting; and each year’s SBC Annual.
Boto was elected as a deacon under the ministry of the late W.A. Criswell at First Baptist Church in Dallas and served as a Sunday School teacher in the young married division. As a lawyer, he was elected as county attorney in Gainesville, Texas, serving for six years, and was administrative counsel for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association for three years, helping start the Texas Fellowship of Christian Prosecutors.
He and his wife Cindy have been married 40 years and have three adult children.
Futral has led Mississippi Baptists since 1998; by 2001, the state’s churches had deployed 10,000 mission volunteers to 26 countries and 47 states. The convention raised its budgeted Cooperative Program giving to SBC missions and ministries from 34 percent to a goal of 37.9 percent in the current fiscal year.
After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which included more than 250 of the convention’s churches that were destroyed or damaged, Futral led Adopt-a-Church, Church Rebuild and Community Rebuild initiatives that hosted more than 100,000 workers and distributed nearly $20 million to church and home rebuild efforts.
Another key initiative: Futral led Mississippi Baptists in gathering 50 million pennies as a memorial to the 50 million children whose lives had been ended by abortion as of 2007 since its legalization in 1973. The pennies subsequently were cashed in to provide support for pregnancy care centers across the state.
Before becoming the convention’s executive director, Futral had been pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Jackson since 1985 and had served as the convention’s president from 1987-1989. In nearly 35 years of pastoral ministry, he led seven churches in Mississippi and two in Texas.
Futral and his wife Shirley have three adult children and eight grandchildren.
Golden has led Dakota Baptists since 2012 after serving in an interim role in 2011-2012 and as the two-state convention’s first evangelism director since 2005, with added associate executive director duties from 2008-2011. He also served as director of missions for the Black Hills Area Baptist Association in Rapid City, S.D., from 2000–2005; senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Williston, N.D., 1992-2000; and pastor of three other churches in North Dakota, Montana and Texas, 1980-1992.
Golden led Dakota Baptists to increase their Cooperative Program giving from 16.6 percent in 2011 to 38.7 percent in 2018, from a commitment that “we are going to give more and keep less.” The number of churches in the convention grew by more than 15 percent, from 72 to 83.
He also was a key leader in the annual evangelistic outreach at South Dakota’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, in which volunteers used three-minute testimonies in a motorcycle giveaway, resulting in 60,000-plus Gospel presentations over 13 years.
Golden and wife Cindy have four adult children and 10 grandchildren.