Over the past several weeks, I have been sharing about five “opportunity areas” I want to focus upon as your new executive director. These include embracing the Great Commission Task Force report, strengthening the relationship between the Kentucky Baptist Convention and local churches and their pastors, church planting, networking and creating new partnerships, and valuing our existing relationships with KBC institutions and agencies. While many other important roles for the KBC will always exist, these opportunity areas can help us ensure you of the value of your Cooperative Program investment and, God willing, grow that investment.
A keen observer of existing convention ministries will recognize that the areas I have addressed are not new work for our convention and they represent only a small part of the vast KBC ministries. That is a vote of affirmation from me for our mission board staff and the work they do. Yet, the greatest challenge currently facing state conventions, including our KBC, is the shrinking resources limiting our ministry budgets. We simply can no longer afford to provide the wealth of ministries traditionally offered by a state convention. Given that reality, the most pressing assignment for our convention is deciding what existing ministries are most essential as we look to the future.
The financial challenges of our churches in this difficult economy, an overall declining commitment to giving through the Cooperative Program, and an effort to get more funding to mission work overseas, require us to make deep cuts in the KBC ministry budget and, therefore, impact our ministry to our churches. While I am hopeful the economy will improve and optimistic that we can help our churches see the eternal value of their CP investment, I am fully supportive of the recommendations of our Great Commission Task Force that will result in Southern Baptists getting the gospel to those who have not heard. But those recommendations, along with the present economy and declining CP funds, mean the KBC must make some difficult decisions.
In case these thoughts seem a bit gloomy, let me hasten to add that evaluating our work and seeking out the best ways to spend every CP dollar is never a bad thing. Effective churches adjust their methods and strategies in order to share the unchanging gospel in a rapidly changing culture. Effective associations and state conventions must be a step ahead in order to provide the support and training needed by our churches. That will require us, as a state convention, to constantly assess our work to ensure that we can fulfill our mission of helping Kentucky Baptists fulfill their mission.
Ask God to grant wisdom and a clear vision for the future of our work. And pray that God will find all Kentucky Baptists faithfully committed to the Great Commission in our going and giving.