By Philip Timothy, Managing Editor
WOODWORTH – Louisiana Baptists you have the power.
You also have a plan to unleash that power. Better known as the 2020 Report, the plan is a carefully drafted seven-year strategy in which Louisiana Baptists can do a more effective job of reaching and engaging the lost for God’s Kingdom.
At its annual Fall meeting on Sept. 30 at Tall Timbers Conference Center, the Executive Board of the Louisiana Baptist Convention got a progress report on the implementation of the 2020 Commission’s action plan for reaching the next generation and every people group in the state.
“If you came to the executive board meeting hoping 2020 would reveal to you the silver bullet that would solve all of your ministry problems, sorry, we don’t have it,” LBC Executive Director David Hankins said. “It doesn’t work that way.”
In his report to the executive board, Hankins used his time by allowing the chairmen of the different committees to detail the work that has taken place since the convention approved the 2020 Commission Report last November.
The board heard about the progress being made on reaching the next generation and every people group in the state. They heard about congregational revitalization, church planting, communication and collaboration.
He wrapped up his report by updating the board on the work taking place with Kairos 8-10 – creating mentoring and ministry networks, increasing financial support through the Cooperative Program and Missions offering and Louisiana Baptists maximizing their collective influence in moral and cultural concerns.
“These are the actions we are working on,” he said, “and we will give you reports as we go along.”
“So, we’ve told you about the power of small actions over time. I want you to look at all these moving parts we have. Little by little … this area and that area … over time, we are making a difference for the Kingdom of God,” Hankins continued. “We celebrate those things and we hope you will participate in this multitude of small moving parts that bring in the Kingdom as the Lord tarries at this time.”
While the majority of the meeting dealt with the 2020 Report, the board also heard reports from its administrative, business and finance and missions support committees as well as the convention’s four entities.
The board also approved bringing the 2015 Cooperative Program Budget to the LBC annual meeting, which will be held at First Baptist Lafayette on Nov. 10-11, for consideration by messengers.
The Business and Finance Committee’s recommendation for the 2014 Cooperative Program Budget of $20,831,766 be brought to the annual meeting for approval by messengers also unanimously passed.
The CP Budget amount allocated to State Missions Services was $533,141 less than last year’s budget.
“The CP Budget cap is based on receipts from the previous August thru July. Our CP receipts were down about $900,000 this year as compared to the previous August thru July,” said Dale Lingenfelter, the LBC’s Business and Information Services Director. “The allocation to the SBC will remain at 36.74 percent. The percentage only changes when we have a budget surplus according to the CP Advance Plan policy. So, a budget surplus in 2014 would mean a percentage change in 2016. This plan works hand-in-hand with the conservative budget policy to incrementally shift more money to the SBC without harming or sacrificing our existing ministries.”
Upon the committee’s recommendations, the Board approved the second quarter 2014 financial report, the 2013 annual audit, and the 2015 State Missions Service Budget of $13,173,978, which is a decrease of $437,685.
“The budget does reflect some changes and we have asked Dr. Hankins to come and speak to those changes,” said Joey Miller, chairman of the administrative committee.
Hankins told the board that steps were being taken to deal with the budget shortfall.
“Thankfully, as a side note, the CP as of yesterday is only two percent behind so we are closing the gap and if we have a good fourth quarter we will be in pretty good shape. But we can’t base the budget on what may or may not happen.
“We are very conservative with it,” Hankins said. “If we have some growth, we will accept the funds. But we don’t want to over extend ourselves. So how do you get to a balanced budget that has decreased by $437,685.”
The decrease will mean no raises, no increases for the teams except for a small increase for the BCMs and we’ve allowed three vacant positions, part-time positions in the clerical, administrative staff to not be filled,” Hankins said.
On the income side, Hankins said there is a projected increase from $250,000, from money in the LBC’s trust investments asset earnings, to $350,000 which will provide an additional $100,000.
And then there will be two significant changes.
“Because of continuing increases for health insurance for our active employees and even more so for our retired employees, we are going to a less expensive plan for retirees,” said Hankins. “It may create a little bit of a gap for them which could provide a hardship so we are buying an HRA plan to cover those gaps. So of the 20 percent that Medicare does not cover on outpatient and professional services, if somebody really had a bad experience health wise the retiree would have additional out of pocket expense up to $500 before the HRA would engage.”
This change is expected to save $97,000. The other change takes place with the LBC changing to a new model for its protection plan offered by Guidestone.
“You know the LBC provides a protection plan for church employees who qualify and one of the options is to provide the protection plan for ministers and all church employees,” Hankins said. “We choose to start in 2015 covering only ministers, pastors, music ministers and youth ministers. This change would save an additional $90,000.”
In other business, the board passed a resolution commending Hankins on the ‘occasion of his 10th anniversary at Executive Director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.’
The resolution, which Thomas Strong read out loud, stated the board’s ‘gratitude for his ministry, consistent walk with Christ, his commitment to the work and ministry of the LBC, and a pledge to lift him in prayer and support for the causes of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, throughout our state and convention.”
Leading the reports from the four entities, Kelly Boggs, director of the Office of Public Policy for the LBC and Editor of the Baptist Message, told board members, “The Office of Public Policy exists to deal with religious liberty and legislative action. Throughout the legislative session, we provide a voice in Baton Rouge for our values, biblical values. We let legislators know how Louisiana Baptists feel about the issues.
“We also work closely with conservative, like-minded organizations that make up a Capitol Coalition. We work together on strategies on how to navigate the issues. We actively try to build relationships … friendships … with legislators,” Boggs said. “Also, if you encounter any issues on religious liberty, please let us know and we will bring every resource we have to expose and fight it.”
As editor of the Message, Boggs said, “Our purpose is to help Louisiana Southern Baptists impact the world for Christ. We do that in a variety of ways. One is to call attention to the ministries made possible by the Cooperative Program. We want to highlight and call attention to our entities as well as individuals, churches and our convention.”
Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home Executive Director Perry Hancock detailed the number of people the Home has helped this year.
“Without the churches there would not be a Children’s Home. So, I want to tell you thank you. Every bit of our work is related to children. There are children everywhere that need our help. The psalmist says, ‘God provides families for the lonely.’”
Hancock reminded everyone about LBCH’s Foster Care, Adoption and Orphans Conference coming up on Nov. 8 at Calvary Baptist Church in Alexandria and revealed the Home had 53 going to Haiti this week to work with the orphans there.
Louisiana Baptist Foundation Wayne Taylor also had good news to report.
“We turned 70 years old this summer,” Taylor said. “Because Baptist have given money over time, we now manage $160 million of God’s money. About $70 million is short team money for churches and institutions while the other $90 million is in long term endowment money that benefits Baptist ministries.
“The Cooperative Program has paid in to our organization, the Foundation, over the last 70 years a little under $9 million but the Foundation has paid out over $115 million to Baptist causes. That’s a pretty good return,” Taylor said. “So, thank you for continuing to put your trust in us.”
Argile Smith, Louisiana College’s interim president, told the board, “We only had six faculty vacancies we had to fill and we only had 66 less students than what we budgeted for this year despite the publicity leading up to the Fall.”
Addressing the SACS letter, Smith apologized for not getting it out in timely fashion citing two deaths in his family as one reason and getting a clarification of one the violations as the other.
LBC President Steve Horn closed the meeting with a message from 1 Corinthians 9:19-24.
“We must be saturated in our lives of reaching people around us,” Horn said. “It is not enough to be mission-minded. We must be missionary. There must be within us a revitalization of our passion.”
In speaking about the present work being done, Horn said, “We don’t know if these are the last days but they are the only days we have. None of this happens overnight. None of this happens at once. None of us know how much time we have.
“We want to stand before God and say that we have done the very best we could do to reach people with the Gospel,” he said.