The 2018 annual meeting of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana was held at Highland Lakes Baptist Camp. We heard passionate sermons from our convention President Bruce Reynolds and from Alan Scott who presented the annual sermon. Both of these men shared their hearts for Indiana Baptists being all that God desires us to be in Christ. The meeting was attended by 160 messengers and 53 guests for a total of 213 people which represented 80 churches.
We are living in changing times. Bob Dylan wrote an anthem in 1963 by the title, “The Times They are a Changin’.” It’s hard to believe that was 55 years ago. But the truth of that title is still true in our country and in our culture. It is also true with our State Convention of Baptists in Indiana. Over the past few months, the Executive Board made decisions to try to help us find the best ways possible to impact our churches and the lostness in Indiana. These decisions were affirmed at the state convention.
Let me describe a couple of those changes!
The world of communications is an ever-changing field. How we get our message out to our people, our churches and our leaders is critical to our effectiveness. For about 15 years the subscriptions to the Indiana Baptist Magazine has been decreasing. The internet and the presence of a web page is the number one way people find out about what is going on in your organization, church, association or convention. With these realities and changes, the Communication Committee of the Executive Board and the SCBI staff agreed it was time to make a move away from our print copy of the Indiana Baptist Magazine (IBM) and move to a digital priority in our communication plan. This copy of the IBM will be the last “print” version produced. Starting after the first of the year, the IBM will be available either by subscription (we will email you a link to a copy of the IBM that you view on your computer, or other digital devices), or you can continue to go to SCBI.org and click on the link for the digital version (https://www.scbi.org/ministries/indiana-baptist-magazine).
The Executive Board and the 2018 Annual Meeting of the State Convention of Baptists also voted to make an adjustment to our Cooperative Program (CP) giving. Due to a number of factors which include;
- $544,000.00 decrease in giving to CP over the past 14 years,
- $100,000.00 decrease in the 2019 proposed budget,
- Changes in our funding with the North American Mission Board,
Changes in our ability to give personal support to our churches in the field with only five associations having a paid person to serve the churches in that association, which leaves nine associations being served with limited state convention staff (four people) and volunteers in the association.
Factors like these have created an atmosphere that has led leaders around our state to say that we need to do something different to address these factors. This led the Executive Board, the SCBI staff and now the messengers at the annual meeting to vote overwhelmingly to change our CP giving formula from sending 40% of the CP giving through the SCBI to 35%. This will allow us to engage two or three part-time people to serve our churches who do not currently have a paid associational person to give leadership to these associations.
This decision was not one that our state leaders choose easily. There was much prayer and discussion about other options but none were seen as viable or truly helpful. The one common thing that was heard in these discussions was “we want to help the churches.” We need to strengthen our churches and be better able to plant new, healthy churches as well. It is not an either or, but a both and process. It is the goal of the staff and Executive Board to begin working toward increasing the percentage back toward the 40% and even higher as we are able. It is already part of SCBI policies that when we exceed our budget in giving, then we automatically increase the percentage going on to our national partners.
As we move in the 2019 year, remember that our two key emphasis in the Mile Marker 2025 emphasis will be to evangelize and revitalize. We want to work together as convention churches to reach people for Christ (evangelize) and to help each other help churches that need help, they need a boost (revitalize). If you need help with these areas, contact Rick Hillard (firstname.lastname@example.org) about how to better evangelize and contact Bob Weeks (email@example.com) about how you can engage in the revitalize conversation.
We celebrate 60 years of ministry here in Indiana. 60 years of starting churches, helping churches reach people, doing VBS, teaching the Bible, preaching His Word, caring for one another, going to student and children’s camps and being about the Great Commission here in Indiana. Congratulations Indiana Baptists. Keep up the great work of serving, loving and giving. May the Lord add to His church daily.