Compiled by Iris White, Managing Editor of BaptistLIFE
DOVER, Del.—David Lee, BMC/D executive director, told messengers at the 2008 Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware in Dover, Del., shared the meaning of irony – “the incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.”
“Irony describes where we are and where we have been,” Lee said. Lee cited the year’s successes including 28 new church starts, large attendance and responses at the youth evangelism conference, growth at the Ocean City resort ministry and the launching of a new resort ministry in the western association, phenomenal growth in women’s ministries and ministers’ wives events, the growing use of equip.net, the online training program and Skycroft Conference Center’s growth.
“In spite of the financial challenges facing us, we may be doing some of our best work,” Lee said.
As an encouragement to messengers, Lee shared some things that will not change:
• Our mission – The mission of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware is to intentionally assist in the starting and strengthening of congregations so that together we can accomplish the commands of our Lord in Matt. 28:19-20 ad Acts 1:8.
• Our vision – By 2010, the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware will have 600 congregations with 150,000 persons actively fulfilling Jesus’ command in Matt. 28:19-20.
• Our focus on our five strategic initiatives:
To accomplish our mission and vision, the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware will organize, staff, plan, and budget around five basic strategies.
1) Church Planting: Creating new disciple-making congregations.
2) Church Services: Helping congregations become more effective in disciple-making.
3) Leadership Development and Support: Equipping and supporting leaders to lead disciple-making congregations
4) Acts 1:8 Missions Involvement: Helping Maryland and Delaware Baptists become personally involved in a worldwide disciple-making enterprise.
5) Resource Development: Developing multiple streams to resource our worldwide, disciple-making enterprise.
• Our commitment to excellence
• Our field orientation
• And finally, our appreciation for you and our commitment to care for you.
With that reassurance, Lee reported to messengers where we are, where we need to be, how we got here and the necessary adjustments we have to make.
Where we are
Lee reported that we projected a Cooperative Program (CP) budget of $5,335,000 for 2008, an increase of $235,000 over 2007.
We ended 2007 with actual CP receipts of $4,976,870 with an all time record of more than $532,000 given in December, 2007.
At the end of January 2008, we were $116,632 behind January 2007 giving levels.
As of the end of September, we are $192,553 or 5.9 percent behind this same period in 2007.
We are presently tracking 2005 giving levels which resulted in $4,624,735.
Where We Need To Be
We deem it wise to present a 2009 budget targeting $4.6 million in CP funding and acknowledging the potential for low returns on investments.
A projected CP income of $4,600,000, represents a reduction of $735,000 in our total budget.
The GMB has worked with us to balance our 2008 budget through adjustments and use of reserve funds.
How Did We Get Here?
Hindsight tells us that our 2008 CP projections were too bold. There was no way we could anticipate the severity of the economic meltdown that hit us in January.
The economy has put the squeeze on our churches. Several of our key giving churches are without pastors and/or are facing serious conflict issues. Several of our key giving churches have taken bold future steps by building buildings, which have further squeezed their budgets.
We still suffer from the lack of education and understanding of the value of CP giving.
There has been more emphasis on local and hands-on involvement to the loss of supporting worldwide missions through the Cooperative Program.
We have stewardship issues. A 2006 giving study revealed:
•The top giving church gives over 6 percent of our CP.
•Top 10 churches give 26 percent
•Top 25 give 40 percent
•Top 50 give 63 percent
•Top 75 give 74 percent.
•And the top 100 (a little less than 20 percent of our churches) give 82 percent of our CP dollars.
Questions We Asked
•What is essential to the mission?
•What is no longer essential to our mission?
•What is our present reality?
•What do we anticipate in the next two to five years?
•How will adjustments now put us in a better position to accomplish our mission in our new reality?
•What are the implications of our decisions today on our tomorrows?
We froze certain unspent accounts, used escrowed dollars (where permissible) to fund certain items in the 2008 budget and secured permission to use reserves necessary to cover shortfall.
2009 Budget Adjustments
•Eliminated two ministry assistant positions.
•Eliminated one Program Staff position (Bible Teaching/Discipleship position).
•Ended some contract positions.
•No salary increase for staff in 2009
•Reduced cost of GMB meetings by reimbursing mileage at a $.25 rate rather than IRS standard.
•Eliminated mileage reimbursement for Strategy team participants and other non-elected teams or committees.
•Reduced reimbursement of elected committee mileage to $.25 rather than IRS standard.
•Reduced annual meeting expenses.
•Put the annual BCM/D calendar online.
•Reduced staff development and affirmation resources
•Reduced field service dollars.
•Reduced BaptistLIFE to six printed issues with online editions bi-monthly.
•Reduced or eliminated certain programming.
•Moved some major projects to bi-annual.
•Delayed BMRC renovation until mid-2009.
•Covered some costs through escrowed dollars.
•Increased Skycroft contribution to BCM/D budget.
Lee encouraged messengers to keep on dreaming, to keep telling the story of hope and to share Christ’s love inside and outside the walls of our churches. “We should not behave as if there is a limited supply of love. God did not limit His love to us. There was a cross on Golgotha’s hill to prove it. In fact, the more we give of ourselves to others in the name of Christ, the greater our capacity to receive His love,” Lee said.