Posted on : Tuesday June 1, 2010

By Bob Simpson, BCM/D Associate Executive Director, COO, BaptistLIFE Editor

Bob Simpson, BCMD Associate Executive Director, Editor of BaptistLIFE

I’ve been thinking a lot about the impact of the SBC’s Great Commission Task Force.

While Southern Baptists will vote their wishes at its national convention in Orlando in a few weeks, it is clear that the role of state conventions has been surveyed and highly evaluated during the past year.

It has caused me to take inventory of just what would happen if, for any reason, state Baptist conventions should suddenly just go away.

How would the following things get done for Baptists who live in, say, Maryland and Delaware? It’s a great question!

First of all there would be no dedicated, talented, and highly motivated BCM/D staff to take all the calls and inquiries that come from our churches. I’m always amazed at the constant flow of requests that our BCM/D staff receive for information, resources, training, consultation and expertise. While no organization is perfect, I am positive that all of the BCM/D staff are both focused and motivated in their desire to help Maryland and Delaware Baptists in churches of all sizes and ministry styles. While your church may not need BCM/D right now, scores of others are calling every week.

Secondly, Baptists in Maryland and Delaware would lose an excellent advocate for ministers and their families. The ministry in our time is very stressful.  Your state convention is totally committed to supporting all of our pastors and their families. A short list would include “Ministers & Mates Annual Retreat,” ministers’ wives events, financial assistance for professional counseling for all members of a pastor’s family, leadership training, coaching and mentoring and regular prayer support, just to name of few.

Thirdly, our churches would lose an invaluable source of tax, non-profit, human resource, and church treasurer expertise that our finance team provides. Whether in the form of annual seminars on specific tax-related issues or just the daily resource to answer the myriad of questions that our constituents ask, this relatively low-profile resource is becoming increasingly significant to our church leaders. In an ever-changing world of tax and corporate law, this would be a huge loss to our churches if the state convention ceased to exist.

A fourth area of loss would be church multiplication in Maryland and Delaware.
While no one denies the vast pocket of lostness that exists in our two states, there is often a debate about the best way to impact that lostness. At best our present churches (numbering over 500) are not even keeping up with the population growth.
There are still multiplied millions of people in Maryland and Delaware that don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ as their own personal Lord and Savior. The role of a state convention is to stimulate the planting of new churches strategically across the two states. Without it will some churches plant other churches on their own? Yes. But historically, it will not produce the kind of church planting movement that is needed.

For the past ten years, this state convention has intentionally advocated for, provided resourcing to (both human, strategic, and financial), and developed within a nationally acclaimed system of assessment, support and ongoing coaching for church planters. We are currently assisting, on average, nearly 30+ new church starts annually.  These run the gamut of ethnicity. That means that over the next 20 years, we could actually plant more new Southern Baptist churches than now even exist with the BCM/D! That potential would most certainly be lost or severely truncated if there were no state convention.

[Editors Note: This month, David Jackson, BCM/D missionary for church multiplication, said we have started 20 new church plants since the beginning of 2010. In the nine years Jackson has been at BCM/D, we have never had 20 new plants this early in the year. One of the new plants is our first Cambodian work ever in BCM/D!]

Though I could really go on and on, let me mention one more part of our work together that would be sadly missed if our state convention went away. That would be the supply, interim, and church/minister relations aspect of BCM/D. Every Sunday, a BCM/D staff member walks into a church and ministers to a congregation that is hurting either by the loss of a pastor or some other set of stressors. This can run the gamut from overt church conflict to just providing pulpit supply during the interim between pastors.

Admittedly, these are not the stories covered by “BaptistLIFE” or other media. But when the history of Maryland/Delaware Baptists is fully written, it will not fail to note the incredible impact of the godly men and women both on that state convention staff and/or trained by them who gave their time, expertise, and spiritual coaching (not to mention their love) to many, many congregations in need of some measure of help for a temporary time.

I could keep on making a significant case for the value the state convention. You, of course, would expect me to do so. I know that no organization is perfect. I recognize the need for continuous evaluation and improvement in all of us. But I just can’t imagine what it would be like for Baptists in Maryland and Delaware if suddenly there were no state convention…no BCM/D.

I just don’t want us all to wake up someday and mourn the loss of something so significant to Kingdom advancement in our region of the country. Hopefully we won’t ever be in the position of understanding what we have only after it’s gone!