Getting Ready for Proposed Changes…
The following is the content of a letter sent June 7, 2017 to the pastors of our cooperating churches to inform them of changes under consideration for proposal at our WSBC 2017 Annual Meeting.
I am writing on behalf of our officers and Executive Board to share with you some things that are being discussed and that are developing in our attempt to bring our cooperative ministry into closer alignment with the needs of our churches, and with the resources available for that ministry.
As we explained at the last WSBC Annual Meeting, our Cooperative Program receipts have been falling critically short of budgeted expenditures. And, our Delmar State Mission Offering receipts have not grown to meet the goals set in the budget. So, while NAMB and LifeWay gifts to our work have remained stable, and while giving through and to the Regions has seen some increase, the CP and Delmar side of planned expenses have not been aligned with reasonably expected receipts from the churches. There are many reasons for the shortfall, including the economy, churches that have closed, and other local ministry needs to name just a few.
But, the fact remains, we must bring our budget in line with reasonably anticipated receipts from our churches through the Cooperative Program and our Delmar State Mission Offering. So, I asked our staff and Board to begin thinking about re-inventing our Convention – if we were to start all over today, what does our Convention and cooperative ministry need to look like. We met with Board members in each Region to get their feedback. And, the Convention staff have been working diligently on ways to bring needed alignment to our budget, and have presented a plan to our Executive Board that was well received.
The Board voted for the staff to continue to work out the details of this plan, in collaboration with the Board Administrative Team. Following is a brief bulleted outline of some of the things being considered. We understand that these represent somewhat radical change in our approach to cooperative ministry, and the structure to support that work. But, these are times when this kind of new direction is needed.
It is important to understand that these are possible changes being considered, and that no final decisions have been made. Being aware that some “rumors” are circulating concerning this process, and we feel we need to share with you directly what we are considering so you can be praying for this process and those involved. Here are the major points of our consideration…
- A Re-Newed Philosophy of Cooperative Ministry – seen much more as serving the churches and pastors than has been perceived; much more focused on work in Wyoming; and much more in tune with, and responsive to, the real and perceived needs of pastors and churches.
- A change of Convention name to “WYOMING BAPTIST MISSION NETWORK” to reinforce the focus of our ministry philosophy, and to signal dramatic change in our direction and purpose.
- “Wyoming” because that is our renewed focus of all that we are and do.
- “Baptist” because we remain denominationally, doctrinally, and relationally Southern Baptists.
- “Mission” because that is our focus, carrying out Kingdom Mission here and beyond.
- “Network” because our renewed passion is to create synergy among people and churches here to work together to accomplish our mission.
- Structure – we believe we must simplify our structure through sweeping change that is facilitated through Messenger action at the Annual Meeting, supported by an active and involved Executive Board; with employment of staff remaining a function of the Convention.
- Staffing – we believe there should be…
- Three full-time Regional Missionaries, removing the current half-time state assignment and dedicating 90% of their time supporting the pastors and churches of their respective Region.
- A full-time State Missionary (renaming Executive Director title), focusing work on administrative duties, supervision of staff, but also assuming some of the role and responsibility for the state ministry assignments being removed from the Regional Missionaries. Also serving as the visionary for our cooperative ministry, and traveling to be much more available to churches.
- Support Staff – that includes a full-time Administrative Assistant, reducing to one part-time Ministry Assistant, and continuing with a part-time Business Manager.
- Budgeting – must be simplified for more clarity, and must be aligned with reasonable expectations (using a five-year average of Cooperative Program and Delmar receipts). And…
- Adjusting lower salary/housing for full-time State Missionary, leaving Regional Missionary at current level, and providing a slight increase in some support staff for increased workload.
- Reducing cost of staff group health insurance coverage as much as possible.
- Changing the name of the state mission offering to – “WYOMING NETWORK MISSION OFFERING” for greater clarity of its purpose, and reallocating the offering for greater local effectiveness.
- Properties – There are several things being considered concerning Convention property, including re-designating an office in Casper as the Wyoming Baptist Mission Network Resource Center, and the following…
- Sale of the Current Convention Property in Casper is being explored – with reduced staffing and lower activity the current building is much more than is needed. We will see what can be done to separate the apartments, but sale might include them as well. Proceeds from any sale would be designated for lease of more appropriate space in Casper.
- Closed Church Properties – donation of properties that have potential for restart soon to WBMN churches that wish to sponsor them; sale of those properties that do not have immediate plans for a restart, or interest from a local sponsor church.
- The BCM House in Laramie – sale of this property is being explored as well with no final decision, any proceeds from such sale would be designated to benefit BCM work statewide.
- Sale of Unneeded Convention Vehicles – has been approved by the Executive Board, and are being pursued currently, including the 2 RV’s no longer utilized by churches for oil field ministry, the Dodge Caravan, and a box trailer. The 2 pickups and the Events Trailer are being retained.
Let me reiterate, all these proposed changes are in the research and discussion stage, and are in the budgetary and staffing planning for the fiscal year 2018. And while we expect to present some form of these plans to the messengers at the Annual Meeting, November 2-3, at College Heights Baptist Church in Casper, NO FINAL DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE. Final decisions will be for messenger consideration and vote. But we do believe these are considerations that are needed, that are healthy for our cooperative ministry, and are reasonable for a more viable future of ministry together here in Wyoming.
We plan to present a budget and final structure and staffing plan to the Executive Board for consideration at their September meeting. If approved by the Board the recommendations would be presented to messengers for consideration at the Annual Meeting.
Again, these are changes being discussed by the Executive Board and staff, and those major change decisions would be decided by messengers at the Annual Meeting.
Also, we are preparing additional resources to explain the major points above, and when they are ready we will be posting them online, with links above for easy access. So, come back later, or watch the front page of our website for that information when it is available.
Thanks for your prayerful and thoughtful consideration to pray for your WSBC Executive Board, and for the Lord’s will to be sought and found regarding all of these decisions.