Election week is coming to an end. We thought it would be over and there would be closure to a grueling process. Yet, so much remains unknown. What are Christians to do? My thoughts:
In the summer of 2010, I eagerly attended the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Orlando, Florida. My primary purpose in going was to vote for the adoption of the recommendations of the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) taskforce. A decade ago, this vision was cast by SBC leaders and many of us young pastors were eager to see it come to fruition. I had spent several weeks in my church covering Daniel Akin’s Axioms for a Great Commission Resurgence. I had taught my church the importance of this movement in our convention’s history. I enthusiastically voted and celebrated its passage. Honestly, I remembered being bewildered by anyone who would vote “no.”
At the time, I believed one of the most vital proposals was the recommendation encouraging state conventions to move to a 50/50 split with their Cooperative Program (CP) Giving. It made sense to me, a 26-year-old pastor, and fairly disconnected from convention life. It seemed reasonable that we would keep half in North Carolina and send half onward to the SBC to fund our ministries and missions around the world. Ten years later, I still believe that this is a noble goal
However, not many months after the SBC in Orlando, I was elected to serve on the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) Board of Directors. I quickly got to know the ministries of the convention in a much deeper way. I was not aware of all that God was doing in the BSCNC. The Lord was at work not only here in North Carolina but to the ends of the earth. I did not know about our partnerships with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and various Send Cities across North America. These are cities that we had taken a large responsibility in helping to send mission teams and developing church plants. I had not been aware of the mission partnerships that we had in other countries. Many of these partnerships are in places that are extremely poor and rely on our mission work for their ministries to take place. There are places where wells are dug to help church planters and others where we would provide food for people who were hungry in order that they might hear the Gospel.
In my mind, having only been in the ministry for six years at that point, I believed that we were so compartmentalized as a convention, that literally half would stay here in North Carolina and half would go around the world. I was wrong.
I also found out that North Carolina had been moving toward a 50/50 split for some time. This move had been the vision of our Executive Director/Treasurer before the GCR Taskforce Report had even been formed. Our CP distribution to the SBC had been as low as 28% in recent history. Today it stands at 42%, an amazing accomplishment in a short amount of time. It is worth noting that we have made this advance without splitting and becoming two conventions as has happened in other states. This advance in missions has been accomplished without losing all our historic partnerships with the Baptist Children’s Home, with Baptist Hospital, and with the Baptist Foundation. We continue to fund theological education through Fruitland Baptist Bible College which has educated around 1 in 5 North Carolina pastors. While many around the country have closed, we still have a Baptist newspaper which many North Carolinians cherish. We have maintained these partnerships while still consistently increasing our percentage that is passed through the BSCNC to the SBC.
I believe it is vital that we maintain this pace of increase. Just last month, our Board of Directors approved a budget that for the first time in many years does not include a half-percent increase. I agree with this decision and voted to support it. Because of Covid-19 and all that has happened in this year with our giving totals from North Carolina Baptist Churches, it is appropriate that we stay where we are. It is important to note that we are unable to give our employees a cost of living increase for 2021. I think it would be poor stewardship to send more money on while not taking care of the people that we have entrusted to guide our ministry.
I know there are many who disagree with this and would like to see us move to a 50/50 split immediately. They believe that it is urgent that we do so, and I would agree. The need is urgent. There are millions, hundreds of millions, billions even who have never heard the name of Jesus and they need to hear His name now. If the apostles were not granted even a moment in Acts 1 to linger, looking up at the sky, how much more so must we be urgent in the mission some 2,000 years later. With that urgency in mind, there are at least three considerations the BSCNC must consider as we move forward with the resources entrusted to us by Christ and His churches in NC.
It is important to think about our current reality as we are planning for our future expenditures as a convention.
Our convention budget is split into three pieces, not two. We do not have a budget that is divided into NC Ministries and SBC Ministries. The largest percentage of money that comes to the BSCNC goes to the SBC. This year’s budget—the 2020 budget—is the first time that has happened. 42% is the plural majority of the budget. Less money is staying in the state convention at just over 41% and only about 14% goes to our institutions and agencies (Fruitland, Baptist Children’s Home, NCBAM, Baptist Foundation, the Biblical Recorder, and the Baptist Hospital). It really is a three-way budget and we must understand it as such.
The money that stays in the BSCNC does not necessarily stay in North Carolina. Some of the money that does stay in North Carolina is used for reaching the nations that have come to North Carolina. We have an exceptional number of church plants among those from the nations and between 2015 and 2019, 246 churches were started to reach non-English speaking NC residents. That means nearly 6% of the churches in the BSCNC were started in the last five years targeting non-English residents!
Our Great Commission Partnerships budget is over $250,000 this year! That is money use for partnerships around the world. We budgeted over $100,000 in church strengthening funds for non-Anglo churches in our state and this (as with Great Commission Partnerships) does not include the salaries of the ministry staff the cover those areas of our conventions work.
We also shouldn’t forget that part of the BSCNC ministry allotment is used for disaster relief in other states when there are horrific events such as hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes. That money does not necessarily just stay in North Carolina, although when it does, it helps us love our neighbors in their time of need.
Revitalizing for Future CP Giving
A second consideration is that when we cut money from the BSCNC budget, we are going to be potentially cutting money in ministries that are helping to develop future CP giving. Our church revitalization ministries and our church planting ministries both emphasize giving to missions through the CP as a part of their work. We cannot deny the impact of these ministries on churches that are struggling and dying, but also churches that are starting. It is vital we are emphasizing the CP. When we make cuts to the budget to move to a 50/50 split quickly and if it is revitalization or church planting ministries that get cut, it certainly will have a detrimental effect on long-term CP giving.
Where Does the Money Come From?
And so, while in the short term we many send more money to missions (this year it would be around $2.1 million go on to the SBC), that money would reduce the percentages for the state convention’s ministries and our institutions and agencies. The question that has to be asked is “where are cuts going to be made?” Are we going to cut funds to Baptist Children’s Home? Are we going to cut funds to Fruitland? Are we going to cut funds to the Biblical Recorder? Are we going to cut ministries of the convention such as church planting or our ministries to those who are disabled? What partnerships will need to be reduced? What ministries will be have to stop and what is the long-term cost of doing cutting them?
It was easy in Orlando, in 2010, for the 26-year-old kid to say let’s move to a 50/50 split immediately. It is significantly more difficult for the 36-year-old man, who has been entrusted with a church that gives 10% to the CP, to make the same decision. It takes more introspection for someone who has participated in the work of the convention now for six out of the last ten years as an elected leader to then say “move to a 50/50 split without knowing and clearly communicating the consequences.”
I believe our incremental move, year after year, putting significantly more money in the SBC while not weakening our convention has been successful. I do not believe our move toward 50/50 has weakened our associations or our local churches so far. But we have no idea what would happen if we move to a 50/50 split immediately. Yes, the International Mission Board would be able to celebrate having increased funds to send missionaries in the year that we made the change, but we do not know if that is sustainable. We do not know that our churches in North Carolina will continue to give to the CP at current levels if we cut some of the ministries with which they most frequently partner. If we make significant cuts to the BCH, will people turn around and simply give that money directly to BCH? I know that it would be difficult if my church had a close partnership with one of those homes not to simply direct that money there to ensure that their ministries were not lost.
One of the values of the BSCNC is that the people in our churches can both see and participate in ministries in a way that they cannot do on a national level. If you have ever taken someone on a mission trip, you know that they return with excitement about the ministry that they have partnered with and that helps in our CP giving. It helps continue, not only for a year or two, but for generations into the future, the work of the SBC.
We can continue to move incrementally towards a 50/50 split. I believe it is possible that we could move further than even 50/50. However, if we do so immediately, it is my fear that we will be cutting off our nose to spite our face. The numbers may look good on a national level, but it does not mean overall numbers will increase.
I often hear that there are churches that will give more if we simply raise the percentage going to the SBC. I would encourage the pastors of those churches to give more now. If you give more now there is still more going to the ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention than there would be if you do not give. I am willing to lead my church in that direction. Giving more now would encourage leaders across our convention, both young and old, urban and rural, churches large and small, that this movement is real. For some other state conventions, the expected bump never materialized. If those pastors will give more now, not only will more money go to the SBC, but more will go to children without families, more will go to affordable education in the beautiful mountains of NC, more will go to church planting and revitalization, more will go to helping the nations hear the Gospel.
We can give more to missions; we can do more in our cooperative work together as Southern Baptists, but we need to do it in a wise manner. I will promote, in any way that I can, that North Carolina Baptists continue to move towards a 50/50 split of our CP funds.
We can increase while not doing so at the expense of our staff who have been assembled to help assist our churches as a resource for ministry; especially for churches that cannot afford to hire those resources out professionally. Our state convention staff are elite among people in their field. And we need to be mindful and respectful of that fact.
Let’s move towards 50/50 but do so wisely. Let’s move towards 50/50 knowing that the Lord has placed us here for this time and this moment and He has given us the wisdom to reach the nations both here in North Carolina and to the ends of the earth. He has placed us in a state where over 340 languages are spoken in the homes of public-school children. He has positioned us in a time where we have the ability to go to the ends of the earth. And He has called us, as He has all disciples, to share the Gospel to all people, everywhere.
As we make changes in our budgeting and we make pray together about where our priorities must be, let’s plan wisely and never be arbitrary. It may be that God has us sending a lot more than a 50/50 split would produce. Let’s move forward without failing to start where we are. Let’s give more away while making sure we are helping each church around us become a stronger force for reaching the world with the Gospel. Let’s make sure we have strong SBC churches in North Carolina so that we have the resources from now until the Lord returns to reach the world with the Gospel of Christ.
The Biblical Recorder recently asked me to briefly respond to the question: What’s at the center of N.C. Baptist partnerships? Here was my reply:
The BSCNC spreads out over 10 geographical regions, ministers as 77 associations, and counts over 4,300 churches as her own. We are a diverse convention geographically, racially, and ethnically. We are are diverse in our practices, in the languages we speak, the sizes of our fellowships, and the places we live. Despite our differences, we have long-standing partnerships and mutual cooperation with schools, mission boards, children’s homes, a foundation, a hospital, a newspaper, and so many others. The foundation of all this cooperation is the belief that God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. We muststrive to make disciples in all we do so that, by God’s grace, we impact the lostness in our world. We must carry the Gospel to the communities where God has placed us to live. We proclaim Jesus from our Appalachian mountains to Outer Banks, and continue on to the ends of the Earth where Christ has called us to go.
What would have been your reply? I’d love to have other NC Baptists answer this question in the comments below!
I recently wrote about the BSCNC’s Seven Pillars for Ministry. These are the guidance for our collective ministry as NC Baptists.
Practice fervent prayer – This commitment is first because it is the central pillar to the work that the BSCNC is tasked to undertake. Each of the other pillars are possible because of the power of prayer. The convention staff must be composed of people of prayer and the churches of the convention must be frequently exhorted to be people of prayer. The work ahead of us is ordained by God but empowered through prayer.
Promote evangelism and disciple-making – The convention does not make disciples, but we must ensure that the promoting of evangelism and disciple-making among our churches is an ongoing emphasis. The churches that comprise the BSCNC and the Christians who constitute those churches must be given every resource at our disposal to reach North Carolinians with the gospel of Christ. As a convention we help facilitate resources to the places where the gospel is needed.
Strengthen existing churches – Our established churches have long served as the backbone of our convention. They are often comprised of those saints who have devoted their lives to the church, have been faithful in their work, and generous in their giving. They are often tucked away in little corners of the state—places that are not trendy places to live or well known by outsiders. Yet, they exist in communities and neighborhoods in desperate need of the gospel. They may seem, to some, like places that time has left behind and yet the Lord loves them and desires to see them thrive. Therefore, the convention must seek to take any steps necessary to strengthen existing churches. If existing churches continue to be weakened, the future of the convention’s work, the effort to expand our presence throughout the state, and the mission to the ends of the earth will not be possible.
Plant new multiplication churches – We must seek to plant churches that plant churches. The population of North Carolina is 10.5 million people. The BSCNC is comprised of about 4,300 churches across the state. That means each church is responsible for reaching 2,442 people if we want to reach our entire state. That means we need more churches to reach the ever-growing population of our state. We also want and need those new churches to be churches that plant more churches because the population and the lostness around us are not going to stop growing. We must plant churches that are not satisfied simply existing. These new churches must desire to reproduce.
Reach North Carolina’s international community – North Carolina is growing, and that growth is not just among the Anglo community. Because of our place in the world as a leader in innovation and academic research, people are coming from all over the world to live here in North Carolina. We have been afforded a great blessing by Christ to reach people right where they are. Research shows that there are more than 340 languages spoken in the homes of NC public school children. Just as the nations came to Jerusalem when the Spirit fell on the disciples on the day of Pentecost, so that nations have come to North Carolina. The BSCNC has the great opportunity to equip our churches to reach the nations located within our own borders. We get to see the Great Commission being fulfilled as we look out our front doors.
Embrace unreached and unengaged people groups – The ministry of the BSCNC is not confined to our state. The nations have come to us, but we must also go to them. According to the IMB, there are 11,723 people groups in the world and of that number, 7,063 are unreached with the gospel. Within an unreached group, there is no community of Christians to reach them. They wakeup each morning with no knowledge of the gospel and no hope. North Carolina Baptists cannot allow this reality to persist and we cannot outsource the responsibility to reach these groups with the gospel to someone else. The Great Commission of Jesus falls upon us. The BSCNC has and must continue to embrace these groups, with the help of our mission partners, with the gospel. We must be a resource to churches, keeping before them the urgent needs, assist in partnerships between churches for the purpose of engaging unreached groups, and resourcing pastors, associational missions strategists, planters, and church leaders so that church and associations can embrace these unreached groups.
Engage young church leaders – Young church leaders are not the future of our convention; they are the present reality. In 2021, it is likely that the five elected leaders of our convention will all be pastors under 45 years of age. The key is not simply electing young leaders to positions but ensure that young leaders know the history and value of our convention. Our convention has a storied past and, I believe, a bright future. Our EDT has led us through troubled waters and has set his successor up for great success. We must ensure that young leaders are having the opportunity to serve the convention, not simply lead it. It is through service to the convention that I have learned the most about where we, as NC Baptists, have come from and where we are going. I did not understand, until I was afforded opportunities for service, exactly what it means to be a NC Baptist. We must always strive to help young church leaders, especially young pastors, serve the convention so that as the time comes, they are ready to lead the convention and lead it well.
This is the announcement I made to my church family back in in the Spring. A lot has changed in our convention since then because of COVID-19. However, I am still excited to be nominated and ready to serve the BSCNC.
If, in November, I am elected President of the BSCNC, here are five goals that will mark my term in office:
1. Continue steady-handed leadership – Steve Scoggins has led us so well. He has worked tirelessly to ensure our convention is strong. I want to continue this by being a leader who does
2. Be an advocate for our BSCNC staff and ministries – Our convention staff have weathered this COVID-19 storm with professionalism and care. They have continued to assist our churches in reaching people with the Gospel. I want to advocate for them as staff and for their ministries. They are our greatest asset as a convention of churches.
3. Provide a voice for small and medium sized churches, the backbone of our convention – often our large churches and celebrity pastors are called upon for their input while smaller churches are not. I will make sure that there are always voices in the decision making process from churches that are smaller and average. The faithfulness of people in those churches have built our convention.
4. Continue to emphasize diversity in the leadership of the convention – God has brought myriads of people to North Carolina and people from many different countries, languages, and backgrounds call themselves North Carolina Baptists. I want to make sure that our leadership, through my appointments, match that reality.
5. Promote church revitalization and church planting – Many of our churches need help and revitalization. The convention has tools to help in that process. We also need more churches to meet the ever-growing population of North Carolina. I will promote revitalization and planting as President.
If I can serve you in anyway, help you with a convention need, or answer a question, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Micheal Pardue will make a great president of the NC Baptist convention. I have relied on his wisdom for the last two years. He loves and understands the work we are doing here in NC, the SBC and around the world. He has the temperament to lead us with a steady hand. – Rev. Steve Scoggins, President, BSCNC
The Biblical Recorder is about to run a story that will cite a resolution that is being submitted to the Southern Baptist Convention that I was able to help craft along with others including Rev. Steve Scoggins and Rev. Bill Sturm. It relies on work done by others in previous resolutions along with our own contributions. This resolution was affirmed by the Resolutions and Memorials Committee of the Baptist State Convention of NC. It is our hope that the SBC will adopt this resolution next June.
Resolution on the Sufficiency of Scripture and the Insufficiency of Critical Race Theory
WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message states, “[A]ll Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried” (Article I); and
WHEREAS, Humanity is primarily identified in Scripture as image bearers of God; and
WHEREAS, the sameness of humanity built upon the Image of God, justifies the value of all individuals in something that transcends race, gender, and other identity intersections; and
WHEREAS, The New Covenant further unites image bearers from every nation, tribe, tongue, and people, through the gospel of Jesus Christ; and
WHEREAS, Scripture already contains principles by which to confront the sins of racism, sexism, injustice, and abuse that are not rooted in secular ideologies; and
WHEREAS, Christian community is not based on the secular ideologies of intersectionality or critical theory but instead on our common salvation in Christ; and
WHEREAS, we find our true identity in Christ; and
WHEREAS, Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality are insufficient to diagnose and address the root causes of the social ills and sinful actions that they identify; and
WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention is committed to the sufficiency of Scripture and is committed to seeking biblical literacy through biblical teaching; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention affirm Scripture as the first, last, and sufficient authority with regard to how the Church seeks to address social ills and sinful actions, and we reject any conduct, creeds, and religious opinions which contradict Scripture; and be it further
RESOLVED, That Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality do not aid in the propagation of the Gospel; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the gospel of Jesus Christ alone grants the power to change people and society because “he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we reject any ideology that establishes human identity in anything other than divine creation in the image of God and, for all redeemed humanity, our common identity, together eternally united to Christ; and be it further
RESOLVED, That while we reject the use of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, we do not deny that ethnic, gender, and cultural distinctions exist and are a gift from God. These gifts will give Him absolute glory when all humanity gathers around His throne in worship because of the redemption accomplished by our resurrected Lord; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention exhibits the promise that distinctions created by God and gifted by God give Him absolute glory in our churches.
An election is coming. Our country and many churches are divided. We’ve experienced a great crisis and a time of both national and person tribulation. Don’t lose sight of what is most important. Consider this from the 19th century English pastor Charles Spurgeon:
Do not pin your faith to anybody’s sleeve. Keep close to the Lord Jesus Christ. You are bought with a price—do not be the servants of men. Do not give yourselves up to party spirit. It is a pity when a man cares only for politics—when the one grand thing he lives for is to return a Liberal to Parliament, or to get in a Radical, or to lift a Tory to the top of the poll. To live for a political party is unworthy of a man who professes to be a Christian! The most advanced politics beneath the sun are nothing compared with living for the bleeding Savior and spending one’s self for the promotion of the immortal principles of the Cross. We are not to give ourselves up to any scientific speculation, educational effort, or to any philanthropic enterprise so as to divert our minds from the grand old cause of Jesus and our God!
-Charles H. Spurgeon, 1874
The last several weeks have brought about unimaginable change to the way of life for most people across the world. No other event in my lifetime, including 9/11, has changed the daily life and routine like the COVID-19 crisis. We have witnessed the rapid spread of the virus, a steep economic downturn, and unprecedented growth in the number of people unemployed.
On March 27, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). This legislation is the largest economic stimulus package in the history of the United States. This sweeping legislation has financial stimulus for businesses large and small, unemployment assistance changes, and direct payments to individuals and families.
We now have the opportunity to be good stewards of this occasion. This opportunity begs the question: Will you tithe your stimulus check to your local church? The reality is that just as every person has been affected by the crisis so has every church. The work of the Kingdom cannot stop because a crisis has come. In fact, the work of the Kingdom is more important than ever. During this crisis the community will need our churches to be a light in the darkness and hope in the midst of despair and fear.
If all North Carolina Baptists would tithe out of their stimulus checks, we would add millions of dollars to the Kingdom work of our churches at this vital time in ministry to our community. We would aid our associations in building partnerships in communities large and small across the state. If each one of us would tithe out of our stimulus funds, we would empower our state convention and the Southern Baptist convention to provide disaster relief to hard hit areas and resource missionaries who will proclaim the Gospel to people who have never heard. We will supply our educational institutions and social ministries with needed resources to both endure the crisis and continue their critical mission.
Our government is putting money in our hands to help cover life’s essentials. Each of us will spend this money in different ways for a variety of reasons. We must not forget, however, that as believers, the work of the Kingdom is essential in times of peace and times of crisis. We fund the work of the Kingdom because we know that everything we have belongs to the Lord.
Now is not the time to retreat from the work we have before us. God has brought us to this moment, and He remains sovereign over all. People are hurting and full of fear. They are uncertain about what will happen with their health, their wealth, and their employment. They do not know what to do and they have no where to turn for hope. May it be said of us, when the future books are written on the history of the church, that we were faithful in the midst of this crisis and stood boldly with the Gospel of Christ.
A year ago, I wrote much of the content of this article as an encouragement to NC Baptist to make nominations of leaders from across our state to the various boards and committees that lead in the work of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The time has come to engage in this work again. As I have seen over this last year as 1st Vice President, the work of the convention does not stop. Our annual gathering is a momentary pause to celebrate all that God has done in and through our convention. When we adjourn, the work continues.
Therefore, I want to challenge each of you, especially young pastors and church leaders to consider serving as a part of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina as we enter 2020. NC Baptists fulfill this process through the nomination process. According to the BSCNC website: Recommendations are sought each year for individuals to serve on the convention’s board of directors, boards of the convention’s agencies and institutions, and convention committees. Recommendations of North Carolina Baptists for places of service and leadership in denominational work are essential for ongoing missions, ministries and evangelistic endeavors.
There is important work being done every day through the ministries of the BSCNC. Churches are being planted, hearts are being transformed, lost people are hearing the Gospel of Christ. Our state convention is guided by those who give of their time to serve on boards and committees of our convention. We consistently need new leaders from all over North Carolina to serve in these positions and provide direction and insight from their churches to our state convention.
Joining the BSCNC Board of Directors was formative for me nine years ago. I did not understand the intricacies of our convention’s ministries. I had no idea how far reaching were the activities of the BSCNC. I had only been in ministry for a few years and witnessed the work of the convention from afar. However, my time on the Board of Directors provided valuable insight that has helped me as I lead my church. I see the work that is being done, from right here in my community to the ends of the earth.
The seventh pillar of the BSCNC’s Seven Pillars for Ministry is to Engage young church leaders. Our convention is committed to engaging younger leaders in the ministries going on around North Carolina and throughout the world. This is a commitment that I both appreciate and have benefited from. I am thankful that I have been able to be involved with convention for over a decade now, and it all started when someone took the time to nominate me to serve. Who will you nominate to serve with the BSCNC? Will you serve when asked? Let’s resolve in 2020 to commit ourselves to the work of the ministry, both in our local church, and wherever else the Lord leads us.