Church planting, strengthening churches forefront of restructuring plan
    April 12 2013 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

    The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) Executive Committee approved a plan April 11 to “tear down silos,” streamline the organization and better assist churches in making disciples, evangelism and church planting among people groups of every ethnicity and cultural context.

    The plan includes equipping churches to take ownership of collegiate ministries, and also sending strategy coordinators to work with churches and associations to penetrate “concentrated areas of lostness” through eight “population centers” around the state.
    The new structure would eliminate 16 positions – 10 of which would come from campus ministries. But the convention also would add 11 positions, which would leave a net loss of five positions. While Cooperative Program giving in N.C. is off to a slow start – nearly 20 percent below budget – Hollifield noted that the restructuring plan was not a result of economic challenges, but a genuine desire “to stop the bleeding of the loss of people [who are] being led to the Lord, but they’re not being discipled.”
    “There’s been a disconnect between evangelism and discipleship,” said Milton Hollifield, BSC executive director-treasurer, in an interview.
    “[Discipleship] is the mandate for every church member. … In the large degree, we’ve missed it.”
    “We’ve been satisfied with some programs and some efforts” added Brian Davis, BSC executive leader, “but there’s a philosophy of disciple making that’s got to pervade what we’re doing.”
    The Executive Committee’s approval will go before the Board of Directors during their meeting in May. If approved by the Board, the strategy will be presented to N.C. Baptist messengers during their annual meeting in November. The new structure wouldn’t go into effect until January of 2014.
     What’s different?
    The following is summary of recommended changes in the proposal.
    – Brian Davis, BSC’s executive leader, would become associate executive director-treasurer. 
    – Russ Conley, who is senior consultant for Leadership Ministries, would become team leader for eight strategy coordinators who will work with churches and associations through the “population centers.” These areas that have a high concentration of “lostness” include Asheville, Hickory, Charlotte, the Triad and Triangle areas, Fayetteville, Wilmington and Greenville.
    – Michael Sowers, senior consultant for the Office of Great Commission Partnerships (GCP), would serve as a strategy coordinator for the Triad area. The senior consultant position for GCP will remain open and could be filled in the future.
    – Frank White, senior consultant for Anglo/African American Church Planting, would be a strategy coordinator for the Charlotte area. His current position will be eliminated.
    – Rick Trexler, team leader for Campus Ministry, would become team leader of Collegiate Partnerships. The Campus Ministry team would no longer exist under the new structure, and a newly designed team would work more closely in partnership with churches. In addition to Trexler, the team would include: Sammy Joo, who would work with international students in the Triangle area; and Tom Knight would work among international students in Charlotte. Two positions remain open for the western and eastern parts of the state.
     – Lynn Sasser, executive leader of Congregational Services group, would become the executive leader of a new group called Evangelism and Discipleship. The Congregational Services group and Evangelization group will no longer exist under the new structure. The new group would be divided into a Disciple-making Team and Church Strengthening Team.

    – Brian Upshaw, team leader of the Church Ministry Team, would lead the Disciple-making Team. His team would include: Ashley Allen, Embrace and Women’s Evangelism and Discipleship; Merrie Johnson, Youth Evangelism and Discipleship; Marty Dupree, Adult Evangelism and Discipleship; Rick Hughes, Adult Evangelism and Discipleship; Guillermo Soriano, Hispanic Evangelism and Discipleship; Cheryl Markland, Childhood Evangelism and Discipleship; Eddie Thompson, Family Evangelism and Discipleship.
    – Antonio Santos, senior consultant for Hispanic Church Development, would become the team leader for the Church Strengthening Team. His team would include: Neal Eller, senior consultant for Stewardship; David Moore, senior consultant for Pastoral Ministries; Ken Tan, senior consultant for Leadership Development; Bob Foy, senior consultant for Church Renewal; Donnie Wiltshire, senior consultant for Special Ministries; Kenny Lamm, senior consultant for Worship and Music.

    Though many of the roles mentioned will remain similar, for some they will change significantly. Of the five main groups within the convention – Administration & Convention Relations, Business Services, Congregational Services, Church Planting & Missions Development, and Evangelization – the plan would trim them to four, which would include the new team led by Sasser. Of the 22 ministry teams, the new plan would drop those to 18.
    “It’s a significant streamlining of the organization,” said Davis, who chaired the strategy committee that developed the strategy upon which Hollifield has built the new structure.
    Campus ministry

    One of the most visible changes would involve equipping churches to help make more disciples on N.C. college campuses, while reducing the Baptist State Convention’s presence on campuses.
    Under the new structure, Trexler would lead Collegiate Partnerships to build a “network of churches working together” and empower them to build a presence on more campuses.
    “We believe this is the best way to increase ministry on campuses,” Hollifield said. “There are churches I know [that] will take the lead on this. I want … students to be in those churches … that are surrounding the campus.”
     “Our job is going to be to provide training, leadership … still doing some of the summer things where we offer them the missions opportunities and that type of thing,” added John Butler, executive leader of Business Services and a member of the strategy committee.
    With more than a 100 campuses in North Carolina, there are many churches with a strong desire to get involved in campus ministry, said Davis.
    “We’ve had calls from churches where they’ve said, ‘We have a college in our town. How can you help us? How can you train us? How can you resource us?” he said. “And the response has been ‘Sorry, we don’t have a position that we can fund there.’ That’s the wrong response.
    “We exist to serve the churches, to help resource, to help train them, to help prepare them. And this … arrangement of structure allows us to do that.” 
    Population Centers
    The other more visible change will involve sending out strategy coordinators through eight “population centers” to help develop strategies to get the gospel to unreached people groups.
    “North Carolina has changed,” Hollifield said, according to his written report for the Executive Committee. “Over 230 languages are spoken in our public schools; but there is not a gospel witness in each of these languages.
    “The convention, and I mean the convention in its fullness – churches, associations, convention staff, auxiliary, institutions, and agencies – must recognize that simply serving the white English speaking residents of our state is a dying proposition.”
    Davis contended some may view the new strategy as a smaller version of NAMB’s Send North America campaign that focuses on reaching cities. But it’s not the same.
    “A major distinction between what we’re doing and what NAMB is doing … [is] they’re focusing primarily on church planting,” Davis said. “We’re focusing on strengthening existing churches in those areas and planting new churches."
    In recent years, Davis said there have been some who have contacted the BSC looking for assistance in planting a church and needing advice on the best location.
    “Our response has been, ‘We’re not telling you. ... You need to discern where God would have you to go,’” Davis said. “Now we’re gong to say we have eight areas where we are concentrating some of these efforts.”
    And the plan will involve churches of all sizes in all areas of the state.
    “I think about these eight concentrated areas of population in North Carolina [and] how much it would impact spiritually the rest of the state if we could be more effective in evangelizing and discipling those people in those areas,” said Hollifield.
     “We want to help strengthen churches across the entirety of the state,” added Davis. “But we [also] can’t ignore where we have these concentrations. It’s not either or; it’s a both and approach.”

    Read the Impacting Lostness Through Disciple-making strategy.
    View the proposed group structure chart within BSC 
    View the proposed staff organizational chart 
    4/12/2013 10:54:12 PM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor | with 15 comments
    Filed under: BSC, restructuring

Greg Mathews
“God chose to minister through the local church” states a comment above. I am a minister on staff with a local church in North Carolina and I could not agree more. I disagree, however, with the inferred conclusion that therefore no ministry should be undertaken by the Convention. The Convention is nothing more than a grouping of local churches that provides opportunities for ministry a single church could not undertake alone. The time-consuming, weird-hours, labor of love that is campus ministry is something that most churches are unable to undertake by themselves making it a valid ministry for the Convention to provide.
The article provides a quote: “We’ve had calls from churches where they’ve said, ‘We have a college in our town. How can you help us? How can you train us? How can you resource us?” he said. “And the response has been ‘Sorry, we don’t have a position that we can fund there.’ That’s the wrong response.” I COMPLETELY agree. That is the wrong response. Eliminating campus ministers where they are already present, however, will not improve that response. It will only expand the vacuum of needed ministry leadership on the campuses across our state.
As someone who benefited greatly from campus ministry (BCM) during my time at UNC Charlotte, I admit my bias. As I read the articles outlining these decisions and their stated motivations, though, biased or not I see a disconnect. I am unsure how cutting campus ministers does anything towards empowering churches. I see it as only increasing their burden.
5/5/2013 12:12:47 PM

Chelsea Taylor
The article by Milton Hollifield ( much clearer picture of the vision for campus ministries future. It shares the background and more of the thought process behind it. For me personal I think this direction can do great things. I still have questions about how this will work but it makes it clear too that they are working on that piece too. This has really helped me understand better, which is ultimately my goal.
4/26/2013 12:53:32 PM

Bethany Scott
For the last seven years my husband and I have poured into this ministry in Wilmington, Greensboro, and across the state. We meet at a BCM leadership retreat and can both honestly say we would not be who we are without this ministry. This ministry through the campus minister and other members of BCM allowed me to grow closer to God in a point in my life where it would have been very easy to stray from God.
Although, I understand the need for church presence on campuses, the physical presence of a minister focused on the specific needs of college students changes lives and brings many lost college students to Christ. By defunding these positions you will be closing an open door to a mission field impacting an entire generation. Most campuses will not allow a unaffiliated person onto campus, so by eliminating BCM you will be eliminating a pathway onto campuses all over the state of North Carolina.
4/24/2013 9:00:19 PM

Bonnie Arsenault
I think this will have a devastating impact on students across our state. My daughter had such a strong group of Christian friends that she met through BCM at ASU.
The campus minister is outstanding and gives the students strong, biblical counsel and teaching. She and her husband are presently preparing to become IMB missionaries and I believe this is largely due to the interaction she had at BCM.
4/18/2013 8:57:29 PM

Beth Starkey
You are sadly mistaken if you think churches will step up to the plate regarding campus ministries. Some don't support it now. What makes you think that they'll start now?
4/17/2013 9:25:50 PM

Alan Mizelle
I am very concerned about the use of "target areas" in the proposal. The Baptist State Convention's target area should be.........North Carolina.
4/17/2013 12:41:34 PM

As the parent of a student devastated by this news, I can't pretend to be objective. But this seems like a bad decision in so many ways. I support ministry through the local chuches. Theoretically, having churches lead ministry sounds great, but this is impractical during the college years. Allowing for breaks and weekends away, students are present at their college church only about half of the total weekends during the year. Also, many students do not have transportation. Plus, the one united group of Baptist students is now splintered into 8-10 different church groups.
More importantly, BCM houses provide a wonderful haven on campus for students that is sorely needed during the college years. At a time when universities are kicking other Christian ministries off campus, why do we voluntarily give up our presence? We have seen with our child first-hand the tremendous discipling role of the full-time on-campus minister, and that cannot be replaced by volunteers. Surveys tell us that college students are abandoning the faith in droves. This certainly doesn't seem like the time to de-emphasize the minstry of BCM. I am saddened.
4/17/2013 8:45:02 AM

Chelsea Taylor
As part of UNCG BCM for four years I was able to serve in many capacities on campus and throughout the state. As a freshmen I vividly remember the intense discipleship given to me by my campus minister. She urged me to know scripture, stand up for Christ, and to always serve him. When we transferred campus ministers, the Lord provided a minister who lived life with us. He taught us how to be missionaries on campus and honestly "do church" in our dorms, cars, at lunch, and on the lawns. He encouraged us to be conversationalists and to meet the needs of those around us, the same way Christ did. Something else he helped us understand was that change is a good thing and can be great with the church especially when it is a clear vision seeking to bring glory and fame to Jesus Christ and not ourselves.

For me this decision is difficult to swallow because all of the reasons given above for making such drastic changes I believe were already established on my campus given the current structure. Also the article above said: "We’ve had calls from churches where they’ve said, ‘We have a college in our town. How can you help us? How can you train us? How can you resource us?” he said. "And the response has been ‘Sorry, we don’t have a position that we can fund there.’ That’s the wrong response." My question is, Why weren't churches being referred to contact the BCM on campus and to work with the campus minister to connect with the ministries needs and students? I know we were begging more and more churches to get involved whether it was through speaking, involving students in their church or even through Bible studies.

Another statement above that I disagree with or don't understand is "We exist to serve the churches, to help resource, to help train them, to help prepare them. And this … arrangement of structure allows us to do that." My question is aren't college students, who are missionaries at the campuses from their home church, part of the church? So this new structure supports "traditional churches" in buildings but doesn't support the genuine and organic churches that thousands of students across the state build in their dorms from the guidance and discipleship of their campus ministry? Did anyone ask students what their needs or mission is on their campus right now?

This comment may seem harsh but it isn't meant to be. My goal is to ask thoughtful questions and to give the perspective of a recent college graduate. Honestly the discipleship BCM has facilitated has led me to leading others at my church now and ministering to my co-workers. I met my best friends through BCM who hold me accountable and I grew in my faith tremendously. College is a very broken place with hurting people. It can be a dark place and a campus minister can give support to Christian students to be that light even when it is difficult.
4/16/2013 10:59:07 PM

Carly Conley
I want to share another experience: It is possible for churches to reach out to college students. By God's grace, the college ministry at my church taught me so much about being committed to the local body. We were "adopted" by families within the church. The same family later became my marriage mentors. Because the church reached out us, my husband and I have been committed and chose to stay in Raleigh after school at NC State. There is hope for the colleges! God chose to minister through the local church.
4/16/2013 10:02:04 AM

Dr. John S. Pond
I am greatly saddened that Baptist Campus Ministries is being removed as a mission/ministry of North Carolina Baptists. To expect individual churches to take the responsibility is baffling. I have been involved with congregations for over 20 years as consultant, DOM and pastor and see a context of financially strained churches who can barely pay their pastor; congregations that have been asked to assume prison ministries because chaplains are not needed; congregations that are already over burdened with other vialble ministries; simply too few congregations who try to do everything else that is dumped on them. I also see a mission field filled with an age group that is either fleeing from the church or is ignostic to the gospel. To have such an enormous mission field that demands a team of trained personnel in university missions told that they are not needed (in such a critical time) or untrained volunteers alone from the church could do a better job (perhaps realistically because campus ministry is not cost-efficient) is heart breakiing and spiritually ill-advised. We will reap a bitter harvest and wonder why.
4/16/2013 9:36:49 AM

Garland H. Honeycutt
I am excited about the restructuring - these changes sound great! Very thankful for our convention leadership's commitment to fulfillling the Great Commission by making disciples in North Carolina. I believe great things are in store for North Carolina Baptists!
4/15/2013 9:51:49 PM

Yvonne McKnight
BSU was my home away from home, too. We were truly a family. I could go there anytime day or night and spend time with my Christian brothers and sisters. Our campus minister was like our mom - always available. I am so thankful that churches want to help and get involved. That is wonderful! But I see them in more of a grandparent's role - we visit them. Their home is great but it is not our home. BSU was an oasis of truth and moral standards on a secular university campus. It was always there; always open. Can a church provide that level of commitment? When young people are making major lifetime decisions, is it wise to take away something that guides them in the right direction?
4/15/2013 3:47:48 PM

Kathy Larkins
I do not disagree with strengthening churches, but to remove Baptist Campus Ministries from college campuses is not going to achieve that. Much of the ministry on college campuses is not scheduled. It takes place when students have the need to reach out and talk to someone "on the spot." BSU or BCM as it is now provides that outreach. Campus ministers are, so to speak, "boots on the ground." They are living life with the students. They reached out to me especially when I had a death in my family. They were there when I needed them. I don't see how a local church is going to be able to replace this. I pray that this decision will be reconsidered.
4/15/2013 7:06:44 AM

Jeanna Bryson
From the moment I moved on campus at UNCG the presence of the BSU was there. When my mother couldn't reach me in my room, (we didn't have cell phones as we do now) I was either in class or at the BSU. College students need a place on campus to gather. I didn't have a way to go off campus without asking someone.... Will you still be able to have that constant presence. Those days at the BSU are where I made my life long friends...Christian Friends!! Don't take them off campus.
4/15/2013 6:23:17 AM

Jane Barlow
This saddens me. BSU was such a critical part of my college experience, I cannot imagine churches being able to be that home away from home in the same way. There was definitely discipleship, and my spiritual growth was probably greater than at any time in my life. Has this been thought through well?
4/13/2013 7:06:36 PM

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