The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) will expand its focus of engaging high concentrations of non-Christians across North Carolina in 2017 as part of the convention’s “impacting lostness through disciple-making” strategy. These high concentrations of non-Christians are referred to as “pockets of lostness.”
Speaking to members of the convention’s Board of Directors at the group’s first meeting of the year, BSC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. said staff will be working with associations, congregations, pastors and church leaders in the coming year to develop local partnerships and strategies designed to reach and disciple unbelievers located in 250 identified pockets of lostness across the state.
Hollifield’s report to the board reflects an expansion of the convention’s strategy adopted in 2013 that initially focused on 100 concentrated pockets of lostness in and around eight large population centers.
The next 150 pockets expand into the rural communities of the state.
Prior to Hollifield’s address, Michael Sowers, BSC strategy coordinator for the Triad, gave board members an overview of the process used to engage a pocket of lostness.
BR photo by K. Allan Blume
Marc Francis, left, pastor of Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham, was elected as president for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina Board of Directors. John Mark Harrison, right, pastor of Apex Baptist Church, was elected vice president.
“We have to work together,” he said. “We have to work together with our associations, we have to work together as churches and we have to work together as people all throughout the spectrum of our churches coming together, developing a strategy so that we can impact lostness through disciple-making.”
Sowers explained that pockets of lostness are geographic regions ranging from a half-mile to 2 miles in radius where up to 70 percent of the population do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In the eight population centers, pockets are often marked by high degrees of ethnic and cultural diversity.
Following Sowers’ presentation, board members divided into smaller groups with each of the convention’s eight strategy coordinators to learn more about pockets of lostness in areas where they live and how they can lead the effort to impact lostness.
“As we identify population segments that need to be reached in all of our pockets of lostness, we are asking God to raise up leaders who are called to reach them and build strong disciples,” Hollifield said. “The strategy is working.”
Hollifield reminded board members of the convention’s vision statement: “To become the strongest force in the history of this convention for reaching people with the message of the gospel.”
Hollfield described the vision as “bold” and “audacious,” but also attainable through humble dependence upon the Lord.
“What we do in kingdom advancement, we do it for Him because we love Christ, and we want to please Him,” Hollifield said. “In 2017, will you as a group commit to becoming a board of directors that is filled with disciples who are making disciples?”
Board elects new officers
In other business, the board elected new officers for 2017. Marc Francis, pastor of Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham, was elected as president for 2017.
Francis served as the board’s vice president in 2016 and was nominated for the post by Mike Motley, pastor of Trading Ford Baptist Church in Salisbury.
“Thank you for your confidence,” Francis said to members of the board following his election. “I really believe we’re at a turning point for building on the foundation we have and going forward into where God is leading us. I’m very excited to be a part of this.”
John Mark Harrison, pastor of Apex Baptist Church, was elected vice president. Harrison had served as chairman of the Evangelism and Discipleship Committee and on the Executive Committee. He chaired the Board of Directors Meetings Evaluation Task Force that recommended changes to the board’s meeting schedule. Harrison was nominated by Jeff Isenhour, pastor of Arran Lake Baptist Church in Fayetteville.
Ginger Brown was re-elected as secretary.
All three officers ran unopposed.
Board members also elected four new members to the Executive Committee and approved nominations of individuals to serve on the convention’s Committee on Nominations and the board’s Business Services Special Committee. Various committees of the board also met and elected their respective chairmen for the coming year.
Four individuals were elected to serve as at-large members of the Executive Committee: Ken Jones, retired minister who is currently serving as interim pastor of Middle Cross Baptist Church in Crouse; Michael Owens, pastor of Gate City Baptist Church in Jamestown; David Spray, pastor of Pisgah Forest Baptist Church; and Melanie Wallace, a member of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell.
At-large members serve one-year terms on the Executive Committee, which conducts regular convention business on behalf of the board between the three annual meetings of the full Board of Directors.
Board members also approved five nominations to the convention’s Committee on Nominations.
Recommendations for service on the Committee on Nominations are presented to the board by the BSC president and two vice presidents. Elected members of the Committee on Nominations serve three-year terms. The Committee on Nominations is a standing committee of the convention with the primary responsibility of nominating individuals to serve on the Board of Directors, other BSC committees and as trustees and directors of agencies and institutions of the convention.
BSC officers recommend six individuals to serve on the Committee on Nominations each year.
The 2017 recommendations for the Committee on Nominations were Ben Curfman, minster at Barberville Baptist Church in Waynesville in the Haywood Association; Michael Davis, minister at Woodlawn Baptist Church in Charlotte in the Metrolina Association; Mark Golden, minister at Calvary Road Baptist Church in Waynesville in the Haywood Association; David Helms, layperson at Galatia Baptist Church in Seaboard in the West Chowan Association; and James Keku, layperson at Immanuel Baptist Church in Greensboro in the Piedmont Association. The board authorized the Executive Committee to approve a sixth appointee.
The board also approved two new nominations to the board’s Business Services Special Committee: Harvey Brown Sr. and Walter Mills, both of First Baptist Church of Charlotte in the Metrolina Baptist Association.
Each board member also serves one of six board committees, which met and elected new chairmen for 2017: David Duarte, pastor of Daystar Church in Greensboro (Communications Committee); Lawrence Clapp, pastor of South Elm Street Baptist Church in Greensboro (Church Planting and Missions Partnerships Committee); Mike Moore, a retired pastor and director of missions who is now a member of Kure Beach Baptist Church (Business Services Special Committee); Boyce Porter, pastor of Geneva Baptist Church in Camden (Christian Social Services Special Committee); Earl Roach, pastor of Hopkins Chapel Baptist Church in Zebulon (Christian Life and Public Affairs Special Committee); and Ed Rose, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Wendell (Evangelism and Discipleship Committee).
Each committee chair serves on the board’s Executive Committee.
Record year in missions giving
Hollifield also provided a financial report for 2016. Although Cooperative Program (CP) receipts were slightly below budget for 2016, the BSC finished the year in the black while sending more to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) missions and ministry causes than any year in the history of the convention.
Cooperative Program giving from N.C. Baptist churches totaled slightly less than $28.8 million in 2016, which was approximately 2.4 percent ($720,000) less than the annual $29.5 million budget.
When compared with 2015, total receipts for 2016 were less than 1 percent behind 2015, when giving slightly exceeded the $29 million budget. Receipts for 2015 totaled $29.07 million.
Despite the 2016 budget shortfall, the convention finished the year with a surplus of about $200,000 by holding the line on expenses and sent a record $30.5 million to the SBC for missions through the CP and special missions offerings.
“It is encouraging that we still managed to send more through the Cooperative Program and through our special missions offerings to Southern Baptist causes than in any year in the history of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina,” said Hollifield. “That helps us to impact lostness in North Carolina, North America and around the world.”
In 2016, 40 percent of the BSC budget was allocated for CP, which totaled more than $11.5 million. N.C. Baptists also gave more than $6 million to the annual Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions and nearly $13 million to the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions during the 2016 calendar year.
Through the first nine months of 2016, CP giving was on pace to meet or potentially exceed the $29.5 million budget until Hurricane Matthew struck eastern North Carolina in early October.
The aftermath of the storm resulted in an uptick in designated giving to disaster relief efforts, including those coordinated by N.C. Baptist Men, also known as Baptists on Mission.
Beverly Volz, BSC’s director of accounting services, said more than $1.8 million in designated gifts was given for Hurricane Matthew relief efforts through convention ministries.
Hollifield praised the generosity of all North Carolinians.
“Hurricane Matthew had a significant effect on receipts from many churches because compassionate N.C. Baptists and others poured out their hearts financially and designated millions of dollars for that great need to help individuals, businesses, families and churches devastated by the flooding and wind damage,” Hollifield said. “We praise God for that compassion of North Carolina people who would be willing to give to help hurting people.
“I never cease to be amazed at the spirit of people from North Carolina.”
Brian Davis, BSC associate executive director-treasure, reported that giving to the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) totaled more than $1.88 million in 2016.
The NCMO supports the 17 different ministries of Baptists on Mission, which includes disaster relief, as well as church planting, missions mobilization projects and associational missions projects.
Missions mobilization consultant Paul Langston said that through Hurricane Matthew relief and recovery efforts coordinated though Baptists on Mission, individuals have logged more than 18,100 volunteer days, provided 455,000 meals and completed 1,400 recovery jobs. Those efforts have resulted in 64 new professions of faith in Christ, Langston said.
Hollifield said missions giving through the Cooperative Program is off to a strong start in 2017, adding that he and convention leaders are hopeful this will be a year of growth.
The BSC’s budget for 2017 that messengers approved at the 2016 annual meeting is $30.375 million with a 40.5 percent CP allocation to SBC missions and ministry efforts.
The next board meeting is scheduled for May 22-23 at the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell.