By Dave Miller
Today, at our annual meeting in Des Moines, the Baptist Convention of Iowa voted to adopt a budget that includes a true 50-50 split of Cooperative Program funds. Starting in the new budget, 50% of our CP money will go to the Executive Committee to fund the IMB, NAMB, the seminaries, the EC, the ERLC and whatever else we do as a denomination.
I am pleased to be an Iowa Baptist today.
Currently, our division is 80-20, and of course, Iowa keeps the 80%. At the encouragement of our new Executive Director, Tim Lubinus, we decided not to move incrementally over a matter of years, but to dive into the deep end and make the change all at once.
Some might discount the significance of this move. Iowa is only a small state after all – our budget is probably smaller than a lot of your associations, and more than a few of your churches. The dollars we will give are dwarfed by the money that pours in from the so-called SBC “legacy states”. We are just a small convention on the Baptist frontier.
But that does not mean that our action today is insignificant. It took sacrifice and a refocusing of priorities to accomplish this.
It was not long ago that we had 5 Directors of Missions, funded by NAMB. We had three team leaders in the state office in addition to the Executive Director and several office staff. We had a NAMB funded “Friendship Center” in Des Moines, ministering to the poor and needy. We had some part-time leaders and ministry assistants. Our office building was bursting at the seams.
If you wish to rent space on W. 86th, we might be able to do a deal. It’s a quiet space now. We now have an executive, an office administrator, a financial assistant and we will eventually have two full time state staff. No more DOMs (at least not funded by NAMB). Our staff has been significantly reduced. The Friendship Center is now funded by the BCI, not NAMB. I wish I could slim down like Iowa Baptist staff has.
But we aren’t moaning about that. Because of the changes we’ve made in our state staff, and in spite of going from an 80-20 to a 50-50 split, we are going to have around 25% more in church planting funding than we had before. Instead of spending 39% of our church planting funds on office personnel, we will only spend 13%. The rest will go to planting churches throughout the state. NAMB is our mission partner in all of this and our church planting ministries are funded by Southern Baptists through your cooperative program giving.
This has not been without pain. Because of our size we are a family and there are several empty places at the table. We’ve hired a couple of our former state staff members on a contract basis to relate to churches throughout Iowa and to help build fellowship, but the men who are gone are missed.
But we decided that the way to move forward was not just to manage program assignments, but to plant churches and fund missions. To do that, we needed to speak with our budget. And Iowa Baptists decided that we did not just want to be on the receiving end of Cooperative Program funding. We want to be givers. The amounts are small, but the sacrifice is real and our enthusiasm is strong.
I am glad that now, when we send money to Des Moines for missions through the CP, half of it will go to national and international missions causes and half will stay here in the state of Iowa.
It’s a good day to be an Iowa Baptist.
Dave Miller is senior pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, and serves on the BCI Executive Committee.
Originally posted at SBCvoices.com.