By Tim Lubinus, BCI Executive Director/Treasurer
You may have heard of the three self’s church indicator to show when a church has been fully established. The self’s are self-governing (not led by outside entities), self-supporting (not funded by outside entities), and self-propagating (taking responsibility for kingdom expansion).
Some people also use this same indicator for state conventions. I’ve probably heard dozen times in the last six months that the Baptist Convention of Iowa (BCI) must become fully become self-funding from Iowa churches in or be declared immature. Like a new church plant, the idea is that BCI needs to become independent of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) to show our maturity and independence.
While I agree with the idea that churches should work toward becoming self-funding, I don’t agree that the analogy is holds for state conventions. If the analogy holds true, then NAMB’s goal would be to remove its funding in one state convention after another until it eliminates all state convention partnerships. I think there will always be segments of lostness throughout each state convention that NAMB should assist in reaching.
A better comparison to help understand this idea is to contrast the role of a church planter and a missionary. A church planter is funded for a limited time until the new church can support its own leadership. I get that. However, a missionary’s goal is not to become fully funded by local believers, but to use his outside funding resources to continue to start and develop new ministries. A state convention is more like a missionary than a church planter.
Our goal in Iowa isn’t to decrease partnership and funding from NAMB, but to use funds so well to expand kingdom work in Iowa, that NAMB will go out of its way to increase its funding! I’m sure they want their funds to be used well, and I want them to know that the Baptist Convention of Iowa is a top investment for their church planting and ministry funding dollars.
The mark of maturity of state conventions is not measured by reducing our partnership with the North American Mission Board. I think a better mark of maturity of state conventions is our giving through the Cooperative Program. As Iowa churches grow, we intend to give more generously through the Cooperative Program and to invest increasing NAMB partnership funds more effectively year after year.
Question? Comments? Email me directly at TLubinus@BCIowa.org.