I was called to serve the collective churches of the Kentucky Baptist Convention six years ago. One year later, in May of 2012, the Mission Board voted to approve a reorganization that brought sweeping changes, not only to KBC structure and staffing, but to the very mission itself. Today, we are able to look back on five years of ministry to evaluate the impact of those changes. Any successes we have witnessed have come by the grace of God, the sacrificial giving and going of our Lord’s churches under the leadership of their pastors, and the hard work of our staff, and in that order. This is the Lord’s work and the work of our churches long before it is the work of the KBC.
As I came into my role, I did so with the knowledge of one who had already been involved in KBC life for more than 20 years, first as a ministry student at one of our institutions and then as a pastor who had the privilege of serving in various appointed and elected roles in our convention. From that experience, I knew cooperative missions had been losing ground in Kentucky for several years as was evidenced by a significant decrease in the percentage of undesignated receipts churches were giving through the Cooperative Program. In less than two decades, that percentage had fallen from 11 percent to 6 percent, nearly cut in half.
Added to that decrease in funding was a growing conviction that one of the answers to the financial struggles of the International Mission Board was the need to move more CP funds from state mission budgets to the national Southern Baptist Convention budget and, ultimately, to the IMB budget.
Rather than view these two funding realities as a one-two punch to the KBC, we began to work with leaders from across our state to envision how we could use our circumstances to create a new model for state convention work. The end result was what some have come to call KBC 2.0.
The cornerstone of KBC 2.0 is a new mission statement that focuses all KBC work back to the local church: “The Kentucky Baptist Convention: created by churches, for churches, to help churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.” Conforming to this new mission statement means that, by necessity, our staff members have shifted their ministry model away from an event planning emphasis to a field driven emphasis, which requires, as the emphasis suggests, a lot of driving in the field. Less time in KBC offices and more time with pastors, church staff and lay leaders in local church offices, local association offices, McDonald’s and Cracker Barrel has not only strengthened our relationships with churches and associational leaders, but also helped us do our part in strengthening the local church.
A significant result of this mission recovery and the relationships that have been strengthened is that cooperative missions giving has stabilized. We also witnessed two years of increase in baptisms, more churches being planted, and growth in the number of Kentucky Baptists involved in volunteer mission work in Kentucky and around the world. In my travels around the state, I am seeing the most unified KBC I’ve known in my 20-plus years of involvement. Thanks be to God!