Amid a week of severe weather threats across the state, members of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) Board of Directors faithfully gathered on May 21 at the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City to pray about and discuss 2020 ministry plans. BGCO Executive Director-Treasurer Hance Dilbeck said, “Today we are discussing our plans for the future; specifically, how we plan to live out our mission to encourage one another to advance the Gospel in 2020 and beyond.”
Citing Psalm 127 and James 4, Dilbeck rooted the ministry planning in the Scriptures. “Planning for the future is delicate work. We here confess the foolishness, the vanity and the pride involved in planning for the future without the Lord’s blessing,” Dilbeck said.
Dilbeck and members of the board spent time reviewing the decisions from the Feb. 5 meeting of the BGCO Board.
“In February, we came to agreement concerning what our Lord has called us to do and why. We approved a statement of our mission, strategic patterns, strategic priorities, a challenging Cooperative Program (CP) allocation,” said Dilbeck. “We called this the Advance 2020 strategy.”
In February, members of the board approved the Finance Committee’s recommendation that the 2020 CP objective be $26.1 million and be distributed in the following percentage allocations: 43 percent to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), 42 percent to the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and 15 percent to BGCO affiliates. If the CP objective were to be reached, Oklahoma Baptists would be sending $1 million more to the SBC than prior fiscal years.
The four big objectives to be met in 2025 that the board approved in the February meeting and also discussed at the May meeting were: 1) increasing weekly church attendance by 20 percent; 2) increasing the number of baptisms by 20 percent; 3) increasing journeyman and career missionary appointees through the International Mission Board by 20 percent; and 4) increasing Cooperative Program giving by 20 percent.
BGCO Church Relations Group to launch
To help organize the convention to better serve churches and pursue the ministry objectives, Dilbeck and board members discussed how the BGCO will be organized as part of Advance 2020.
“If we are not careful, Southern Baptist state conventions can sometimes become too centralized, specialized and program focused,” Dilbeck said. “Here in Oklahoma, we want to continue to be regional, general and relational. We are here to encourage our pastors and churches.”
Board members discussed plans to launch a BGCO Church Relations Group, which would be led by James Swain, who now serves as Equipping Team leader and liaison to the directors of missions.
Dilbeck said Oklahoma would have five ministry regions, with one BGCO ministry partner established for each region. Board members previewed a job description for each of these roles, which will be filled in the months ahead.
“These ministry partners would be connected to a number of churches in a specific region, even living in that region. They would carry a ‘ministry toolbox’ designed to help encourage our pastors and churches,” Dilbeck said.
In addition to launching the BGCO Church Relations Group, the BGCO will adapt its structure to include a Church Resources Group, led by Alan Quigley who currently serves as the leader of the Mobilization Team.
“We will need specialized resources—such as training, programs, materials, tools for embracing brokenness as opportunity for the Gospel,” Dilbeck said. “We will be responsive to our churches’ needs.”
BGCO President Blake Gideon said, “While Dr. Dilbeck and his staff are not bringing specific recommendations today, he has set out their intentions, a clear direction, and I think we should affirm that direction.”
Gideon, pastor of Edmond, First, and members of the BGCO Board voted to affirm the plans and direction.
Board approves Designated Gifts Policy
The Board approved a Designated Gifts Policy recommended from the Finance Committee. The policy states that the BGCO encourages support of Southern Baptist ministries through tithes and designated offerings given by Oklahoma Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program.
The BGCO does accept charitable gifts from individuals “as long as it is practical and reasonable,” the policy states. Gifts made to the BGCO to assist in the recovery of a disaster, whether specific to location, type or date, will be deemed made for use for general disaster relief funds.
A summary of the Designated Gifts Policy can be found at www.bgco.org/gift-acceptance-policy. Those interested in seeing a list of specific ministries of the BGCO that will accept gifts may contact the BGCO Finance Group at email@example.com.
Board committees, affiliates present reports
BGCO affiliates include the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma (BFO), Baptist Village Communities (BVC), Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children (OBHC) and Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU). Reports of all four entities were presented at the May 21 board meeting.
Pat Taylor, interim OBU president, addressed the school’s budget, stating OBU is “in great shape.” He said past budget concerns have been a result of enrollment forecasting falling short.
“We are taking a much more conservative approach to forecasting our enrollment,” Taylor said. “In my opinion, this is the perfect way to approach budgeting.”
OBHC President Greg McNeece submitted a report through video as he was unable to attend the meeting. He reported that 18 people graduated in May who have grown up under OBHC’s provisions or received support from OBHC. “Maybe for the first time, they realized they can do something,” McNeece said. “They can change their future by having an education. As Oklahoma Baptists, we can be a part of setting them on a life-changing course.”
Robert Kellogg, BFO president, reported the Foundation has been successful in managing church loans. In the first quarter of 2019, BFO collected nearly $1 million in interest, Kellogg reported, which has been distributed back to ministry causes.
“It is a privilege to be a part of the BGCO and to serve (the state convention) and (its) affiliated entities and members,” Kellogg said.
Bill Pierce, BVC president, began his report by thanking those who participated in the Mother’s Day Offering, which supports both OBHC and BVC. He said contributing to the Mother’s Day Offering demonstrates a commitment to children, senior adults and families.
Pierce also reported how people who are 65 and older are “very open to the Gospel,” and he said BVC is committed to helping older adults serve and share the Gospel.
“I hope and pray that in the days ahead we see such a swell of ministry to senior adults in new and better ways, senior adults getting saved in ways we haven’t seen in the past,” Pierce said. “I think God is going to bless us in some great ways.”
The next scheduled BGCO Board meeting is set for Sept. 10 at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center in Davis.