Georgia Baptist messengers gathering in November for their annual meeting will be presented a 2018 budget totaling $41.2 million.
Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director J. Robert White noted the increase was modest “but is going in the right direction.” The slight bump is in line with previous years of conservative stewardship, which increased the 2016 budget by $200,000 and the current 2017 budget by $400,000.
The straight-line budget is slowly pulling the Mission Board out of the Great Recession and years of deep cuts, such as the $1.4 million that was trimmed from the 2014 budget and which pushed the agency to levels not seen such as 1998.
Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director J. Robert White thanked the churches for their sacrificial giving to the Cooperative Program and the Mission Georgia state missions offering. The budget was one of several business matters discussed during the Sept. 26 meeting of the Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
During the budget presentation with Executive Committee member Randy Wood, White cited the ongoing decline of Cooperative Program giving and its impact on reaching Georgia – and the world – for Christ. However, White rejoiced that 40 percent of Cooperative Program receipts will be forwarded to Southern Baptist Convention ministries.
Of the remaining budget, 13.74 percent – or $5,660,880 – will be allotted for Georgia Baptist ministries. Entities receiving that funding are four colleges and universities, the Ministerial Education Fund, the Education Commission, Baptist Village, Baptist Retirement Communities of Georgia, and the Georgia Baptist Foundation.
It also includes a new line item known as Benchmark Funding, which was created to encourage its educational institutions to excel in four specific areas of improvement, with a bonus for reaching all four incentives. Those incentives, each valued at $60,000, will introduce friendly competition for annual awards based on:
- increased enrollment of full-time, degree-seeking Georgia Baptist students versus the Full-time Equivalent Enrollment (FTE) standard;
- the highest percentage of full-time ministerial students;
- the highest percentage increased enrollment of full-time, degree-seeking students who are not necessarily Georgia Baptists; and
- the Biggest Fund Raiser Award to the school that has the biggest fund-raiser for the school year.
A bonus $60,000 award, known as the Grand Slam, will be awarded to the college or university that achieves all four incentive awards in the same year. The institution reaching the four incentives and the Grand Slam will receive $300,000 for that year.
The new funding was created following the adoption of a Task Force Report on the Mission Board’s education institutions. A more detailed story on the report will appear shortly in The Index.
The other 46.26 percent – $22,127,864 – will fund Georgia Baptist Mission Board ministries beginning in Georgia and extending around the world. Included in that amount is additional non-Cooperative Program income the Board expects to receive of $1,500,000 from the Mission Georgia Offering; $522,000 from Cooperative Agreements; and $1,046,744 from Investment/Registration/and other income.
In the tag team approach to presenting the budget, Wood noted the efficiency of the Board’s employee levels and noted that 2018 staff would increase by 2 to 166 while only impacting the budget by $24,882. He explained that was achieved by more efficient and creative use of employees.
“This means that only 35.34 percent of the budget is tied to staff salary and benefits, far below that of many churches … some which are in the 45- to 50-percent range of their budgets,” he explained. Staff salary increases were set at 2 percent as last year.
“We are not maintaining an institution simply for the sake of the institution but are investing our resources in the future,” he declared.
White then explained that 24 percent of the overall budget, if approved by messengers at the November meeting, would be invested in reaching the next generation of children, youth, and collegians for Christ.
Part of that is a new emphasis called #reachingnextgen (formerly U2019) which seeks to boost baptism rates among those under the age of 19. Last year Georgia Baptist churches averaged only one student baptism and half didn’t baptize one teenager. In addition, only one in eight Georgia Baptist churches have vocational leaders over children and/or teens. Seven of eight are led by volunteers.
But there remains good news among the statistics, and Georgia Baptists are working to maximize the sharing of the gospel among that demographic. For example, approximately 15 percent of baptisms come from Vacation Bible School and research shows that the more Christian camps a teen attends, the more likely they are to come to faith in Christ and remain in church as adults. Learn more about the initiative here.
In other business, Executive Committee members approved recommendations to:
- allow Brewton Parker College to form an affiliated corporation to restructure its debt and receive a far more competitive loan rate;
- reduce the number of members serving on the Board of Trustees of Baptist Village from 20 to 12;
- increase the Mission Board’s line of credit from $1 million to $2 million to help it through the lean summer months which coincide with similar income decreases for churches.
This year’s annual meeting will be held Nov. 13-14 at North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville. A Sunday evening inspirational service will be held on Nov. 12 from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the church. The 2018 budget will be among several business items to be considered by messengers.
This is the second year that messenger registration is being conducted online. Paper registration packets are no longer being mailed to churches.