Two advisory councils submitted reports to Frank S. Page, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, at the Many Faces booth in the exhibit hall on Monday, June 13, 2016. Page invited representatives from the councils to join him the following day as he presented his Executive Committee report at the Convention’s 2016 SBC annual meeting.
Page has appointed numerous advisory councils to help the Executive Committee and SBC entity leaders more fully understand and appreciate the perspectives churches and church leaders of a variety of subsets within Convention life bring to the common task of reaching the nation and the nations with the Gospel.
Each group’s report is designed to enlist, equip, and empower all Southern Baptists to and for the task of reaching the lost with the Gospel.
Multi-Ethnic Advisory Council
Guided by Chairman Timmy Chavis, pastor of Bear Swamp Baptist Church in Pembroke, North Carolina, the Multi-Ethnic Council, appointed in 2014, met three times, assigned work groups, and prepared a report on its findings.
The Council itself, representing African, Belorussian, Caribbean, Deaf, Ghanaian, Haitian, Intercultural, Jamaican, Messianic, Multi-Ethnic, Native American, Romanian, and Russian Baptist fellowships across the United States, provided a bold illustration that the world has indeed come to the United States.
Its report outlined many of the cultural distinctives of each group represented and suggested ways Southern Baptists can become more effective in ministering to the variety of human and spiritual needs among these people-groups.
The report’s demographic information highlighted how broadly individuals of every racial, ethnic, or cultural group are dispersed across the North American landscape and pointed to the reality that every Southern Baptist church, no matter its location, is in the center of a diverse mission field in its own community.
Bivocational and Smaller Church Advisory Council
Led by Ray Gilder, former director of the Bivocational and Small Church Leadership Network, the advisory council, also appointed in 2014, was composed of twenty-one bivocational and smaller church pastors, directors of missions, and denominational leaders who are tasked to coordinate ministry with the thirty-seven thousand smaller churches in the Convention.
Highlighting that “the Southern Baptist Convention is a large convention of mostly small churches,” the frontispiece of the report states its central premise: “The size of our Big” (the totality of the Convention’s missions and ministry effectiveness) is determined by “the fruitfulness of our Small” (the evangelistic and discipleship ministries conducted through thousands of local churches, the majority of which run less than 125 in worship each week).
The report noted that many bivocational and smaller church pastors feel disconnected from the Southern Baptist family due to secular work responsibilities and (often) limited church financial resources.
The report highlighted that church health resources are sorely needed in many smaller church settings and suggested ways the work of associations, state conventions, and SBC entities can be strengthened through tapping into the vast reservoir of ministry experience (and experiences) of bivocational and smaller church pastors.