CBF Moderator Matt Cook, pastor of First Baptist Church in Wilmington, N.C., emphasized that since the Fellowship has gone through a yearlong process of clarifying its brand and identity, the almost 25-year-old organization is better prepared
to live into its mission and vision in the years that lie ahead.
“We want to let our best values—our strengths—guide who we are,” Cook said. “We have been reminding ourselves who we are. We have been clarifying our identity; the Fellowship can now live into that as CBF moves into the celebration of its 25th year. We want to let our best values, our strengths, guide who we are.
“I think the best thing that we can do as a Fellowship is to understand and embrace our identity. So this is a year that we as a Governing Board get to serve in the midst of great possibility, and it is my hope for us and my challenge for us that we live into that great opportunity.
”An exciting year is ahead for CBF and for this particular Governing Board,” Cook said.
CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter focused her report to the Governing Board on the great work of strategic planning that has taken place and is in process in each of CBF’s departments. She also shared updates about how the Fellowship is diversifying funding strategies as the denomi-network of individuals and churches begins to celebrate its 25th year.
“These reports [from Global Missions, Ministries, Finance and Advancement] have a very strategic importance for our future,” Paynter said. “I don’t read statistics about declining churches and roll over. I am encouraged by the growth of these initiatives and see them as fertile ground.”
Paynter spoke to the complexities of the programs and structures within CBF, and addressed how this complexity is a gift as the Fellowship embraces partnerships and looks toward expanding its impact, emphasizing that part of CBF’s response to the 25th anniversary is to understand the diverse means of funding already in place and the diverse means that are available so that the message of CBF can reach more people.
“As we enter into the 25th anniversary, we will continue to have many streams of funding,” Paynter said. “As we look at our complex system, we want to embrace this diversity and also want to eliminate the confusion in the pew. I would like our churches to know that their gifts to us will be met with funds from other sources. We are looking to find a way to have our message reach more people. How do we mobilize our message? Not through the funnel of this office, but through the life experience of those whose lives have been transformed through the work of the Fellowship.”
The Governing Board also received an update on the upcoming 25th anniversary fundraising campaign, which will launch in 2016. Gary Dollar, former Governing Board member and now its liaison to the 25th anniversary campaign, shared ideas for how board members could help ensure the success of the campaign.
Staff representatives from CBF Ministries initiatives such as Church Starting and the Young Baptist Ecosystem offered support for the call to embrace CBF identity and to restructure programs to broaden support given to young Baptists and church starters across the Fellowship. Through shifts in processes and engagement with those involved, CBF Ministries will be able to provide much-needed support in the most effective ways through theological scholarships and covenants with new church starts.
“The best way to prepare for tomorrow is to be faithful today,” said Harry Rowland, CBF director of missional congregations and leader of the CBF Church Starts initiative.
Global Missions Coordinator Steven Porter also offered a report on the work of Together for Hope, CBF’s rural poverty initiative, that is living into a new commitment to covenant together throughout four regions as they approach the end of the initial 20-year commitment to the communities they serve. Alongside this covenant that was implemented in 2014, Together for Hope is strategically planning for the future as CBF Global Missions completes a restructuring process.
The Board also heard updates from the CBF Nominating Committee, Ministries Council and Missions Council, which have met individually over the last few weeks, hearing about the visioning that each group has for their work with the Fellowship over the next year.
The CBF Governing Board concludes its two-day fall meeting today. See photos from the meeting here.