By Suzii Paynter
At this time in the life of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, I have been drawn to scriptures about transition. In the closing chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses is nearing the end of his leadership and reminds us of this truth, “The hidden things belong to our God, but the revealed things belong to us to know, and to our children forever, in order to do all the words of the law.”
So many things are hidden in the unfolding days of the future; but there are also many gifts provided by a generous God that are revealed to us—gifts that we hold in our hands to use to celebrate and to build up ministry, missions and the wonderful people called to God’s service. It is important to make a difference in the advancement of the “denomi-network” of CBF. We must:
- follow and measure effective strategies that serve churches and build leaders
- manage our successful business model
- collect, curate and share resources to equip the saints
- build a culture on the values of friendship, justice and Christlike living.
Each day and each time provides its own context, and transition prompts those strategic initiatives which give life to CBF. As churches and leaders, we are working to clarify the identity of positive Christian witness in our Baptist heritage and to develop deeper congregational ties. We are expanding and celebrating diversity within CBF. We are extending our commitment through global missions with the creation of new opportunities for service through initiatives such as the expansion of CBF’s rural development coalition, Together for Hope. We are deepening our commitment to CBF as a fertile place to develop leaders in the Christian faith. These initiatives are woven together.
The business model of the Fellowship has provided stability for transition and includes direct giving, cultivating grant opportunities, becoming a provider of services, evaluating costs including events and the cultivation of legacy gifts. We have reorganized and strengthened finance and accounting practices so that we can align all the revenue and expenditures within the greater enterprise of CBF. This is not just transparency, as important as that is, but alignment and analysis of all the ways that our financial channels affect the mission as we live it now and the mission as we prepare for the future.
CBF is strengthened through partnerships and relationships, including CBF Church Benefits as a particularly close auxiliary partner. Other resources include the network of 14 theological institutions that collaborate with CBF’s Young Baptist Ecosystem, PASSPORT, Inc., Baptist Women in Ministry, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, and other partners that have contributed to thriving ministry. Increasingly, CBF is important to Baptist partners like the Baptist World Alliance and organizations that reflect our place as a leader within the ecumenical and interfaith world. These relationships are a place for CBF to respond to the changing nature of the church, with its goals of justice and mission.
As a network that is 100-percent voluntary and relational, there is great importance in our being attentive to our culture. By that, I mean the interpersonal relationships that have marked us as a loving, authentic and honest organization. These relationships are not just among staff or even stakeholders in key leadership positions; they also include relationships that exist among people in extended partnerships, relationships with ecumenical and interfaith colleagues, relationships strengthened in support of diversity and in support of women in ministry.
In this season, I cherish both the hidden gifts that God has yet to reveal for CBF and the very tangible tools available to build up the Kingdom and equip our churches for service. I pray that my work in these days will prepare the staff to support the next leader in the wonderful ways that I have been supported. CBF has an incredible horizon of opportunity, and we have the capacity and talents to be deeply attentive to what God has for us in this moment of remembering that “the hidden things belong to our God, but the revealed things belong to us to know, and to our children forever, in order to do all the words of the law.”
Suzii Paynter currently serves as the Executive Coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and is transitioning out of her role in 2019. We celebrate the legacy of her tenure in the Winter 2018-19 issue of fellowship! magazine.