May 12, 2020
By Jeff Huett
DECATUR, Ga. — As part of the Toward Bold Faithfulness initiative, a team representing the breadth of CBF life has spent more than six months leading the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship through a season of discovering where God would have the Fellowship focus its energy, so that congregations can thrive and Christ’s mission can flourish.
This Discovery Team announced today that it will release its findings through a series of videos and an online report beginning June 1 and will seek feedback from across the Fellowship through numerous video conference engagement opportunities June 8 to June 17.
The Discovery Team’s work and its report are based on the prayerful exploration of a series of essential questions that flow from the conviction that calling emerges at the intersection of the gifts and graces given by the Holy Spirit, the needs of congregations and the world, and the opportunities for growth and expansion.
The launch of the report announced today is only part of the work that the CBF Governing Board and CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley began in October 2019. The work of prayerful discovery of the urgent needs and gifts of congregations and communities is distinct from the work of faithful response, which will guide the Fellowship’s future focus and priorities. After the discovery findings are announced, a season focused on response will commence where the Fellowship seeks to align its gifts, resources and structures for a bold future guided by the Holy Spirit.
Registration is open now for the nearly two dozen sessions that will be led by members of the Discovery Team to provide the opportunity for Cooperative Baptists to provide feedback on the report of the findings of the discovery phase. The sessions will be conducted via Zoom between June 8 and June 17. Register here today.
CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley said he is “incredibly energized” by the tremendous participation of Cooperative Baptists in the discovery process.
“Between survey responses, discovery sessions with governance bodies and leadership groups, and individual discovery conversations, nearly 5,000 people have participated in this process, which is an incredibly hopeful sign for our present and our future,” Baxley said. “The discovery has confirmed that the Holy Spirit is doing among us what the Holy Spirit has always done—namely giving the church of Jesus Christ all the gifts we need to do what Jesus calls us to do. In our congregations and in our Fellowship community, we have been entrusted with powerful gifts, and we are called to use those gifts to meet the urgent needs of our time. We have discovered these gifts and these needs.
“The second and final step of our journey Toward Bold Faithfulness will be one of faithful response. In our virtual General Assembly, we will describe how that process will unfold as we seek to make sure we are positioned to be faithful to the calling we have received. In the meantime, I hope you will make time in early June to watch the videos released by the Discovery Team, read its online interactive report and reserve a spot to participate in an online session. These weeks in early June are essential to give us space to receive and respond to what has been discovered before we take the next steps in our journey together.”
The Discovery Team spent much of the fall and winter listening intentionally for the guidance of the Holy Spirit through a series of methods, including an online survey, in person and Zoom sessions with governance bodies, field personnel, partner ministries and staff, and individual interviews with people identified by leaders of CBF networks. The Discovery Team actively engaged Cooperative Baptists, clergy and laity, alike, as well as those who do not attend a CBF congregation.
More than 4,600 Cooperative Baptists from every state and region in CBF life participated in an online survey that formed the centerpiece of the discovery work. Respondents were from 762 congregations, 178 of which had five or more people participate. The survey asked Cooperative Baptists about their church ministry involvement and personal ministry aspirations. Survey participants were from 37 states as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Canada, and 10 additional countries, including respondents from Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.
In addition to the survey, which is the primary form of listening being used by the Discovery Team, the team also conducted 13 “Discovery Sessions” with members of CBF’s governance bodies, state and regional coordinators and associate coordinators, representatives of partner ministries, field personnel and Decatur staff. The Discovery Team also completed conducting 30 individual interviews with Cooperative Baptists selected by leaders of CBF’s ministry networks as well as state and regional coordinators.
Carol McEntyre, CBF’s Moderator-Elect, co-chair of the Discovery Team and pastor of First Baptist Church, Columbia, Mo., said it has been a privilege to work with the Discovery Team.
“Discovery Team members have been thoughtful regarding the process of discovery, energetic about the mission and future of the Fellowship, and fiercely committed to generating a discovery report that is faithful to what we heard from Cooperative Baptists about the most powerful gifts and urgent needs of our congregations, communities and the Fellowship,” McEntyre said.
Members of the Discovery Team are:
Carol McEntyre (co-chair), CBF Moderator-Elect; Pastor, First Baptist Church, Columbia, Mo.
Paul Baxley (co-chair), CBF Executive Coordinator
Rick Bennett, coordinator, CBF Tennessee; convener of Movement Leadership Team (the leadership group composed of CBF State and Regional Coordinators)
Karen Birdwhistell, member, Living Faith Baptist Church, Elizabethtown, Ky.
Susan Crumpler, co-coordinator, North Central Region of CBF, Mason, Ohio
Megan Turner Doud, member, CBF Ministries Council; Minister of Students and Missions, Aiken’s First Baptist Church, Aiken, S.C.
Pam Durso, Incoming President, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Shawnee, Kan.
Chris Ellis, past chair, CBF Missions Council; Minister of Administration, Missions and Outreach, Second Baptist Church, Little Rock, Ark.
Daniel Glaze, pastor, River Road Church, Baptist, Richmond, Va.
Rachael Johnson, CBF Florida and Caribbean Islands; member, CBF’s Pan-African Koinonia steering committee, Abaco, Bahamas
Shaun King, senior pastor, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Alpharetta, Ga.
Christopher Mack, chair, CBF Nominating Committee; Minister of Young Adults, Trinity Baptist Church, San Antonio, Texas
Daniel Martino, senior pastor, Church of the City, New London, Conn.; Convener, La Familia steering committee
Lisa Rust, deacon chair, First Baptist Church, Lumberton, N.C.; Past moderator, CBF North Carolina
Courtney Stamey, senior pastor, Northside Baptist Church, Clinton, Miss.
Learn more about Toward Bold Faithfulness and the Discovery Team and find answers to frequently asked questions at www.cbf.net/tbf.
CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.