Today, a handful of members from our church will venture to Richmond, VA to serve as messengers to our state Baptist convention Annual Meeting. Just as Southern Baptists nationwide cooperate together for the sake of missions and disciple-making, Southern Baptists, within the Commonwealth, do the same.
The way SBC churches cooperate is primarily through funneling our finances together. This cooperative effort is (for good reason) simply called the Cooperative Program.
On a regular basis, a percentage of our church offering is sent to the state convention, who keeps a portion of that money within the state for ministry. The state, then, sends the remaining portion to the national SBC. Therefore, once a year, each church appoints messengers who convene to worship, conduct business, decide on the budget and celebrate the blessings of our Cooperative Program efforts. This takes place at both a national and state gathering.
Want to learn more about the SBC Cooperative Program,? Just click here.
As you may know, the state of Virginia (like Texas) has two state Southern Baptist conventions. In Virginia, there is the BGAV (Baptist General Association of Virginia) and the SBCV (Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia). At Forest Baptist Church, we are proud members of the SBCV.
Why do I add the little adjective “proud?” What makes the SBCV worthwhile? Here are a few reasons.
1. The SBCV is theologically conservative – and not ashamed of it!
In the early 90’s, there was a growing concern about the doctrinal trajectory of the BGAV. Particularly, there was a concern that the state convention was not actively reflecting the kind of theological convictions of many of our churches, particularly on the issue of biblical inspiration and inerrancy. At the same time, some also felt that the BGAV was not promoting the kind of Great Commission priority that it should. The budget reflected more of a bureaucratic mindset than a missional one.
So, in September 1996, 158 churches pulled out of the BGAV and began the SBCV. Today, there are more than 500 like-minded, Bible-believing churches cooperating together within the SBCV. When originally organized, the leadership wanted to leave no doubt as to where we stood doctrinally. Hence, our name says it all: “Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.”
Also, our state convention affirms, as our church does, the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message. (The BGAV affirms the 1963 version which is, arguably, less-precise theologically.)
2. The SBCV is focused on evangelism and church-planting.
One of the SBCV’s core values is church-planting. With over 6 million lost people within the Commonwealth, there is a huge opportunity for reaching the lost right here in Virginia.
For the 2012 budget year, the SBCV is seeking to allocate nearly 2 million dollars for church-planting and evangelism efforts in the state of Virginia. That is nearly 20% of our overall budget! What does this mean? It means that we will help fund state missionaries and pastors who will be starting churches, including ethnic church plants, for Spanish, Russian and even Chinese speaking people in our state.
3. The SBCV is fiscally responsible.
One of the most impressive aspects of our state convention is how every dollar is carefully designated for ministry, how every penny is accounted for, and how every budget is balanced. Furthermore, the SBCV was established and has maintained a 50/50 split with its finances. In other words, for every dollar that comes into the SBCV, 50 cents is kept in VA while 50 cents is sent along to the national SBC effort.
Every state convention was originally established under that program. However, over the past decades, many state conventions have begun keeping more funding within the state thus shortchanging the IMB, NAMB, and our seminaries. So far, the SBCV has held to this worthwhile 50/50 plan and intends to maintain it permanently.
4. The SBCV has a decentralized organization model.
To talk about a “decentralized organization model” sounds like a bunch of boardroom, workflow mumbo-jumbo. But, in all honesty, this is yet another appealing aspect of SBCV. Rather than maintaining a large centralized bureaucracy, in one place; the SBCV provides regional missionaries and resources for every corner of the state.
In a traditional state convention, those who live closest to the “home base” benefit the most. Rural churches, or those in a far off corner of the state, can be overlooked. In contrast, the SBCV has divided the state of Virginia into proportionate areas. Each area has its own missionaries, resources, gatherings, and emphasis. This organization model allows all the churches, big and small, to be ministered to.
In short, we have the privilege of being a part of a state convention that values what we value. At FBC, we prioritize the Bible, missions, stewardship and disciple-making ministry; it’s easy to see that the SBCV does too.