Future Focus Committee examines giving trends

DALLAS—A committee formed to look at the long-range future of the Baptist General Convention of Texas began by examining the past.

At its initial May 5 meeting, the BGCT Future Focus Committee reviewed the work of previous study committees and examined Cooperative Program giving trends over the last 10 years.

“We wanted to gain a historical perspective and orient everyone on the committee—to get everyone to the same starting point,” said Stephen Hatfield, co-chair of the committee and pastor of First Baptist Church in Lewisville.

A look at Cooperative Program trends in the last decade revealed giving by Texas Baptist churches has remained fairly consistent, but the buying power of the funds has eroded significantly, noted Andy Pittman, co-chair and pastor of First Baptist Church in Lufkin.

“It particularly was eye-opening” to discover 51 percent of the Cooperative Program budget came from 171 churches last year, and 1,749 BGCT-related churches gave nothing to the Cooperative Program in 2007, Pittman added.

Executive Director Randel Everett challenged the committee to think about two questions as it looks to the future: “What does the BGCT do well? What are Texas Baptists passionate about?”

With 20 of its 25 members present, the committee divided into three subcommittees to explore specific concerns.

Hatfield will chair an eight-member finance subcommittee; Pittman will chair an eight-person institutional relations committee; and Steve Vernon, BGCT past president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Levelland, will chair a nine-member subcommittee related to Executive Board staff.

The Future Focus Committee scheduled its next two meetings for Aug. 5 and Nov. 3. The committee will complete its work and present its final report no later than the 2009 BGCT annual meeting.
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