Restructure to better help churches, emphasize evangelism

By Terry Barone on October 01, 2017

FRESNO — A new structure for California Southern Baptist Convention Executive Board staff was approved by Board members during their fall meeting Sept. 7.

The approval calls for Executive Board ministries to churches to be organized into four “initiative teams.” According to the plan, each team would be arranged to meet specialized, focused needs common to many CSBC congregations. The teams, according to Bill Agee, CSBC executive director, “will respond to church ministry needs with relationship, resources, training, consultation, customization and the like.”

The initiative teams include church planting, church revitalization, small churches and evangelism and missions.

Business services and communications are not affected by the restructure, an explanatory document noted.

Agee explained that all current ministry specialists would be assigned directly to the appropriate “initiative” that reflects their “calling and skills.” Based on ministry assignments and CSBC’s strategic directives, he said each team would develop its own set of ministry resources to address churches’ needs.

Two major changes from the current structure are the creation of the team for small churches, and elevating evangelism and combining it with missions.

With about 75 percent of CSBC, and SBC, churches having fewer than 100 members, Agee said creating a team to meet the needs of smaller membership churches is a “strategic” move he believes will help those churches in “almost every area of congregational life.”

Agee also said evangelism needed higher visibility for Convention congregations since “reaching people for Jesus should be the primary focus of our churches.” The partnership of evangelism and missions to “go and tell” should be a driving force to reach California, the US and the world, he said.
Adding he believes California is on the verge of a church planting explosion, Agee noted, “We need to help existing churches birth many more churches to help reach the 33 million in California who don’t know Jesus.

“That’s a staggering number,” he declared, “and we need churches — old and new, contemporary and traditional — rubbing shoulders with people in our communities and telling them about Jesus.”

Agee noted some 70 percent of all Southern Baptist churches are plateaued or declining.

“Our revitalization team will help many of those churches turn around to become vibrant congregations that field teams of effective soul winners.”

The explanatory document given to Board members outlined a major shift from the Convention’s current structure by creating a deployment team, led by the associate executive director and including leaders from all initiative teams and the communications director. The purpose of this group is to evaluate and coordinate staffing needs of each initiative team’s “ever-changing activities, ministries and projects.”

The document further outlined that based on need, all staff, including administrative, would be available for assignment to serve on projects and ministries planned and performed by the various teams. In essence, staff would be assigned to short- and long-term ministry projects to help deliver resources.

“This structure would allow all staff to serve on multiple projects from multiple teams at any one time based on staff skills/specialties and church needs,” the document said. “This would create a flexible, multi-disciplinary, collaborative environment adding strength and value to CSBC resources.”

To strengthen ministry partnerships, leaders from ethnic groups and the California director of missions fellowship would be invited for strategic “collaborative meetings” to not only strengthen relationships, according to the document, but to “enhance the quality of CSBC services by listening to our constituency and ministry partners.”

All teams will be directed by a leader. Tom Belew, a veteran CSBC staff member with experience in preschool, childhood, Sunday school and small group ministries, will lead the small churches initiatives team. New leaders are being sought for the other teams.

The new structure is expected to be fully implemented by Jan. 1.

This Convention serves our culturally diverse congregations as we fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.