Must Read :: Timmy Brister

Timmy Brister is one of the few young SBC guys out there who challenges me every time I read his material. I may not always agree with every word, but he is thoughtful, articulate and his writing is always razor sharp, cutting right through to the point. Timmy has just written an article on a topic that is close to my heart. I am significantly unhappy with much of how we mishandle handle Cooperative Program funds in SBC life. I particularly dislike the disproportionate amount that our state conventions hold back for themselves, as well as the duplication of resources that has become too prevalent in our convention’s life. Beyond everything else he has said, Timmy is one of the few that I have found in SBC life that believes that the state convention may have outlived its usefulness, at least in its current mode of operation. It is a courageous thought to express, and as I’ve said, it’s one that few are speaking about. Timmy has my congratulations for doing so.

So, I would strongly recommend that you read Timmy’s article. It is excellent material. To read it, click here.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

8 thoughts on “Must Read :: Timmy Brister

  1. Micah, thanks for this link. I agreed with Timmy’s comments and believe this is certainly a topic that needs serious consideration. We must change the way we are doing things! However, I did say that not all places are as he described. I believe things are different in KS-NE as well as in our association. Having said that, there are still places we can make significant changes for the better.

  2. Brad-

    I’m glad you’ve commented. I have been told by a KS-NB pastor that the situation described in Indiana where they actually profit off the CP is also true in Kansas-Nebraska. Can you verify that? Do you think that’s problematic. I don’t ask to be controversial, but I am sincerely curious to hear your thoughts.

  3. Well I wouldn’t use the words “profit off the CP” but yes when you compare states like Alabama with states like Utah or ND and SD (and KS-NE) there is a pretty big difference between the CP dollars that come from the churches and the dollars used to support ministry such as church planting.

    It may sound odd to some that it works this way from “old line states” and “pioneer” states but think how it is analogous to church planting overseas or with the ethnic church planting we do here in the states. Believe me we DO NOT want to create a “welfare” mentality, that is why we are so focused on church planting and using our funds wisely, but in some situations it takes longer to be self sufficient.

    Give you one quick example, in the state of Arkansas there are over 2,000 SBC churches and in our two state convention of KS and NE there are 400. In one association in AR, that we have a partnership with, there are 53 churches in one-half of a county with a population of 200,000. In our association, which also has 53 churches we cover 5 counties with a population of over 850,000.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Brad-

    You’ll have to pardon me for being a cynic. 🙂

    I’m curious, do you think we can remove the state convention and essentially accomplish much, if not all, that they provide between the local association, LifeWay, Namb, etc.?

    It seems to me that we could accomplish most of what we need through those organizations and then move a significantly higher percentage of CP dollars to our mission boards.

  5. Yes I agree that there should be a flattening of the organization. I think in most areas there is not a need for both the state convention and the association. Unless the DOM is a really a church planting strategist I would do away with the DOM. In our state convention the state tries to “train” the DOMs to be strategists. It works well in some places but not so much in others. In metro areas I think the state convention and association can and should “share” staff. That way there is not duplication of resources but you could utilize well qualified personel in more places.

  6. When you read the first paragraph of Brister’s post, you might be reminded that most conservatives seem in favor of both less government and putting more of it into the state arena rather than the national one.

    It took me several paragraphs to decide that Brister was not in favor of discontinuing the SBC and just maintaining the IMB and Home mission board. Your interpretation of his posting may have missed his point–which might have been that we have way too much administration. Or maybe the point was that the associations and the mission boards are all we need.

    His problems with Indiana seem…I can’t even come up with an adequate word.

    How would the mission boards manage to spend the “windfall” that you both seem to expect that they would suddenly have? [Brister seems to be against sending it to parts of the country (like Indiana) that have a shortage of Baptist churches.] Are there a number of “qualified” people (under the current apparentely unpublished restrictions) that are being turned away?

    It might be good to read the post again and the comments it has drawn.

    Bennett Willis

  7. Bennett-

    I appreciate your thoughts. I’ll try to address them in order.

    1. I agree that Brister was not arguing for discontinuing the SBC. I also think we should maintain the SBC. I do think, however, that we need a significant overhaul of our systems in order to achieve maximum accountability and effectiveness. Additionally I am in a strong SBC association and so I concur with his thoughts that associations are much more capable of being effective than are state conventions (if that is his point, it seems to me that it is). I realize, however, that many are serving in failing associations and will choose to disagree with me.

    2. I think his problems with Indiana are not that we are spending so much money in Indiana but rather that we are duplicating our efforts (strike one) and that we are failing to be effective (strike two). I concur with him. I don’t understand the loop that occurs in Indiana, Kansas-Nebraska and others. If they are going to receive more than they give, than keep the money in house and let’s make our use of it more effective. Going through “the loop” of sending it only to receive it back simply lends itself to the lining of bureaucratic pockets which is unnecessary, it seems to me.

    3. I think the mission boards, particularly the IMB and I believe NAMB under its new leadership, would spend the money very well. They are doing so currently. To answer your question, the IMB tightened restrictions on who can serve a few years ago when giving began to be short of what we needed to continue sending at an acceptable rate. The Commission Magazines departure was part of that cost cutting move, I believe. I’ve been told by IMB personnel that there are much more who are ready to go than can go because of a lack of funding.

    I’m interested to hear your response.

    Psalm 67

  8. Since I can’t find any talking points with 1 and 3, I’ll comment some on #2. I think that Indiana sends money to the SBC because groups that don’t send any money to the SBC get criticized. Also, one of the reasons that people associate themselves with the SBC is to provide some mission money—and as I recall Indiana sent about 35% of their receipts for this purpose. [This has always seemed to me to be the most reasonable reason for the SBC to exist.] The fact that the SBC recognizes that Indiana is a mission field is another issue entirely and not really related to the amount of money that Indiana sends to the SBC. Supposedly the SBC has discovered/developed techniques that should make the use of the money more effective than money that has no accountability to the SBC.

    I find the lack of apparent effectiveness frustrating too but think that shuffling the money in and out of the SBC is likely to be relatively efficient (little loss to overhead) and hope/trust that there is some advice and accountability that come with the movement of money.

    As I recall, NAMB sends money for projects to most states and I’d be mildly surprised if there were not some relatively large donors to the SBC that actually get back more money than Indiana even though they are a net donor to the SBC–so the same point can be made for most states if not all.


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