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Southern Baptist Convention Program
COMMITTEE TO STUDY TOTAL SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION PROGRAM
The Committee to Study the Total Southern Baptist Program was
authorized by the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Kansas
City in 1956. By the terms of the resolution calling for the
establishment of this committee, it was determined that the
committee should be comprised of one member from each state
cooperating with the Convention and three members at large.
Subsequently, the committee was appointed and began its work.
The first meeting of the committee was in the fall of 1956.
The committee in that meeting decided upon a plan of procedure
in seeking to perform its mission. It divided itself into
subcommittees, each with an assigned area of study. Later
the committee employed professional assistance to assist in
the more detailed and technical aspects of the study for which
the committee members felt they did not have the necessary
time or training. Provision for the employment of professional
assistance had been made when the action was passed bringing
the committee into being.
The Committee to Study the Total Southern
Baptist Program was convinced in the outset that the tremendous
success which has accompanied the activities of the Southern
Baptist Convention is proof of the workability of the
methods employed by Southern Baptists generally in the
many aspects of the Convention’s
work and that such success is an evidence of the blessings
of God upon our efforts. In view of the foregoing, the committee
took as its goal the making of a thorough and objective study,
out of which would be revealed the possibilities of effecting
changes which would enable Southern Baptists to do more effectively
the work they are now doing well. The Committee’s desire
has been, from the beginning, to strengthen
and make more effective the whole program of Southern Baptists.
In pursuing its study, the committee adopted as a guide the
1. Local Baptist churches are autonomous organizations, and
each general Baptist body is independent and self-governing.
Co-operation is always o a voluntary basis.
2. The Southern Baptist Convention has
responsibility for providing broad direction to all its
agencies. The purpose of the Southern Baptist Convention
is to carry on programs which are essential to the attainment
of the denomination’s objective, but
which cannot be carried on by individual
churches working alone, and which cannot be more effectively
carried on by local associations or state conventions.
3. Convention agencies should have full responsibility and
authority for the conduct of their affairs within the limits
established by the Convention.
4. The Executive Committee should assist
the Convention in its work without infringing upon the
authority and responsibility of the agencies. The Convention
meeting once a year does not have ample time or information
necessary to carry out detailed operation of its many
ministries. The Executive Committee is established to
assist the Convention in carrying out its programs without
assuming either the Convention’s responsibilities
or those of the agencies.
5. The Convention’s programs should
be promoted through other general Baptist bodies wherever
feasible. Under this concept, the Southern Baptist Convention
should provide promotional methods and materials to assist
the state conventions in their work.
6. The Southern Baptist Convention and its agencies should
carry on only those programs which cannot be carried on more
effectively by the local churches, the associations, or the
7. Sound organization concepts should be observed in all activities
of the Southern Baptist Convention.
It is our conviction that the foregoing principles are necessary
in the attainment of the objectives of the Southern Baptist
Convention. We have, therefore, sought to keep them in mind
in all our recommendations.
Each recommendation in this report has been fully discussed
with board members, administrative personnel, and other responsible
leaders for whose agencies or institutions changes are proposed.
We have sought as far as possible to impart to them a thorough
understanding of our proposals and to secure their support
of them. In this effort, as in every other phase of our study,
the agency representatives have given us superb co-operation
and invaluable assistance, for which we are profoundly grateful.
In its study the committee has taken time
to do a thorough job of investigation, evaluation, and
planning. We have, individually and as a group, constantly
sought God’s guidance. We
believe with deep conviction that each
recommendation made in the report which follows represents
the result of mature thought and study on our part and
the leadership of the Holy Spirit. We believe firmly that
each recommendation in this report is a step in the right
direction and that each part of the report, and the report
as a whole, if adopted by this Convention, will increase
the effectiveness of the total Southern Baptist Convention
program, which program we believe to be in conformity
to the Great Commission of our Lord. We can only pray
that, as the Holy Spirit has led us in this study, he
will also lead this Convention in considering and acting
upon the report we hereby render to you.
It would seem wise for us to read the
entire report of the committee so as to gain a total perspective,
and then return to the beginning to consider the report item
by item. Members of the committee are anxious to impart to
you all the information we have, and so place ourselves at
your disposal. We desire only what is good for Southern Baptists
and the kingdom of God. In this desire, we are at one with
each of you.
I. The Southern Baptist Convention and Its Committees
The Southern Baptist Convention is responsible
for sponsoring programs which will meet the needs of the
denomination and contribute to the attainment of the denomination’s objectives.
Since the Convention’s work is vast and complex, it
must be assisted by committees and agencies. Committees are
required because the Convention itself is too large and meets
too infrequently and for too brief periods to consider all
matters which come before it unless it has advice from objective,
informed groups responsible to it. Agencies are required because
the management of the Convention’s programs requires
detailed direction which the convention
as a body cannot provide.
Your committee recommends that:
1. The Southern Baptist Convention should continue to function
as it has in the past.
The Southern Baptist Convention has many and varied responsibilities.
The more important responsibilities of the Convention are
(1) Establish objectives for the total Convention program.
(2) Assign responsibility and authority for the conduct of
specific programs to Convention agencies.
(3) Establish broad policies to be observed by Convention agencies
in the conduct of their programs.
(4) Evaluate the contribution of program to the attainment
of the total Convention program.
(5) Allocate undesignated financial resources among agencies.
(6) Elect the members of the boards and
commissions of the Convention’s agencies and the members of the Convention’s
The committees of the Convention should continue to be responsible
for advising the Southern Baptist Convention. Each committee
should continue to report directly to the Convention itself.
The agencies of the Convention should also continue to be responsible
directly to the Southern Baptist Convention. The Convention
should continue to delegate to its agencies the maximum feasible
authority and responsibility for the conduct of programs.
The Convention should continue to retain to itself only those
responsibilities which cannot be effectively delegated.
2. The Executive Committee should continue to serve as the
committee responsible for advising the Convention on all matters
related to the total Southern Baptist program not assigned
to other Convention committees.
The Executive Committee should continue to aid the Southern
Baptist Convention in its work. The responsibilities of the
Executive Committee should be to:
(1) Recommend establishment by the Convention of objectives
for the total Convention program.
(2) Recommend assignment by the Convention of responsibility
and authority for the conduct of specific programs to Convention
(3) Recommend establishment by the Convention of broad policies
to be observed by Convention agencies in the conduct of their
(4) Review and evaluate the reports of Convention agencies
on their program plans and accomplishments and their use of
(5) Recommend Convention acceptance of agency reports, and,
when required, recommend corrective actions which the Convention
should take to make agency programs more effective or to make
more effective use of financial resources.
(6) Suggest to Convention agencies actions which should be
taken to make their programs more effective and to make more
effective use of their financial resources.
(7) Review requests of Convention agencies for the allocation
of undesignated Cooperative Program funds and recommend allocation
of undesignated funds among agencies.
(8) Provide a public relations and press service to promote
the total Southern Baptist program and serve the agencies
of the Convention.
(9) Serve as the Convention ad interim to take steps not specifically
made the responsibility of other groups.
(10) Serve as fiscal agent for the Convention and be responsible
for miscellaneous administrative affairs of the Convention.
The responsibilities are all within the authority which the
Executive Committee now has. To meet its responsibilities
more effectively and provide better correlation of all programs
sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention, the Executive
Committee should five particular attention to strengthening
its work related to items (4), (5), and (6) above. To permit
this, the Executive Committee should develop an appropriate
report format which will help agencies of the Convention present
their reports on a more appropriate and comparable basis and
to provide more information about program plans, accomplishments,
and costs. Item 9-(5)-(g) of the bylaws relating to the Executive
Committee should be revised to make it clear that the Executive
Committee is not responsible for approving agency budgets,
a task which the committee cannot and should not be required
to perform. However, the Executive Committee should review
and present to the Convention as information the budgets of
all Convention agencies, whether they receive Cooperative
Program funds or not.
3. The Executive Committee should continue to provide a public
relations service in support of the total Southern Baptist
The Executive Committee should continue to provide a public
relations and press service to interpret and publicize the
over-all Southern Baptist program. These services should be
available to support the work of all Convention agencies and
programs upon request.
The Executive Committee should continue to study the needs
from an expanded public relations program. If at some time
in the future it is found to be appropriate, the committee
should recommend the establishment of such a program and the
creation of an agency of the Convention to conduct this program.
4. The Executive Committee should be relieved of responsibility
for the stewardship promotion program.
The Executive Committee’s present responsibilities for
the promotion of stewardship should be transferred to the
Stewardship Commission, a new Convention agency recommended
at a later point in this report. Your committee feels that
this action will provide stewardship promotion the emphasis
its importance warrants for the continued growth of our educational,
evangelistic, and missionary programs. At the same time, it
will relieve the Executive Committee of responsibility for
operating a major Convention Program – a responsibility
which required Executive Committee time
and effort and makes it difficult for the Executive Committee
to advise the Southern Baptist Convention on all Convention
programs on the same objective basis.
5. The organization and staff of the Executive Committee should
be strengthened to permit it to perform its important duties
To conduct its affairs, the Executive Committee should organize
itself into four subcommittees: a program committee, a finance
committee, a public relations committee, and an administrative
committee. The four committees should have equal status and
report directly to the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee should be assisted in its work by a
small professional staff headed by the Executive Secretary-Treasurer.
The staff should include a program analyst, a financial analyst,
a director of public relations, and required accounting and
clerical personnel. The Executive Secretary-Treasurer should
report directly to the Executive Committee and serve as an
ex-officio member of the committee and all the subcommittees.
He should direct the members of the staff in their work.
The public relations committee should appoint a small public
relations advisory committee comprised of representatives
from the principal Southern Baptist Convention agencies, state
conventions, and state papers. The public relations advisory
committee should advise the public relations committee of
the Executive Committee and the director of public relations
on all aspects of the public relations service provided by
the Executive Committee.
6. The Executive Committee should be provided a building of
The Executive Committee should be provided
with facilities which will serve its needs more appropriately
than do its present quarters. These new facilities should
also be available to the smaller agencies of the Southern
Baptist Convention which do not have their own facilities.
The Executive Committee might well furnish central services
for agencies housed in the Executive Committee building – such
as accounting service, supplies, etc.
The Executive Committee should request funds to finance the
construction or purchase of an appropriate building, or should
be authorized to accept appropriate quarters if such are offered
by another Convention agency.
7. Some minor changes should be made in the other committees
of the Convention:
There are eight permanent Convention committees, in addition
to the Executive Committee, which are responsible for assisting
the Convention in carrying out its responsibilities. Four
of them are in continuous existence: (a) The Committee on
Order of Business, (b) The Committee on Boards, Commissions,
and Standing Committees, (c) The Public Affairs Committee,
and (d) The Committee on Denominational Calendar.
Four committees convene only during Convention sessions. They
are: (a) The Committee on Committees, (b) The Committee on
Credentials, (c) The Committee on Resolutions, and (d) The
Committee on Time, Place, and Preacher.
Your committee recommends that the functions and organizations
of most of these committees continue unchanged. The following
specific changes are recommended:
(1) The Committee on Boards, Commissions, and Standing Committees
should be required to publish its report in the first issue
of the Convention bulletin on the first day of the Convention.
(2) The Committee on Denominational Calendar should be established
as a permanent committee. Members of the committee should
be elected by the Convention to assure acceptability of the
calendar to the local churches and state conventions. The
committee should review and recommend approval of the calendar
proposed by the Inter-agency Council.
(3) The number of members of the Committee on Resolutions should
be increased from five to ten to provide broader representation.
Three of the members should be members of the Executive Committee
to assure that the Committee on Resolutions will have at its
disposal information about recent work of the Executive Committee
and Convention agencies.
8. All Convention committees, boards, and commissions should
include ordained and lay persons as members.
It is recommended that the Convention amend its bylaws to provide
that all Convention committees, boards, and commissions, include
both ordained and lay persons as members. Not more than two-thirds
of the members of any group should be drawn from either group.