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COMMITTEE TO STUDY TOTAL SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION PROGRAM

Introduction

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 following principles:

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 state conventions.

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 to:

(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 committees.

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 agencies.

(3) Recommend establishment by the Convention of broad policies to be observed by Convention agencies in the conduct of their programs.

(4) Review and evaluate the reports of Convention agencies on their program plans and accomplishments and their use of financial resources.

(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 program.

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 more effectively.

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 its own:

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.

 

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