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Looking Back with Thanksgiving and Forward with Faith

BMA Lobby LogoBy Steve Crawley, Lifeword Executive Director
From Mission:World November/December 2014
missionworldmag.com

Recently an elderly pastor within the Baptist Missionary Association (BMA) of America visited the new headquarters building in Conway, Arkansas. He reminisced about a conversation he had with a group of pastors some forty years earlier regarding associational work. “If our departments could work together more closely, we could be so much more effective in helping our churches,” they concluded. After touring the facility and discussing the new vision, he commented, “I’m more excited about the work of the BMA today than I have ever been in my entire ministry!”

As we look back with thanksgiving for the labor and toil of those who came before us, we look forward with faith as God directs us into a new chapter of associational work. It is thrilling to see how God is invigorating our associated efforts. Churches and departments are collaborating like never before to fulfill the Great Commission.

Looking Back With Thanksgiving

We look back with thanksgiving for the provisions of God and for the many men and women who gave their lives in service to our Lord. Our predecessors understood the power of churches working together and encouraged a spirit of cooperation from the genesis of the association. The BMA Statement of Principles of Cooperation asserts that the purpose of the BMA of America is to “provide cooperating departments and agencies that will inspire a mission vision and assist each local church in carrying out the Great Commission.” We are grateful for the vision of cooperation that has laid a firm foundation upon which we can build.

Historically, organizational life cycles follow a predictable pattern – progress, plateau, and decline. The BMA is no different from any other organization. Looking back on the history of the association, as shared when we originally cast the Vision for the Future plan, reveals some periods of distinction.

The origin of the BMAA dates back to May 25, 1950, when dedicated men and women representing 465 churches met at Temple Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas and stepped out with courage and faith to form a new association. By 1970, the BMA of America had birthed departments or agencies that encompassed various facets of ministry including missions, publications, education, research and public relations, chaplaincy, youth, and media.

By 1970, the association had grown from 465 churches to approximately 1,500 and, according to Dr. John Duggar in his book on the history of the BMA, the “forward thrust seems to have been greater from 1971 to 1980 than in previous decades.” This period of expansion was marked by significant increases in financial contributions from the churches, resulting in new mission fields, new publications, and new departments. There were more denominational workers than ever before by the end of the decade, and the associational work seemed to be “getting bigger and better.” Key highlights during the period of expansion and plateau were the number of baptisms reported for the years 1969-1978, which averaged 10,206 annually. Dr. Duggar noted in his historical account of the association that the BMA reached a point of maturity during this era.

As the association came to a point of maturation in the mid to late 1980s, a period of decline—as with any organization—would follow. The number of reported baptisms during the last decade of the century decreased by 70%, 41% of new mission projects disbanded, and less than half of the churches surveyed in 2010 were intentional in their disciple-making efforts. As with any organization in decline, short of a catalytic event to halt the downward trend, the situation was not likely to improve.

Yet we are thankful to God for raising up pastors, laypeople, and other leaders willing to meet these challenges head on. Over the last decade, there has been a concerted effort to increase the level of cooperation among BMA churches and entities. Beginning with the departmental restructuring effort in 2004 and culminating with the Vision for the Future approved in 2013, we are now witnessing God’s invigoration of the associated work with a “fresh wind and fresh fire!”

Recent Developments

A major obstacle limiting cooperation in the past has been departments working from separate locations, often with a unilateral vision. Phase one of the departmental integration effort, which was approved by the churches in 2013, removed this obstacle. The staffs of BMA Missions, BMAA Foundation, DiscipleGuide (approved in 2014), and Lifeword now work from the same facility in Conway, Arkansas. What was once a dream is now a reality. This strategic move provides departments and agencies a state of the art facility to serve our churches. Simultaneously, the on-going operating cost structures for each entity will be lower by sharing employees where applicable as well as fixed overhead costs.

Another obstacle has been the lack of a centralized entity to facilitate shared costs among cooperating departments. The first phase of the integration process has also removed this obstacle with the creation of the BMA America Limited Liability Company (LLC). The BMA America LLC is owned by the departments of the association and provides a way to classify shared costs, employees, and assets. The jointly owned headquarter facility in Conway will be held within the LLC, and each department’s ownership will be proportionate with its level of investment.

This centralization effort maintains the distinction of separate, autonomous departments while providing a structure of optimal efficiency. The LLC is not a department or agency, and all costs of the entity are allocated to the departments or agencies where applicable. Shared overhead and employee costs are budgeted within each department based on standard costs; actual costs are then allocated based on the actual work performed. Thus, only costs associated with a department’s or an agency’s activities are charged to that entity and reported in its financial statements. For full transparency, independent auditors will review the transactions of the LLC annually.

In 2014, the churches of the BMA approved the formation of a new agency of the association – BMAA Foundation. This agency provides a venue for members of churches within the BMA to help fund Great Commission efforts in perpetuity. Foundation Executive Charles Attebery is leading this agency and the planned giving initiative. Within the past year alone, 2.2 million dollars was committed to the work of BMA entities through the planned giving initiative, and this is just the tip of the iceberg when one considers the compounded impact such a program will have in years to come.

Someone once said, “Information is the life blood of any organization.” For the first time in our history, the BMA now provides constituents with an informational magazine that highlights the entire work of the association. Produced in house, the magazine’s contents are aimed at keeping church members informed about our joint efforts of reaching the world for Christ. Additionally, for the first time the BMA has a website that is perpetually updated to keep churches informed about the ministries in real time.

Looking Forward With Faith

Just as our predecessors stepped out in faith 64 years ago, we must step out in faith today. The first phase of integration focused on establishing a shared facility and developing an efficient operating structure. We are thankful that God has provided the means for us to achieve our initial goals. However, if accomplishing these objectives is the extent of our vision, our level of effectiveness will be greatly compromised. The first phase of the integration effort was simply a step to provide the operating platform necessary to accomplish the second phase – strategic alignment. We do not know where this effort will lead but look forward with faith, trusting the Lord to direct our path.

To begin the second phase of integration, the departments and agencies of the BMA of America will come together to engage in formal strategic planning. We intend for this exercise to be perpetual and fluid. The purpose of the effort will be to address some of the challenges faced during our period of decline. We also hope to design a cohesive ministry plan with each entity working together in concert with the others to assist BMA churches in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Departmental leaders acknowledge that our churches do not exist for the departments; the departments exist for the churches. A part of the process will involve engaging in research that will provide a basis to develop innovative ways to assist churches in their quest to minister within their locales. Moreover, the departments will also continue to assist churches in their quest to make disciples of the nations.

As we look back, we are thankful for God’s providence and for the foundation our forefathers provided in the past. As we look forward, we walk by faith with an aura of anticipation about where God will take us in the future. Echoing the sentiments of the pastor quoted earlier, “I am more excited than ever about the work of the BMA of America!” In this season of Thanksgiving and celebration, may we pause to express gratitude to our sovereign Lord for what He has done and for what He is going to do.

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BMA America Publishes Address Changes

Production2The recent move to Conway, Arkansas by BMA Missions and DiscipleGuide Church Resources, has necessitated a change in address for these departments. Please note the following addresses when sending offerings or correspondence to BMA National Departments.

BMA Missions
PO Box 878
Conway, AR  72033-0878

DiscipleGuide
PO Box 1749
Conway, AR  72033-1749

Lifeword
PO Box 6
Conway, AR  72033-0006

The street address for the above departments for UPS or FedEx shipping of packages including all used literature to be disbursed on the mission field is:

611 Locust Street
Conway, AR  72034

 

BMA Theological Seminary
PO Box 670
Jacksonville, TX  75766-0670

Ministers Resource Services
PO Box 2866
Texarkana, AR  75504-2886

Moral Action Agency
PO Box 305
Mantachie, MS  38855-0305

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2014 BMAA National Meeting Schedule

BMAA NATIONAL MEETING
APRIL 28-30, 2014
STATEHOUSE CONVENTION CENTER
LITTLE ROCK, AR

MONDAY EVENING – April 28th

7:00 pm – First General Session

  • Introduction of guests for official welcome to Little Rock, AR
  • Sounding of the gavel declaring the meeting open
  • Introduction of the Host Committee
  • Introduction of the Committee on Arrangements
  • Introduction of Officers
  • President’s Message

 

TUESDAY MORNING – April 29th

8:30 am – WMA Meeting
8:30 am – Brotherhood Meeting
10:00 am – Pastor’s and Laymen’s Conference

TUESDAY AFTERNOON

3:00 pm – Second General Session

  • Opening instructions to the messengers
  • Initial Report of Enrollment Committee
  • Petitioning Churches
  • Proposed Changes to the Statement of Principles of Cooperation
  • Nominees for Nomination Committee
  • Clerk’s Report
  • Moral Action Agency Report
  • Miscellaneous Business

 

TUESDAY EVENING

7:00pm – Third General Session

  • Central Baptist College Choir
  • Violinist Jamie Jorge
  • Annual Sermon – Eric Johnson

 

WEDNESDAY MORNING – April 30th

8:30am – Fourth General Session

  • WMA report
  • Brotherhood report
  • Master’s Builders report
  • Coordinating Council’s report
  • Nominating Committee’s report
  • Lifeword report
  • Vote on any changes to the Statement of Principles of Cooperation
  • Committee on Arrangements report
  • Ministers Resource Services report
  • Miscellaneous business

 

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON

2:00pm – Fifth General Session

  • BMA Seminary report
  • Revolving Loan Fund report
  • DiscipleGuide Church Resource report
  • Final Nominating Committee’s report
  • Minute and Clerk Hire
  • Election of Officers and Annual Speaker
  • Election of Missions Advisory Committee members
  • Final report of Enrollment Committee
  • Miscellaneous business

 

WEDNESDAY EVENING

7:00pm – Sixth General Session

  • Missions Department report
  • Closing of the 65th annual session
  • Missionary Commissioning Service
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Oklahoma Storm Relief

We have arranged several ways for you to help with the storm relief efforts in the Moore, Oklahoma area.

1. You can donate funds online at www.bmamissions.org by designating your funds to the Disaster Relief category and noting that you would like your donation to be given directly to the Oklahoma Relief Effort. We do want to ensure you that there is no overhead and that your entire donation will be given directly to the relief effort as designated.

2. If you are in the Central Arkansas area, you can bring donations to Lifeword. There are some Lifeword staff members who will be heading to OK next week to assist with the efforts and will gladly carry any donations with them.

3. Southgate Baptist Church, a BMA Church in Moore, will be our source for information on what we can do in the area. That will let us know how we can continue to help in the best way possible as things change and get underway in the next couple of days. We will operate directly through our local church throughout the relief efforts. Contacting Southgate on ways you can help would be a great source if you are considering sending donations or teams to help in the relief effort. Southgate is pastored by Bro. Doug Brewer

More information will be added as we continue to get updates from Southgate Baptist Church.

 

Items that are needed and are being taken as donations.

Baby formula
Bug spray
Bungee cords
Deodorant
Disposable cameras (for insurance claims) Disposable gloves

Dry Food
Face Masks
Gatorade
Feminine hygiene products
Hand sanitizer
Individual wrapped snacks
Pet supplies
Plastic storage containers of all sizes with lids Pre-paid cell phones
Sunscreen
Towels
Trash bags
Tylenol/Aleve/Ibuprofen
Usable tarps of all sizes
Visa money cards
Wal-mart gift cards
Wash clothes/hand towels
Wipes
Bottled Water
Diapers
Clothes (children’s clothes especially) Non-Perishable food items

Where:

Lifeword Media Ministries – 611 Locust Ave
Antioch Baptist Church – 150 Amity Rd
Central Baptist College – 1501 College Ave
Conway Copies – 2505 Donaghey

When:

1st trip to Moore – Leaving May 26 @ 3 from Lifeword

2nd trip to Moore – Leaving June 1st from Antioch

 

Click here to download the information sheet for Oklahoma Storm Relief.

Serving the Servants of God

By Ron Chesser, Executive Director of Ministers Resource Services (from Mission:World – May/June)

The ministry of Ministers Resource Services is unique to any other department of the BMA of America.  While we aren’t planting churches, broadcasting the gospel, training individuals for ministry or sharing the Word through print, we are serving those who minister in every department and church.  We serve those who serve others; we serve the servants of God.

As Christians, we are challenged to make disciples of all nations. We must remember His call on our lives and make a renewed, firm commitment to seeing others become true followers of Jesus.  The BMA of America must hasten in carrying out the great commission. Every department of the BMAA has a distinct function in the winning of lost souls, planting of churches and discipleship making. With this process of integration, we are moving as an association in intensifying our effort of making disciples of all nations. Let’s pursue with diligence every God given opportunity for ministry as we commit to God a renewed motivation for discipleship.