The Wright Word December 2017 – February 2018

#prayerwalkmobile Continues in 2018
Prayer unites believers. Matthew 18:19 shows that cooperative prayer (“if two of you agree…”) brings devastating defeat to the enemy. Our MBA Executive, Evangelistic Ministries and Biblical Prayer committees invite our churches to continue to prayer walk every street in Mobile County in 2018. We have 31 churches who have completed about 55 pages of the 94 pages in the Keith Street & Road Atlas Map Book. Training details, registering and reporting are at prayerwalk.mobilebaptists.org and the hashtag #prayerwalkmobile.

Intercession for the MBA Staff on your Prayer Lists
Jesus gave the example of praying for other believers in John 17. Your associational staff face challenges every day as we consult with church leaders and members. We need wisdom and direction as we consult in church conflict, staff changes, growth options, building needs, disaster relief and every other component of church life. Please add us to your Wednesday night prayer list. Please pray that financial needs will be met.

Disaster Relief Response and Preparation
A September 10, 2017 article documented how Christians provide more disaster aid than FEMA. The SBC is the largest volunteer Disaster Relief (DR) Organization with 90,000 trained volunteers. Your disaster donations are most effective through SBC Disaster Relief. One hundred percent of your donations go to alleviate spiritual and physical suffering. I have witnessed many times an SBC volunteer put down a chain saw or stop mud out to share, cry and pray with a homeowner.

The infrastructure for DR is possible because of your faithful missions tithe to the Cooperative Program and Associational Missions. MBA staff helped coordinate an extensive response to Texas and Florida from MBA churches. Those efforts are ongoing for many more weeks. Please check in with the closest DR Command Center when your teams go. Please help the families and churches where you work to complete the DR request. Coordination of needs and teams is very difficult. Of course, untrained people can be helpful. Trained people are safer and locals are much more comfortable working with trained volunteers. Please take this opportunity to encourage your people to attend SBDR.org training. 

Please accept this reminder to be prepared for the next event in Mobile. Please visit dr.mobilebaptists.org to remind yourself about the resources available to be prepared and involved. Remember our strategy is to get churches open promptly so they can serve as evangelistic ministry centers in the communities.

Please download and update the availability of your facilities as a feeding center, cooling station, housing, or for storing/distributing supplies.

Future Focus Committee (FFC) Update
Please pray for the FFC, the needed gift of property and the timely sale of the two current facilities. Our latest summary:

  1. The FFC has unanimously-approved assignment from the October 2014 Annual Session to sell and combine the two buildings. Expenses must stay within the amount received from the sale.
  2. We are delaying the sale of our two buildings until the Lord provides a donation of the 3.5 to 5 developed acres, or an existing 8-12,000 sf facility.
  3. The current anticipated income from the sale of both buildings is not adequate to build on undeveloped property.
  4. When we know the new location, we can finalize the building size, the time frame for temporary location(s) and better negotiate the price of both MBA buildings.
  5. It is unnecessary to hinder ministry effectiveness with long term or multiple temporary locations.
  6. We cannot divert the limited proceeds from the buildings sale to rent temporary facilities for an indefinite amount of time.
  7. Multiple MBA congregations have been contacted about temporary housing. Churches with adequate space wisely will require rent and cannot commit for more than a year. Availability depends on when we start/end.
  8. Committee members have approached, and need to continue to approach, individuals, MBA and other congregations to donate 3.5 to 5 acres or existing 8-12,000 sf building. Options so far have not been viable due to location or refurbishing needed.
  9. EACH OF US needs to please continue praying, looking and talking to find the person who will be the answer to the prayers for a new location.

Orientation Guide for Church Staff and Churches Exploring MBA Membership
Please visit mobilebaptists.org for a copy of our Orientation and New Member Guide. It presents an overview of MBA ministries, staff, philosophy and strategy. It also includes a membership application for churches wishing to explore membership with the MBA. Please download a copy for your staff and share a copy with potential member churches.

2018 Budget Update
The 2018 MBA budget was approved at the Annual Meeting. We need your help to communicate with finance committees the need to tithe to missions.

We have reduced MBA budgets $159,256 since 2008. As you recall we lost $54,000 in subsidies from NAMB for International Ministries and Church Development Director positions. Health insurance costs have increased $26,000. We are being told to expect another significant insurance premium increase this coming year. We already have reduced the level of care we formerly provided to a plan with higher deductibles and out of pocket expenses to the employees. We have reduced insurance costs by having a part time director of International Ministries and a retired Interim Director of Camp Whispering Pines. We have not been able to provide raises for the last eight years. We have reduced office days to 4. We are praying and working to sell both facilities and combine them into a more efficient facility with lower overhead expenses.

We would be severely challenged if so many churches had not faithfully increased their missions giving to the MBA. We need additional churches to consider redistributing their missions tithe to the MBA. We average .91% of church missions gifts coming to the MBA. Please discuss with the finance committee increasing the MBA percentage of your church’s missions tithe.

  1. MBA Gifts to Cooperative Program and MBA
    In 2015, 82 MBA churches completed a Uniform Church Letter (ACP). Those 82 churches reported a total income of $43,251,811. Their total giving to Cooperative Program (CP) was 1,496,656 (2.9%). Those 82 churches gave $380,376 to the MBA (which is 1.35%). In 2016, 78 MBA churches completed a Uniform Church Letter (ACP). Those 78 churches reported a total income of $42,364,085. Their total giving to Cooperative Program (CP) was $ 1,547,389 (which is 3.2%).Those 78 churches gave to the MBA $396,293 (which is 1.16%)
  2. SBC Recommendation for Supporting Cooperative MissionsThe SBC has long recommended that churches give a missions tithe of 7% to CP and 3% to the local association. Recent adaptations include asking churches to increase their missions giving to 5% to CP, 3% to Association and 2% to other (Great Commission) missions’ interests. This new formula acknowledges that many churches are giving to societal missions at the cost of Cooperative Missions.

Mobile Baptists, our local struggles will be over if our churches adopt the SBC recommendation for funding local missions within what our churches are currently tithing to missions. (Reallocation results in no increase in church budget’s bottom line and no change in overall missions giving).  We could address capital needs at CWP and the IMC, underwrite new churches and provide unprecedented levels of ministry.

  1. Processing CP and MBA GiftsYour church determines how much it gives to the Cooperative Program and MBA. Those funds go from your church to Montgomery/ALSBOM (Alabama State Board of Missions) then on to Nashville/CP (Cooperative Program).

The best-case scenario is for our people to tithe to their churches and our churches to tithe to Cooperative Missions. This will easily cover the shortfall. Some churches are making the wise choice to reduce their gifts to Para-church ministries in favor of SBC ministries. Others will continue to be SBC in name only with no Cooperative Missions giving. (It is puzzling why congregations want to be called Southern Baptist but are not willing to primarily support local, national and international SBC missions and entities).

  1. How to Adjust Your Church Missions Tithe (Remittance Sheet)It is easy to make any adjustments to the amount of mission tithe you give to the MBA. All you have to do is designate the change in your monthly mission deposit (called a Remittance Sheet) to the State Board of Missions. Changing the allocation percentages allows the total amount you tithe to missions to remain the same. The bottom line of your church budget also will remain the same. The allocation of your missions tithe is all that will change.

Other churches are moving to generic missions offerings to allow them to designate a portion of those offerings to Annie Armstrong and the Impact Mobile Offering. They recognize the loss of subsidy came from NAMB and that offering is an appropriate way to respond.

The Finance Committee is not making a recommendation how your church should respond. This Is a local church decision. They are willing to help you be aware of information so you can decide how your church will respond.

Please study the impact we are having locally and determine what support level your church can provide to the MBA.

Impact Mobile Associational Offering
Our Executive Committee affirmed a goal of $20,000. This is one way for churches to teach about Associational Missions and help church members know why we give and work cooperatively. The emphasis dates are during Associational Missions Week each May, but we can adapt the materials to reflect ANY date that works better with your church calendar. Please use this opportunity to teach the importance of Cooperative Missions and the impact we are having in Mobile County and across the planet. Visit mobilebaptists.org for Impact Mobile materials.

Growth and Revitalization
It is of utmost concern the number of church members who refuse to be inconvenienced for their church to grow. They will call a preacher to save the church and then complain because he is trying to reverse the decline. The church is in decline because it is not reaching the community. It is unreasonable to think the church can grow without changing the causes of the decline.

Current research indicates 75% of SBC churches are plateaued or declining. Those national figures are consistent with Mobile Country Churches. Your Executive Committee has identified five biblical emphases that are normal for healthy churches. Much of the MBA training, consulting and events assist in one of these primary areas. These need to become normal activities and events in the life of each church and each believer.

  • BIBLICAL PRAYER, 1 Timothy 2:1-4.
  • EVANGELISTIC MINISTRY, Luke 19:10. Our MBA goal is to “Pray for and share Jesus with every person in Mobile County.”
  • CHURCH DEVELOPMENT, Acts 16:5. Rejoice at the resources available to help every church to grow that is willing to pay the price to grow!
  • CHURCH PLANTING, Acts 2:46-47. Our goal is to provide enough churches in various sizes, languages and styles to attract the population of Mobile.
  • PARTNERSHIP MISSIONS, Matthew 28:18-20. Our goal is for every MBA church to send at least one more than ever before each year in a local, state, national and international partnership mission trip.

Thank You
Cooperative Missions is hard work. Every hour you spend in a committee meeting helps us to make an eternal difference in Mobile County. So does answering the phone at the MBA office, mowing the grass at the IMC, teaching English to Internationals, participating in disaster relief, or painting at Camp Whispering Pines. Thank you to those of you who sacrifice to make Cooperative Missions possible.

In the Lamb,

Brother Thomas Wright

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