This past week has been a very busy time but, also, very productive. I had the privilege of spending time with Dr. Mark Tolbert who has recently been given the assignment of Director of the Caskey Center for Church Excellence at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The Seminary has received a significant amount of money for training bivocational and smaller membership church pastors. The major portion of the gift has been designated to pastors in… read more →
· The Bivocational and Small Church Leadership Network has been encouraging and serving bivocational churches and ministers in the SBC for over thirty years. It provides encouragement, resources, fellowship opportunities, validation and training for leaders of bivocational and smaller membership churches across the SBC and other members of the Christian family.
· This organization began in 1977 with Dr. J. T. Burdine. He was employed by the Home Mission Board as National Bivocational Consultant.
· In 1978 deans from SBC Seminaries met at Midwestern Seminary to plan adequate training for bivocational ministers.
· In 1979, a national convocation for bivocational ministers was held at Ridgecrest, North Carolina, and Dr, Burdine went home to be with the Lord in the same year.
· In 1980, Dr. Dale Holloway was employed by the Home Mission Board as National Consultant for bivocational ministries. The Southern Baptist Bivocational Ministers Associational was organized in Jackson, Mississippi. “The Bivocational Beacon” , which was the national newsletter, was initiated and reached a circulation of 15,000.
· In 1999, Leon Wilson was employed by the North American Mission Board as National Missionary for bivocational ministries.
· In 2005, the North American Mission Board withdrew all funding from the organization due to their restructuring and new emphasis on church planting. Since then, the organization has maintained its identity and has expanded its scope with no funding except modest membership dues and a few church contributions.
· In 2007, Ray Gilder, who has led bivocational ministries for the Tennessee Baptist Convention since 1996, was elected as National Coordinator at the annual meeting in Colorado. At that meeting , the organization voted to expand its membership to include leaders of smaller membership churches. Smaller membership churches were defined as having 125 or less in Sunday School. That represents 81% of all SBC churches. This means the organization is seeking to encourage and help over 35,000 SBC churches.
· In 2009, at the Annual Celebration at Samford University in Birmingham, the leadership voted to change the name from Southern Baptist Bivocational Ministers Association to Bivocational and Small Church Leadership Network. We realized that we are more of a leadership network than an association of ministers.
We currently have seven Regional Resource Centers for Bivocational Ministry with several other colleges and universities moving toward becoming Centers. We have twelve Regional Consultant positions. Eight are currently staffed. These men have no funding or expense accounts. We have a Bivo Church Planting Network, a DOM Network, a State Staff Network, an Educators Group, a Pastors Fellowship and an organization for ministers wives – P.A.L.S. – Partners Assisting The Lord’s Servants.
Funding for full-time National Coordinator and secretarial assistant.
Funding for travel expense for Coordinator.
Funds for office space and office equipment.
Printing and promotion funds.
Expenses for SBC exhibit and bivo banquet.
Travel expenses for Regional Consultants.
An adequate annual budget would total approximately $300,000.
This funding would allow the National Coordinator to travel to many pioneer state conventions to promote and encourage bivocational ministries in areas that need a lot of help. He would be able to give attention to growing the organization and producing materials for training and assistance for many churches that are now moving from fully supported to bivocational status. This would allow the Regional Consultants to have the funds to represent the BSCLN at Associational and State Convention meetings and be available for consultation with ministers and churches in their region.
For the last several years, the BSCLN has survived and made significant progress with very little funding. The potential for Kingdom expansion through adequate funding is very exciting!