Kan.-Neb. Baptists fight baptism decline

HUTCHINSON, Neb. (BP) -- Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptists were urged to help break the 10-year trend of declining baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention at their 2014 annual meeting.

Kansas-Nebraska President Andy Addis, who served on the SBC Pastors' Task Force on Evangelistic Impact and Declining Baptisms, challenged churches to increase their baptisms next year.

"Right here in the center of the United States, let's turn the ship around for the Southern Baptist Convention," Addis urged.

He challenged Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptist churches that had no baptisms in the past year to set a goal of seeing one person baptized, and challenged other churches to double their baptisms.

"Let's do this," Addis said. "May we break the trend"?

Addis is pastor of CrossPoint Church, Hutchinson, Kan., which hosted the KNCSB annual meeting Oct. 13-14. View or download annual meeting sessions at http://www.crosspointnow.net/kncsb.

The meeting drew 331 registered messengers and 31 visitors.

"Sending Capacity," based on Isaiah 6: 1-8, was the meeting theme, upholding the group's core values starting, strengthening, sharing and sending.

During the Oct. 13 opening session, messengers approved a 2015 budget of $4,890,468, slightly less than 1 percent below the 2014 budget.

Cooperative Program receipts in 2015 from Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptist churches are projected to be $2,820,000, about 1 percent less than the current year.

The group will forward 23.5 percent of CP receipts to the SBC for national and international missions, a one-half percentage increase above this year's allocation. Fifty percent of CP receipts that exceed the budget requirement will be sent to the national CP.

Kansas-Nebraska Executive Director Bob Mills urged churches to increase their CP giving.

"I still believe that we can have a greater missional impact together than we can individually," Mills said.

In a later session, Ray Davidson echoed Mills' call to increase CP giving. He is pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, St. John, Kan., and a former International Mission Board missionary.

He reminded the crowd of the challenge during the 2013 KNCSB annual meeting to increase CP giving by 1 percentage point.

"Folks, we can do this. God is able," Davidson said.

In other business, messengers approved the KNCSB Future Directions Report.

In October 2011 Mills created the Future Directions Task Force to look at the convention and develop a strategy for the future. The task force focused on the answer to three questions -- Why, What and How:

Why -- "In order to accomplish the Great Commission task of disciple making, KNCSB exists to glorify God by serving the churches and leaders in Kansas and Nebraska."

What -- Kansas-Nebraska Baptists promotes healthy spiritual growth to strengthen churches and leaders; partner with associations, churches and leaders to start new works; provide resources to help churches and leaders be more effective in sharing the Gospel; and equip and encourage churches in sending their members on mission.

How –- The group accomplishes its goals by broadening and deepening relationships with pastors and church members; developing a broader communication strategy; addressing church and leader health issues; sharpening its focus on the mandate to make disciples; develop a broader rural strategy; enhancing the focus on youth and children's work; offering leadership training opportunities; sharpening its focus on missions promotion and sending; providing gender ministries; offering legal/administrative help for churches; providing assistance in legacy programs including Sunday School, discipleship training and Vacation Bible School; and expanding collegiate ministries to more campuses.

Messengers reelected all officers by acclamation. They are president Andy Addis; vice president Joe Stiles, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Lawrence, Kan.; recording secretary Bryan Jones, pastor of Tyler Road Southern Baptist Church, Wichita, Kan.; assistant recording secretary Susan Pederson, a member of Prairie Hills Baptist Church, Augusta, Kan., and historian Tony Mattia, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Wamego, Kan.

Attention also focused on the new Kansas-Nebraska international missions partnership with Hungary. Learn more about mission opportunities in Hungary at http://heartforhungary.com/. Click on "Get Involved" and scroll down to "KNCSB Partnership." Download a prayer guide for Hungary at http://www.hope4ehu.com/prayer_guide.html.

Three KNCSB staff members were honored for their upcoming retirements at the end of 2014.

Marie Clark will retire after 13 years as leader of the KNCSB Bible Teaching and Discipling Team, and will continue to serve with her husband Bob as an estate-planning consultant for the Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptist Foundation.

Charles and Janie Wood will retire after more than 23 years as estate-planning consultants with the foundation.

Messengers will hold their 2015 meeting Oct. 12-13 at Blue Valley Baptist Church, Overland Park, Kan.

Eva Wilson is associate editor of the Baptist Digest, newsjournal for the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists.
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