Montana OKs reciprocal partnership with Alberta
"Alberta is the perfect place for us to begin to stretch ourselves some," MTSBC Executive Director/Treasurer Barrett Duke told messengers and guests. "After all, all you have to do is to get in your car and point it north, and you'll end up in Alberta in a few hours or less.
"Alberta has a similar economy to ours," Duke continued. "It has a good mix of rural and metropolitan ministry opportunities. There's something in Alberta for each of our churches to do, and it won't involve the high travel costs that prevent a lot of churches from getting involved in mission trips."
The 166 people present for Montana's annual meeting included 10 CNBC-Alberta pastors and leaders from as far as Edmonton, Alberta, who were present to establish relationships with Montanans, Nate Vedoya told Baptist Press. Vedoya is a church planter and the North American Mission Board's Send City missionary in Edmonton.
The partnership is part of the state convention's "Go Montana" initiative, which is in "vision-casting" stage this year and is set for mobilization in 2020. The initiative includes a first-ever statewide mission trip to Peru next August.
Easthaven Baptist Church in Kalispell hosted the meeting, which was themed "Refresh," and the church's praise team led in worship.
Budget, elections and other business
Business was quickly dispatched with unanimous votes each time: for the partnership with Alberta, passage of a $1,451,661 budget for 2020; provisional acceptance of Beaverhead River Cowboy Church in Dillon, which recently requested affiliation with the MTSBC; and re-election to second, one-year terms for President Chad Scarborough, pastor of First Baptist Church in Shelby; and for Vice President K.J. Ellington, pastor of Jordan Community Bible Church.
The 2020 budget, which is a decrease of $55,615 from last year's budget, includes $735,661 from Montana churches, a decrease of $44,385 from last year. A total of $640,000 is anticipated from the North American Mission Board, including $100,000 for administration and $540,000 for church planting and evangelism. LifeWay Christian Resources has allocated $60,000 again next year for Montana, and $16,000 is to come from interest income.
Montana plans to send $183,915 -- 25 percent -- of its income from churches for national and international SBC mission causes.
"We will never spend any more money than you send us," Duke said. As a result of budget shortfall, the Next Generation (youth) Ministry position was eliminated. "We will continue to do all we can to minister to youth statewide," Duke continued.
Disaster Relief became the fifth allocation for the State Missions Offering. The others are pastor emergencies, human needs, college ministries and Native American ministries, each of which will receive 20 percent of what churches send in.
Reports and messages
A couple from Montana serving with the International Mission Board described their ministry in southern Europe. Easthaven's Pastor Daniel Lambert spoke of his experience over the last year as the first-ever IMB trustee from Montana.
Chad Keck, a pastor from Ohio and the Midwest region Cooperative Program catalyst for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, brought greetings from EC President and CEO Ronnie Floyd. Keck presented Floyd's "Five Keys" to transforming the culture in the SBC: Living and breathing gospel urgency; empowering all churches, generations, ethnicities and languages; telling and celebrating what God is doing; loving others like Jesus loves and prioritizing, elevating and accelerating generosity.
Floyd's vision, Keck said, is "reaching the world for Christ, whatever the cost, whatever the risk, this worldwide mission thrust must be our priority."
In his president's address, Scarborough mentioned the isolation many pastors feel, the need to develop relationships, and the importance of making "your own attitude that of Christ" (Philippians 2:5-8). He spoke of submission, humility, and the need to be a servant.
Montana, the nation's fourth-largest state, covers 146,040 square miles. MTSBC has a staff of three to cover it. Duke said he has put more than 70,000 miles on his vehicle in less than three years.
Strengthening Team leader Darren Hales identifies people with expertise across the state, who can respond when someone calls in for help. For example, Greg Payton, pastor of The Rock church in Laurel, and his staff have helped 23 churches with their sound system.
In his report, Hales also talked about the creative ways pastors and leaders across the state through their local context are engaging their congregations in ministry, such as a wild game dinner, a boxing ministry, a rodeo Bible camp and more.
"Local guys understand local needs," Hales told messengers.
William Johnson, a volunteer firefighter for 14 years and Planting Team leader, introduced church planters across the state.
"Be part of an elite team!" Johnson urged, referencing the need to plant more churches in Montana. Despite planting 34 churches since 2011, there are only three more Southern Baptist churches in Montana than there were eight years ago, he said.
Gerry Taillon is the national ministry leader for the Canadian National Baptist Convention. In the annual meeting's final message, Taillon preached from John 25 on abiding in Christ and therefore bearing fruit, from which dozens or hundreds of seeds are scattered.
Montana's annual meeting was followed Saturday morning by evangelism training called "One Conversation" led by John Meador, pastor of Cross City Church in Euless, Texas. Trainees then participated in door-to-door visitation in Columbia Falls.
"We had a great meeting this year," Duke told Baptist Press. "There was a wonderful spirit throughout. I'm really looking forward to the partnership we voted on, to work with our sister churches in Alberta.
"Our MTSBC churches have so much to give. It's going to be fun seeing all that God leads us to do."
The 2020 annual meeting of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention is set for Oct. 1-2 at Lifeway Church in Billings.