CBF moderator Bill McConnell, center, flanked by past moderator Keith Herron and moderator-elect Kasey Jones.
CBF moderator Bill McConnell, center, flanked by past moderator Keith Herron and moderator-elect Kasey Jones.

New CBF structure energizes, leaders say

A flatter organizational structure makes the CBF more efficient and provides more opportunities for individauls to serve, leaders said after a whirlwind month of implementing the 2012 Task Force Report.

By Bob Allen

About 140 people have visited Atlanta in the last four weeks for implementation of a new leadership structure adopted last year following a two-year study on ways to improve the 22-year-old Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s effectiveness and reach.

“This has been a busy four weeks,” CBF Moderator Bill McConnell said Sept. 12 at an organizational meeting of a new 16-member Governing Board charged with oversight of the Fellowship’s Executive Coordinator and staff. “A lot of work has been going on and will continue to go on.”

McConnell, a lay leader at Central Baptist Church of Bearden in Knoxville, Tenn., said the whirlwind pace began with a two-day meeting to begin planning next year’s CBF General Assembly in Atlanta. After that officers met.

So did a 15-member Nominating Committee, whose task is to recruit committed and talented people both to the Governing Board and new councils to focus on missions and ministries. Those groups, which are now partially populated in a plan that calls for one third of the voting members to rotate off this year, met earlier this week at new CBF offices in Decatur, Ga., and next door at the Atlanta suburb’s First Baptist Church.

cbf suziigoverningboardIn the meantime, coordinators of state and regional CBF organizations gathered for their regular meeting. Others meeting included Current, the CBF young leaders’ network that seeks to connect Baptist ministers, leaders and divinity students under age 40. Meanwhile, coaches were in town to introduce Dawnings, a new congregational initiative outlining next steps for churches that previously completed the eight-week It’s Time introduction to the “missional” church.

CBF leaders described the beehive of activity as a measure of success for the 2012 Task Force recommendation to decentralize the 69-member Coordinating Council based on geographical representation with smaller and more focused working groups chosen because of members’ expertise, interest and passion in a particular area of CBF leadership.

Not only does it help with the sometimes unwieldy process of dealing with day-to-day decisions as a large group, leaders said, but it actually increases the number of individuals elected to some leadership role.

The Governing Board’s role, McConnell said, is policy. “Our role is not to dictate the processes,” he said. “Our role is not to say what is going to happen day to day. Our role is to work with staff and take the things that staff and the councils want to do, and we set policies.”

Suzii Paynter, elected Executive Coordinator in February, said one area she has looked at in her first five-plus months is how the CBF tells its story to constituents and a broader society.

“Sometimes we have told our story by focusing on an individual church or an individual person but not focusing on the impact we are having as churches or as field personnel,” she said.

“How do we not just say who is doing something, but this is how we are doing something?” she queried. “How are we having impact through either missions or ministries or through our voice in the public square?”