On Dec. 7, 2023, the Executive Board of the South Carolina Baptist Convention voted unanimously and enthusiastically to release $10 million in unrestricted cash assets into the mission and ministry model of the convention over a 10-year period.
The plan includes a detailed quarterly report to the board’s Executive Advisory Team, an annual detailed report to the board’s Business, Finance, and Audit Committee (BFA), and a high-level evaluation at the five-year midpoint. It was presented by Executive Director-Treasurer Tony Wolfe as the “10×10 Plan for Strategic Priorities Funding.”
The motion, as approved unanimously by the Executive Advisory Team; the BFA; and the full Executive Board is as follows: That the BFA Committee and Executive Board approve the following 10×10 Plan for utilizing Strategic Priorities funds, up to $10 million in 10 years, to boost SCBaptist effectiveness in the following seven priority areas of ministry and mission requiring (1) a quarterly report to the Executive Advisory Team on priorities progress, (2) an annual report to the BFA Committee on the actual usage of funds, and (3) a mid-plan evaluation in 2029.
The 10×10 Plan
The convention currently holds about $28 million in investments, $18 million of which are restricted, held in reserve for six month’s operating expenses, retirement payout liability, capital improvements, and other similar line items. The $10 million is held in an unrestricted line item labeled “Strategic Priorities.” From this fund, the board’s Business, Finance, and Audit Committee has granted funds for various missions and ministry projects such as cooperative agreements with the APAC affinity group of the International Mission Board, Send Cities with the North American Mission Board, foster care and adoption grants, and more.
In the same spirit of strategic priority funding, Wolfe explained, “The 10×10 Plan outlines for us a proactive, strategic effort,” rather than what he called a more “reactive” approach to funding similar requests, as in years past, but with no real “synergy” between them.
In his address to convention staff on Jan. 8, Wolfe explained that, like Nehemiah at the end of chapter 13, SCBaptist leadership and board members in years past have “made provision for wood.” Nehemiah understood the importance of prayerful, obedient sacrifice in his generation, and longed for the next generation to see God pour out His favor on their sacrifices in their generation as Nehemiah had seen in his.
“No wood, no fire. No fire, no sacrifice. No sacrifice, no blessing,” Wolfe explained. The 10×10 Plan is an opportunity “for us to fuel the ministry, make worthy sacrifices, and beg for God to show us favor in our Great Commission work.”
The 10×10 Plan is a short-term strategy for strengthening the work of the convention “in an all-out frontal assault on the gates of hell in South Carolina and around the world,” he said.
Wolfe concluded his address with a prayer that God might “consider our sacrifices, make them worthy, and show us favor in our Great Commission cooperation.”
Seven Strategic Priorities
The 10×10 Plan presents seven strategic priorities Wolfe says are “born from the very heart of SCBaptists.” The priorities, as stated in the plan, are: African American Engagement; Sexual Abuse Advisor and Resources; Missions Partnerships and Mobilization; Shepherd Team; Church Planting; One Family Initiatives; and Bless SC Initiatives. Next generation engagement and a focus on young and future pastor engagement is a thread that ties together all seven of these priorities. The board was presented with a single-sentence vision statement for each of the seven priorities, a proposed allotment of financial resources, a list of possible uses, and detailed measurements of success for future evaluation under each priority.
Wolfe said, “While some funding will be utilized for consultants and independent contractors, 10×10 funds will not be used for employee salaries.” The intention is to deploy these funds strategically, in keeping with the seven stated priorities and under the robust accountability and supervision of stated board committees, as “an adrenaline shot … to ignite and bolster meaningful, ongoing mission and ministry.”
New Ministry Priority Team
The creation of the Shepherd Team may be of particular interest to SCBaptists. This team will be added to the convention’s existing five-team ministry department structure (Share, Send, Serve, Strong, and Start) and will focus exclusively on the office of pastor by networking, encouraging, resourcing, and providing training opportunities for pastor care, pastor leadership, and pastor health. Some existing staff will be rearranged to create the new team. Convention staff has also launched a search, by recommendation only, for the new team leader.
“I personally spoke with 11 initial recommendations,” Wolfe said, “who came to us by recommendation of influential SCBaptist pastors, various state convention leaders, and national Southern Baptist Convention leaders. The candidate pool consisted of experienced and capable individuals from six states, three ethnicities, and a 35-year age range.” The search is currently in the interview stage with four remaining candidates. “I am confident,” Wolfe continued, “that this could be one of the most impactful moves the convention makes in our generation.”
More information about the 10×10 Plan will be released in the form of articles, podcasts, and other media in the coming months.