I once served in a ministry setting that was very cost conscious on everything that we did. Whenever there was a project that would be proposed, I would always have to present how the project would, first of all pay for itself, and second, add growth to the church. As we expanded some became concerned because budgetary needs were becoming tight. Do not get me wrong, we never fell below budget, it would get to a point that we were not able to perform projects at a certain time. When these financial restraints would present themselves one member of the Finance Committee would always look at the outreach projects and try to cut them to save money. I would always respond that cutting outreach would cut the income. If we are going to increase income we must expand and if we do not expand then the income will be cut. It is a vicious cycle.
Which brings me to this situation. I desire to look at this situation for the merits of the issue and not from any personal biased point of view. I admit my bias as I do not agree with Baptist General Convention Texas (BGCT) as they have taken several steps to hurt the SBC and thus their relationship to the SBC is strained at best. The BGCT makes it very clear they are not in favor of the direction of the SBC and are more in favor with the direction of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). However, I believe they are Godly people who lead and make decisions in that organization.
Others have been critical of the moves. These others were once involved in the leadership of the BGCT and have made it clear that they love the BGCT but they disagree with Dr. Charles Wade. Some others have called into question the true nature of Valleygate. It seems that Valleygate will not go away as the BGCT has authorized an internal audit in an apparent attempt to gain knowledge about all that happened. Also, since that million $ debacle some have began to question the leadership of the BGCT on everything. You can read other’s take on the budgetary situation here here and here. Also you can see how other issues, such as partnerships, are being questioned here and here.
My question deals particularly with the rationale behind this move. In the press release from the BGCT one is given the names and positions of the program staff being eliminated. In this list you will note that10 of the 12 program staff positions being eliminated are coming from the Missions-Evangelism-Ministry Team. It has been reported by Dr. Rick Davis that this lay-off is a revenge of Dr. Wade for those in this area of ministry being critical of his leadership. I do not know why Mission, Evangelism and Ministry Team (MEM) was chosen to take such a large number of hits but there is one thing for certain. There are 12 positions being eliminated and 10 come from the area of the convention organization that is charged with supplying resources for churches to grow thus the BGCT to grow.
With these lay-offs and the rationale of lack of funds comes a factor that no one seems to notice. Program staff positions are being eliminated and thus the support staff of these positions are not longer essential. There are 29 positions being eliminated all together. Twelve of these positions are program staff, that means that seventeen of these positions supported twelve. Let’s look at this from a church perspective. I go to my Personnel Committee and tell them that I want to add a full-time staff person. It will cost approximately $40k for salary and benefits for this person, but we also need to account for the support staff needed to look after this person and help make this position successful. The Personnel Committee responds with questions concerning this support staff person. Well it will not take one person but one full-time and one 1/4 time person. You know what will happen as good as I.
Why does it take more support persons to enable staff to operate than it takes staff people to perform the task? When one gets into denominational leadership does one lose his/her ability to contact people on their own? With the technological advancements we have today, what exactly do support staff do? I know that at SBC Seminary’s there are support staff for the work needed to be accomplished. However, I also know that the Professors share secretaries. You may call the seminary and ask to speak to two differenent Professors and end up speaking to the same person because that person is the support staff for these two Professors.
I have never worked in a denominational position so I do desire to be cautious in my assessment. Whatever the reasons behind the decisions to lay-off these program staff and support personnel is completely in the hands of those making these decisions. However, if the BGCT desires to shore up the gaping hole that they feel the money is escaping, reducing the MEM is a sure way to reduce new funding.