Executive Board votes to revamp college ministry
JEFFERSON CITY—The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board met in a special-called session June 4 to set in motion a restructuring of collegiate ministry that re-allocates resources so that MBC staffers can be more efficient with the Gospel in campus settings.
Former MBC Associate Executive Director Jim Austin, who now serves as executive director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, was the man who shaped the ideas behind the plan that is now in place.
“His analysis was that we needed a restructure so that we could more effectively reach the campuses in Missouri,” said MBC Interim Executive Director David Tolliver. “The people who are currently doing student ministries simply cannot do what we want to see done. They’re good people. They’ve done a good job in the assignment that they were given. We simply think that the assignment needs to be different so that we can reach the students of our state.”
The board voted unanimously on June 4 to change the MBC Job Inventory. Effective June 30, the position “campus minister” will be removed and replaced with “collegiate ministry regional coordinator.” There are six full-time and one part-time campus ministers; there will be three collegiate ministry regional coordinators and one collegiate ministry international coordinator. Although all of the current positions are being eliminated, Tolliver emphasized that no one person is being terminated because of poor job performance.
Full-time campus ministers whose positions are being eliminated are: Jason Allen, Central Missouri State University; Gene Austin, Truman State University; Jerry Carmichael, University of Missouri; Dean Finley, Missouri State University; Bob Houchins, Southeast Missouri State University; and Ed Moncada, international collegiate minister. The part-time position that Randy Dudik holds at the University of Missouri-Rolla is also being trimmed.
Collegiate ministry regional coordinator positions (Pay Grade 4) for the North, Central and South are being filled as well as one collegiate ministry international coordinator slot (also Pay Grade 4). As of June 8, none of the positions has been filled. Several of the MBC campus ministers have expressed interest in continuing on in a different position.
The restructuring is part of a process that MBC Student Ministry Director Matt Kearns has been going through since last April, when he was promoted from student evangelism specialist. At that point he was placed over all of the Baptist Student Union (BSU) ministries in the state and also began to consider the MBC’s relationship with about 15 part-time and bivocational college ministers in Missouri who have no ties to the MBC. The restructuring, which also can be explained as a re-assignment of resources, will give Kearns and his team a better opportunity to communicate with churches and begin to mobilize more people for the campus mission field.
He was given ample opportunity to present the plan to Executive Board members on June 4 before the group broke for lunch. In the afternoon, Kearns took questions from board members before a series of three votes were taken on the plan itself, on amending the job inventory, and on severance for downsized staff. All three votes were unanimous.
“I’m encouraged that we’re talking about missions and ministry,” Kearns said. “Even if we ask tough questions, we’re talking about how we can affect lives together.”
Kearns explained that he would like to get the regional coordinators working on the new plan as soon as possible by immediately deploying as many as 14 campus missionaries. These would be part-time employees who would work in a region to connect with students, faculty and staff in campus settings. Another component of the strategy is the development of a collegiate community-focused church planting model.
It marks the first major shift in MBC personnel since Tolliver began serving as interim executive director April 10, but he noted that he had very little to do with the final product because it had been in the works for such a long time. Austin had wanted to take it to the board in April, but board members back then were focused on other matters.
“As an interim executive director, I didn’t plan to do any restructuring,” Tolliver said. “A restructure of this proportion is not something that you would normally endeavor on an interim basis.
“I’m pleased that honest discussion occurred and that people asked hard questions and honest questions, and they were answered. The demeanor in the room was a Christ-like demeanor. I believe with all my heart that this action today is the first step in the Convention coming back together. While certainly there are divisions in the Convention, and there are emotions that run high, we are moving forward in ministry.”
A total of 40 Executive Board members out of 53 came to the Baptist Building for the special-called meeting.