The following conversation could have taken place between any Baptist pastors, staff ministers, or laypersons anywhere in North America any time in the past 50 years. It could have taken place this week in the Midlands of South Carolina.
A pastor, a church staff person, and a layperson met at a coffee shop, ordered their favorite caffeinated drink, and on this gorgeous day decided to sit outside and enjoy the breeze flowing gently through the trees.
Greg, the pastor, is new to the church having arrived just three months ago. The worship leader, Carlton, has led worship for seven years since the congregation made the transition from traditional to contemporary worship. Stephanie is the chairperson of the Finance Committee, and has attended the congregation all her life.
The reason for gathering was to talk about the missions section of their church budget for the coming year. Questions have arisen as to the value of contributing financially to the three dimensions of their denomination—international, regional, and local. In days of limited funds for the church budget, pressure has arisen to cut contributions to the denomination. This is not a new agenda. It has come up before, and cuts to denominations already have been made.