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Funding structure changes for two Texas Baptist Student Ministries

December 14th, 2009 at 2:25 pm

DALLAS – Due to a change in associational strategy and approach, Bluebonnet Baptist Association and Corpus Christi Baptist Association are changing the funding structure for the Baptist Student Ministries at Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi/ Del Mar College and Texas State University beginning in 2010.

Within the last two years, the Bluebonnet Baptist Association supporting the Texas State BSM and the Corpus Christi Baptit Association supporting the Texas A&M at Corpus Christi BSM notified the organizations that the association would be reducing or cutting direct program budget for the BSMs in 2010.

“The shift has come both because of finances and philosophical shifts in the association,” said Bruce McGowan, Texas Baptists director of collegiate ministries. “The association is an autonomous group and we respect what they do with their money. We have been grateful for what they have given in the past or will give in the future.”

For both associations, the change comes from a desire to see more church involvement with the BSM. In an attempt to foster direct collegiate ministry partnerships and direct involvement in 2010, the Bluebonnet Baptist Association will no longer provide program money through the associational budget but will encourage churches to fund the BSM program budget directly.

Traditionally in Texas BSM structure, most of the staff salaries come from the Texas Baptists state budget or through self-supported campus missionaries and interns while the program money and accountability comes from the local Baptist association, churches and alumni. The $15,000 given by the Bluebonnet Baptist Association to the Texas State BSM for the program budget in the past will now leave a gap that the BSM will have to fill from other funding sources.

“What we are attempting to do is transfer the support, involvement and ministry through the association to a direct funding through churches,” Minton said. “Our hope is to have more direct involvement with the local churches and students. I believe what has come through the association will be more than picked up by the local churches as they take more responsibility for the ministry.”

As the associations focus was tailored, leadership realized that only five out of 70 associational churches have allocated money towards BSM ministry. Because of this, Jump and other leadership felt like the funding needed to be revised and a method to encourage more church involvement should be established.

“We decided that we didn’t want to cut off BSM funding in 2010, so we put it at a level that is more compatible with our budget,” Jump said. “Along with that, we have these priority teams, and the BSM will be under the community impact team. We think in the long run that BSM will be coaxed into engaging with more churches. This will give them the opportunity out of necessity to work more closely with churches, increasing their funding base and creating a healthy partnerhip with the churches.”

In the last few years, the BSM at the University of Texas in Austin had to make the same funding shift and has been able to raise more support through alumni and individual church involvement than the previously pledged amount by associational budgets. McGowan also said that Lamar University in Beaumont has been funded by over 50 individual churches in the area for some time and is doing quite well with this system.

McGowan is optimistic the two BSMs will be able to raise adequate funding while strengthening bonds with local churches, stating that they are not in “crisis mode” because of some provision that has already been provided through individual churches and donors as well as the staff positions still being covered by the Texas Baptists budget.

“We will be letting people know the need through churches, friends of BSM and alumni,” he said. “In BSM history, we have relied on local church and association program dollars. That isn’t new. There just has been a shift in the role of the association that has made us seek funds in some other areas and new ways.”

Another change caused by the funding change for these two BSMs will be the formation of a new accountability structure. In the past, when the two BSMs received the majority of program money from the association, it then was held accountable by the associational director and its governing structure.

Since this will not be in place, a new advisory group of 8-10 local church leaders and BSM alumni throughout the state will be established by the BSM directors and local churches for each of the two BSMs and be used as the accountability source that will make budget and structural decisions for the organizations.

“The question is ‘Do Texas Baptists want to be involved with what God wants to do in the lives of the 1.2 million college students in Texas?’ and I believe they do,” McGowan said. “We will just have to change some of our methods. The key part to this is that we don’t tell local churches and associations what to do. The collegiate ministry office is here to help them reach college students if that is what they want.

“There has always been more opportunity than money. It’s just now that there is even more opportunity. There has never been a better opportunity to reach students for Christ on Texas campuses and it will take all our churches working together to do that. BSM can’t do it alone, and we are grateful for the partnerships to do this.”

To support BSM work, contact the Texas Baptists collegiate ministry office by calling 1-888-220-9426 or e-mailing Cindy Zoller at cindy.zoller@texasbaptists.org. All donations made are tax deductible.

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