Editor's Note: The following article is a transcript of Baptist Convention of New Mexico Executive Director Joseph Bunce's quarterly report to the State Mission Board on Jan. 27.
Dear State Mission Board,
Welcome new Mission Board members: Roy Brent, Paul Holt, Michael Kirby, James Mahan, Rob Mayes, Steve Mulkey, Andy Randall, Carlos Tapia and Mark Whittington. You are coming on the State Mission Board at a very exciting time. This board is a working board and your insight and input are both desired and needed. I believe God has brought you here for such a time as this. If you have a question, please ask it. If you have a possible solution, please share it.
It is an honor to serve New Mexico Baptists, and I am very thankful to God for the privilege that has been afforded me in allowing me this place of service. I love New Mexico; I love the people, the culture and the geography of this great state. There is no place on earth that I would rather be than right here in New Mexico. The Baptist Convention of New Mexico has been a pacesetter for much of the West and the Southern Baptist Convention. Your willingness as a board to take significant steps of faith is greatly responsible for these pacesetting accomplishments.
Now, we have the possibility of a future partnership. I have been in discussion with Dr. David Hardage, [executive director] of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, to discuss possible ways of partnership with the BCNM. I respect and appreciate Dr. Hardage and look forward to talking more about ways that we can work together to push back lostness in New Mexico.
From my perspective, here at the BCNM, the wheels are up; the flight is underway; and, the sky is the limit as New Mexico Baptists look toward the future. We have no debt, a wonderful fellowship of partnering churches, the best convention staff in the SBC and a mission field of lost folks to reach.
I am very happy to report that in 2019 we received, from New Mexico Baptists, the largest Mission New Mexico State Missions Offering in history. New Mexico Baptists gave $400,630 through Mission New Mexico. Those funds will be used for Kingdom advance and will provide much needed resources to plant new churches in New Mexico. New Mexicans must become focused on training up indigenous planters. The development of leaders is a must if we are going to see this state come to faith in Christ.
Mission New Mexico funds will assist in sending university students as missionaries across New Mexico and across the world. This past year, your generous gifts helped send 73 student missionaries. You also had part in a New Mexico team serving in Slovenia. It was there that they met up with a young man from Turkey who was in Slovenia, and he was able to hear the Gospel for the very first time. There were many other places your student missionaries ventured, but for security reasons, I will not announce names or locations.
The theme for the 2020 Mission New Mexico State Missions Offering is “That They Might Be Saved.” [In] Romans 10:1, Paul’s prayer and hope was that his own people come to faith in Jesus. That must become our passion as New Mexico Baptists. I would like to present to you the suggested allocations for the 2020 Mission New Mexico Offering.
2020 Mission New Mexico State Missions Offering Allocations
Church Planting: $150,000.00
Collegiate International Missions: $20,000.00
Collegiate New Mexico Team Missions: $20,000.00
Christian Challenge Capital Improvements: $10,000.00
New Mexico Hunger Funds: $70,000.00
Inlow Camp: $50,000.00
Sivells Camp: $50,000.00
Ministers and Family Retreat: $25,000.00
Total Goal: $395,000.00
As you all should be aware, this will be a year of the beginning of transition for us in the BCNM family and the Bunce family. I [have] announced my intention to retire as lead missionary for our convention on February 1, 2021. If my successor is found by the search committee and elected by the Convention by that date, the handoff will be simple. Hopefully, that will be the case. If not, I will continue to stay as long as needed to ensure a smooth transition. The goal of our transition plan from the beginning was to have an overlap between the time of my leaving and the leadership of the new lead missionary.
Tonight in my time with the board, I want to walk you through some training material on the process of transition. I am very grateful to our board and staff for all the encouragement and support. I am very confident that God is guiding in every aspect of my life as we make this transition. In the famous movie “Chariots of Fire,” I understand Eric Liddel when he said, “When I run I can feel His pleasure.” I love this convention and each and every person on my staff.
I have a huge passion for the local church, and my pastor’s heart yearns to serve a local church again. Therefore, until the time I retire, I [will] serve First Baptist Church, Fort Sumner, as their part-time interim pastor. I will continue to serve the churches of New Mexico and will adjust my calendar as needed to be faithful to the needs of our convention. When I retire, I will formally move to Fort Sumner and be the pastor of that great church.
Now, allow me to share five trends and challenges that I see that are ahead for the BCNM family.
- Giving in our churches will continue to be a challenge. (See CP Receipts chart on accompanying PDF download.) One day there will be another downturn in the economy. Today, we are enjoying a bullish stock market. But historically, there have been 12 bear markets since 1945. The average drop in the market in bear times has been a bit over 30 percent. These bear markets have lasted between 12 and 14 months, on average. There have been four market crashes since Black Friday, 1929.
The giving patterns have never recovered, in most New Mexico churches, from the 2008 Great Recession. Many of our older, tithing members have passed away at a faster rate than a new generation of tithers has been raised up.
- I believe “tribalism” in the SBC and the American church will continue at an accelerated rate. The challenges that this reality has created, and will continue to create, are significant. Once, Southern Baptists were a homogeneous group: we sang from the same hymnbook, we studied the same Sunday school quarterly, and we generally attended the same training events. Those days are gone.
- We are not reaching our children and youth. There are estimated to be 75 million Americans in the Gen Z generation, those born between 2000 and 2019. Sadly, most churches are unwilling to make the needed changes to reach this generation. We know that 80 percent of those in our churches were reached by the age of 18. But, the baptism numbers across the SBC, and even here in New Mexico, are completely unacceptable.
- Civility seems lost today. Political and denominational divisions have paralleled one another since the turn of the last century.
- There are large amounts of teaching taking place in most of our churches with little training. For example: We are telling people to share their faith, but most leaders are not modeling or training people how to share their faith.
Staff Anniversaries Date Yrs
Cricket Pairett, MMT Jan 1 32
Joseph Bunce, Exec. Feb 1 14
Scott Wilson, MMT Feb 1 7
Ricardo Rivera, MMT Mar 1 6
Joy Pittman, IST Mar 22 20
God bless you all and thank you for the privilege of serving New Mexico Baptists.