Hixson named SBTC missions director, Pruitt moves to evangelism director
August 17th, 2017 / By: Tammi Reed Ledbetter | Special Assignments Editor / comments
GRAPEVINE—The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board called Doug Hixson of Spearfish, S.D., to serve as the new director of missions and approved a proposed a $28.8 million operating budget for 2018 during its Aug. 15 meeting in Grapevine.
After two years of leading the missions department, Shane Pruitt becomes the director of evangelism, filling a vacancy created by the departure of Nathan Lorick to lead the Colorado Baptist General Convention.
Hixson, 46, is the founding pastor of Connection Church, which he began as a home Bible study in 2010. Now averaging more than 200 people in attendance each week, the South Dakota church has baptized more than 60 people since its launch and planted three other churches in the state.
He also served as president of both the Dakotas Baptist Convention and their Pastors’ Conference, having been a member of their Executive Board, and has been active in his local Baptist association and disaster relief ministry.
While in Texas, Hixson pastored Cornerstone Baptist Church in Pampa and served as missions and small groups minister at Inglewood Baptist Church in Grand Prairie.
“Not only was he a successful church planter, but in a very hard area to plant churches he devised a church planting system and three churches have grown out of that,” stated SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards. “He has proven himself to be a kind of networker, church planting strategist and successful church planter himself so that I felt deeply impressed that Doug Hixson was our man to continue the work Shane has done in these areas.”
Glynn Stone, pastor of Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview, said in a reference letter that Hixson had “impacted hundreds of lives for the kingdom by faithfully carrying out the role of pastor, teacher, missional leader and community advocate.”
SBTC President Nathan Lino said Hixson knows the culture of the SBTC as a former Executive Board member. “His doctrine and passion for missions are a strong match for our organization. He has an extraordinary passion for evangelism and missions,” he said, describing Hixson as “not only passionate about planting a church, but the conversion of lost souls.”
North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell praised Hixson’s character and integrity, adding that he “motivates leaders and laity to excel and to reach their full potential.”
Hixson earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies with a minor in communications from Ouachita Baptist University. In 2004 he earned the Master of Arts degree in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to Dana, and they have two children, Benjamin and Adyson.
In describing his philosophy of ministry, Hixson told the Executive Committee that his foremost objective is evangelism, both personally and in the local church. Calling Matt. 28:19-20 the pattern for ministry, Hixson described the priority of discipleship. “My life goal is to lead people to a relationships with Jesus Christ, disciple them in their walk and help them find an area of ministry where they feel they can use the gifts that God has uniquely given them to reach people.”
Hixson said the methods of reaching people will change, but the message of the Bible can never be compromised. “I build my beliefs solely on the unchanging, inerrant, immutable Word of God.”
Following an Acts 1:8 model of working locally, statewide, nationally and internationally, Hixson said, “God has not only called the churches of the SBC to cooperate on a regular basis by supporting our home and international missionary efforts, but he has also called us to be actively involved on the local church level.”
The Board also approved a recommended budget for 2018 of $28,880,178 that requires approval of SBTC messengers during the convention’s annual meeting at Criswell College in Dallas, Nov. 13-14. The proposal reflects a 2.56 percent increase over the previous year and includes a $100,000 increase in church planting and $150,000 increase in church revitalization.
Board members considered a recommendation from the administration committee to discontinue a long-standing “matching benefit” that contributes $17.50 per month into the retirement account of qualified recipients serving SBTC affiliated churches. Chris Moody of Beaumont spoke in favor of keeping the benefit, saying it “creates partnership and ownership with young pastors.”
The $450,000 line item requires $1 million in Cooperative Program dollars as those undesignated funds are divided 55 percent for SBC causes and 45 percent for in-state use. With three years of CP decline, the committee sought to tighten expenses for the coming year. Through the end of June, Cooperative Program receipts were $13,603,332—slightly below the $13,753,217 given through June of 2016.
“Maybe the answer is let’s go get more Cooperative Program dollars so we have the resources to do what we’re called to do,” interjected David Fleming of Houston. “I hate to have to choose between good things. Let’s fund it.”
Eric Shinn of Houston agreed, referring to an earlier motion in which the Board agreed to voluntarily encourage affiliated churches to participate in or increase CP giving. “You’re asking us to create awareness so why not trust that all of us will do our part, and we can come up with $1 million more for the incoming budget?”
The Board unanimously voted to continue the benefit for ministry staff members only, a net impact of about $100,000 on the 2018 in-state budget, and increased the minimal CP contribution by churches to $500 per participant per year.
Funding grants approved from reserves will cover the cost of enabling interface between SBTC’s database and event registration system, initiatives related to celebration of the convention’s 20th anniversary in 2018, and providing a reception, exhibit booth and Pastors’ Conference sponsorship at next year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Dallas. A grant of $125,000 to help with this year’s health insurance premium costs was extended into 2018 and beyond as needed.
The Board voted to revise the Policy on Ministry Relationships with the intent of making the categories more distinct. “Affiliated” agreements will be limited to educational institutions and family services ministries and has no impact on any of the convention’s current affiliated ministries—two colleges and a children’s home.
The second category of relationships, now called “fraternal,” will be limited to fellowships and other groups that are not institutions or commercial enterprises. Two of the convention’s current relationships, Houston Baptist University and the Baptist Credit Union, would no longer qualify under the new terms when the policy takes effect in 2018. HBU, as an educational institution can, under the new policy, apply for an affiliated agreement—a close relationship that includes agreement that the institution will work within the parameters of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
Giving through mission offerings by SBTC churches showed small decreases over the previous year. One month into the reporting year, the Lottie Moon Christmas offering for International Missions received $91,725, down from $99,853 for the same period last year.
The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions, with nine months reporting, amounted to $2.54 million, a decrease of $59,948 from a year ago. Reach Texas giving hit $1.3 million for the first 10 months, down $6,340 from the previous year.
The Board approved affiliation requests from 27 churches, bringing the total number of affiliated churches to 2,637. Thirteen churches that have disbanded, three that merged with other congregations, three that no longer wish to affiliate and one operating outside the bounds of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 were removed.
Jack Pogue, founder of the W. A. Criswell sermon library, was chosen as recipient of the 2017 H. Paul Pressler Distinguished Service Award during the SBTC annual meeting. The Board also heard reports from three affiliated ministries—Texas Baptist Home for Children, Jacksonville College and Criswell College.
In response to a motion asking SBTC to explore the use of video venue locations to allow full participation in the annual meeting, the Executive Committee projected costs exceeding $80,000 for each remote location. Due to the functional complexity and potential technical issues that could prevent messengers from conducting business, the Board chose not to pursue the idea.