2020-2021 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Budget

(for fiscal year beginning October 1, 2020)

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, most generously defined, is a community of nearly 1,400 congregations, 19 state and regional organizations, gifted and called field personnel serving in 19 countries, Together for Hope staff serving our nation’s poorest counties, more than 800 endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors, impactful partner ministries and supportive ministry networks that exist to offer a shared witness to Jesus Christ and seek to more faithfully participate in God’s mission in our communities and around the world. Congregations are at the center of our Fellowship’s life, because congregations are central to Christ’s mission.

CBF Global exists both to provide direct ministries and also to support the thriving of the entire CBF community. Our budget for the fiscal year that began October 1 provides funding for collaborative ministries that we share across the larger Fellowship community.


On Thursday, October 1, 2020, the Governing Board of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship adopted a budget for the fiscal year which began that day in keeping with authorization granted by vote of the General Assembly in June. At that time, the Governing Board requested that the normal budget process be delayed so that a budget could be prepared that reflected the findings of the discovery phase of Toward Bold Faithfulness, while also being within the financial capacity of CBF Global. The adopted budget meets those obligations.

The 2020-2021 budget comes after the budget approved during the 2019 General Assembly for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. In approving the 2019-2020 budget in June 2019, the Fellowship authorized the Governing Board to draw from the CBF’s unrestricted reserves in order to operate because the projected expenditures in that budget were $1.3 million higher than the projected revenue. When the 2019-2020 budget was adopted, the Governing Board committed that the next proposed budget would not require such an authorization. The budget adopted earlier this month honors the Governing Board’s commitment.

Reaching a balanced budget for the new fiscal year required a net decrease in spending of $1,562,405. The reduction in spending from unrestricted gifts was higher, as the new budget includes increases in spending from restricted gifts. The reductions in spending were accomplished in large measure by a staffing reorganization designed primarily to implement the findings of the Toward Bold Faithfulness discovery phase, but also to reduce expenditures.


For this reason, the Governing Board took action on the budget in executive session and delayed the publication of the budget until CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley could meet personally with all CBF Global employees. Those meetings took place between October 6-9. Employees whose positions were eliminated in the restructuring were offered severance and also have been given space to share the news first as they saw fit. By the end of October, an updated list of CBF Global employees will be available on the CBF website. These reductions in staffing due to the reorganization were exceptionally difficult because they impacted very gifted people who have served our Fellowship with excellence and tremendous commitment.

In this report, we will share more details regarding the new CBF Global budget.

On Revenue

The new budget for CBF Global anticipates total revenue between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021, of $14,723,483. That revenue will come in several undesignated and designated forms:

  • Unrestricted contributions to CBF Ministry and Mission from congregations and individuals
  • Gifts to the Offering for Global Missions from congregations and individuals
  • Designated gifts to field personnel for programming use from Encourager Churches, partners and individuals
  • Designated income from grants and other pledged donor gifts
  • Designated Disaster Response contributions

We also receive income from investments (for which we budget) because of scheduled earnings. We do not make any budget projections related to other gains/losses in investments held at HighGround Advisors in partnership with the CBF Foundation.

Our revenue projections for unrestricted contributions, gifts to the Offering for Global Missions and designated gifts to field personnel programming are based on actual revenue received during the fiscal year just completed. When the budget was approved, we had 11 months of revenue data for the fiscal year that just ended.

Our revenue projection related to grants and donor-directed gifts has increased because CBF has been awarded a $1 million grant (to be paid over two years) by Lilly Endowment as part of their Thriving Congregations Initiative. That new commitment is added to commitments already in hand.

The revenue also projects drawing $2.6 million from “previously funded” restricted accounts. Among CBF’s restricted accounts are gifts given in grants in previous fiscal years for ministries in the current year. Those funds are held in reserve and then applied to our budget as previously funded. This year’s budgeted expenditures draw from previously funded Lilly Endowment grants, grants from the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation and gifts to CBF’s 25th Anniversary Campaign.

On Budgeted Expenditures

The expenditures proposed in this budget are closely aligned with the findings of the discovery phase of Toward Bold Faithfulness.  The discovery phase allowed us to hear from more than 5,000 Cooperative Baptists from every CBF state and region, representing 762 congregations. Being faithful to what arose most compellingly from our congregations was a guiding commitment in this budget process.

To a lesser degree, our budgeted expenditures are informed by early learnings in the work of the Collaborative Response Team, which leads the second phase of Toward Bold Faithfulness. The budget reflects a staffing reorganization designed to focus on the priorities identified as most powerful or most urgent in the discovery work while also incorporating further increased efficiencies in the function of CBF Global.

Strengthening Commitments to Global Missions and Together for Hope

The discovery phase revealed that Global Missions and Together for Hope, with their inter-related commitments to long-term presence, cultivating beloved community, bearing witness to Jesus Christ and seeking transformational development, are among the most powerful gifts in the Fellowship, and that our congregations are missional and have a desire to address the urgent needs of our communities.

The budget includes …

  • No forced reduction among field personnel, while it does include retirements of a few field personnel. As of October 1, 2020, CBF is served by 64 gifted field personnel who serve in the United States and 18 other countries around the world.
  • Increased emphasis on inviting congregations into direct partnership with field personnel through Encourager Church relationships that not only directly connect a congregation with a ministry elsewhere in the world but also give a congregation access to relationships with field personnel that can help them be more faithful in ministry to their communities. The Encourager Church model is an area of revenue growth signifying the powerful and transformative impact of these closer relationships between field personnel, congregations and individuals in the CBF community.
  • Continued scaling of Together for Hope in contexts of persistent rural poverty in the United States, thanks to a generous grant from the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation.

Continued Growth for the Young Baptist Ecosystem

The discovery phase affirmed that Young Baptists are a powerful gift in CBF.

Seeing that, this budget includes…

  • Support for experiences, ministries, programs, connections and local church support, such as Selah Vie and our Seminarian Retreat, as well as church internships through Student.Church and collegiate missions through Student.Go.
  • Scholarships for theological education, as we continue to seek new and transformative relationships between CBF, theological schools and congregations.
  • Support for the CBF Fellows program, which invites ministers in their first call into a two-year cohort for shared learning, support and growth.
  • Ministries with Young Baptists that continue to focus not only on those called to ministry but also emerging lay leaders for our congregations.

Aspiration for Growth | Intentional Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

The discovery phase made it abundantly clear that a desire for diversity is a powerful gift in our Fellowship and our congregations, while we also need to be more diverse in order to offer a truly compelling witness to Christ.

This budget includes …

  • Continuation and expansion of our commitment to racial and ethnic diversity as one foundation for a larger strategy for growth.
  • Expansion of our witness toward racial justice all around the world, in our Together for Hope work, through advocacy, through resourcing congregations and in other forms of public witness, because we know that a call to engage diversity is deeply intertwined with the Gospel mandate for racial justice. Our expanded racial justice witness is made possible in part by catalytic gifts to the Emmanuel McCall Racial Equity Fund.

Providing Leadership in Advocacy & Public Witness

The discovery phase revealed that 84 percent of congregations participating in the Toward Bold Faithfulness survey believe the church should speak out on matters in public life; that advocacy is essential to the Church’s mission and the life of CBF. This budget reflects that, primarily through a generous previously received gift from the Baugh Foundation, CBF Global not only offers leadership in advocacy and public witness but we also collaborate with CBF state and regional organizations, partners and other faith groups.

Convening & Collaborative Ministries for Congregations & Communities

Because CBF Global exists not only to provide direct ministries (such as the ones we have already described) but also to encourage the thriving of the entire CBF community, a series of our ministries are intentionally collaborative. We know that both state and regional organizations and partner ministries have unique gifts and capacities to serve congregations and meet urgent needs in our communities, so we take seriously our responsibility to foster collaboration with and among these ministries in a shared strategy of serving congregations and better understanding their needs.

We are fortunate to have been entrusted with a series of grants from Lilly Endowment, Inc. that allow us to engage our wider Fellowship community in ministries that strengthen congregations and their leaders. Our work of endorsing and supporting pastoral counselors and chaplains is necessarily collaborative with states and regions as well as congregations. Increasingly, we are pursuing a collaborative approach to peer learning groups and church starting. During the Toward Bold Faithfulness process, we have become even more convinced that deeper investment in convening and collaborative ministries, both through strategic engagement and shared ministry, is essential for the growth and vitality of CBF.

This budget includes ...

  • Support for chaplaincy and pastoral counseling ministries that provide comfort for individuals and families facing illness and grief
  • A process of church renewal that helps transform how churches view their ministry and mission efforts
  • Grant support from Lilly Endowment for Thriving in Ministry, Thriving Congregations and Ministerial Excellence initiatives to support churches, communities and their leaders
  • Ongoing support for the encouragement, accountability, continuing education and friendship that helps keep pastors healthy through more than 100 peer learning groups

Cultivating Identity

This budget also provides funds for General Assembly and other CBF Global events, such as ChurchWorks, Reimaging Evangelism, Advocacy in Action and Selah Vie. We recognize that Fellowship gatherings are central to our shared life and identity. In search of greater focus and higher efficiency, we are also reorganizing our approaches to communications, marketing, development and financial services.

Changing Emphases

Developing a budget with substantially reduced expenditures has required us to reconsider and even reduce work in other areas. While such decisions were not easy, we had to use available resources to support items that arose most compellingly in the discovery process.

Areas where we are substantially changing or reducing previous work include most notably:

Church Starting ─ While CBF Global will honor commitments made to all commissioned church starters currently in covenant with our Fellowship, we will pause commissioning new church starters until we can engage in a strategic conversation about the most compelling and collaborative way for CBF to carry out starting congregations as part of a larger commitment to evangelism, discipleship and growth in our Fellowship. The church starting work among field personnel units around the world will continue uninterrupted.

Resources ─ The Toward Bold Faithfulness process revealed a deep desire among lay leaders and ministers for a different approach to providing resources, and we also know the rapidly changing culture requires new approaches to resourcing. While our budget retains some funds for resourcing, we are actively exploring the most faithful utilization of those funds while we also work with CBF state and regional organizations and partners to develop a new and compelling approach to providing resources for congregations and their leaders as they meet urgent needs in church and community life.

Reference and Referral ─ During this transition period, CBF Global will continue to maintain and support Leader Connect, which is a centralized database for congregations seeking ministers and for candidates. The listening conducted during the response phase of Toward Bold Faithfulness revealed that states and regions have some priority responsibilities in reference and referral, that partners are deeply engaged in this work, and that CBF Global has a convening responsibility. We will seek active conversations among these groups about the best way to serve congregations and ministers in times of transition.


Fiscal Year 2021 Budget

See CBF's fiscal year 2021 budget, reflecting the most powerful and most urgent priorities of CBF Global.

Full Budget Narrative

Download the 2021 Budget Narrative, including the budget spreadsheet and pie-chart graphic.