What do you get for giving almost eight million dollars to the Cooperative Program over the last ten years?
If you are Bryant Wright, pastor of megachurch Johnson Ferry Baptist Church and candidate for SBC president next month in Orlando, you get kicked in your very nice set of pearly whites. In the past month or so, you cannot have missed a number of bloggers and articles that have been critical of Wright's church CP giving.
What's to criticize? Well, here are some of JFBC’s giving stats for the past decade:
Georgia Baptist Convention – $7,774,046 (CP)
• International Mission Board Lottie Moon – $5,548,547. The church was the top giver to Lottie Moon in 2005, 2007, and 2008.
• Noonday Association (1 percent of our annual budget) – $1,348,898
• Annie Armstrong Offering – $109,249
• Georgia Baptist Children’s Home – $135,278
• Truett-McConnell College (a GBC school) – $13,408
• New Orleans Seminary (Hurricane Katrina Relief) – $35,000
I understand that some SBCers are stuck on the Cooperative Program as something to which churches must contribute at least a certain percentage of their offerings (10% is the figure I’ve heard mentioned most) or not be considered a genuinely cooperative church but where is the profit in criticizing a church whose denominational giving record is absolutely stellar?
There are four candidates for SBC president now. Not to be presumptuous but there are three major candidates – Wright, Ted Traylor, and Jimmy Jackson – and one minor candidate – Leo Endel. The first three are megachurch pastors; the last a state executive.
Wright’s church gives 3.9% to the Cooperative Program, Traylor 10.1%, and Jackson 4.64%. Traylor’s church cut their CP percentage by about one half since he became pastor but that was some years ago. All of these are healthy percentages, hefty dollars, and demonstrate sufficient SBC support.
It was from the lips of the golden-voiced Adrian Rogers that I first heard the pithy saying that “dollars pay bills, not percentages.” It was true 30 years ago. The same is true now. $7.77 million pays a lot of bills.
We will have another megachurch pastor elected as SBC president in Orlando next month. All of the candidates look good to me. Bryant Wright looks best to me.
The Christian Index has a handy comparison of the three here.