Thursday, June 24, 2010

Anyone fired up about increasing Cooperative Program giving?

Did the adoption of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report and recommendations help or hurt the Cooperative Program? Do pastors and laypeople feel more or less inclined to give through it?

Depends on who you ask, I suppose.

Jerry Rankin said "I hope state conventions will take initiative to streamline staff and programs in a way that will encourage churches to channel more funding through CP knowing it will get to the frontlines."

We hope so. It is not a done deal though.

Rankin also said that "Much of our debate [at the annual meeting] centered around concern that Great Commission giving would undercut CP as if we were blind to fact it is already being eroded."

The CP has been declining as a percentage of church dollars for decades. Does anything in the recommendations make anyone believe that this decline will be slowed, stopped, or reversed?

Nothing that I can see.

I guess that we will now add Frank Page, new president of the SBC Executive Committee (and a good choice, I think) to all the other voices who commend the status quo with the CP funding formula. In an interview with the Christian Index he said that the solution to funding missions is that "the [CP] pie must get bigger." King Canute couldn't stop the tide and I doubt that the XComm CEO can stop the ebbing CP (or command pies to grow) either.

Seems to me that the most significant thing at the convention last week was the election of a president who has led his church to pointedly, plainly, openly decrease CP giving in favor of putting money directly in international and North American missions.

The CP makes good sense, is good for churches, states, and SBC entities, and should be supported at some level by SBC churches, but there is absolutely nothing that I can see in SBC life that is going to cause churches en masse to dramatically increase support. I don't see state conventions paring down their staff and programs dramatically in order to forward to the SBC more than the average of, what, 37 cents on the CP dollar.

And does anyone think that even a rip-roaring, heaven-sent, raging revival among our SBC churches will cause them to say, "First, let's double, triple our Cooperative Program giving!"

I doubt it.

Rankin noted, lamentably, that he "was distraught to hear strong support for deferring [GCR recommendations] in order to study the impact it would have on our programs and entities." "It would have been one thing," he said "to advocate further study to discover how we could accelerate reaching lostness, but to be more concerned about OURSELVES and OUR PROGRAMS…!"

Most of us can fill in his ellipsis.

When it comes down to it, Baptists act, predictably, in their own self interest, the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ notwhithstanding.

But maybe I'm out of touch, so I ask, "Anybody fired up about increasing CP giving?"

I am, ahem, moderately encouraged but the only folks I see increasing CP giving are those who desire denominational office and I don't think there are enough of those to make an impact.

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