Nothing that is in the Bible; nothing that is in denominational and state constitutions and by-laws, and nothing that has been agreed upon by any assembled Baptist body.
So why do otherwise very intelligent and decent people among us write, speak, and act as if denominational entities are entitled to that ten percent?
The latest such entitlement presumption comes in the Baptist Press story collection “2010: GCR Task Force Report Viewpoints” and is written by David Williams , editor of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist, newsjournal of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention.
The usual route for expressing this presumption is to make an equivalence of a member’s tithe to his or her church with a church’s “tithe” of the Cooperative Program. Williams wrote:
As a pastor, when a tithing family gives a designated gift over and above their tithe for a special need in our church, I rejoice and thank God for their generosity. When a non-tithing family gives a designated gift because they would rather decide how their money is spent than submit it to the decision-making process of our church, I grieve over their lack of cooperation.
Sigh...there you go again.
When and where is it written that anyone, any group, any entity has the right to feel entitled to ten percent of a church’s offering plate dollars? When did we move in Southern Baptist life from commending the Cooperative Program to the churches for their consideration in the interest of supporting state conventions, seminaries, and our mission organizations, to demanding that they give a certain proportion of their offerings or else be branded as non-cooperative?
The Baptist Press GCRTF story collection includes 15 articles written by 11 different people. Nine of the eleven people are on the Baptist payroll at some level. While this doesn’t mean their opinions are not legitimate, it is appropriate to take note of that fact. Not surprisingly, nine of the eleven are critical of the GCRTF.
We have four presidential candidates this year - three major candidates. All four have outstanding records of denominational support. The three major candidates have all cut Cooperative Program giving in their churches. Only one (Ted Traylor) gives the golden 10% and he supports the GCRTF report with its "Great Commission Giving" recommendation. The candidate who is most critical of the report (Jimmy Jackson) gives below the SBC average to the CP, well below 10%, and his church even budgets direct gifts to the mission boards. In the terminology of the CP tithe entitlement crowd this is called designating your giving "around" the CP, as if that is something to be shamed about.
Southern Baptist churches, the places where ordinary Baptists make their funding decisions every Sunday, have consistently, persistently, insistently lowered their Cooperative Program percentages for decades and it stands at about 6% depending on how it is calculated and hasn't seen 10% since who knows when, maybe never.
Maybe we should stick with the idea that the tithe belongs to the Lord and not to the Cooperative Program.