Thursday, July 1, 2010

CBF churches still funding SBC missions?

I don’t think the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the smallish breakaway group out of the SBC that has an undisclosed but rather modest number of churches that aren’t dually affiliated with both the CBF and SBC, occupies a lot of the thinking of Southern Baptists. Who knows, I might be one of the few whose do notice CBF stuff.

A recent Associated Baptist Press article about them did get my attention:

Crumpler, accepting Courage Award, notes CBF churches still funding SBC

With the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship unable to appoint fully funded missionaries for several years and facing the possibility of calling field personnel home unless gifts to its annual Offering for Global Missions increase, CBF churches continue to fund Southern Baptist Convention missionaries by allowing members to designate gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, a former executive director of Woman's Missionary Union said June 25.

You don’t say? And, why not? And isn't that the heart of the problem: there never were 40% of SBC churches that identified with the CBF and were willing to jettison the SBC in favor of the CBF and, in spite of occasional eruptions of SBC nonsense, I don't see the trend being towards more doing that.

We all have our problems. Our own International Mission Board has approved people sitting tight here in the states because funds are not available to send them overseas. Major IMB programs have been cut. On the other hand, the CBF is speaking of recalling some of their few dozen overseas people.

I’d like to think that I would be pleased about whomever is sharing the Gospel, wherever, with whomever paying the bills – even the CBF.

But I do wonder what kind of mission philosophy it is to take dollars from Lottie Moon and redirect them to CBF Global Missions. It’s hard to see a net positive there; but, folks and churches may certainly do what they please with their dollars. Thank God the many of them believe that their dollar to Lottie Moon is well spent and puts committed people in places where they can proclaim Christ to people in places where there isn't already a steady diet if not surfeit of evangelical witness.

If one’s primary love is missions then wouldn’t one expect that even SBC missions, Lottie Moon missions would be praised, commended, and supported? We aren't dealing with a zero sum pool of missions support, are we?

A courage award might be due for those who, whatever their beef with the SBC and whatever their identity with the CBF, continue to support a thriving international missions program.


Norm said...

William: “If one’s primary love is missions then wouldn’t one expect that even SBC missions, Lottie Moon missions would be praised, commended, and supported? We aren't dealing with a zero sum pool of missions support, are we?”

Norm: Yes. And no. Yes, in that Christ is proclaimed. No, in that good, qualified people are denied the opportunity to proclaim Christ as an SBC missionary. Yes, in that the proclamation is current. No, in that rigid, ideological belief and behavior over time may attenuate an ability to fund and support missionaries.

I am sympathetic to churches with dual affiliation, but such, now that funding is tight, seems to be constraining the sustainability of the desired witness of the entities that the churches are seeking to support. But how does one group tell another group that it is out when it was instrumental in the development of the church in order that its vision alone survives? I don’t wish to again see the nastiness of denominational-level behavior of the previous SBC conflict become common place at the local level, driven by either conservatives or liberals.

That CBF may have to recall missionaries may be different from any previous action of SBC, but the proposed CBF action is a difference in kind, not of deeper substance that SBC has been engaging for years in terms of the quantity and level of support of its professional missionary cohort.

Lee said...

CBF's problem, from the very beginning, was that it never really created the identity it promoted for itself, a "New way to be Baptist." It really was an attempt to create the SBC prior to the conservative resurgence, and it seemed for a while that it almost exclusively existed to pay homage, laud, and honor to the ex-prominente of the SBC who didn't know what to do with themselves when their kingdom and their influence was taken away from them. "Doing missions" has simply been an excuse around which to rally in order to give the old, fallen SBC crowned heads a place to strut and pose for a while. Instead of actually creating an identity for itself, though it would have been a much smaller organization, in order to preserve some kind of resemblance to the old status quo it has to accept the involvement of churches which still align with the SBC, many of them to a greater degree than the few dollars they throw to the CBF. I don't think CBF, to this day, really knows who or what it is, and the further we get from the heat and passion of the battles for control of the denomination, the less relevant and effective they are.

William Thornton said...

Lee, I don't think the SBC has to take a back seat to any other organization with respect to strutters, posers, and poseurs, although one of the reasons I like Bryant Wright is that he seems to have avoided being infected with that sort of attitude.

BDW said...

What I found quite interesting, and this has been discussed on a few non-Baptist news websites, is how little coverage the SBC received this year. Lots of good newsy stuff too: a pro-environment resolution, some strong statements about the effects of DADT repeal, opposition to gay rights in ENDA and of course the much talked about Great Commission Resurgence. You woulda at least thought an article about the SBC returning to Orlando would be newsworthy.

Yet, the Associated Press chose not to even send a reporter to the SBC for the first time in many many years.

The media helps shape public opinion. And to me, this lack of coverage seems to suggest that increasingly the media has come to perceive the SBC as irrelevant. That growing perception doesn't bode well for any denomination looking to remain relevant in the 21st century.

As to your point about taking money from Lottie and redirecting to CBF: One would think the mission philosophy of Southern Baptists has changed over the years. My grandma as the head of WMU at her church is supporting something different in 2010 than she was in 1980. If nothing has changed in how Southern Baptists do missions, what was the Resurgence all about? Wade Burleson's many posts on this topic suggests that things have changed and are continuing to change, for the worse in his opinion in terms of the type of missionary, etc.

Jonathan said...

In 2010, the media (to its supreme irritation) is no longer in the driver seat in terms of public opinion. For the best evidence of this, watch a program called "Morning Joe" on MSNBC where one can routinely see self proclaimed media and other institutional elites talk about how befuddled they are that the masses are not following their lead anymore.

So what does this have to do with the SBC v CBF? Only that the same public that decreasingly turns to big media to for its cues on what to think about world events is also decreasingly turning to denominational leadership for cues on what to think (or do) about the Global Mission. Add to this an unemployment that will remain around 10% for at least the next few years, a government that is bent on expanding its reach/power for the sake of expanded reach/power, a lack of courage by this government is addressing serious threats to security and the denominational line just doesn't have the same cache that it once might have had.

Outside of the professional theological and pastoral class, what most folks saw in the SBC is a lot of really big talk ("look at what we're going to do") which might have been fresh in 1980 accompanied by a lot of very small action. What these same folks are seeing out of the CBF is a some similar big talk ("so where are we going now?") rhetoric that might have been fresh in 1990 accompanied by similarly small action.

Neither group is providing winning arguments at the moment. And the folks are voting with their dollars.

Jonathan said...

Now If I could only find a way to correct grammar mistakes on these threads. :)

William Thornton said...

BDW, the lack of media attention to the SBC can only be a plus for us...think Wiley Drake and stuff like that.

The CBF, even with their small size and meager, declining finances can get some good print locally here by announcing a partnership with Haiti to do medical and relief stuff. Presumably, it will not cost them money.

The bigger picture applies to both SBC and CBF looks to me like this: Increases in funding for missions in the future will be ad hoc stuff, e.g., CBF/Haiti project, IMB church partnership.

For the SBC that means no significant increase in CP dollars that have to be divided by five before it hits the IMB's budget but an opportunity to increase IMB funding through designated giving.

Frank Page said he is going to put a stop to direct appeals by SBC entities. We will see what he means by that.

foxofbama said...

Dr. Thornton:

What did you say to the people in Statham, Georgia this July 4 on what it means to be a Baptist in our time in America?
WMU staff is not comfortable with BFM 2000. How long will SBC IMB last without WMU promoting Lottie Moon?
To that minimal degree and beyond Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler is asking more than a fair question.
I remember her talk in Chattanooga, TN in early 90's. talking about her washing machine.
She said she was running for SBC 1st VP to get the lint out.
Good goal and she is still working on it.