Monday, March 7, 2011

Before we get too depressed about the Cooperative Program...

...Southern Baptists, both pastors/laypeople in churches and denominational employees in their offices in Nashville, Alpharetta, Richmond and the states, might remind themselves of a few things.

1. The Cooperative Program, though steadily declining as a percentage of church offering plate dollars, and the decline spans a couple of generations, is still an enormous funding engine. Sure, it has dropped some millions or so the last couple of years but is still gigantic. We are the envy of others in this.

2. Nothing on the horizon makes me think that the CP is going the way of the ivory-billed woodpecker, the most famous extinct American bird, last seen in 1944. Churches will continue to give to the CP, although I see nothing on the horizon that will stanch lower percentages from the churches.

3. Consider our moderate brethren, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Their latest round of double digit percentage budget cuts leaves their national organization about the size of a single SBC megachurch. Their survival is a legitimate question. The same cannot be said for the SBC or any of our entities.

4. Some mega-SBCers are making mega CP moves. Johnny Hunt's church, FBC Woodstock, will give nearly a million dollars to the CP this year, almost doubling what they did last year. The thousands of average-sized churches may not be persuaded to follow the example but megachurch critics will at least have to acknowledge Hunt's move as positive for the CP.

5. The cuts made by some SBC entities are real and severe; however, the CP, along with the two major mission offerings, give the SBC an enormous capacity to absorb financial blows. Even the troubled North American Mission Board has survived major debacles along with the recent recession and still has $140+ millions of our dollars to spend.

6. Whatever the flaws, I find no other funding mechanism that makes as good a sense as the CP.

So, Plodder will hold off the CP obituary for awhile.

No comments: