Thursday, September 22, 2011

Frank Page's One Percent Solution

Lost in the highly increased internet SBC talk on a possibility of a potential unnamed name change for the Southern Baptist Convention is another action taken by our Executive Committee.

Baptist Press reports on XComm President Frank Page's challenge to churches to give another 1% to the Cooperative Program.

The recommendation from the EC's Cooperative Program subcommittee asked executive directors of the 42 Southern Baptist state conventions to "encourage their churches to give 1% more to the Cooperative Program in support of the Executive Committee president's 1% Challenge, and in doing so, further enhance God's work worldwide."
The challenge does what baptist leaders do best at the higher denominational levels - talk about big pictures, big numbers, and big dreams.

EC members in Nashville watched a video showing that a 1 percent-of-budget increase in Cooperative Program giving from SBC churches would add $100 million to CP. The video explained that in 2010, Southern Baptist Convention churches gave an average of 5.8 percent to the Cooperative Program, totaling about $500 million. If Southern Baptist churches gave 6.8 percent, that total would be nearly $600 million.
Get the picture here. To reverse the three decade long slide in Cooperative Program giving - churches have steadily, relentlessly, given less and less of their offering plate dollars to the CP going back to the 1970s - leaders push for the churches to "just" tack on that additional one percent.

Note what is asked here. Not a one percent increase in a church's CP gift (if in 2010 10,000 was given, then give 10,100 in 2011) but increase the percentage of the entire church budget (if that $10k was 5% of undesignated offerings in 2010, then give 6% or another $2,000 in 2011.

As these things go, we get le grande "IF" after this: IF churches just tack on that extra 1% THEN we can have an extra $100 million for convention use. That would translate into: 380 more missionaries and 16,000 more seminary students.

The Plodder principle might be invoked here: If a frog had wings he could fly.

Here's an alternative proposal: Squeeze $100m out of state conventions, the six seminaries, NAMB, and IMB. THAT proposal is emminently doable.

This is the same giving plan we hear often, we have heard since the beginning: You churches just give us more money.

If SBC churches had an additional $100,000,000 what would WE want done with the money?

Would we want about $65,000,000 to stay in state, mostly the southern states? No.

Would we want only $20,000,000 of it to go to the International Mission Board? No.

Would we want only $10,000,000 or so to go to the North American Mission Board? No.

I like Frank Page and give him credit. He has reduced his budget at the XComm in favor of more to international missions. His CP giving record as a pastor was stellar.

But we are now in the second decade of the third milleninum since Christ walked this earth. We are approaching two centuries of the SBC and one of the CP. The CP has declined for decades.

This one percent solution is a retread. It is an old, tired, and flaccid idea. While some will adopt it, the overall CP needle will not be moved.

We need some fresh, new, radical ideas for funding missions.

BTW, we had announced back in February
a new "consortium" of CP promotion specialists. Are they now tied to the oldest of old stewardship promotion programs: 'just give more'?

I hope not but it looks like they are. Too bad.
Plodder admits to pessimism here, but such as is called for based on our history. I would be happy to receive a more optimistic view of the potential efficacy of the 1% solution.


Rick said...

The problem is that some churches are already at very generous and sacrificial percentages while others are giving paltry percentages. Asking EVERYONE to give 1% more is an insult to the church already giving close to 10% (again, often at great sacrifice) by putting it in the same category as the church giving close to 1% that clearly DOES need to give more in order to catch up with the generosity of other partnering churches.

Four of us go to dinner. It costs $80. Three of us put in $20. The other puts in $2 and then says, "Hey, let's EVERYBODY GIVE MORE!!" As gently as I know how, I say, "Friend, if you don't have it, I'll cover for you THIS TIME, but everyone else is doing their "fair share" except for you. EVERYONE does not need to give more. YOU DO."

Jared Moore said...

William, I think it's time for total tansparency. The salaries of our state conventions, missionaries, seminaries, etc. needed to made available to the sbc. Are they already available, and I just don't know it?

I think churches will give more if they have a better idea where the money is going.

Rick said...

I will give 1% more right after our SBC leaders like Ronnie Floyd, Johnny Hunt and others give theirs.

William Thornton said...

Rick, Hunt and Floyd have both led their churches to healthy, very healthy increases in CP giving. The pattern on this is that some of the megas, some of the heavyweight SBC churches and names will heed this call but there aren't enough like them to move the needle up.

Jared, I agree with you but let's presume that everyone is paid reasonable and not extravagant amounts. Would we want an additional $100m to be divided according to the present CP formula? Must we presume the status quo and then be expected to significantly increase our giving?

I don't think that is a formula for success.

Jared Moore said...

William, I would like to see more money leave the states myself; but, if I know that these various heads and staff are making near what the average pastor is making, I am likely to give more; and I believe our churches will be likely to give more as well.

Anonymous said...

"The salaries of our state conventions, missionaries, seminaries, etc. needed to made available to the sbc. Are they already available, and I just don't know it?"

The answer to Jared's question is an emphatic, NO! If you want to find out where folks fall in this latest tilt-a-whirl that question would be a great place to start. Why aren't the salaries of our "leaders" available? I don't propose that we know every detail but some transparency as Jared suggests would be a huge step in the right direction.

Therein lies the problem. If someone makes it to the level that they can request such a thing they quickly find out that you can't stay in the "club" if you question any of the actions or motives of the "club."

Jon L. Estes said...

I love our missionaries and hope NAMB will make some progress in commissioning some missionaries for NA. I know more is needed to fund full time missionaries but there are too many on payroll at NAMB that really make no significant impact on our culture as a NAMB employee.

NAMB is only one of our entities that our CP dollars support. The others have their structural problems also (over and above the non-transparent issue).

Its time the church discover how to win souls again and not give money thinking that the CP dollars go solely to missions. What I have found the mindset in the pews of the churches I have pastored. I'm still trying to find where I am to disciple them in the workings of the SBC and the CP dollar distribution. Most choose not to come when we do discipleship as it is.

We cut our missions dollars (that which we set aside for our in house missions) so we would not have to cut the CP. It is time our church gets serious about our Jerusalem. I'm not sure if the SBC elite even know where Kannapolis is, unless they are a die-hard NASCAR fan.

Jared Moore said...

William, do you know if a motion can be made from the floor concerning the salaries of all staff with sbc entities? I think it would be extremely helpful. Is there anything I can do as a messenger to help this information be given?

Anonymous said...

Sure, you can make the motion but it will be out of order, since each entity is separate with trustees, etc.

I suggest that you email whatever entity and ask. They may answer you.


Anonymous said...

When someone says they will give 1% when someone else does it first they sound like a junior high school girl. Do what the Lord tells you to do and don't worry about another church or pastor.

I'm not sure why you are getting paranoid and upset about seminary salaries. I guarantee you that they are so low you would be embarrassed (except for Patterson's salary in FW). I know some of them personally and they barely squeak by on what we pay them. The trustees are probably too ashamed to give you the true figures.