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.