Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What will make the Cooperative Program more attractive?

If the CP has some flawed DNA that makes it virtually impossible to ever change substantially, is there anything that will make it more attractive to SBC pastors and churches?

Asked another way, since churches have consistently, relentlessly chosen to support the CP less and less, and that for decades, what might arrest that trend?

I think that there are three possibilities for making the CP more attractive:

1. State Conventions keep less of the funds. As I said yesterday, I am not optimistic about anything significant here. Suppose the states keep, say, 57 cents of a dollar instead of 62 cents. Who is enthused about that? Not me.

There is elasticity in the "pricing" (the amount kept by state conventions) of the CP to churches but we will not see a demand change without substantial lowering of the "price." Bryant Wright talked about the states cutting their share by half, an unlikely event.

My favorite candy bar is a Baby Ruth. I love them. I buy them occasionally. Would a price drop from 62 cents for a bar to 57 drive me to go out an buy more? Unlikely. It's just a nickel but if the price went to 35 cents I might stock up.

As a factor in increasing CP revenues, I don't see any change that state conventions will be willing to make to cause it.

2. The Executive Committee significantly changes the allocation formula for the mission boards to receive more. Nothing will happen here. IMB, NAMB, and the seminaries will continue to get their historic percentages, with a tweak here or there.

3. Internal changes at our major SBC entities: IMB, NAMB, seminaries. Kevin Ezell, in the short span of a single year, has substantially changed NAMB. It is much more attractive to me and much more likely to see an increase in my support. IMB has a leader change but I don't see much institution change. I support it and will continue. The seminaries keep rocking along. I don't see anything much that pushes my button among them.

But even if our two main entities, IMB and NAMB, are made to be much more attractive, efficient, and functional in carrying out their mission, will I be motivated to express my increased support by increasing CP giving, or by increasing Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong offerings?

This is simple. The most efficient and effective way to express support of the two mission agencies is to increase Lottie and Annie, not to increase CP support. Who is not aware that another dollar to the CP yields only about 20 cents to IMB and 10 to NAMB. It's a no brainer.

One might find support for this in the CP figures just released. Designated causes, mainly Lottie and Annie, increased several times that of the CP. The increased revenues are all small dollar numbers but I think my reading of them is accurate.

There will be a day when the economy is booming again, when church revenues are increasing and when CP revenues will increase. There will come a day when the percentage of church offering plate dollars given through the CP will stop declining and even bump up a point or so. But I don't see a day when the SBC will ever move back to anywhere near double digit percentages.

We have a new CP normal and will have to live with it.


John Notestein said...

I think the CP worked well 'back in the day' when missions information was slow to get to churches and there were fewer options. Today there are so many more options and there is such an ease of information flow. Churches can now find mission opportunities more suitable for their beliefs and concerns. I think it'll be an uphill climb to get back to where we were.

Anonymous said...

The very first thing to make the CP more attractive to churches is that state conventions should let more pass through their coffers to the national convention.

I'm not sure that is as attractive as you think it may be. For me, it does nothing; and that isn't just because I'm a bad Southern Baptist. It is because we (our church) can, and has, delineated how much of our CP giving stays in state and goes national. Our state convention lets churches choose how much they want to go through, or not. So, if every church in TX decides they want 50% to stay, and %50 to go; then it happens.

Now, what I see is that our churches haven't really used this option to drastically increase the flow of funds to the national convention. Thus, I think they don't care. I could be wrong about that, but it sure smells that way.

We have many options when it comes to our giving, many areas of ministry we can invest in. I find it less appealing to send my money into a faceless (possibly too many faces?) state or national organization, than to keep it home and use it in ways I think most effective.

I haven't seen anyone blow a gasket concerning % allocations of the CP. I think this is a non-starter.

I agree that the leaders of the IMB/NAMB can make their organizations more appealing (aka Ezell). I also agree that "that" won't affect the CP, as much as increase the individual offerings for those organizations. That is where we might see the Great Commission Giving go up but the CP continue to decline.

William Thornton said...

Tim, I recognize that other states have more than one giving plan and I agree that to most churches and pastors this kind of discussion is not given much thought. But you can be assured that denominational folks think about this constantly. My opinion is that there are some things that could be done to make the CP more appealing to the churches.

The simplest giving plan is the one we have had for all these decades: give to the CP, give to the mission offerings. I believe that churches are favoring the direct gifts to the mission boards over the CP, part of the reason and will continue to do so.

Jon L. Estes said...

Let's have a double giving structure for the CP. Let the churches decide how they want to support the CP (to a point). let the church write a check to their state convention which will stay in the state convention. Let them write a second check to the national convention (it is not hard to write two checks) that will be used by them. Let it all be considered and called CP.

Ask each convention (state and national)to be more transparent so we know what we are supporting.

We as a church are always looking to see where we are wasting money and we make corrections. We talk about these things openly and if a team does not want to be open, we cut their funding in the budget.

It works on the local level, why not at the state and national?