Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Getting serious about missions: SC Bapt Conv directly funds IMB

The many state conventions held their annual meetings, most last month, and Baptist Press reported on their actions. Following the Great Commission Resugence process and report, many of the states took action to increase their support of International Missions but I don't recall reading of any state convention that took the action the South Carolina Baptist Convention took.

S.C. Baptists to send more to int'l missions

The SCBC voted to "increase South Carolina Baptists' contribution to the International Mission Board by nearly 22 percent over the next three years and to move the SCBC toward a 50/50 split of Cooperative Program receipts with the Southern Baptist Convention over the next five years."

That in itself is significant because the SCBC voted to cut programs to free up money to decrease the proportion of Cooperative Program money kept in South Carolina. Many of the state conventions have voted to move toward a 50/50 split but with the caveat that it will happen only if churches increase CP giving to the state. It appears that the SCBC voted to move toward a 50/50 split without assiging the churches the blame if giving does not increase and therefore they cannot move to 50/50.

But back to the SCBC taking action that no other state has taken. What would that be?

The South Carolina Baptist Convention added a line item in their SCBC budget for the IMB. That is, they voted to send some of the SBC part of their CP monies directly to the International Mission Board, cutting out the Executive Committee, the six seminaries, the North American Mission Board, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

I don't recall this happening on the state convention level.

Churches do this every year through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Some churches even budget for IMB gifts that don't go through the Cooperative Program, thereby assuring that 100% of that money gets to the IMB rather than the 20% or so that would if they gave through the CP. State conventions haven't taken this route, until now, so far as I am aware.

Granted, the amount isn't a lot, about $400,000 or about 7% of what the IMB receives through the indirect (Executive Committee) channel. The SCBC is saying, "Sorry, Frank Page, you don't get to handle this money and cut it in half before you send it to the IMB."

If Southern Baptists want to get more money to the IMB and then to international missions then this is the route that will make that happen. I have little confidence that the sprawling SBC and state convention institutional structures will ever be significantly cut and savings applied to NAMB and IMB.

I spent 15 years as a pastor in SC and recall that the SCBC was moving towards a 50/50 split 25 years ago. They didn't move much. It looks like they are moving now. Good for them.

[If any readers are in SC I would appreciate your perspective and any corrections to what I have said here. It is possible that I am missing some material facts that are buried in the details of your GCR actions. Thanks.]


Anonymous said...

Whenever there is a shift in funding it represents an underlying shift. What is it this time?

1. That the USA is getting too high of a percentage of CP funds so churches and conventions use alternate funding mechanisms like the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering or direct payments to the IMB to go around the system? If this is the case, the national convention should consider 60% of funds for the IMB and 40% divided up among the rest. Also states should get to 50/50 as quickly as possible in order keep the CP system in place.

2. That churches have more confidence that funds will be used more effectively by national convention institutions than state conventions? If this is the motivation, state conventions need to act quickly to earn trust from churches by downsizing and focusing their ministries. See The Way Forward Often Requires Sober Analysis and New Focus http://wp.me/p1lW18-a0

3. Something else? What do you think?

William Thornton said...

I agree with #1. Not sure about #2. That churches have been giving less of their offering plate dollars to the CP for decades says that they see greater use of their money elsewhere.

I am not optimistic that state conventions will ever get to 50/50 which in their accounting is really something like 55/45 anyway.

As for the SBC moving from 50% to 60% to the IMB, not a chance in gehenna. Too many vested interests.

It's mostly up to the churches, although I was surprised by the SCBC's action.

Anonymous said...

The annual meeting of Tennesee Baptists a few days ago produced the same "it will take a while to get to a 50/50 split" that has been echoed for the 39 yrs. that I have been involved in pastoral ministry. As long as pastors and lay people feel that state leaders talking about it is getting us in the direction of actually doing it, we will never even get close to a 50/50 split.

JL Carver