Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Florida Baptist churches required to file the ACP?

In the Sunshine State it seems there is less sunshine on church statistics, since the Florida Baptist Convention reports that almost one in every six FBC churches fails to file their Annual Church Profile, the bane of pastors who hate administrative tasks. The Florida Baptist Witness reported that back in May and I thought it interesting.

I assume that my colleagues who are now serving have already done the 2012 ACP. If not, you had better get on it...especially if you are in Florida.

If you are a church in friendly cooperation with the Florida Baptist Convention you will soon be required to complete it or be considered to be, I suppose, unfriendly and not in cooperation.

Let's see, a FBC affiliated church can be theologically cooperative and financially cooperative but if they are not statistically cooperative and fail to disclose how many they baptize, how many members, how much giving, etc., they are in danger of being booted?

Sounds odd, but proposed FBC Bylaw Revisions spell this out. To wit:
The recommended Florida Baptist Convention bylaws define a cooperating FBC church according to four criteria: 
1) Theological:  ...the Baptist Faith and Message, revised in the year 2000, or any other declaration of faith which parallels the tenets of our historic Baptist faith, as the theological framework.
2) Declaration:  The church shall express its intent and commitment to cooperate with the Florida Baptist State Convention by delivering a written communication to the Florida Baptist Convention, Inc.
3) Financial:  The church shall annually make a meaningful financial contribution through the Cooperative Program.  A contribution of $250 or more qualifies the church to elect and send messengers to the Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting. 
4) Statistical:  The church shall provide an annual church statistical profile (a/k/a an ACP) to the local association with which it is associated and/or the State Convention.

Hmmm, statistical cooperation?

Really? Right up there with the Baptist Faith and Message?

In fact, they bylaw revisions include measures for annual compliance which specify that a church is not in friendly cooperation unless they do two things (1) give money, and (2) files the ACP. Failure on either will cause the church to be "counseled" followed by being investigated and having "corrective action" undertaken.

I knew Baptists loved numbers but I'd like to see if the FBC kicks churches out for not filing their ACP.

Interesting.
 

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

William,

This is incredible. I doubt they enforce the BFM2000 but are seeking to enforce the handing over of personal church statistics.

Anonymous said...

There are other state conventions which would love, I assume, for churches from other states to join their convention. When I was pastoring in PA, we joined the Conservatives of VA. My conversation with the ED of the state concerning this action was interesting.

If I were in Florida, I would ask the church I served to send a nice letter to the state convention thanking them for the history of our partnership but we would be looking elsewhere for friendly cooperation.

The day is coming and coming quicker than I thought, that the churches would begin to answer to the state convention rather than the way it is intended to be.

Now, I support their right as an autonomous entity to make such a choice and let each autonomous church make their own choice in response.

But, that's me.

Jon Estes

William Thornton said...

Perhaps some FBC pastor will cruise by here and offer an opinion. I know that denominational types love reports and statistics but if a church gives money but skips the stats, I'd bet they will never get booted out.

Next thing you know, state conventions will have fact checkers...then we will all be in trouble.

Chris Roberts said...

Best I can tell, this is not new. Just loaded the bylaws, and statistics is listed as one of the criteria for cooperation. I would be surprised if this is unique to Florida.

http://www.flbaptist.org/Portals/0/FBSC/PDF/2012-2-7A-FBSC-2011-FBSC-Bylaws.pdf

Chris Roberts said...

A few more thoughts on this. I've just dug through the current Bylaw 2 and the new one (note: I'm a Florida Baptist pastor; failed to mention that before).

It looks like the changes mostly involve adjustments to match the GCR and our state's recently adopted changes to bring us in line with the GCR proposals.

As relates to the ACP, the new Bylaw 2 actually weakens the requirement.

You correctly note that two things are listed for cooperation: sending money, and turning in the ACP. But note the next section. In the current Bylaw 2 it reads, "A church which fails to fulfill its commitment to either requirement..." The new text reads, "A church which fails to fulfill its commitment to the Cooperative Program..." This means failing to send in the ACP would not lead the convention to counsel a church.

Further, the final section of Bylaw 2 specifically addresses theological compliance. That section is essentially unchanged and specifically says that churches can have fellowship withdrawn due to theological issues.

Tom Parker said...

William:

Do you think this a bluff?

I am willing to guess many of the churches that are not filing their ACP will continue to not file them.

William Thornton said...

Thanks for the more complete info, Chris.

I have never heard of any state or association taking any action against a church for failing to file their ACP.

Like I said in an earlier post...if an incentive were offered to complete it, say, gift card to Outback Steakhouse, I feel sure compliance would increase.

Anonymous said...

This is easy ... if reason is enacted.

The Church does not fill out the form.

State calls and says, "Please."

Again, the Church does not fill out the form.

The State says nothing more this year. "OK, that happens."

Who stands to lose the most if tensions escalate among the State and the Church? The Church? The State?

If you said Church, then reason is not operative.

We'll see, but let's hope. However, there is a history and a rigidity of mind among these people that could make this interesting ... and very disheartening, indeed.