Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An area where the SBC could join the CBF in cooperation

It is sometimes unfortunate that the Southern Baptist Convention and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship cannot find things on which to cooperate, seeing that in some areas we share common goals. Thirty-four years after the beginning of the Conservative Resurgence and twenty-two years after the founding of the CBF, there remains a tendency to look askance at anything associated with the CBF.

Too bad.

I think we are past the CBF being any threat to the SBC, their national organization is about the size of one of the SBC's 177 megachurches and their state organizations are rather smallish in comparison as well. 

One area where the SBC and CBF could cooperate in doing needed ministry is in the area of predatory lending. I wish they would in my state.

Not long ago a woman in my church brought me loan documents from a loan she obtained at one of the many payday/title lenders in our area. The fees and interest were outrageous for a short term loan. Fortunately for her, she had the means to pay it off and get out of the loan. Others, however, lack the means or savvy to do the same.

A CBF staff member, Aaron Weaver, is editor of the CBF's magazine CBF fellowship! and has an article in this issue "The problem of predatory lending." The article may be read on the CBF blog, here. Weaver also had an ABP article back in March: Baptists go after payday loans

Be assured, my conservative SBC brethren, there is no danger of contamination from reading a piece by a CBFer. You might even learn something.

The churches I have pastored have occasionally had folks that were hurt by this type of lending which often traps users with small amounts of debt hitched to astronomical fees making it almost impossible to get out. I would also join the haters of big corporations here, there are several, because corporate money is generally successful in stifling any meaningful legislative regulation of these predators.

You may not be aware that, as Aaron Weaver put it, "Predatory lending has become - quietly so - a bipartisan issue so to speak among faith groups. The SBC is involved - Barrett Duke of the ERLC has contributed several helpful resources on this issue and has also worked in coalitions with the Texas Baptist CLC and others to combat payday lending. Mississippi Baptists (SBC) and Kentucky Baptists (SBC) have addressed these issues in their respective legislatures over the past 5 years."

No need for this cooperation to be done quietly. If we can cooperate with Roman Catholics over abortion, we can certainly cooperate with our fellow Baptist on predatory lending. In doing so we aren't in danger of sliding down the slippery slope towards theological liberalism, only of helping those who are exploited and abused. 

Seems like Jesus said something about that.



Joe Blackmon said...

Why don't you man up and admit it's not just this issue you would cooperate with them on. People like you, who dare suggest that it's ever ok to cooperate with pretend Christians on anything, are putrid. The SBC could stand against this issue without having to work with pretend christians.

William Thornton said...

Joe, go somewhere else. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

“I think we are past the CBF being any threat to the SBC, their national organization is about the size of one of the SBC's 177 megachurches and their state organizations are rather smallish in comparison as well.”

Not sure what threat CBF ever was to SBC. There were, however, exaggerated claims of liberalism which were thought to be bringing the convention to its knees, yet we cannot ignore that some current practices in SBC (i.e., women in ministerial leadership) are exactly those given as criticism for those among, now, CBF advocates! Nonetheless, SBC is more conservative, in general, than CBF, and given both organizations have struggled, it is difficult to point to theology as the primary reason.

While some churches are exclusive to SBC or CBF, there is a good degree of overlap between the two organizations, even today; thus any count by either side includes the other to some extent, and for one to discount the claims of the other discount claims of his own.

Given statistics acknowledged by SBC and CBF, the claim that CBF is about as big as one SBC mega is erroneous. Doubling worship attendance (assuming 50% of SBC congregants in SBC churches are present on any given Sunday [a generally liberal assumption for either SBC or CBF congregations], it would take approximately 43 of SBC’s largest congregations to equal one of the last reported membership figures of the CBF (i.e., 700,000). Given 45,764 churches and 15,980,000 SBCers, and 1,900 churches and 700,000 CBFers, the approximately 350 and 370, respectively, congregant averages (currently the only public data method for comparison at the congregation level) do not reveal CBF being an organization that can be (notwithstanding questions of should be) easily dismissed, as is seemingly the case above. Whether it is 43 or 50 or 30 churches is interesting and irrelevant, but equating CBF with one SBC mega (range 4,022 to 50,442 members) is a successful attempt at marginalizing.

If cooperation rhetoric is to be taken seriously, descriptions of CBF require improvement. That SBC has many more larger churches than CBF is not disputed, but if mega is the standard for health (n = 177 or n = 43), then 99.6% to 99.9% (i.e., 45,587 / 45,764 [n = 177]; 45,721 / 45,764 [ n = 43]) of SBC churches have a bit of a problem. While the weak law of large numbers would argue for some problems, such would, at best, suggest only a minimal reduction in percentage. Better to recognize the complexity of the situation and the worth of the other, which is compromised and called into question when ill-suited language is employed.

Concerning another thread
[A] “If a business increases their revenue it always figures into their profit margin. [B] You need an education here.”

Concerning A: A is true, but not in the way you apparently envision (i.e., profit margin must increase). It (i.e., margin) IS always reflected, yes, but the margin may stay the same, increase, or it may decrease. IF the expense structure does not change, then the margin will likely increase.

Concerning B: As an assertion, a bit premature.

William Thornton said...

Precisely my point on the profit margin.

I was looking at budget numbers on the CBF size comparison, prefacing my suggestion for commonalities by making the point that there is no good reason not to cooperate with them on such things.

Anonymous said...

The CBF is basically a joke--but then, so is the SBC. Their numbers aren't real and everyone knows it. There's a reason for both of their declines.