Monday, November 18, 2013

Do Cooperative Program percentages, divisions, and accountings really matter?

The answer is: YES and NO.

Yes, it absolutely matters... state convention executives because many continually offer various complex calculations of what portion of Cooperation Program revenues are kept in-state and what portion is forwarded to the Executive Committee for distribution to our International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, the six Southern Baptist seminaries, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and the Executive Committee itself.

See last week's post on the Georgia Baptist Convention's Cooperative Program Accounting. I make no hint of an implication of any ill motives or practices but the GBC figures the CP percentage kept in a manner that is not always clear to those who aren't steeped in this stuff. The GBC maintains a 60/40 split but footnotes that 9.82% of CP revenues are "used for the Promotion, Support, Accounting, and Distribution of Cooperative Program Funds" so it is implied that they don't really count as being "kept." This is historically correct, since from the start the state conventions agreed to promote, collect, and distribute the CP funds.

When some state conventions speak of moving towards a 50/50 split of CP revenues, sometimes it means that they are moving to a 55/45 split. They just call it 50/50 because they take 5% of the table because they keep and use it for in-state for CP promotion and collection. I wrote on this over two years ago (CP Math: 50/50 = 55/45 or 60/40). While there have been some changes in this, often this is still the math.

Consider the action of the Missouri Baptist Convention this month. Here's how Baptist Press reported their Cooperative Program budget and explanation:
A $14.5 million CP budget was approved, a decrease from last year's $14.6 million budget. Nevertheless, messengers moved toward the "50-50" cooperative giving plan, approving 60 percent of the CP budget for state causes and 40 percent for SBC causes. Additionally, 5 percent of the 2014 budget was placed in a separate "shared expenses" category, which would not count toward the 50-50 goal. The funds will be allocated for annuity protections and The Pathway state newspaper. In contrast, messengers at the MBC's 2012 annual meeting allocated 62.5 percent for MBC causes and 37.5 percent for SBC causes.
Got it? The MBC is aiming at a 50/50 split that will actually be a 55/45 split. They explain that money budgeted by the MBC for "annuity protections" and, presumably, all of the state paper money is to taken off the table in arriving at a 50/50 split. Exactly how annuity protections are justified as promoting, collecting, and distributing CP revenues by the state convention is not explained. There are no set rules for this stuff. No one dictates to any level of Baptist life how this should be done.

No, it does not matter... the people who drop their tithes and offerings in their local church offering plate each Lord's Day.

I cannot imagine that Bob and Betty Baptist who work hard and happily support their church, their state convention, Lottie and Annie have any level of understanding of this state convention sausage making process. If they did understand, I'd suspect that they would not care.

What they care about is this. Where does my money go?What are you doing with it in this state? How much of it gets to the IMB, NAMB, and the seminaries?

While the state conventions fiddle with accounting, budgets, pie charts and historical precedents, average Baptists want to know how serious we are about reaching North America and the world for Christ.

There is a push within many of the state conventions for a 50/50 split in CP revenues. It is my view that if we call it 50/50 it should divide a dollar into 50 cents for the state convention and 50 cents for the Executive Committee to distribute to SBC causes. No one asked me. No one may care about my opinion. And I certainly haven't been appointed Czar of Baptist CP Percentages. I humbly offer my opinion.

In the end, I would speculate, state conventions will win this insider baseball debate about CP percentages. Rather than fight it or complain about it, churches will just continue to give less to the Cooperative Program and more directly to causes that have higher priorities.

1 comment:

CAPPadre said...

Would it not be better, if the header (Logo) read, "In Christ ALONE, there is redemption."