Sunday, February 23, 2014

New SBC messenger allocation formula: Second look

BP had the brief mention in their summary of the recent SBC Executive Committee meeting:

For the past 136 years messengers have been allocated as follows: 
  • One per cooperating church.
  • One additional per $250 "paid to the work of the Convention" or per 250 members.
  • Maximum of 10. 
Give $2,250 to the work of the Convention? You get the maximum number.

The proposal under consideration would change this to the following:

  • Two per cooperating church.
  • One additional per $6,000 given through the Cooperative Program or designated SBC causes or to SBC entities, or, per 250 members.
  • One additional for each full percent of a church's undesignated receipts through any combination of Cooperative Program, designated SBC causes, or to any SBC entity. 
  • Maximum of 12.
It was unclear from the information given if the first two were "free" and the next ten cost you $6k each but I'll assume that for $60,000 to the work of the Convention a church may max their messengers, or, get the max if you can come up to 10% of undesignated receipts by adding Cooperative Program giving, designated SBC causes, and gifts to any SBC entity. Or, come up with a way to claim 2,500 members. 

When Prof. John Mark Yeats made the motion last June to reevaluate our constitution to update the messenger allocation formula, the only hint of rationale given"that the base gift of $250 required to send each additional messenger to the SBC has not changed since 1888, 'a sacrificial amount then, but a token amount today.'" Motions are made, generally ruled out of order or referred to an appropriate SBC entity and not discussed when made. No doubt the Executive Committee held a discussion and we will hear more later but there's no law against some hacker and plodder blogger firing away with the information as presented. 

It somewhat surprises me that in 2014, when most SBC leaders are aware that there are considerable numbers of SBC folks who will start talking about a BP press release or some bit of news is made known before the electrons are settled down, that news of this sort is tossed out absent any attempt to frame the conversation in a positive manner. Once the blogging horses, or donkeys in some cases, are out of the barn in a discussion it might be harder to corral them back up. That's what we have here.

Here's a second and updated look at the messenger allocation formula changes:

A church in friendly cooperation gets two automatic messengers without any significant dollars or percentage calculations.

Small churches fear not! Thou gettest messenger credentials for your pastor and his wife, the most likely folks to have an interest in attending an annual meeting. The tiniest SBC church with the most meager dollar support of convention causes has their messenger number doubled. This provision alone makes this a small church friendly proposal, unless we get to another raging conflict where small churches feel the need to scrounge up and qualify the maximum number of messengers.

Updating the dollar amount for additional messengers, from $250 to $6,000 is effectively cancelled out by the two 'free' messengers allowed.  

The reason offered for reevaluation of the formula was that the $250 was a sacrificial amount in 1888 but a pittance today. True enough. But if an extremely tiny fraction of SBC churches has any desire to send more than the standard one or two, the rationale for indexing the dollar amount is effectively negated. It costs virtually nothing for any church to send all the messengers they will likely ever desire to send.

Those who want to fill up the church van with the 12 messengers have several options.

If a big budget church they can give a small percentage and get the extra ten messengers for just $60,000. If a small budget church they can get to 10 percent of undesignated church receipts with a small dollar amount. Or they can give a little and get additional messengers for carrying 2500 members on their rolls. Attendance will not be checked in this case. Phantom members, dead members, inactive members all count.

Perhaps one can see why there were no positive expressions coming out about this after the Executive Committee voted to put the proposal before the convention. Two people were quoted about it: Frank Page declared that the thing was DOA if it is perceived to harm small churches. The Executive Committee chairman said he would die on that hill, hardly a ringing endorsement. At the moment the motion is seething with ambivalence.

I still cannot see anything particularly positive about this but it doesn't look like it will change any behavior or outcomes. Someone make a case. Perhaps I am not seeing something.

I'm getting that old SBC name change feeling, you know, the one that we hashed, rehashed, passed, and promptly forgot. Hit 'em and forget 'em. 


Anonymous said...

Doesn't really matter because noone is sending their full quota of messengers. The whole convention has become a joke.

TOM PARKER said...

Sincere Question. Why do people go to SBC Conventions? There is usually nothing of substance to debate or discuss and it is getting smaller every year.

Maybe all these messengers should just donate what they would spend going to the Convention to the Lottie Moon or Annie Armstrong offering?

I would imagine if you add up all the money and time spent on the Convention it is quite substantial in time and money.