Monday, September 1, 2014

So what does Platt/IMB say about our Cooperative Program?

David Platt is our newly elected leader of  our most important entity, The International Mission Board.

What does his election say about our main channel of cooperative giving, The Cooperative Program?

Here's what a few prominent Southern Baptists say:

"Missions going and giving is bigger and more expansive than the Cooperative Program."
     - Herschel York, IMB trustee, David Platt is President of the IMB (and that's a good thing).

"As the president of an entity funded through the C[ooperative] P[rogram] almost entirely, I would be insane to celebrate the election of someone I thought wasn't committed to CP."
     - Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC, Why I'm Glad David Platt is the New IMB President.

"If Cooperative Program support was not considered important in this season of Southern Baptist decision-making, let us make certain it will be in the seasons to come."
     - Bart Barber; pastor, former SBC vice president, and trustee of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, David Platt is MY new IMB President.
"For that ever-increasing group that feels uncomfortable with traditional CP giving, the election of David Platt  will more likely lead to renewed interest in - rather than discouragement from - traditional cooperative giving." J. D. Greear, What David Platt's IMB Presidency Signals About Our Future.

"When I think about what happens in the Cooperative Program, what happens in the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, I see different churches from all over North America give, and the result is that missionaries are able to go...It's not cooperation for the sake of cooperation; the goal is seeing more people reached with the Gospel." David Platt, Platt Looks Ahead to Mission Challenges.

Here's what I say:

  • Don't be looking for a general increase in Cooperative Program giving by churches. What may be hoped for is that churches that have followed Platt's general approach to mission giving, give a small amount through the CP but concentrate major giving directly to IMB and Executive Committee, will be affirmed in their methodology.
  • Look for the first state convention executive to tiptoe up to a breath of mild criticism of Platt and his lack of commitment to the Cooperative Program. If Platt's church found anything in the Alabama Baptist State Convention that garnered their monetary support (other than a small amount to the children's home) it wasn't reported. If anything is evidenced by his church's mission giving pattern it is that the state convention was unimportant. Since state convention budgets are shrinking due to declining CP giving by their churches, and there is pressure on them to keep less of that CP dollar and send more to the SBC Executive Committee, no group of SBC leaders should be more concerned than the state executives.
  • Try and grasp this: Platt's church is projected in 2014 to give $1,018,000 in giving dedicated specifically to the IMB ($300,000 to Lottie Moon and $718,000 directly in "special designated gifts"). To be added to that are gifts that are through the regular CP channel and direct to Executive Committee portions of which go to IMB. Not many SBC churches give these amounts to IMB. To those concerned about percentages, not dollars, not many churches give this proportion of their revenues, I estimated about 12%, to Southern Baptist international missions. 
  • The alternative channel of cooperative Southern Baptist but not Cooperative Program giving, writing checks to the SBC Executive Committee instead of one's state convention will likely be boosted by Platt's election. 
  • Partnership of churches directly with the IMB, Platt's church predominant method of international missions giving ($718,000 of the $1,114,000 given to the board), will be enhanced by his leadership of the IMB. It is unthinkable that the method Platt found best for his church he will jettison as leader of the IMB. 
  •  State conventions success in selling the CP has come by their promoting international and to a lesser extent North American missions. In addition to emphasizing the Lottie Moon offerings Platt's church utilized the two additional methods noted above (direct gifts to the EC and "special designated gifts" to IMB). The more the CP is decoupled from international missions the less attractive it becomes to Southern Baptist churches and individuals.
  • The warning against returning to "societal giving" has become louder, but emptier. Trustees of the IMB apparently have few concerns about it.
  • We are more concerned about encouraging a new generation of Baptists to be involved in, to give to, and to support Southern Baptist cooperative mission efforts than to give to and support the Cooperative Program.
What the election of David Platt says about our Cooperative Program is this:
We like it. We support it. We have no alternative for general support of the market basket of Southern Baptist missions and ministries. But we recognize that it is unlikely to fit the mission needs of the 21st century.  

1 comment:

Lee said...

Seems like some people, in some places, have figured out that the CP generally supports a bloated bureaucracy of favor-granters and they want more of their money to go to missions.

Are the trustees of the IMB sending a message, or is this just another version of the pattern that has been in place for generations, of choosing institutional leadership based on connections and "who you know" rather than what you can do. The SBC is full of individuals who have their own para-church ministries, usually used for the purpose of making a lot of extra money, and having influence that can't be had through denominational channels. We'll see if Platt is different as time passes.