Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Top SBC Stories, Part 2

Part 1 is here.

While you were reading the latest on Hobby Lobby, the Affordable Care Act, and the new Pope, these are some things of interest to Southern Baptists. You likely will not see these in any summary of the year's top Baptist stories in regular outlets.

Florida Baptist Convention Settles $12.5 Million Sex Abuse Case  

Background and summary of this game changing sex abuse case may be found here.

The reason this story is a top story is because it establishes a linkage in liability between a local church staff member and the association and state convention. The abuser was a Florida Baptist church planter who abused kids. Although he wasn't an employee of the FBC or local association, a local court held that these were liable due to failing to properly investigate the man's background. A jury awarded a $12.5 million judgment against the FBC which appealed and settled out of court. The terms of the settlement were not made public.

The salient point in all this is that our system of autonomy and non-connectedness is not absolute. The FBC was successfully sued over a sex abuse case involving a non-employee but an individual who was vetted by the FBC and who received some support from the convention. One hopes that our entities are paying attention here.

Baptist Press reports on sex abuse in local churches

Sex abuse by clergy and volunteers in Southern Baptist churches is a problem. If ignored it will not disappear. One can almost look in vain for any reporting by Baptist Press of such crimes among our almost 50,000 churches. One has to look elsewhere, Baptist News Global, and secular outlets for this.
BP finally got around to reporting on a case of sex abuse in one of our churches, here. BP didn't do any reporting on it, merely passed along the Alabama Baptist newspaper account.

Baptist Press may serve as the PR arm for our Executive Committee and do very little journalism; however, thousands of Southern Baptists rely on them for items of interest. BP should do a better job serving our churches and protecting children.

Twenty-three state conventions increase their Cooperative Program allocation

In a year-end story, Baptist Press reported that 23 states "increased the portion of Cooperative Program receipts forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries in moving towards the goal of a 50/50 allocation between in-state and SBC causes."

The Cooperative Program is a declining funding stream as a percentage of church receipts but the primary beneficiaries of the program, state conventions, are moving towards keeping less in-state and sending more to the SBC's institutions and agencies. Not all states are on board with keeping less. My own state convention here in Georgia has sacrificed greatly but is sending signals that they are already at 50/50, which being translated into normal arithmetic means 60% stays in state and 40% is sent on to the mission boards, seminaries, etc. Contrast that with the...

Iowa Baptist Convention moves to a true 50/50 Cooperative Program split, instantly 

New IBC Executive Director, Tim Lubinius, took a look at the convention's budget and saw that they kept 85% of every CP dollar. He proposed and the convention accepted a move, instantly, to a 50/50 split. Boom! It's done.

Designated Giving is Up, Cooperative Program Giving is Down

Check the figures here. For the second consecutive year, our Executive Committee received more in designated funds from state conventions that they did in Cooperative Program funds. In a few years, the Lottie Moon offering itself will be larger than all Cooperative Program money received by the Executive Committee. In spite of the long term trends, there seems to be little energy devoted to making the CP more attractive to churches.

Baptisms are down...membership is down

But...we had a task force look into the matter. Their report was that we're not baptizing enough, not evangelistic enough, not praying enough...

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