Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A little lift for the Cooperative Program

They might break out the party stuff at the Executive Committee office in Nashville over the most recent statistics on the Cooperative Program.

CP 4.81% ahead of projection

Baptist Press reports the latest figures released by the EC. Budget projections for this year were, I presume, conservatively set and CP monies received by the EC are almost 5% above projections. Actual receipts for the fiscal year, five months of those hard dollars that are distributed mainly to the mission boards, seminaries, and ERLC are up almost 3% from the same period last year. That is about $2.4 million more than received by the end of February, 2014.

Small percentages might not seem like much but any increase is encouraging. We will see how the rest of the year goes. State conventions have varied in their schedule for sending the money to Nashville. But, for now it looks good for the year.

Which brings me to the survey of Southern Baptist pastors conducted last spring. Whenever such surveys are conducted, results are all rosy and the future predictably bright for the Cooperative Program. I mean by that, 81% of pastors agree that the CP supports SBC ministries and missions that their church values.

Don't get too excited by that, even though the comparable figure for the 2012 CP survey of pastors was only 73%. Pastors have always replied to surveys that the Cooperative Program is great, apple pie, motherhood and all that, while leading their churches to decrease their percentages.

Still, some good news is welcome. A few reasons for optimism on the CP:

  • NAMB's Send North America program of church planting and partnerships has clearly engaged a segment of Southern Baptist churches, pastors, and potential church planters. The attendance at the SNA event in Nashville in August should eclipse the SBC annual meeting attendance in Columbus, OH set for June.
  • Many younger Southern Baptists are enthused about thirtysomething David Platt being the new CEO of our IMB. He has outlined a reorganization recently but I have no idea from reports exactly what this entails other than doing some reassigning, shuffling, and stuff like that.
  • The CP can't go much lower, can it? Is around 5% of each church's undesignated offerings the floor? Maybe so. 
  • No one is mad about much that is going on at the SBC level. Give it some time, though. This is our practice.
  • State conventions, the main recipient of CP dollars (they average getting about sixty cents on every CP dollar) are behaving and not alienating their in-state constituent churches.
  • Some are taking Frank Page up on his latest CP increase program.
Of course, let's not overlook the fact that most of the money our Executive Committee receives from the state conventions is designated money - mainly Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong offerings. After the state conventions take their 60% cut of the CP, what's left to distribute totals less than money that churches designate. I see no CP increase that will shift this back to the CP being the greater sum for SBC ministres.

Maybe I can finagle an invitation to the Executive Committee's CP increase party.

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