Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Assault on the good old Cooperative Program about to be launched?

Hear anything much about the SBC name change recommendation lately?

Nope. Not too much.

Apparently, SBCers are pretty much squawked out on that. We will vote next month on the informal, non-mandatory, optional, if-you-wanna-but-we're-not-forcing-you-to-use-it descriptor. It will pass easily with moderate opposition...and then we will eat beignets and forget it.

The SBC issue-of-the-year is the "tension" between our North American Mission Board and the state conventions. That would be some state conventions, mainly those for whom NAMB has cut their entitlements (Jerry Rankin's choice of words).

Baptist Press has a story that explains things a bit. I have a few articles on it.

Hmmm, seems I hear some rumblings about states offering churches a way to designate around NAMB and keep their Cooperative Program money close to home. Perhaps it is just chest thumping and venting rather than a serious discussion. I hope so; however, the CP is already our most seriously declining metric and we absolutely shouldn't be kicking it farther down which is what anything like this would do.

It would be ironic indeed for state conventions to lead the way in undermining the Cooperative Program just to keep some of their personnel on the payroll.

Nah...they wouldn't do that, would they?

It's one thing for individual churches to designate. It's another thing for states assist and encourage churches to do so. In the past the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was powerful enough in some states to do this. I don't think the results have been helpful. We don't need to try that again, and that among our conservative selves.

I would think that a responsible state convention executive would be the first to say, "No fellows. We are not going this route. We've promoted the Cooperative Program all these decades. It is a great cooperative giving plan and we're not going to dismantle it because we have current issues with one SBC entity. We will work it out another way."

One association here in Georgia passed a resolution that suggested that churches take a chunk (25-35 percent) out of their Cooperative Program giving and give it instead to "state missions." This is probably just frustration and venting but I'd hope that our state CEO would respond quickly if the resolution is directed to him. (I will probably take that resolution up in a blog in a few days. It is interesting.) 

"Great Commission Giving" is the culprit, some say? Not really, though I haven't seen data on how churches are reporting in this new giving category yet.

GCG might have been like throwing a teaspoon full of kerosene on a fire. States promoting CP designations would be like tossing a tanker load of jet fuel on it. We might all get burned up in that.


Rick Patrick said...


I'm not at all sure an assault on the CP is about to be launched, but if it is, it won't be the "good old" CP as you reference in your headline. It will be the "new GCR" CP as redefined by the New NAMB without, shall we say, a great deal of listening to the concerns of the state conventions.

As an alternative, let me suggest the real "assault" came in the form of the new Great Commission Giving metric. If GCR proponents thought they would never face any opposition in the implementation of their plans to reallocate CP resources, I think they were being extremely naive.

This conflict was destined to take place ever since the first "bloated bureaucracy" salvo was lobbed. My only surprise is that it has taken this long for the organized opposition to the GCR Agenda to form.

I don't really think any anti-CP charges against the State Convention leaders are going to stick, because I don't think it is fair to say they are opposed to the CP. I do think it is fair to say they have a different idea of where those CP funds ought to be applied. That's not opposition to CP. It's simply a different set of ministry priorities and philosophies for the administration of CP.

Joshua said...


At some point, one's "views about how the CP should be funded" begins to undermine the CP. I'm not sure I know where that line exactly is, but a societal giving model is the eventual end of the CP.

Anonymous said...

Cooperative Program ==> Great Commission Giving Program ==> Great Commission/SBC/Both/Neither/Whatever Baptists ==>
By-Pass CP Giving Or Not Program.

There are going to be tensions when a highly-indepdendent orientation sits beneath a cooperative programming philosophy.

Jon L. Estes said...


You make some very good points, none of which I would refute. What is missing though (for me) is the local church and where they think their CP funds ought to be applied.

Is it possible that the focus from the state and national conventions will soon be on informing the local church how they can best send their money? Letting them know, in no uncertain terms, that writing multiple checks to the part of the CP they want to fund most (national or state) is really the heart of the CP.

I think the days of conservatives cooperating over how dollars are being used is over and it will affect everything and possibly, no one will win.

William Thornton said...

Rick, the data are against you here. The GCR did very little monetarily. Here's my synopsis:

1. The new Great Commission Giving category was an acknowledgement of the situation on the ground not something manufactured from whole cloth. Show me the data where giving has changed as a result of it.

2. It was recommended that NAMB adjust their priorities to put half of their budget into church planting. They are doing this. About 7% of NAMB's budget is affected by that this year.

3. A number of state conventions have, voluntarily mind you, committed to keep less and send the XComm more of their CP dollars.

The anti-CP movement, just background rumblings so far as I know, would be genuinely anti-CP if the route states take is to give churches a way to de-cooperate with NAMB or any other SBC entity or entities. This is manifestly non-cooperative, defeats the purpose of the CP, and is not debatable in my view.

Some states may vote, as is their right, to keep in-state 80% or 90% of the churches CP dollars rather than the 60-65% most of them keep. I'm not sure most state conventions could sell this to the churches.

thanks for the comment

Jeff said...

The Georgia Baptist Convention spent $43,500,000 on their building. This sounds like "bloated bureaucracy" to me. I don't want state conventions keeping more CP money so that they can waste it on stuff like that.

William Thornton said...

The question of who SBCers can rely upon to make the best decisions is an open one. Seems to me that some state conventions have some work to persuade us that their priorities are more appropriate than NAMB's.

Alas, the building is there. It can't be un-built although the GBC has said they would explore all options including selling it.

William Thornton said...

Jon, I hope you are wrong and also hope for some long term thinking by state conventions who are upset because NAMB is reallocating their funds according to their own priorities and not because of the state's legacy claim on them.