Friday, June 7, 2013

While the Cooperative Program languishes, Lottie Moon flourishes

Various Southern Baptist Convention entities make announcements and reports just prior to the annual meeting and it was good to hear our International Mission Board announce that the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions totaled almost $150,000,000 for 2012.

The final total, $149,276,303, was the third highest ever received and was the second consecutive year the offering showed an increase. The 1.7% increase over 2011 might not seem impressive but the additional $2.45 million will pay a lot of mission personnel costs. Dollars still pay the bills, not percentages.

Contrast the increase for international missions with Cooperative Program's continued languishing. CP receipts are accurately reported by the Executive Committee who have generally found it positive to state CP giving as keeping up with budgeted goals. The CP was down about 4% compared to the same period for last year but slightly above budget. I have no problem with positive spin, which is what that is.

In my state, Georgia, there is a marked contrast between what is happening with the Cooperative Program and with the two major mission offerings, Lottie Moon and the North American Mission Board's Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.

The CP was up in Georgia for 2012 by 1.67%, very good news here in light of the fact that it has dropped by millions over the past few years. However, offerings to NAMB were up 6.88% and offerings to the IMB were up a lusty 9.22% over the previous year.

Plodder's conclusions, a statement of the painfully obvious: Southern Baptists have far more enthusiasm for North American and International missions than they do for the catch-all Cooperative Program.

While each has great value among us, when pastors and churches look at where they wish to spend their mission dollars they are eschewing some CP giving in favor of direct giving to the two mission boards.

The math likely reveals why: a dollar to the CP yields one dime to NAMB and about two dimes to IMB. A dollar to Lottie or Annie yields a dollar to that mission cause without dilution.

I do not think this trend is unhealthy. Quite the opposite. Neither do I think that there is anything much Frank Page or any other SBC or state convention executive can do to make the CP more appealing to the churches.

Good work Southern Baptists. Lottie would be pleased.

1 comment:

Lee said...

Could it be that, after years of working well, the Cooperative Program is becoming outdated, especially since it is hard for a lot of churches to track where all the money goes? The missions boards, however, provide that feeling one gets when directly supporting missions. The years of state convention execs and their Wednesday "out of office" golf dates may be coming home to roost.