Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Just 4% of SBC churches give 50% of all Cooperative Program gifts

SBC Life has some interesting Cooperative Program statistics in the current issue. Under a short piece entitled, "Interesting (and Important) Facts about the CP?" one finds this:

2,025 churches reported giving a combined amount that equals 50 percent of all Cooperative Program gifts given through the state Baptist conventions — more than 240 million dollars ($240,704,503).*Among churches that gave this amount are:
  • 89—churches with more than 2,000 in worship attendance
  • 56—churches with 1,501 to 2,000 in worship attendance
  • 163—churches with 1,001 to 1,500 in worship attendance
  • 158—churches with 751 to 1,000 in worship attendance
  • 348—churches with 501 to 750 in worship attendance
  • 886—churches with 251 to 500 in worship attendance
  • 277—churches with 126 to 250 in worship attendance
  • 19—churches with 125 or under in worship attendance
  • 29—churches did not report their attendance

I doubt you would have guessed that about 2,000 of the SBC's 46,000 churches are responsible for half of all the Cooperative Program giving. 

And if you look at the listing of the sizes of these churches given above, you may be persuaded away from the old saw that all those average and small SBC churches that give high percentages are the backbone of the CP. Their giving is important and commendable but the backbone seems to be the larger, mid-mega, and megachurches if we're talking about the dollars that pay all the SBC bills.

These 2,025 churches gave an average of 8.1% of their undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program. That percentage is significantly above the average, which hovers between five and six percent.

Want some good news about Cooperative Program giving?

For the first time since fiscal 1999-2000, the percentage forwarded by the churches through the Cooperative Program did not decline.
  • In 2011, the average percentage giving from all churches was 5.407 percent.
  • In 2012, the average percentage giving from all churches rose slightly to 5.414 percent.

Frank Page should declare an SBC party day over the .007 increase in average percentage. It is a miniscule increase but it is an increase. Perhaps the Cooperative Program has reached its percentage floor.


Anonymous said...

I figured the top 4% would have given about 80% instead of 50%.

Jonathan said...

For years, smaller SBC churches have given sacrificially to the CP and have witnessed the following:

1. A growing majority of the decision making positions within SBC agencies are appointed from the larger churches.
2. Larger churches decreasingly gave amounts that could be remotely considered "sacrificially" to the CP.
3. Had their concerns about the lack of shared sacrifice met with paternalistic condescending smack talk about how dollars, not percentages pay bills.
4. Further complaints were responded with high minded responses portraying the complainers as bloggers who were sitting in their PJ's, in their mother's basements.
5. When a real financial crisis appeared, they saw a GCR taskforce raised up to great fanfare and little result.
6. Then some of these smaller churches began to partner with other churches to get directly involved in mission work...and they liked it. Following the examples set by their bigger church brethren, the CP funds began to be diverted to these local and direct involvement in international mission work.

Some of this is speculation, much of it is what I've seen and heard from multiple smaller churches and pastors who no longer see the SBC leadership class in the same light as they used to.

We've crossed a line. This is not a bad thing but it is a real thing. Now we'll see if the mega church culture can sustain a thriving SBC.

Lee said...

So, only about 300 of the more than 2,000 actually fall into the category of mega church. The bulk of the big givers falling between 250 and 1,000 in attendance is not surprising. The money in the SBC is in the suburban churches, and that is likely a high percentage of the total number of churches in the suburbs.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure there is a Biblical basis for saying that any church has to give "sacrificially" to the Cooperative Program. Might be nice but it just ain't there.

Jonathan said...

Anonymous, you're correct. There is no biblical basis for churches to give sacrificially to the CP. There is no biblical basis that mandates that larger churches give as sacrificially as smaller churches have through the decades. There's not even a biblical basis that mandates that candidates to real policy making positions within the SBC come from churches that have shown a track record of sacrificially giving to the CP.

But what is the case is that the larger churches, more accurately the pastors of larger churches, have been condescending and often outright insulting to smaller churches and small church pastors.

Since the dawn of the conservative resurgence (and for some years prior), larger church pastors has acted as though the SBC is their own private leadership VIP club.

With the news that William has provided here, it appears that the small and medium sized churches have finally gotten the hint that they're not really needed. "Thanks guys for showing up at convention after convention during some dark years to place us at the head of the table...and don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya...unless, of course, you want to pony up for some serious coin to come to our church's ______ conference or join our pastor on his cruise/retreat/holy land trip."

A bit harsh? Perhaps. But talk to the small church pastors and you'll find it to be fairly dead on.