Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Kentucky Baptist Convention: Making serious 50/50 split news

State conventions are the biggest beneficiary of Cooperative Program dollars with considerably more than 50% on average staying within each state convention. Many SBCers think that while state conventions do good work and while the division of the CP dollar between states and national entities is consistent with historic levels, state conventions should not be keeping over 50%.

Count me in this number and count me skeptical that the states will ever do much to rectify this for a couple of reasons.

One, everyone can justify their budgets and find an endless stream of in-state projects to eat up CP dollars. Second, state conventions have long been deep into fuzzy math when it comes to CP accounting. In many cases when a state says "50/50" what they really mean is "60/40" or "55/45". Third, the inertia that comes from legacy funding of schools, campus ministries, and other state spending is very tough to overcome.

But I give the Kentucky Baptist Convention credit for taking steps to move their CP split towards 50/50. Baptist Press has a story from the KBC state paper, Western Recorder, on the move: Ky. advisory group proposes $700,000 CP shift.

That is about a 14% shift and is not insignificant. Most of the $700,000 is being taken from two KBC colleges and The Western Recorder has a good chunk of their CP funding removed as well, about 20%. For those three entities this is quite a serious move.

If this is implemented, the new funding scheme is just a proposal now, the KBC will be closer to that 50/50 split, which in Kentucky's case actually means 55/45 but the convention is committed to making that 53.5/46.5.

Confused? Join 99.9% of Southern Baptists in that. I will explain later.

I commend the KBC for their relatively agressive movements in getting more money out of their state and into SBC seminaries and mission boards. The are ahead of most state conventions in this.

Does it make much difference?

The math helps us get to a conclusion on that. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Cooperative Program is all about percentages

Those who must promote the CP hate to read or hear it put this way, they would rather have all Southern Baptists think of the Cooperative Program as people - missionaries, church planters, relief workers, seminary students, etc. - but when Southern Baptists start a conversation about the CP, you can bet that they will be talking percentages, not people.

Here are some Cooperative Program percentages:

5.41   The percentage of the average SBC church's offering plate undesignated dollars given through the CP.

1.78 The percentage of the average SBC church's offering plate undesignated dollars that will end up at SBC entities, the mission boards, seminaries, ERLC, and Executive Committee.

81    Percent of SBC pastors who agree or strongly agree that the CP "fuels an agressive enterprise of reaching UPG around the world."

50  Percentage goal for the proportion of CP dollars kept within that state and not forwarded to the Executive Committee and then to mission boards and seminaries.

1  Number of states that have reached the goal of a 50/50 split.

62 Approximate average percentage kept by state conventions and not forwarded for distribution to the mission boards, seminaries, etc.

0 Number of years since 1930 that state conventions have forwarded at least 50 percent of CP dollars to the Executive Committee for distribution to SBC causes.

4 Percentage below which the churches of these SBC presidents gave to the Cooperative Program: Adrian Rogers, Bailey Smith, Charles Stanley, Jerry Vines, Ed Young, Jr., James Merritt, Tom Elliff, Jack Graham, Johnny Hunt, Bryant Wright.

 10 Percentage above which these SBC presidents' churches gave to the CP: Jim Henry, Bobby Welch, Morris Chapman, Frank Page.

11.13 Unbelievable, the percentage of undesignated offering plate dollars given on average by all SBC churches in 1979. Compare with the first figure I gave above and cast a wistful eye at this one.

Monday, April 8, 2013

One thing I have never heard concerning the Cooperative Program

I have heard the Cooperative Program praised and criticized. I've seen it held up as if it were inscribed on stone by God's Own Finger (not to be sinister but His left index finger, anthropomorphically speaking). I've heard many a Baptist offer suggestions - some outrageous, some eminently sensible. But what I have never heard anyone do is suggest or propose a workable alternative to the Cooperative Program.

There are millions of Southern Baptists. There are tens of thousands of pastors, denominational leaders, and others who understand the mechanics of our common work. Surely, something would have bubbled up if a better concept existed.

There are almost as many CP critics, some rather unstinting and strident, and such is one of Southern Baptists' favorite sports.

Question for any and all, "What is your proposal for an alternative?" I would be the first to favor a better funding scheme if I found it.

I know of none.

Without the CP the SBC as we have known it would cease to exist. If the CP were deep-sixed the mission boards would continue right on, the seminaries would be reduced in number, perhaps to three or four. State conventions would figure out a way to survive but at a dramatically reduced level. Baptist life would change dramatically.

My guess is that I have never heard of an alternative because the CP is recognized by all as being such a sensible funding scheme. It's not perfect but it does make good sense.

But there are thoughts I have not had, ideas I have not formed. So, if you know of an alternative, please, enlighten me.

Friday, April 5, 2013

An occasional blog on the SBC's Cooperative Program

No one asked for this (and, really, does it have to be requested for some blogger to write about it? Of course not; no one has to read it) but one of the things that has always surprised me is how uninformed some Southern Baptists, including clergy, are about our wonderful Cooperative Program; so, this occasional blog on CP stuff: giving statistics, state conventions, allocations, uses and abuses.

On my blog sbcplodder nothing has more labels than the Cooperative Program (except NAMB, and things have quietened down substantially there) and I see more on the CP than I wish to put on sbcplodder, so here is a blog dedicated to the Cooperative Program.

Comment if you wish. Correct me if you think I am wrong. 

The graphic is from