A.1: “We don’t spend percentages, we spend dollars” – Ronnie Floyd, following the response of Johnny Hunt
Q.2: Tim Shrader (pastor of First Baptist Church in Litchfield) “asked how the task force ‘is assessing what needs to be done in the SBC.’”
A.2: “How are we going to change the world with the Gospel when 98 cents of every dollar given stays in the churches and 98 cents of every dollar earned stays in the pocket of the member?” – Ronnie Floyd, commenting on a “lack of biblical stewardship” as one of the Convention’s problems
(source: Baptist Press, 11/18/2009)
Did anyone else notice this? Floyd is right…and right again. We do spend dollars…but the dollars we spend come from the percentages we set aside…
Issue 1: personal stewardship
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
If Floyd is right in his assertion that “the average evangelical gives 2.4 percent to all charities” (and that of course includes non-church, i.e. non-CP, giving), we have one major hurdle before we pick at each other’s decimal points.
Does anyone else find it peculiar that many churches run behind on their budgets (at present, mine is techincally 3.5 weeks of bills behind) and yet their members find ample funds to take cruises or buy new cars? I once had an old pastor tell me he had calculated up how much money his church members would make collectively on welfare…if they then tithed that pittance, the offerings would have tripled in money collected. I then calculated what percentage my tithe was of the church’s income…approximately 15% and I was making only $18,000 a year! (i.e. below poverty level!) How strange it would seem to Paul that we are almost required to have tithing/stewardship sermons to meet the budget (cf. I Corinthians 16:1-2) and we regularly come unprepared to the house of God!
Issue 2: ecclesial stewardship
But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ. I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. (Romans 15:23-32)
Does anyone else find it strange that we are fighting over whether our denominational representatives (the trustees) are giving 10% as a church or not…especially when the original vision of the 1925 Cooperative Program was 50% allocation?! (SBC Annual, 1976, p.54) I’ve made this point before, but it does seem odd that we throw around the 10% rule without a mind for what total sacrifice our Convention forefathers envisioned…no wonder that it was unpopular when first proposed! By way of an update, according to the 2009 state budgets, an average of 32.41% (when weighted by dollar amounts, the allocation is 36.23%) was set aside by the states to national causes. Perhaps we should fix the amount going to the state to be allocated before we worry (too much) about how it is allocated. Most of the states are glad to split equally any money above their budget..so let’s give it to them!
Issue 3: smokescreen or smoking gun?
The fault in logic does not lie in Floyd’s responses, but in our reluctance…to give and to do so sacrifically for the good of the Kingdom. We talk about Great Commission…but do we follow Great Commandment giving (as much to neighbor as to self)? We talk about Resurgence, but do we really mean Recompense? Isn’t it time we talk plain and walk plainer?