And now a consideration of some numbers…

A number of weeks ago (my apologies to Les for this delay!), I proposed a study of “the hypothesis that states with high CP retention (i.e. low cut for the SBC) correlates to higher direct giving” In order to undertake this endeavor, I procured the annual statements of two Southern Baptist state conventions. These statements are released as part of their state Baptist papers and are (as far as I know) thus public information…being that they are available at the local Baptist “newsstand”.

The data was classified by three criteria:

  1. Does the church give to the Cooperative Program?
  2. Does the church designate funds outside the Cooperative Program?
  3. Does the church give to their state missions offering?

State 1 is a convention that predates the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention. It has recently (in the past decade) finished a lengthy battle for control of its trustee appointments, who oversee colleges, a retirement home system, and other traditional Baptist entities. There were 1767 reporting churches, including those not formally affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, but contributing monetarily nonetheless (11 = 0.622% of total)

State 2 is a more recent convention, formed as the result of a split over control of the state level. They are committed to the Cooperative Program, giving more than 50% of their money to the national level. There were 1811 reporting churches, including those not formally affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, but contributing monetarily nonetheless (96 = 5.30% of total)

Analysis 1: SBC-affiliated churches and their giving behavior

State 1: 86 only designate, 178 only give to CP, and 1492 (84.97%) give to both CP and designate.

State 2: 64 only designate, 500 only give to CP, and 1177 (67.60%) give to both CP and designate.

These two patterns are significantly different (Chi^2 = 193.269, p < 0.001)

A model was fitted to see if the SBC allocation of collected CP funds had an effect on giving behavior: (p = percent SBC allocation)

  • Only designated churches can be modeled by (1-p)
  • Only CP-giving churches can be modeled by p^2
  • CP/designated churches then are the remainder (theoretically p – p^2)

This model is significant (Chi^2 = 7.515, p = 0.023), which means that designation increases and CP-only giving decreases directly with the increase in the state portion of CP. Thus my hypothesis is confirmed (at least it would seem) that higher state retention correlates with higher direct giving.

Analysis 2: non-SBC-affiliated churches and their giving behavior

State 1: 3 only designate, 4 only give to CP, and 4 give to both CP and designate.

State 2: 61 only designate, 15 only give to CP, and 20 give to both CP and designate.

These two patterns are not significantly different (Chi^2 = 5.622, p = 0.0601). Non-SBC churches do not appear to be affected by CP retention (although this chi-test is somewhat suspect due to low data).

Analysis 3: Comparison of CP and state mission offering giving patterns

State 1: 793 (45.16%) gave to both CP and state missions, 21 (1.2%) gave to only state missions, 876 (49.89%) gave only to CP, and 66 (3.76) gave to neither (designated “other”)

State 2: 13 (0.76%) gave to both CP and state missions, 17 (0.99%) gave only to state missions, 1649 (95.98%) gave to only CP, and 39 (2.27%) gave to neither.

The CP giving percentages were similar between the two states (95.05% in State 1, 96.74% in State 2), but the distribution with regard to state missions is strikingly different. These two patterns are highly different (Chi^2 = 66.4127, p = 0).

Conclusion:

It would appear that as states tend to retain more money, churches respond by becoming more likely to give directly outside CP. Also, it would appear that some states seem to “double-dip” (beyond the much ballyhooed Cooperative Agreements) by taking money to be used in-state from both CP and direct giving. The history of the two states, primarily that State 1 has long-held institutions that it supports financially that State 2 does not, play a major role in this tendency…and one would imagine the resistance of the convention leaders to reduce their money pool (and thus necessitate dramatically reduced budgets and/or cut-loose entities).

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