Archive for the ‘giving’ Category

And now a consideration of some numbers…

May 10, 2010

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).

“And let it begin with me”

April 19, 2010

“As a convention of churches, our missional vision is to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.” – the missional vision under Component #1

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:19-20a.

Regardless of what transpires in Orlando this June, the ultimate test of the Great Commission Resurgence will be numerical…and financial…and chronological. It will be evident when we actually take time out off our schedules and money out of our budgets to use it for the Gospel and the Kingdom.

From these two standards, I see a easy way for measure our GCR progress:

GOING: How much money classified “missions”, and not sent to the Convention, at the local church level actually materializes into sent people? How much time in the church calendar is dedicated to “crossing the ocean” or “crossing the street”?

MAKE DISCIPLES: How much of our church budget or church schedule is dedicated to discipleship…and not spiritualized fellowship (NOTE: not that fellowship is bad, but it is not GCR)

BAPTIZING: In coordination with the above metric, how many of our baptizees remain a part of the fellowship after one year? How many of our life-long members are involved in the journey to the baptismal waters (evangelizing, discipling, etc.)

TEACHING: 2 Timothy 2:2 sums it up nicely…are we teaching information or “the latest ideas“…or are we preparing God’s people to reach the world and to grow in Christ-likeness

EVERY PERSON/ALL THE NATIONS: Are we thinking of ALL when we budget our time and money…both international AND domestic lost…both those who have never heard and those who need to hear again?

Ultimately, will state conventions survive this review? Not in their present form: some will have to jettison much of their activity and re-direct much of their funds. Others will simply have to dissolve and be re-formed to be GCR-reformed (NOTE: no soteriological statement intended here!) In thirty years, will we have a 200-year old institution or an accomplished commandment…we can have both, but only if we “let it begin with me”

With all the talk, where are we being led?

March 29, 2010

“Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
Whiles, like a puff’d and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads
And recks not his own rede.”

–Ophelia, Hamlet, Act I, Scene III

Much has been said in recent days about the preliminary report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. Les Puryear has recently criticized the addition of “Great Commission Giving” as an option of denominational support. Bart Barber had a three-part reflection on the report himself (part 1, part 2, part 3). Tom Ascol has both a post on his view on it, as well as the need for the underlying Resurgence. Baptist21 has a two-part review by Jed Coppenger. (Those cited above should take the link as evidence that I read you regularly!)

The question I would like to pose this week is: “But where is all of this talk leading us?” Are we being motivated to act out the Great Commission in our daily lives, in our church activities, and in our personal Acts 1:8 world?

Better yet, what leadership has arisen in response to this? As of today (March 29, 2010), only ONE candidate has been announced for the office of Convention president. He is noted in the Baptist Press article for reducing CP giving in order to directly give it to the IMB. While this is allowable (maybe even lauded) under the GCR recommendation…no opponent, no alternative, no other candidate has arisen.

This is paralleled (to some degree) by the ONE candidate for the office of SBC Pastor’s Conference president. He is noted of late for having been denounced by some as inappropriate for such esteem, to which the candidate has responded. In this situation, there appears to be an alternate candidate.

I wonder at (and fear the answer) the seeming contradiction here: both candidates lack “CP cred”…but only one has received a firestorm of criticism and open (unprecedented) opposition for his office. What tips the balance? Could it be something OTHER than CP credibility? If so, then is CP giving really all that important to us? And what becomes of the vision of giving reform, of fully supporting missions, and being sacrificial for the Lord….if we don’t act require any of that from our leaders?

A contemplation of one-track giving in the SBC

March 22, 2010

A post by Les Puryear (and the subsequent comment thread) got me to thinking about what would happen if we (the SBC) did only give through one method.

The assumption made (which probably bias the results!): the same amounts of money and the same patterns of giving would result if we all lock-step follow the one method. If you feel compelled by this post (“paying the thought forward”), please analyze if that would be not be true (i.e. as I say in Puryear’s comment thread, whether direct giving correlates to CP distribution by the states)

All page numbers from 2009 Book of Reports (the free-bound copy, not the one a part of the SBC Annual)

The cash flow:

States share of CP: $343,819,507 (p.5)

SBC share of CP: $204,385,592 (p.5, same as p.32)

Total designated gifts: $203,016,164 (p.32)

TOTAL money (CP/designated): $751,221,263


Scenario 1: states split 50/50, everyone gives only to CP

States share: $375,610,631 (+31,791,124)

IMB (50.00%): $187,805,315 (-56,392,179)
which translates to 1,139 FEWER missionaries
if states and SBC Operating contributes their surpluses, then only 811 fewer missionaries

NAMB (22.79%): $85,601,663 (-20,993,019)
which would be covered now by the states

SWBTS (4.80%): $18,029,310 (+8,090,751)
which translates to 934 students fully supported (pro-rated annual cost, p.82-83)

SBTS (4.80%): $18,029,310 (+8,115,241)
which translates to 629 students fully supported (pro-rated annual cost, p.82-83)

NOBTS (4.35%): $16,339,062 (+7,411,138)
which translates to 739 students fully supported (pro-rated annual cost, p.82-83)

SEBTS (4.31%): $16,188,818 (+7,271,598)
which translates to 655 students fully supported (pro-rated annual cost, p.82-83)

GGBTS (1.92%): $7,211,724 (+3,270,638)
which translates to 238 students fully supported (pro-rated annual cost, p.82-83)

MBTS (1.74%): $6,535,625 (+2,956,730)
which translates to 225 students fully supported (pro-rated annual cost, p.82-83)

Seminaries Total: +$37,116,096 (3,420 students fully supported)

HLA (0.24%): $901,465 (+409,741)

ERLC (1.65%): $6,197,575 (+2,681,788) = 76.3% increase

SBC Oper. (3.40%): $12,770,761 (+5,409,517)

Net effect: more money kept in America and fewer missionaries

Scenario 2: bypass states and follow CP distributions (give directly to Nashville)

States share: $0 — time to push that state missions offering!

IMB (50.00%): $375,610,631 (+131,413,136 from p.32)
which translates into 2,668 MORE missionaries!

NAMB (22.79%): $171,203,325 (+64,608,643)
which would cover only 18.8% of the states’ new need

SWBTS (4.80%): $36,058,621 (+26,120,062)
which translates to 2,947 students fully supported (pro-rated annual cost, p.82-83)

SBTS (4.80%): $36,058,621 (+26,144,552)
which translates to 2,026 students fully supported (pro-rated annual cost, p.82-83)

NOBTS (4.35%): $32,678,125 (+23,750,201)
which translates to 2,368 students fully supported (pro-rated annual cost, p.82-83)

SEBTS (4.31%): $32,377,636 (+23,460,416)
which translates to 2,113 students fully supported (pro-rated annual cost, p.82-83)

GGBTS (1.92%): $14,423,448 (+10,482,362)
which translates to 764 students fully supported (pro-rated annual cost, p.82-83)

MBTS (1.74%): $13,071,250 (+9,492,355)
which translates to 724 students fully supported (pro-rated annual cost, p.82-83)

Seminaries Total: +$119,449,948 (10,242 students fully supported), this also constitutes 34.7% of formerly states’ money

HLA (0.24%): $1,802,931 (+1,311,207)

ERLC (1.65%): $12,395,151 (+8,879,364) = 252.6% increase!

SBC Oper. (3.40%): 25,541,523 (+18,180,279)
which would cover only 5.3% of the states’ new need

Net effect: more missionaries, but severe cuts to state budgets/programs

Scenario 3: bypass states and follow designated distribution (give directly to entities = neo-societal)

States share: $0

IMB (69.95%): $525,479,273 (+281,281,778)
which translates into 5,680 MORE missionaries!

NAMB (29.56%): $222,061,005 (+115,466,323)
which would leave only 31.9% to cover the states’ new need (see below at SBC Oper.)

Seminaries combined (0.21%): $1,577,565 (-43,640,188)
which would cover only 44.1% of Midwestern Seminary’s income (the smallest of the 6)

HLA (0.0006%): $4,433 (-99.10% of budget) – inevitably closed down!

ERLC (0.07%): $525,855 (-2,989,932) = 85.0% DECREASE

SBC Oper. (0.20%): $1,502,443 (-5,858,801)
which could be covered by NAMB…(this year’s Convention at Alpharetta!)

Net effect: shuttering of many domestic ventures, including the state programs, in order to double the number of international missionaries

Perhaps the recommendation under Component #5 (p.27 of the GCRTF report), with some (obviously brillant!) modifications is so bad after all….

GCRTF Progress Report Component 5: Great Commission Giving

March 10, 2010

“Component #5: We believe in order for us to work together more faithfully and effectively towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission, we will ask Southern Baptists to reaffirm the Cooperative Program as our central means of supporting Great Commission ministries; but in addition, we will ask Southern Baptists to celebrate with our churches in their Great Commission Giving that goes directly through the Cooperative Program, as well as any designated gifts given to the causes of the Southern Baptist Convention, a state convention or a local association.”–Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Progress Report, p. 27

“Please understand clearly, we are not recommending any changes to the Cooperative Program but are reaffirming it as our central means of supporting the Great Commission ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention.”–Ronnie Floyd, Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Progress Report, p. 27

“[We] should acknowledge and appreciate [designated gifts as an] adjustment of nomenclature.”–J. Robert White, GCRTF Preliminary Report session

Because of a request from a fellow commentator (Louis at Praisegod Barebones), I have jumped to Component 5 to discuss what many see as the greatest weakness to the GCRTF report. In essence, a new term would be used in Southern Baptist life, Great Commission Giving, which would include both CP & designated gifts. Allow me to use the words of another commentator as a skeleton for my own response.

Steve Loggins, Director of Missions, North Jefferson Baptist Association, Alabama, wrote a scathing response to the GCRTF presentation, focusing at one point on Component 5:

“Component 5 is a big problem for me – I do not see how ‘celebrating designated giving’ is going to do anything but reduce support for the CP instead of enhancing it. If I am wrong, then I am wrong and I pray that Lord reveal this also to me – I do appreciate the gifts given to the association, to the state, to other mission causes – but if we put these along side of the CP as equal partners – then we will find that diamond of the CP will be lost in the setting of a host of other jewels – too numerous to count, for everyone has their own favorite mission enterprise.”

Rev. Loggins is correct in his cursory judgment…if the term is not defined correctly. If we indeed allow “gifts given to the association, to the state, [and] to other mission causes” to be counted as “equal partners” with CP, we are doomed to simply transfer our funds to a pseudo-societal model, much like the one we had before 1925. However, proper safeguards put into place should prevent this re-appropriation from taking place at too high a level. Will churches re-direct funds under a expanded definition? Yes, because they will have the liberty and the breadth to do so. Can we keep CP alive and even improve it? Yes, if we carefully determine how the money is considered as “equal” (more on this later).

“In fact, this is already part of the problem in the loss of CP giving which facilitates what we do as Southern Baptists.”–Steve Loggins

This would seem to be the case at first glance. Direct funding apart from CP is no doubt part of the problem of why CP is underfunded (poor stewardship by Baptists in the pews and churches are a large chunk, in my opinion). However, directed funding also keep our CP-supported entities alive.

The following data for the funding year 2007-2008 is taken from the 2009 Book of Reports, with page numbers indicated after each example. Direct contributions to Nashville for distribution through CP from individuals and churches makes up 3.09% of the CP budget (31). When distributed throught the CP allocations, that 6.3 million dollars constitutes anywhere from 0.84% (Southwestern) to 3.02% (ERLC) of an entity’s budget (20-26). Money from other sources (“designations”, “other gifts”, or “other sources”), make up anywhere from 1.47% (ERLC) to 22.67% (New Orleans) of the entity’s budget (20-26). By comparison, CP money allocated from the states’ contributions makes up 26.33% (Southwestern) to 94.83% (ERLC) of the entity’s budget (20-26).

In conclusion, we already give directly, either to get around uncooperative states (which I call support-with-dissent) or for direct one-entity funding, even before we expand the definition. We need to allow, maybe even encourage, direct giving, but be most careful not to revert to a societal, non-CP system in the process.

“We do not need to add more pieces to the pie – just enlarge the pie.”–Steve Loggins

I am loathe to re-hash old arguments of mine (so I will direct you to the post where I expressed them), but I will add two comments. The GCR will have to start with you and me and blue-haired grandma in the pew. If we do not give, whether societally, cooperatively, with the state, around the state, whatever, if we do not give, we will never fund the entities that we have commissioned to aid us in the Great Commission. We must “enlarge the pie” by emptying our wallets.

Secondly, we must encourage each church to feel free to autonomously give without encouraging them to undercut cooperative efforts. In consonance with the apostle Paul, set aside contributions for the good of the church, but also give to support common efforts.

The End of the Matter

What are our options?

1) We can refuse the recommendation:
This would preserve us from what many perceive is a watering-down (or at least, a putting on the back burner) of CP emphasis. However, it does not fix the underlying problem of poor stewardship at every level in our Convention. I then tacitly reject this option.

2) We can not define what “Great Commission Giving” and allow each church (association, state) determine it for themselves:
This would leave wide open the door to anemic CP giving and pseudo-societalism that Loggins (and I) fear. I actively oppose this option!

3) We can create a series of offerings, akin to Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong, to supplement and emphasize direct entity giving:
This option has been proposed at one level by some, including Bart Barber (and myself). This is a reasonable option at first consideration, but would be a scheduling and promotion nightmare. Consider the following yearly schedule:

JAN–promote Southern Baptist History emphasis
FEB–Historical Archives Offering
MAR–promote North American missions
APR–Annie Armstrong Easter Offering
MAY–promote state and national coordination?!
JUN–ExComm Offering (during Convention?!)
JUL–promote our professors and future pastors
AUG–J.P. Boyce Seminaries Offering
SEP–promote standing firm on social issues
OCT–ERLC Watchman on the Wall Offering
NOV–promote International missions
DEC–Lottie Moon Easter Offering

…and we think giving to the two mission offerings is already too low! This model also has the genetic problem of societal giving: pew burnout. And for thsoe of us who are passionate about supporting the work of the Convention, will we have to rob from Annie to give to the seminary? I must reject this option.

4) We can move the CP distribution to the state…or preferably to the local church:
Each body of believers, under our polity, has the right to direct their gifts to the needs of their community and their various inter-church associations. The role of promotion by the states and the entities would be directed from the Executive Committee’s subcommittee on Convention budget to the budget committees of the churches. collection of funds would then be at each endpoint: state office and entity offices. However freeing and patently Baptist this seems, this option also runs the risk of societal giving itself with the overwhelming flood of pleas and the need for expanded back offices to produce and distribute those pleas. I oppose this option as well.

5) We can define giving in narrow terms and promote CP as the best of all modes:
The best option, in my opinion, is to create a two-tier system of giving. Money given through the CP route of state-to-national would remain in place. A new category, “directed giving”, wold be created to encompass all giving not through CP: Annie and Lottie offerings and direct entity contributions. The two categories would be combined for a bottom-line “Great Commission giving”, that would replace CP giving as the (for better or worse) standard for Convention support (i.e. in our discussions about candidates for trustee or officer positions).
To give the designation “teeth”, a consitutional amendment to modify Article III, section 2 to read:

2. One (1) additional messenger from each such church for every two hundred and fifty (250) members; or for each $250.00 paid to the work of the Convention through the Cooperative Program during the fiscal year preceding the annual meeting; or for each $500.00 paid to the work of the Convention through directed giving during the fiscal year preceding the annual meeting. (additions in bold)

This addition would privilege CP giving over directed giving, while also encouraging directed giving as legitimate for churches who desires to cut one or more participants out of their cooperation. (I know this is a somewhat anti-cooperative action, but I think it helps more than hurts. I am open for discussion and better ways of proceeding.)

Finally, giving to non-national, non-state efforts, such as church mission trips, would be excluded from consideration. This is due to the fact that a church might give $2500 to a team of three people to go to Africa (like my own church is doing this year) and under a broad/unqualified “Great Commission giving” definition, they would be able to maximize their allotment of Convention messengers (see Article III). In essence, we could all go to the Convention, fully enabled by the present status quo to vote on Convention matters, and not actually fund anything that the Convention does. We need a “narrow” definition that still allows for support-with-dissent,but prevents us from bringing to reality the fear of Loggins and others (myself included) of a bankrupt, yet fully “supported” Convention. I encourage support for this option.

We need to clarify the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force recommendation so that what is a good idea in principle will be one also in practice.

“Component #5: We believe in order for us to work together more faithfully and effectively towards

the fulfillment of the Great Commission, we will ask Southern Baptists to reaffirm the Cooperative

Program as our central means of supporting Great Commission ministries; but in addition, we will ask

Southern Baptists to celebrate with our churches in their Great Commission Giving that goes directly

through the Cooperative Program, as well as any designated gifts given to the causes of the Southern

Baptist Convention, a state convention or a local association.”–Great Commission Resurgence Task

Force Progress Report, p. 27

“Please understand clearly, we are not recommending any changes to the Cooperative Program but are

reaffirming it as our central means of supporting the Great Commission ministries of the Southern

Baptist Convention.”–Ronnie Floyd, Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Progress Report, p. 27

“[We] should acknowledge and appreciate [designated gifts as an] adjustment of nomenclature.”–J.

Robert White, GCRTF Preliminary Report session

Because of a request from a fellow commentator (Louis at Praisegod Barebones

[http://praisegodbarebones.blogspot.com/2010/02/how-to-resurge.html]), I have jumped to Component 5

to discuss what many see as the greatest weakness to the GCRTF report. In essence, a new term would

be used in Southern Baptist life, Great Commission Giving, which would include both CP & designated

gifts. Allow me to use the words of another commentator as a skeleton for my own response.

Steve Loggins, Director of Missions, North Jefferson Baptist Association, Alabama, wrote a scathing

response to the GCRTF presentation

[http://noba-blog.blogspot.com/2010/03/observations-of-executive-committee.html], focusing at one

point on Component 5:

“Component 5 is a big problem for me – I do not see how ‘celebrating designated giving’ is going to

do anything but reduce support for the CP instead of enhancing it. If I am wrong, then I am wrong

and I pray that Lord reveal this also to me – I do appreciate the gifts given to the association, to

the state, to other mission causes – but if we put these along side of the CP as equal partners –

then we will find that diamond of the CP will be lost in the setting of a host of other jewels – too

numerous to count, for everyone has their own favorite mission enterprise.”

Rev. Loggins is correct in his cursory judgment…IF the term is not defined correctly. If we indeed

allow “gifts given to the association, to the state, [and] to other mission causes” to be counted as

“equal partners” with CP, we are doomed to simply transfer our funds to a pseudo-societal model,

much like the one we had before 1925. However, proper safeguards put into place should prevent this

re-appropriation from taking place at too high a level. Will churches re-direct funds under a

expanded definition? Yes, because they will have the liberty and the breadth to do so. CAn we keep

CP alive and even improve it? Yes, if we carefully determine how the money is considered as “equal”

(more on this later).

“In fact, this is already part of the problem in the loss of CP giving which facilitates what we do

as Southern Baptists.”–Steve Loggins

This would seem to be the case at first glance. Direct funding apart from CP is no doubt *part* of

the problem of why CP is underfunded (poor stewardship by Baptists in the pews and churches are a

large chunk, in my opinion). However, directed funding also keep our CP-supported entities alive.

The following data for the funding year 2007-2008 is taken from the 2009 Book of Reports, with page

numbers indicated after each example. Direct contributions to Nashville for distribution through CP

from individuals and churches makes up 3.09% of the CP budget (31). When distributed throught the CP

allocations, that 6.3 million dollars constitutes anywhere from 0.84% (Southwestern) to 3.02% (ERLC)

of an entity’s budget. Money from other sources (“designations”, “other gifts”, or “other sources”),

make up anywhere from 1.47% (ERLC) to 22.67% (New Orleans) of the entity’s budget. By comparison, CP

money allocated from the states’ contributions makes up 26.33% (Southwestern) to 94.83% (ERLC) of

the entity’s budget.

In conclusion, we already give directly, either to get around uncooperative states or for direct,

one-entity funding, even before we expand the definition. We need to allow, maybe even encourage,

direct giving, but be most careful not to revert to a societal, non-CP system in the process.

“We do not need to add more pieces to the pie – just enlarge the pie.”–Steve Loggins

I am loathe to re-hash old arguments of mine (so I will direct you to the poat where I expressed

them), but I will add two comments. The GCR will have to start with you and me and blue-haired

grandma in the pew. If we do not give, whether societally, cooperatively, with the state, around the

state, whatever, if we do not give, we will *never* fund the entities that we have commissioned to

aid us in the Great Commission. We must “enlarge the pie” by emptying our wallets.

Secondly, we must encourage each church to feel free to autonomously give *without* encouraging them

to undercut cooperative efforts. In consonance with the apostle Paul, set aside contributions for

the good of the church [http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+15:26&version=NIV], but

also give to support common efforts.

[http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Corinthians%209:1-7&version=NIV]

The End of the Matter

What are our options?

1) We can refuse the recommendation:
This would preserve us from what many perceive is a watering-down (or at least, a putting on the

back burner) of CP emphasis. However, it does not fix the underlying problem of poor stewardship at

every level in our Convention. *I then tacitly reject this option.*

2) We can not define what “Great Commission Giving” and allow each church (association, state)

determine it for themselves:
This would leave wide open the door to anemic CP giving and pseudo-societalism that Loggins (and I)

fear. *I actively oppose this option!*

3) We can create a series of offerings, akin to Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong, to supplement and

emphasize direct entity giving:
This option has been proposed at one level by some, including Bart Barber

[http://praisegodbarebones.blogspot.com/2008/09/southern-baptist-convention-im-pc.html] (and myself

[https://adubhigg.wordpress.com/2009/01/03/the-seminaries-are-in-troublesbc-people-to-the-rescue/]).

This is a reasonable prima facia option, but would be a scheduling and promotion nightmare. Consider

the following yearly schedule:
JAN–promote Southern Baptist History emphasis
FEB–Historical Archives Offering
MAR–promote North American missions
APR–Annie Armstrong Easter Offering
MAY–promote state and national coordination?
JUN–ExComm Offering (during Convention?!)
JUL–promote our professors and future pastors
AUG–J.P. Boyce Seminaries Offering
SEP–promote standing firm on social issues
OCT–ERLC Offering
NOV–promote International missions
DEC–Lottie Moon Easter Offering
…and we think giving to the two mission offerings is already too low! This model also has the

genetic problem of societal giving: pew burnout. And for thsoe of us who are passionate about

supporting the work of the Convention, will we have to rob from Annie to give to the seminary? *I

must reject this option.*

4) We can move the CP distribution to the state…or preferably to the local church:
Each body of believers, under our polity, has the right to direct their gifts to the needs of their

community and their various inter-church associations. The role of promotion by the states and the

entities would be directed from the Executive Committee’s subcommittee on Convention budget to the

budget committees of the churches. collection of funds would then be at each endpoint: state office

and entity offices. However freeing and patently Baptist this seems, this option also runs the risk

of societal giving itself with the overwhelming flood of pleas and the need for expanded back

offices to produce and distribute those pleas. *I oppose this option as well.*

5) We can define giving in narrow terms and promote CP as the best of all modes:
The best option, in my opinion, is to create a two-tier system of giving. Money given through the CP

route of state-to-national would remain in place. A new category, “directed giving”, wold be created

to encompass all giving not through CP: Annie and Lottie offerings and direct entity contributions.

The two categories would be combined for a bottom-line “Great Commission giving”, that would replace

CP giving as the (for better or worse) standard for Convention support (i.e. in our discussions

about candidates for trustee or officer positions).
To give the designation “teeth”, a consitutional amendment to modify Article III, section 2

[http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/legal/constitution.asp] to read:

2. One (1) additional messenger from each such church for every two hundred and fifty (250) members;

or for each $250.00 paid to the work of the Convention *through the Cooperative Program* during the

fiscal year preceding the annual meeting*; or for each $500.00 paid to the work of the Convention

through directed giving during the fiscal year preceding the annual meeting*.

This addition would privilege CP giving over directed giving, while also encouraging directed giving

as legitimate for churches who desires to cut one or more participants out of their cooperation. (I

know this is a somewhat anti-cooperative action, but I think it helps more than hurts. I am open for

discussion and better ways of proceeding.)

Finally, giving to non-national, non-state efforts, such as church mission trips, would be excluded

from consideration. This is due to the fact that a church might give $2500 to a team of three people

to go to Africa (like my own church is doing this year) and under a broad/unqualified “Great

Commission giving” definition, they would be able to maximize their allotment of Convention

messengers (see Article III [http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/legal/constitution.asp]). In essence, we

could all go to the Convention, fully enabled by the present status quo to vote on Convention

matters, and not actually fund anything that the Convention does. We need a “narrow” definition that

still allows for support-with-dissent,but prevents us from bringing to reality the fear of Loggins

and others (myself included) of a bankrupt, yet fully “supported” Convention. *I encourage support

for this option.

Floyd v. Floyd: Error or admission?

November 19, 2009

Q.1: Kevin Kerr (pastor of First Baptist Church in Machesney Park, 2009 IBSA president) “asked about the CP commitment of churches represented on the task force which average less than 6 percent.”

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?

What’s so wrong with increased seminary funding?

October 28, 2009

Having read Gerald Harris’ op-ed at Baptist Press, I have only one comment…why you all hating on the seminaries?

Dr. Harris lists Myth No. 1 about the GCRTF as “The goal of (particular members of) the Task Force to get more money to the nations is only a smoke screen to get more money to the seminaries.” Admittedly, I am a bit biased, being a seminary student, but what is the rationale for not wanting to provide for the best education for the most students of our Southern Baptist churches?

Point 1: We as SBC want to reach the world for Christ…but we don’t want to prepare new ministers to do that?

Harris also cites Axiom IX of the GCR Declaration, “We believe that North American church planting, pioneer missions around the globe, and theological education are three priorities around which most Southern Baptists will unite.” as the potential reason for this myth’s spread.

More irritating to me, however, is Daniel Akin’s own response to the myth: “The GCR is not and has never been about getting more money to the seminaries.  It has always been about international missions and North American church planting.  It is about getting the gospel to the unreached and under-served peoples of the nations and in our nation. ” How do we expect to have missionaries to send internationally and domestically, or even to our own churches to keep them mission-sending centers without theological education? Before we can tackle the bastions of Satan’s strongholds, we must have soldier-pastors who are more than adequately prepared!

Point 2: We want to fully fund our entities…as long as their names end in “Board”??

We already know that the seminaries are in trouble…the good news is that austerity measures in place at some of the six sisters have stemmed the tide of loss. Not to draw needed attention away, but why is that when mission boards run short in times of need, we offer to have special offerings for them, yet when seminaries run dry, we don’t? Perhaps it is the same reason why we prominently display missions during Christmas (Lottie Moon: international) and Easter (Annie Armstrong: domestic), but hide away SBC Seminaries Sunday and don’thave an offering for their support. Compounding this error is the requirement that missionaries have some seminary experience…”you need it, but we won’t fund it.”

Point 3: We as SBC started the Conservative Resurgence because of the drift of the seminaries…but now we just want to let them wither for lack of funds??

I have argued before about the need for a reworking of the funding formulae and to that end, I made two motions at this past Convention.  I remain speechless at how many seminary students struggle to make ends meet and pay for their schooling (EVEN with the SBC subsidy!) and yet our leadership is adamant that we are as fully funded as we need to be. It seems strange to make those assertions when some seminaries have put off necessary improvements or remodeling until money comes available and some seminary boards of trustees must pay out of their own pockets to build necessary facilities! Need I say any more?….

Convention Countdown: Day -3

June 16, 2009

Well, it’s almost convention time and that means (at least this year) a preview of some issues that I think will be important this year…if only because I am making motions concerning them!

Issue #3: seminaries and the future of the SBC

I’m not trying to be selfish here (although helping the seminaries does help me, a seminary student!), but there are definite reasons why we might want to focus on this area in the near (read: immediate) future:

  1. Demographic decline in young members and baptisms
  2. Purported loss of young leadership to attrition
  3. Tensions between the young innovators and the older status quo seekers

Some solutions/responses:

1. This year, seminarians in attendance at this year’s Convention will be recognized during the first Executive Committee report:

This is the text from an email sent out by John Kyle, on behalf of the Executive Committee:

During the upcoming meeting of the SBC in Louisville, as part of our Executive Committee report, we are planning to recognize seminary students who are in attendance. The focus of our report this year is the fruit of our cooperative efforts and people like you who are following God’s call to serve as pastors, church planters, missionaries, and other ministry leaders, are part of this fruit. Part 1 of our report is Tuesday morning and I would like to invite you to participate. We have reserved a block on seats at the front of the room on the right side of the stage. During our report, we’re going to ask that all the seminary students in that section rise, come forward, and stand in front of the platform. We will then extend an invitation to pastors, and other messengers, to come and surround the students. Following a song, we will have a special time of prayer asking God to bless you, empower you, and make you fruitful as you serve Him. Following the prayer you can return to your seat. It is our hope that this will be a meaningful time for you and for those in attendance.I’m hoping we can have over 100 students participate therefore, if you know of other students who will be at the convention, please forward this invitation.

I am very appreciative of the effort to recognize the future of the Convention…and I hope that the Midwestern cohort (my group) will at least be second-highest in attendance. Perhaps we should continue this practice even when the Convention is not in the city of a major seminary! Perhaps we should subsidize (not ExComm, but willing pastors and churches) the travel expenses of the seminary students in your area to go to Convention each year.

2. Efforts (on my own part) to normalize seminary allocations:

  • revival of an effort to have a seminary offering (inspired by this post)
  • a motion to count where seminary students come from, so that the states can know how to help supplement the seminary budgets or direct their scholarship funds
  • a motion to include extension site FTE’s into the allocation formula: this both smooths out inter-campus transitions like the one occuring at Golden Gate and catastrophic loss of campus facilities such as New Orleans in 2004. Also it modernizes the funding method to fit the more regional, less centralized seminary structure of the modern day.

I hope that others will give their input and ideas at the Convention this year. If you will be there, I’ll present these two motions at the afternoon and evening business sessions on Tuesday…be there to see me on the Jumbotron!

Time to get rowdy!

May 27, 2009

In the words of my good friend (and part of this year’s Hebrew crew) Kelly, “It’s time to get rowdy!” I try not to pour out the vitriol when I blog…but some issues require the sharpened tongue and the rapid-fire rebuke.

Let me begin by saying that I have the utmost respect for those who allow themselves to be nominated to denominational offices and trusteeships. Their sacrifice of time (and I am certain, money) to do this service for the Southern Baptist Convention is admirable and should be encouraged.

However, occasionally, well-meaning and passionate statements necessitate the response of those with less degree of tunnel vision about the issues. Such a scenario has arisen in recent days concerning the funding of the SBC entities and their inability to properly do their work.

I am fairly certain that this conversation has arisen as a watershed  from the recently released Great Commission Resurgence statement. I have read the statement and I agree in principle with all of its articles. Particularly, Article IX (A Commitment to a More Effective Convention Structure) has motivated us (The SBC, particularly her blog-friendly participants) to discuss what is effective and what is dead-weight in the 21st century world and church.

Therein lies the rub: The trustee leaders of  two oldest entities in the SBC have gone and made some rather ill-advised and half-thought-out proposals to remedy the lack of funds at the national level. The North American Mission Board chairman, Tim Patterson, has proposed merging the two mission boards to eliminate the “antiquated”, “duplicate”, and “overly bureaucratic and bloated” aspects of the organizations. The International Mission Board chairman, Paul Chitwood, has proposed changing the Cooperative Program formula “to ensure that the majority of money given to get the Gospel to the nations no longer gets held back in our own nation.”

Now both of these ideas on the surface are admirable. Rev. Patterson is simply asking for us to do what will eventually be needed: to take a very hard and very counter-traditional look at what each Southern Baptist ministry does and produces for the money we give to it. Rev. Chitwood is simply asking for the most money to go to the greatest need: to the lost.

However, both ideas are wrongly oriented. Both men miss the point (although Rev. Chitwood alludes to it): the problem is not the redundancy of the system (as is) nor the CP formula…at least not at the national level. THE PROBLEM IS THE STATE CONVENTIONS!

There is redundancy and deadwood in the system…at the state level. There is poor allocation of monies received…at the state level. There is a breakdown in how the Cooperative Program is supposed to function…at the state level.

Let us review the history of the CP: In 1925, the Cooperative Program was adopted with the guiding principles of:

1) equal division of church offerings between church needs and the Cooperative Program (SBC Annual, 1976, p.54)

2) equal division of funds between state and national conventions (see principle #4)

3) equal division of national money between domestic and international missions (SBC Annual, 1983, pp. 42-47)

4) funds given seen as a “sacred trust” which the states “were not to touch… for their own use” (principle #11)

I think that it is fairly clear that point #3 is being upheld…since every year, 50% of national CP money goes to the IMB. It is also clear that the other points are not being upheld!

After all the fighting over whether 10% CP giving was too high a threshold to require for participating churches, it turns out we aren’t even close to the original vision of the 1925 statement! When 36.2% (not 50%) of monies collected by the state conventions is allocated to go to the national convention, it is clear that we have a problem at the second level of trust! If we then consider the 13 state conventions that make up the core of the SBC (78.5% of combined Baptist budgets, 81.6 % of national CP budget, over 80% of SBC messengers, 83.1% of SBC members), the statistics are slightly better with 37.6% of the combined budgets going to the national convention.

In light of this, it does not surprise me that many state convention leaders were upset with the GCR statement. Admittedly, the plan has a glaring absence of “clear details, proposed plans or potential consequences.” But, with all due respect to Rev. Barrentine, it is a statement, not a plan of attack! Or is it…perhaps the state leaders fear the blue-haired ladies and the young whipper-snappers of the convention actually considering whether all those state ministries are necessary. Border states have little to fear…it is the core states, with breakaway retirement home systems, wayward colleges and universities, and convention centers that seize valuable assets who need to consider what fat they might be willing to cut to promote world evangelization.

In summary, let me add my own solution to the possibilities being bandied about: why not fulfill the 1925 vision as much as possible. Let’s start with the state conventions SERIOUSLY considering what ministries are indeed 20th century holdovers and how they can dispose, rework, or combine them for greater efficiency. Let’s start demanding that 50% of CP money go to the national convention NOW – not in 10-20 years when our 1% increment gets us there! An excellent idea (that needs to be more bold and go farther) is David Hankin’s Cooperative Program Advance Plan – coming from a state convention director nonetheless! Let’s start by increasing our churchs’ giving to Cooperative Program, as well as national and state missions offerings…and cut our own fat before we demand the pound of flesh from the conventions!

Let’s get started…it’s times to get rowdy, people!

*editorial note: Now I’m going to make some brownies…hopefully I’ll feel better after that! I relish any comments concerning this idea or the others highlighted, especially from anyone I have potentially offended…

The seminaries are in trouble…SBC people to the rescue!

January 3, 2009

Southwestern announces budget cutbacks (12/17/2008)

Southern Seminary cuts budget by $1.7M (12/18/2008)

Bart Barber suggested a few months ago the need for a seminary offering to help meet budget needs. Having read the above stories, I must agree!

First, the gory details — let me (humbly) suggest the following plan:

1) Move SBC Seminiaries Sunday (presently first Sunday in April) to the second Sunday in August.

2) Adopt a new offering, named J.P. Boyce Seminaries Offering.

3) Distribute the money as follows:
100% collected goes to seminaries (through Executive Committee), allocated based on the percentage of seminary students from that state at a certain seminary

e.g. – If 55 South Carolina students go to Southeastern, 15 go to Southern and Southwestern each, 10 go to New Orleans, 5 go to Midwestern, then:
55% of SC offering goes to Southeastern
15% goes to Southern and Southwestern each
10% goes to New Orleans
5% goes to Midwestern

4) Direct that the collected funds be used for:
a) further subsidy of seminary student tuition, explicitly not for use in baccalaureate programs, if tuition increases are considered
b) faculty benefits and cost-of-living increases, if surplus allows

Now for the reasons why:
1) The logical time to take up an offering for the seminaries is the Sunday dedicated to them. Yet if you look at the SBC denominational calendar for the next few years, you find a striking conflict between SBC Seminaries Sunday and Easter:

SBC Seminaries Sunday vs. Easter
April 5, 2009 — April 12, 2009
the same day in 2010: April 4
April 3, 2011 — April 24, 2011
April 1, 2012 — April 8, 2012
April 7, 2013 — March 31, 2013

Thus for the next five years, SBC seminaries are overshadowed by the more important remembrance of Christ’s resurrection, and in SBC life, the accompanying missions giving to North American causes.

2) Why J.P. Boyce? He best exemplifies the pulse in SBC life for the seminaries, just as Lottie Moon is to international missions and Annie Armstrong to North American missions. He best exemplifies our support for pastoral education since he is (one of) the first to push for the creation of a seminary.

3) Why distribute the funds based on each state’s representation at each SBC seminary? To overcome a flaw in the distribution formula of Cooperative Program money.

CP money is distributed “to the seminaries on the basis of the number of credit hours students earn on each campus. Only a small percentage of the off-campus hours taken at extension centers are included in the distribution formula.” (NOBTS Report, 2008 SBC Annual, p. 205) As a result, the larger seminaries get more money than the smaller seminaries, so that each seminary is supposed to gets the same per capita money for its students. However, this in practice does not work. The SBC Funding Study Committee “noted that the SBC’s two largest seminaries (SWBTS and SBTS) have significant endowments and are less cash constrained than the three smaller seminaries (SEBTS, GGBTS, and MWBTS).” (Sixth and Final Report of the SBC Funding Study Committee to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, dated February 19, 2008, 2008 SBC Annual, p. 146). If (as seen in the articles at the top of this post) even the largest of the six are cash-strapped, how much more so those who are the smallest? As for the hoped-for per capita equality, it falls short so that “two of the six seminaries [GGBTS and NOBTS] annually have a significant number of credit hours taught but not funded by the Cooperative Program.” (NOBTS Report, 2008 SBC Annual, p. 205, brackets mine)

Each state convention should support the seminaries to which they send their students and from which (supposedly) they receive their pastors and ministers. Under this distribution plan, the frontier states support their local seminary and not (only) the largest one, which might be quite distant from them (geographically and culturally).

4) The purpose of this offering is not to fill the coffers of the seminaries’ endowments or building funds, but to help seminary students, many if not all who live hand-to-mouth during that time, and the seminary professors, who sacrifice much in order to dedicate themselves to the preparation of the next generation of missionaries, teachers, pastors, and denominational leaders. Also a complaint raised by the SBC Funding Study Committee was the perception of CP funds being re-directed to undergraduate programs and not post-baccalaureate education.

Please feel free to comment/complain/correct my thought on this. I hope to propose this as a motion at the 2009 convention, but hope that those of you who see the need for this will go ahead and collect money for the need now.