Archive for the ‘seminaries’ Category

My take on the 2011 SBC messenger count…if anyone still cares!

July 19, 2011

…with some homage to Jonathon Woodyard

In 2011, 4852 messengers from 2158 churches showed up in Phoenix to condut the business of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Many have ballyhooed this drop-off in attendance….

Others surely have ignored it….

I have belatedly added my two cents, with a spin: some math-modeling! As an amateur statistician-nerd, I used a 5-year exponential moving average (EMA) to smooth the data over the presidential election cycles…

and noticed how dramatic the 2011 drop-off actually was!

For the first year since 2002*, the messenger count came in not only the lowest in years, but UNDER the moving average!

Which, at least in the field of stock-market economics (I said I was a statisician-nerd!) is a negative signal–as in RUN FOR THE HILLS!

To answer why I used an EMA to study the messenger trend, I wish to only add one additional interesting observation:

“VMAs are used to observe volume changes over time and have a smoothing effect on short-term volume spikes…. Significant volume surges often precede trend reversals on the indexes.” (Technical Analysis, Studies, Indicators: VMA (Volume Moving Averages), accessed 7/19/2011)

So I projected what should have been the expected messenger count using the EMA trend. Without getting too deep into the math, let me just say that 2011 should have seen 9,800 – 11,200 people.

Well, why didn’t we?

Again, skipping over the math, let look at two other messenger count misses:

2006 – noted for the election of Frank Page – should have seen 14,000…or about 2400 MORE people. Why did we?

  1. the previous year was Nashville, which may have artificially inflated the numbers
  2. the election was thought to have been a done deal for Ronnie Floyd…and it was until the nomination speeches!

2009 – noted for the sesquicentennial celebration of SBTS – should have seen 7,700..or about 1000 FEWER people. Why did we?

  1. the previous year was Indianapolis, which was deflated with being outside the core 14 SBC states AND the flooding in southern Indiana
  2. the mother seminary’s anniversary drew a fawning crowd…of which I was one.

From this brief study, I propose two reasons for the down interest in the Annual Meeting:

  1. The previous year was Orlando…vacation plus controversy equals blowout attendance!
  2. There was nothing to rush to after the GCR report.

My prediction…to be returned to in one year and possibly revised!

2012 will see an higher-than-expected attendance for three reasons:

  1. New Orleans is both a vacation spot and the home of a beloved seminary
  2. the presidential election will be contentious, I fear
  3. backlash from both upstarts and denominational loyalists to change/preserve things at the next opportunity

I would love to hear thoughts on the trend or the 2012 prediction….

++++++++++

Note

* = the data used is very limited, given the availability of messenger and church numbers at past years’ Conventions online – as a good amateur statistician, I will advise that these statements should be reviewed when more data is available…and I’m going to the denominational library as soon as I find one!

SBC-Phoenix 2011: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Part Drei

June 22, 2011

First, please see the sunny side: Part Uno – The Good

Then, check out the dark side: Part Deux – The Bad

Now, let’s take a stroll on the weird side – Part Drei – The Ugly

1. The Thom Rainer/Channing Kilgore fiasco: I cite this blog only because it presents the video of said interaction easily…I have my own take on the Q/A throwdown. Rev. Kilgore, for those who read the Book of Reports and keep track of who made which motion when, seems to be somewhat of a thorn in the side of Dr. Rainer and LifeWay. While Dr. Rainer could have been a bit more tactful and kind, it was apparent that Rev. Kilgore’s repeated assaults against the staff, trustees, and leadership of LifeWay because they choose to sell books that people are buying (Shock of the century, for many of you, I’m sure!) wer, in the words of parliamentary form, “not well taken”. Rev. Kilgore was also the proposer of (best case scenario) misguided, (worst case scenario) anti-ethnic motion during the EC report, Part 1. Must we endure such inanity from messengers? No wonder many, both in and outside the church, today see us as irrelevant and disconnected from reality!

Advice: Please have your questions pre-read by another member of your church or someone you trust…and move on even if you don’t like their answer!

2. The Al Mohler/Peter Lumpkins fiasco: As he promised, Peter Lumpkins confronted Dr. Mohler during the Southern Seminary Q/A…and got his lunch handed to him, in my opinion. While the question needed to be answered…and it is curious that Dr. Mohler didn’t clarify his statements when the instigating article in the Christian Science Monitor appeared…it is unfortunate that we will now discuss and parse the words of both men instead of responding to the cultural issue they’re discussing.

Advice: Denominational leaders should be forthcoming and transparent (M.Burg will know that this is true of other seminary presidents we know). Ask questions…but also work toward solution and reconciliation, both with those discussed and those disagreed with.

3. The split floor on immigration policy: First, the action of the Resolutions Committee to touch this third-rail issue in a border state is curious…and that we had to go to a vote about the phrasing BEFORE they offered to amend it shows a degree of recalcitrance that should be avoided in the future. Second, I am glad that the emotional exchanges about this issue did not make front-page news or a prominent slot in the cable news cycle…probably only because Casey Anthony gets more viewers/readers! Finally, I have grown tired of the need at the Annual Meetings for us to “express our opinion” on every secular political issue…I realize that we are one of the largest and most conservative voting blocs, but can’t the ERLC make these recommendations without us taking up an afternoon to fight about them?

Honorable Mention: The growing tension between theological factions in the SBC9Marks and Baptist21, for all of the good that they do to empower and connect younger pastors, will end up being the new “union elites”, just like Baptist Identity and Founders…will we survive our compartmentalization to actually accomplish the Greats (Commission, Commandment, or Glory of God)?

 

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.

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?….

Time to nominate those worthy church faithful

September 24, 2009

Les Puryear has done an excellent job analyzing the upcoming trustee openings for the 2010 cycle of the Southern Baptist Convention. Feel free to check out his analysis of the slanted representation that each entity has and also take the intiative to nominate one (or more) worthy SMALL CHURCH leaders for these open offices. I have assembled the data below for your ease of reading and consideration.

Executive Committee

Alabama – 2
Arkansas – 1
Georgia – 1
Kentucky – 1
Texas – 1

NAMB

Alabama– 1
Florida – 1
Maryland/Delaware – 1
Mississippi – 1
Texas – 1

IMB

Arkansas – 1
Georgia – 1
Kentucky – 1
New Mexico – 1
Oklahoma – 1
Texas – 2

Guidestone

Arkansas – 1
Georgia – 1
Maryland/Delaware – 1
Missouri – 1
Nevada – 1
Oklahoma – 1
South Carolina – 1
Tennessee – 1

LifeWay

Alabama– 1
South Carolina – 1
Texas – 1

Southern Seminary

D. C. – 1
Ohio – 1
Kentucky – 1

Southwestern Seminary

Alabama – 1
Illinois – 1
New York – 1
Texas – 1

New Orleans Seminary

South Carolina – 1
Kansas-Nebraska – 1

Southeastern Seminary

Northwest – 1
Virginia – 2

Midwestern  Seminary

Florida – 1
Missouri – 1
North Carolina – 1

Golden Gate Seminary

California – 2
New York – 1
Virginia – 1

Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

D.C. – 1
Illinois – 1
Kentucky – 1
Mississippi – 1
New York – 1
Virginia – 1

Totals for each state:

Alabama – 5
Arkansas – 3
California – 2
D. C.  – 2
Florida  – 2
Georgia  – 3
Illinois  – 2
Kentucky – 4
Kansas-Nebraska – 1
Maryland/Delaware – 2
Mississippi – 2
Missouri – 2
Nevada – 1
New Mexico – 1
New York – 3
North Carolina – 1
Northwest – 1
Ohio – 1
Oklahoma – 2
South Carolina – 3
Tennessee – 1
Texas – 6
Virginia – 4

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!

Reflections on the “Generational Issues and the SBC”

May 21, 2009

I recently watched the “Generational Issues and the SBC” Panel Q&A conducted at Southeastern Seminary and found it to be most helpful for my own thinking about the future and the present of the SBC. I will treat the four speakers alphabetically and have included the approximate starting times (according the media player at the website) of the comments I quote.

Daniel Akin: (website)

“Bottom line: if you do that [violating a signed covenant],… your issue is integrity. Basically, you’re a liar, basically you’re dishonest, basically you are disqualified for ministry…. If you give your word to do something, then keep your word.” (63:00)

How appropriate in a day when we have a young man who chose:

  1. to attend a fundamentalist school
  2. to violate the covenant of that school to take his girlfriend to the prom

…and yet wants to whine and complain about their treatment (expulsion for violating the covenant he chose to sign and violate) of him!

“I am not a fundamentalist. I am an evangelical who affirms the fundamentals.” (16:15)

I have always found Dr. Akin to be a unfiying voice in the Convention in recent years. Yet again, I would like to thank him for encouraging me to move forward with a resolution to the 2007 Convention on soteriology.

Nathan Finn: (contributor at Between the Times)

“If your Calvinism precludes you from cooperating with non-Calvinists, then you would probably be happier somewhere else. But if your Calvinism is not the primary issue for you, but maybe an important issue, but you’re willing to work with other evangelical Baptist Christians who disagree with you on the doctrines of grace, then the Southern Baptist Convention is a great place to be.” (46:00)

I appreciate your emphasis on cooperation over Calvinism. I hope that others will agree to share a unified front against the powers of Satan and not let the friendly fire of theological discussions to weaken our ranks!

JD Greear: (blog)

“Good parachurchism…exists to assist the local church in her ministry…. Bad parachurchism tries to take local ministry from the local church,…thus separating it from the context God intended to move forward…. The Southern Baptist Convention was conceived in good parachurchism and over time, many parts of it have devolved into bad parachurchism.” (18:00)

I am glad that he has made a statement, recently reinforced by the Great Commission Resurgence statement (of which he is a signatory), that the Convention may need to be tweaked to be more effective. I’m sorry, state and national entities, but the years of programmatic and redundant ministry have passed. Just as we as a denomination need to trim our personal fat, we may need to reconsider if, for instance, each state convention really needs their own retirement homes system or not.

Greear later states: Take the lead (in doing ministry) and take what you’re doing to the institutions. See how fast they get onboard and those that don’t, “will probably get left behind.” (16:45)

David Nelson: (SEBTS article)

“I don’t think the major issue facing the Southern Baptist Convention is intergenerational. I think there are two issues. I think that there are competing visions for the Convention…. I think that we don’t all agree about what the gospel is. Those are two pretty big issues that divide us.” (22:30)

Nelson goes on to describe them:

Two visions:
1) those that enjoyed the CR and would like for things to be just like it was when the CR occurred:

  • separatist stance: “Baptists have the way to do things”
  • “Christian” subculture that isn’t and distance us from those we are trying to reach with the gospel

2) more ecumenical, willing to work with like-minded groups that are not Southern Baptist

  • focused on cultural transformation or engagement
  • interested in breaking out of the subcultures we have created

Two views of the gospel
“pray a prayer and get a better life” vs. “no life apart from Christ and maybe a life of suffering in this age”

Personally, I am in the second category on both terms (and I’m pretty sure the Bible is too!). I hope that the years ahead for the SBC will be a second Resurgence and not a second Baptist Civil War. I may blog on this issue in the coming weeks, depending on the ruling of my church’s elders about my plans.

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.