Archive for the ‘Southern Baptist Convention’ Category

Controversy: Can Baptists still tolerate sacrifice?

August 19, 2011

After that somewhat intentionally vague and provocative title, let me narrow in on the subject at hand:

“A New Bedford (MA) barbershop has been closed after city officials found evidence of ritualistic animal sacrifice at the site. [The owner] disputes the claim, saying…that his religious freedoms have been violated.”  (link)

With a nod to Mark at HereIBlog, let me open the floor (which means comment…respectfully!):

Where does the boundary between defense of religious liberty end and toleration for a loose ecumenism begin?

I will reserve my opinion until a few others have stated their own case….

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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)?

 

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

June 21, 2011

For those who like to see the sunny side, please check out the first post: Part Uno – The Good

Part Deux: The Bad

1. The decline of Wiley Drake: Anyone who was at the business sessions (or watched them over the internet) realizes that Rev. Drake has finally jumped the shark. I overheard many who found his comment, that the recent death of his wife has reduced his number of motions for this year, crass and shameful. I also experienced personally the awkwardness of his rebuke of a unheard messenger trying to silence him during one of his (many) speechs.

Advice: exit stage right!

2. The food service in the area: Now let me start with that the food itself was excellent, BUT…I and two friends actually waited several minutes at a restaurant across from the Convention center before the server crossed the nearly-empty room to attend to us. This happened not once, but at least THREE times, resulting in us seriously contemplating walking out on the check…which was also slow in coming!

Advice: bring a box lunch or order online ahead of time!

3. The heat: Phoenix hit a record high (At least I hope 110 is a record!) while we were there. Luckily, I planned ahead and regularly drank a whole bottle of water during each session (that’s a half-gallon a day, not including any beverages at meals!) I suspect that this may be a factor for this year’s low attendance….

Upside: no nose bleeds (I was warned about them before going)

Downside: have you ever been to public bathrooms at a convention…exactly!

Advice: Could we have a sprinkler set-up near the children’s area…for the adults?

(Dis)Honorable Mention: The anti-GCR “cranky old men” meeting: The whole notion of the motion was out of place to begin with. Then having Tweedle-Loudmouth and Tweedle-Crazy headlining it didn’t help their credibility. The low attendance (22) with no real support from the elites (saw only two and they stayed conspicuously off to the side) means that it is more of a whine-fest. Now that I have stated my allegiance thereof, let me comment briefly on the desire expressed in said meeting of “taking back the Convention”: admirable given their straw-man opponent, but never going to happen with their vanguard as such. Guess I’ll go back to Plan O…for Outlive the Gray-heads!

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

June 20, 2011

I’ll try to post my thoughts over the next week about the recent Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention which I attended.

HT: M.Burgett for asking for such posts on my Facebook!

Part Uno: The Good

1. The location: The Convention Center was right off the light rail system of Phoenix, making it very convenient (and green!) to get to from far-flung hotels.

2. Frank Page and the ExCom report: Dr. Page’s speech was thrilling and encouraging. Several were wondering what side he would take amid the denominational tensions (more on that later). I was glad that he took neither…or at least the side of unity/cooperation/non-fighting. I was also very encouraged by the adoption of the Affirmation of Unity and Cooperation.  

View here: Video archive, look for “Executive Committee report, part 1” especially.

3. The chance to make new friends: I was at a meeting Monday evening and met a couple from South Carolina…we talked for a few minutes afterward, then went to dinner together and talk for a few more hours! This is the kind of instant kinship we need more of in the SBC!

Having hit (some) of the high points, we’ll descend to the level of disappointment with our next installment…Feel free to add other good points or comment!

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.