The Dismantling of the Southern Baptist Convention: Part 2

Bryant Wright, SBC President on the Cooperative Program:

We just want a majority of our denominational missions funding to go to international missions. We would prefer to give all our denominational missions support through the Cooperative Program. But until there is a radical reprioritization of Cooperative Program, we feel led to continue doing what we are doing. Source

Whether a church gives to denominational missions through the Cooperative Program, which is our primary means of missions giving, or gives directly through the Executive Committee in Nashville for our seminaries and NAMB and the IMB, or gives directly to the IMB, we are all participating in global missions together. Source

As I’ve stated before, my conviction is that at least 50 percent of CP dollars given by the local churches needs to end up on the international mission field. Obviously, this would mean a radical reprioritization of the CP funds, with fewer dollars staying in the states. My proposal was that each state strive to keep no more than 25-30 percent. But the actual amount would be the states’ decisions, with the goal being 50 percent of their CP funds getting to the international mission field. Source.

More to come.

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10 Responses to The Dismantling of the Southern Baptist Convention: Part 2

  1. Frank Gantz says:

    Great quotes from Wright. He is right on target. I don’t understand why this is thought of as a bad thing.

  2. Howell Scott says:

    Frank,

    Who is the “we” that Wright is talking about. As I shared with you on my blog yesterday, 70% of SB pastors think that current allocations between the State Conventions and the SBC are right ( http://www.westernrecorder.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=320:the-cooperative-program&catid=54:baptists&Itemid=169) It seems that the “we” is a minority of pastors/churches in the SBC, most (not all) of whom are larger churches that comprise less than 5% of the SBC. I would not say that Wright’s thoughts are “bad.” I would simply say that I would strongly disagree with this vision for our Convention as it would in effect decimate the State Conventions and local Associations. I think time will tell whether this radical redefinition of the SBC is truly a majority position, but I tend to doubt it. God bless,

    Howell

    • Frank Gantz says:

      Howell, in looking at the supporting article you cited, I noticed a couple of things:

      1. Something in the numbers is askew.
      If 7 out of 10 think the state/SBC split is appropriate and 29% thinks more should go to SBC and 11% thinks more should stay in state, then we have 110%.

      2. This is data from 2007. I am fairly confident that a new survey would produce different results.

      3. Almost all of the data cited is from pastors. Folks in the pews may not have the same mindset.

      I have been a part of 3 churches over the past couple of years. In all 3 churches, the consensus would be to send more out of state.

      I think the discussion is healthy and I do appreciate you providing the opportunity.

      • Howell Scott says:

        Frank,

        Here is a more complete article linking to the survey itself (http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=168669) I thought that the survey was more recent, but you are correct that it was done in late 2007 and spilling over into 2008.

        1. I’m a pastor and before that an attorney and a political science major in college. I’m no math whiz. I barely passed a statistics class in college, so I don’t know why the numbers don’t add up.

        2. I have no doubt that a new survey would produce different results, although I do not believe that we would see a dramatic shift in the numbers. In fact, with all the talk of CP and Great Commission Giving, we may see even higher numbers supporting the State Conventions and CP.

        3. I think that the people in the pews often, but not always, reflect the pastoral leadership. That perhaps is born out by your comments about the last three churches that you were involved in during the last several years. From looking at your blog (good by the way and probably we would agree much on theology, maybe not as much on methodology), you mention Jimmy Scroggins as one of your pastors. Jimmy and I were contermpories at Southern, although I would say we probably have a different philosophy of ministry. Were you at FBC WPB with Jimmy? What other churches were you at in the last several years that had a consensus about more money going out of state? Were these larger churches and what was their CP giving?

        I don’t ask these questions to say that they were (or are wrong) in their thinking, although I obviously disagree with this philosophy. I’m just curious if these were churches that were “traditionally” supporting CP or were already involved in what has come to be referred to as “Great Commission Giving.” Thanks and God bless,

        Howell

  3. Tom Bryant says:

    I know the idea of 50/50 sounds wonderful, but here in Florida it is the money that FL keeps that deals with Cuba and Haiti. Why do we do this? Because the IMB has given over the ministry there to the state convention.

    Everyone acts like the states are greedy and keeping all the money for whatever reason. But money staying here in FL is not only going to Haiti and Cuba, it is also starting a south florida center that is starting churches among people groups who are coming into FL from all over the world.

    They want control without having to answer to local ass’ns which are about out of business and to cut out the state conventions. Just a variation on a more familiar national statement, “I’m from Nashville/Richmond/wherever and I am here to ‘help’ you. “

  4. Frank Gantz says:

    Howell,

    The 3 churches of which I have been a part are:
    1. Sojourn Church in Louisville – for the sake of disclosure is an Acts 29 church.
    2. Red Bank Baptist Church in Chattanooga – only there for a short while, but a much more traditional church.
    3. FBC, West Palm Beach – recently moved back. Was here when J. Scroggins arrived.

    All 3 of these churches are larger in size.

    I am not on staff. Was an SBC pastor for 15+ years. Now in biz world. I also was at Southern (96-97).

    For the record, when I was a pastor the churches I served all gave at least 10% to CP and we usually tried to increase that percentage. I have actively served in my local associations and with the state convention. I do not want to minimize the work these do. I just think more of the percentage giving needs to get to the foreign mission field and to our cities.

    I understand that this will require some tough decisions. Let me put it this way – if I were on a game show playing for my favorite charity, winnings would go to Lottie Moon and not the CP. I would like to see this emphasis reflected more in the overall plan.

    Again, thanks for the interaction.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Frank,

      Thanks for the continued dialogue. My wife and I were at Southern from Fall 1994 to December 1997 in the M.Div. program. May have crossed paths without knowing it. We may be closer than we realize in terms of missions support and the role of the State Conventions. I think the difficult part for many is the extremely low CP % of churches of some within national leadership and the seemingly radical makeover that some are advocating.

      If you had a Bobby Welch, for instance, who led FBC Daytona Beach to give 15% to CP, advocating for change in how we cooperate together, people might be more receptive. But, when you have leaders like Wright, who advocate what most would see as radical change, dropping CP giving over the last ten years, it will be very hard for him and others like him to have the authority that rank and file Southern Baptists will listen to.

      Let me give you something to ponder in relation to the politics of this in the SBC (and there are politics involved). I don’t know too many people who did not think that our nation’s healthcare system needed to be changed. However, was the radical change that was pushed through Congress, whereby 1/6th of our economy will be controlled by the federal government, the right way to go about making changes? I think many Americans — perhaps most Americans — don’t think so. The same applies in SBC life. Are changes needed in the way we do ministry? Yes. Can we be more effective in carrying out the Great Commission? Absolutely! However, the medicine being prescribed for what ails us may end up killing us instead of making us well. Food for thought. Look forward to continuing the dialogue. God bless,

      Howell

  5. When the CP was designed, the SBC’s foreign and domestic missions plans were about the only way a church could engage in those activities. So the churches cooperated to establish the hierarchy and the infrastructure to carry out those activities.

    Nowadays, there are many churches that can do those things themselves. Are they to be faulted for being good stewards and doing themselves what the smaller churches can do only through the CP?

    • Howell Scott says:

      Bob,

      I wouldn’t fault any church for being “good stewards” of what God has entrusted to them. There are a lot of great, independent-minded churches that are nominally affililiated with the SBC that are having Kingdom impact. However, with or without CP, Southern Baptists have always been about cooperating for missions and ministry. The question becomes, “What does it mean to cooperate?” That question becomes all the more important when choosing a leader of a convention of cooperating churches.

      IMO, hard to inspire others to cooperate in the SBC when you have, in the recent past, led your church to lower its level of cooperation through CP. Of course, if you believe that Great Commission Giving is the way to go, then you will answer the above question differently. God bless,

      Howell

  6. In some ways, giving to the cp is like paying taxes to the government, with guilt rather than guns ensuring the giving stays up. The cp should disperse funds according to the recommendations of local churches rather than as elite “experts” who think they know better how to disperse God’s funds than his churches.

    We gave to the cp for years, a large percentage of our receipts, until we requested and were denied from NAMB funding for a church-approved, elder-qualified man to plant a church. So we funded the man ourselves and the church has been doing well for a decade now. I don’t see rearranging some things as dismantling the SBC. Seems a little melodramatic to me.

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