There has been much discussion in the past year about the place of the Cooperative Program in the life of the local church and the recipient SBC institutions. Some want to do away with the CP and go to designated giving completely, others want to reduce the percentages received by state conventions, and others want to adjust the allocations of the Cooperative Program. All of this talk has been presnted as being in the interest of getting more money to IMB to fund more missionaries.
In all of the discussion about the Cooperative Program, it seems to me that one of the most obvious suggestions for adjusting CP and getting more money to IMB has been overlooked. The SBC has taken the position that its institutions that receive income from its customers will not receive supplemental funding from CP. This is the reason that Lifeway and Guidestone do not receive CP funding. They generate their own income. This makes a lot of sense to me and I think we ought to adjust our CP allocations to support those SBC entities that do not have the capability to become self-sustaining.
Currently, the CP allocations are as follows:
The entities that are part of the CP allocations that do not have the ability to be self-sustaining are the missions boards, the library and archives, ERLC, and the Executive Committee. In order for those to continue to exist, supplemental funding from CP will be necessary.
But what about our seminaries? Is it possible that they could be self-sustaining entities? They certainly receive income outside of CP through tuition, dorm rentals, book sales, alumni endowments, etc. Outside of our mission boards, seminaries take up the highest percentage of CP allocations (21.92%), which equates to $43,801,003 (2010-2011 budget).
How many IMB missionaries could be funded with $43.8M? Assuming it costs IMB $50K per missionary per year, then $43.8M would provide for 876 additonal IMB missionaries. With the reallocation of the seminaries funding to IMB, that would raise the percentage of IMB allocation from 50% to 71.92%. Then, our total CP allocations for missions would increase from 72.79% to 94.71%.
I don’t think we should remove the seminaries from the CP immediately. Perhaps a five-year time frame which reduces the CP percentages to the seminaries could be undertaken. That way they would have time to adjust their budgets and marketing strategies accordingly.
SBC seminaries have the capability to produce enough income to be self-sustaining entities like Lifeway and Guidestone. With the implementation of this proposal, the majority of CP funds will be going to SBC missions. What do you think?