Reflections on the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Initial Report : Part #4

Component #4: “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 move the ministry assignments of Cooperative Program promotion and stewardship education from the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention and return them to being the work of each state convention since they are located closer to our churches. Our call is for the state conventions to reassume their primary role in the promotion of the Cooperative Program and stewardship education, while asking the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to support these efforts with enthusiasm and a convention-wide perspective.”

 The task force believes the primary responsibility of education and promotion of the Cooperative Program among  local churches should be given to the individual state conventions. Since 1997, Cooperative Program education and promotion has been the responsibility of the SBC Executive Committee. Dr. Floyd, task force chairman states, We envision that a consortium can be created by these state convention leaders that involves the President and CEO of the Executive Committee and together they can plan and execute an annual strategy that will promote the Cooperative Program to our churches as well as challenge our churches in biblical stewardship.” In its infancy, Cooperative Program education and promotion was the responsibility of the Executive Committee.

 I don’t really have a problem with this component. I personally feel that the each local SBC church needs ongoing education as to how Cooperative Program funds are distributed. Churches also need new and varied ways to promote the Cooperative Program. I believe the state conventions are in the best position to fill this important assignment.

 

 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.”

 I am 100% opposed to this component of the report. The task force desires to create a new category of giving entitled “Great Commission Giving”. The goal of this designation is to celebrate what every church is doing to fulfill the Great Commission by recognizing their CP gifts and their designated giving to other SBC, state, and associational causes. In a supplemental article, Dr. Floyd writes, “there was a need to ask Southern Baptists to celebrate with our churches the Great Commission Giving that is given through the Cooperative Program which is our priority, but also to celebrate with our churches those gifts they felt led to designate to the causes of the Southern Baptist Convention, a state convention, or a local association. When our churches give to offerings like Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, and state-related missions offerings, the Gospel is being advanced. Therefore, our convention should celebrate with our churches what God is leading them to do.”  

Dr. Floyd states that this new category of giving is not designed with traditional CP giving. He states, We are reaffirming the definition of the Cooperative Program that was adopted by the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention. We believe the Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists’ unified plan of giving through which cooperating Southern Baptist churches give a percentile of their undesignated receipts in support of their respective state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries.” I believe this too. One area of possible confusion, at least to me, is the inclusion of Cooperative Program gifts in this new Great Commission Giving. I am fearful that a competition will naturally arise between these two giving designations.

 The Cooperative Program is a unified effort. This means that a portion of church’s offerings through the CP reach all the various ministries and missions across the state and SBC. This collective work enables all agencies, commissions, and boards to be funded and carry out the work they have been called to do. My question is this: How does including designated monetary gifts to the local association, state convention, and SBC causes, not given through the Cooperative Program channel, reaffirm the Cooperative Program as the primary plan of giving for the SBC? Hopefully this example will explain further.

 First Church gives 5% to the CP totaling $15,000, $2,000,000 to a church plant in New York City, $10,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and $8,000 to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. Under the new designation, their Great Commission Giving would total $2,033,000.

 Second Church gives 11% to the CP totaling $29,500, $3,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and $2,800 to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. Under the new designation, their Great Commission Giving would be $35,300. Who do you think will be celebrated? I am not opposed to church planting, nor am I opposed to individual churches supporting specific missions and ministries. Although First Church gave over two million dollars, only $15,000 went to the collective efforts of the state and SBC.  I am concerned that an atmosphere of “look at how much we gave” will overtake the foundational principle that “we can do more together than we can do alone”. The Cooperative Program  fuels us doing more together.

Personally, I believe that if this component comes to pass, there will be an abandonment and erosion of the CP as we know it years down the road. Although not intentional, when two classifications of giving are offered, one will fall by the wayside. The CP is the SBC at its best. Any effort, intentional or unintentional, to shift the focus off of collective funding of missions and ministries will would unravel the very fabric that holds our unified missions efforts together.

 

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