Track of Cooperative Program Gifts

In yesterday’s post, I made several observations relating to the Baptist Press article on the budget shortfall at the IMB. Due to these shortfalls, there may be delays in some missionaries arriving on the field. One of the observations I made was that I believe it may be necessary to change the percentages of Cooperative Program giving to allow more funds to arrive on the mission field. The Cooperative Program is the Southern Baptist’s unified giving program for funding missions that has been in place since the early 1900’s. The CP is about percentages. The local church designates a percentage of the undesignated receipts to be given to the CP through the state convention. The state convention then designates a percentage (based on messenger vote) to retain in the state and a percentage to forward to the SBC for the mission boards, seminaries, and other entities. It is along these lines of designated percentages that funds make their way to our missionaries.

The South Carolina Baptist Convention retains 59.56% of CP dollars coming from the local church and forwards the other 40.44% to the SBC. It is best to look at this through a real-life example. Let’s say that a church gives $100 to the CP in the state of South Carolina. 59.56% of that $100 stays in the state. This percentage is broken down as follows:

30.4% – South Carolina Baptist Convention Ministries
25.56% – South Carolina Baptist Institutions
2% – Womens Missionary Union
1.6% – Church Staff Retirement Plan

40.44% of that $100 is forwarded to the SBC. The SBC has a consistent distribution plan for all CP dollars that are collected from the state conventions. Here is that plan:

50% – International Mission Board
22.79% – North American Mission Board
22.16% – Six Seminaries
3.4% – SBC Operating Budget
1.65% – Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission

The local church’s gift of $100 at the SBC level amounts to $40.44. The gifts, at their final dispersed amount, look like this: International Mission Board ($20.22), North American Mission Board ($9.21), Six Seminaries ($8.96), SBC Operating Budget ($1.37), Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission (.66).

In my opinion, here in where the answer rests. It is not so much as the amount the church itself sends, it has to do with the amount that the state keeps. Now, I understand that each state, including our state of South Carolina, have ministries and programs the leadership deem important and worthy of Cooperative Program dollars. When it comes to the funding of missionaries where their only source of support comes from the local church, through the state convention, can’t we do better? Again, in my opinion, I believe we will see a recommendation come from the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force in June of 2010 relating to this area of CP percentages. Listed below is what other state conventions retain/send to the SBC as a matter of comparison.

Florida Baptist Convention  (60%,40%)
Georgia Baptist Convention  (58.6%, 41.2%)
Alabama Baptist Convention  (58%,42%)
Mississippi Baptist Convention (66%,34%)
Hawaii Baptist Convention  (69.4%, 30.6%) 
Tennessee Baptist Convention (58%, 42%)
California Baptist Convention (72.1%, 27.9%)

Women Pastors and the SBC

It appears that the Georgia Baptist Convention will lose one of their churches. The Associated Baptist Press is reporting this possible separation between the GBC and FBC Decatur, GA. You can read the article here. The reason for this separation is the result of FBC calling a woman as the senior pastor in 2007. There are many opinions as to whether or not this separation should happen. Each SBC church is autonomous and is able to establish their own rules and call the staff members they choose. On the other hand, churches choose to cooperate with their state conventions and SBC because they share like-minded purposes and share the statement of belief known as the Baptist Faith and Message.

I believe heart of the matter here is not whether or not FBC Decatur had the right to call a female pastor. They certainly had that right. The issue is whether or not the GBC can consider FBC Decatur out of fellowship based on the long held and recently affirmed position that scripture teaches that the role of the pastor should be filled by men.  I would expect the GBC, as well as the Florida Baptist Convention, of which I am the pastor of a cooperating church, to consider an SBC that calls a female as pastor to be out of fellowship.

 In the article above, a hint is given as to how all of this came about. FBC Decatur has ties with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The CBF is a baptist denomination that broke away from the SBC because of their liberal views on issues such as this one.

 What would this separation mean for FBC Decatur? In the event the GBC considered Decatur out of fellowship, they would lose all voting rights at the annual meetings. The separation would also mean the GBC would no longer accept contributions on behalf of FBC Decatur. This is not a matter of just votes and money, it goes much deeper than that. It is a matter of biblical principle. State conventions are not out for just the money the church can contribute. There comes a time when a stand for the Bible must be made, regardless of the outcome.