Meanwhile, Cooperative Program in a deep slide...

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Meanwhile, Cooperative Program in a deep slide...

Postby William Thornton » Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:56 am

Everyone acknowledges that the support by churches of the Cooperative Program has been slowly, slowly declining for decades, if not in total dollars then most notably and significantly in the percentage of undesignated receipts given by churches to the CP.

Economic times have this escalating - actual CP gifts are declining precipitously.

CP down 2.78%; off '09 budget by 1.85%

Those are fairly small percentages - less than 3% from last year, less than 2% off last year's budget; however, the dollars they represent are not small: about $3.8 million YTD less than same period last year.

It is no longer debatable that on the Great Commission Resurgence, which now has over 3,000 signers, discussion is now dominated by the single article in that document, Article IX, the one that deals with denominational bloat, bureaucracy, efficiency and structure.

We are all for revival and the Lordship of Christ. No pronouncement by SBC leaders can bring revival or establish the Lordship of Christ over even a single individual, but leaders can start rolling the ball towards a more effective convention structure.

Starving the CP beast may be the quickest way to force changes.
My stray thoughts on SBC stuff may be found at my blog, SBC Plodder
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Re: Meanwhile, Cooperative Program in a deep slide...

Postby Tim Dahl » Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:39 am

William Thornton wrote:
Starving the CP beast may be the quickest way to force changes.

Of that I fully agree. Organizations are like organisms, in that they will do almost anything to survive. Start to starve them, and they will start doing back flips. They will cut left and right, similar to any trapped animal willing to chew through an appendage to save their lives. The only problem may come with those that are doing the cutting. Many great things may be lost, and some horrible things may be kept. People will get hurt, and to some extent the CP will hurt even more for a temporary period of time as people don't give in a passive-aggressive attempt at control. But, if true, positive reform is made, then hopefully God will bless.

Tim L. Dahl
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Re: Meanwhile, Cooperative Program in a deep slide...

Postby Gary » Wed Jun 03, 2009 1:16 pm

This really is a complex issue. I'll just hit highlights.

The Southern Baptist Convention is more Medusa than anything. It is certainly not a single entity. Because of the way it exists (not hierarchical like the Methodists as an example), it is not even truly organic in the incarnation of today.

Loosely, the Executive Board sets budgets based upon the recommendations of the various Boards and Agencies. The EC has NO real power over these other organisms. IMB Trustees are legally and ethically responsible for everything done by the IMB. Same with NASB. Ditto the seminaries. One cannot sue the SBC, the EC, or the IMB (or any other entity for that matter) over getting fired, bad-mounted, or short-sheeted at Southeastern Seminary. As an aside, Southwestern Seminary is incorporated as a 501c3 "Church".

Now, the EC *may* recommend a reduced budget for a board or agency, but does anyone remember it happening?

Note that I have not mentioned any elected officer of the SBC to this point. Not mentioned because they are nothing but a figure-head. You may very well cite Chapter and Verse that this is NOT the case, but it has been stated on various threads that the Boards and Agencies just wait out the term of the existing President regardless of what is said from That Chair, and go on as they were.

So, at the end of this process, we aren't really in 'the same boat', since the only single 'boat' that we have is the Cooperative Program, which the EC has little power these days to control. The 'Captains', as it were, are the Trustees and Seminary Presidents, and even that waffles back and forth depending on who is where, and how beholding they are to the other. (Do you think Dilday had control, or was it the Board when he was at SWBTS? How about now?)

This is VERY OVERSIMPLIFIED, but will stand up to quite a bit of abuse before it falls.

At least the various State conventions have an Executive Officer who can be blamed, sued, or fired.

We should feel 'good' that giving has only fallen 2-3 percent. The United Way here in Norman reported that its giving is down 28% over last year.

Do I have a solution? No. But young Pastors are leading their congregations to their own local "solutions" right now. The CP is being replaced by directed giving.

The SBC is still changing. Yep. Growing? Not so much.

Gary Skaggs, Norman, OK
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." - Galileo Galilei
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