Pick A Number and Fix the Cooperative Program, Part Three

In Part One, I explained that despite its worthy intentions, the One Percent Challenge does not satisfy the test of a specific and measurable goal, advocating that Southern Baptists pick a number high enough to meet our ministry obligations and promote it so our churches might measure themselves against it and determine if they are paying their fair share. I also dismissed the notion that setting such a true target (rather than a minor directional change) would in any way violate the autonomy of any local church.

In Part Two, I separated Cooperative Program goals from leadership requirements and exposed the fallacy of pitting missions dollars against missions percentages.

In Part Three, I take issue with recently failed experiments in which the direct appeals by our agencies, combined with the bypassed support channels of our churches, have stripped our missions funding of its trademark cooperation. Any approach utilizing Church Budget Funding to support missions must remain available to churches of all sizes if we are truly to cooperate. Churches valuing creativity and individuality may not realize it, but by marching to the beat of a different drummer, they are undermining our otherwise unified approach to the financial support of missions.

Unofficial Definition of SBC Loyalty

In Alabama Baptists: Southern Baptists in the Heart of Dixie, Wayne Flynt summarizes with great clarity the golden age of Southern Baptist cooperation:

By the 1950s the Cooperative Program, executive committee, and Sunday School Board unofficially defined what it meant to be a loyal Southern Baptist: set aside at least 10 percent of church contributions to the CP (and nothing to non-SBC causes); obtain pastors who had graduated from SBC seminaries; purchase all support materials and literature from the Sunday School Board.  (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1998, p. 400.)

No messenger passed a resolution. No editor wrote an article. No blogger posted a blog. It was simply understood—an unwritten rule. But today we live in a world where the unwritten rules of yesteryear have all been reduced to writing and clearly spelled out:

  • Hair Dryer—Do not use while taking a shower.
  • Electric Rotary Tool—Not intended for use as a dental drill.
  • Hair Coloring—Do not use as an ice cream topping.
  • Christmas Lights—For indoor or outdoor use only.
  • Superman Costume—Wearing garment does not enable you to fly.
  • Rowenta Iron—Do not iron clothes on body.

Today, it is sadly necessary for us to write, “Cooperative Programin 2010 by convention action we affirmed this as our most effective missions funding channel. We further note that church donations under ten percent produce funding levels insufficient to fulfill our mutual Great Commission goals.” Our Platinum Rule for Cooperation has been forgotten, ignored or taken for granted.

Somewhere along the way, discontented with their share of Cooperative Program support, a Southern Baptist agency made their first direct appeal to a church for some type of special funding. As long as such gifts were given through designated funds over and above the unified church budget, no real threat to the Cooperative Program existed. However, at some point, churches began to use undesignated budget funds to bankroll private mission projects—volunteer trips, parachurch organization support and other approaches diverting mission dollars away from the Cooperative Program.

This reasoning makes perfect sense when viewed from the perspective of the local church: “This is still missions. In fact, we are personally involved to a much greater degree. Rather than just writing a check and throwing money at the Great Commission, we are active participants in its fulfillment.” However, from the viewpoint of the entire  denomination, Southern Baptists are forced by this philosophy to abort a significant measure of our missionary sending plans.

Many of our smaller churches, financially incapable of such private initiatives, continue to give their ten percent, only to realize that our larger churches, having diverted much of their missions budgets away from the Cooperative Program, are now giving only five percent or less. Will the larger churches hear our cry for help? “Yes, you are doing missions, and we are certainly grateful. But in many cases your program is simply not the Cooperative Program but the Independent Program. Since we cannot afford to join you in the Independent Program, will you rejoin us in supporting the very Cooperative Program responsible for fueling the greatest missionary sending strategy in history?”

Changing the Channel

If on one side of the coin we find an appeal by agencies for special societal funding, then on the other side of the coin we find churches circumventing our traditional Cooperative Program channels. This is unseemly business—the picking and choosing between associations, statewide missions work, seminaries, national and international missions boards and other denominational causes and agencies. All of these ministries are doing great work and are worthy of our support. When we fight like brothers and sisters over the last brownie in the pan, it makes us look petty, greedy and childish. The answer is simply to bake more brownies.

Frankly, I’m not buying the narrative many put forth—that our churches are giving less because they have carefully studied the funding formulas and are voting with their dollars to starve our state conventions in order to better support our national one. (Even if this did describe the situation accurately—it’s not working at all. Richmond has missionaries ready to go and the money diverted from our state conventions is not coming close to getting the job done.) However, I don’t believe this theory, which might admittedly explain a fraction of the decrease, is sufficient to explain our entire 4.4% shortfall. I think most churches have simply dropped their percentages over a period of time as they have gradually lost their sense of “Ten Percent CP Loyalty and Responsibility.” I believe that, more than anything else, we have simply and gradually lost our Ten Percent CP Culture. I believe this can be returned—with a healthy and balanced sense of appreciation for our ministries at every single level—church, association, state and national. Most Southern Baptists are law abiding citizens who support our government at city, county, state and federal levels—not dreaming of cutting out any realm of oversight. Ours is not really a denomination of anarchists and non-conformists. We just sometimes grow lethargic and need to be awakened from our slumber.

Recently, I was reminded by a wise and experienced Southern Baptist that there was a time, not that long ago, when any gifts received directly by national or international missions organizations were automatically returned to the states so as to preserve our denominationally approved Cooperative Program funding formula. Cooperation was so highly valued in those days that churches whose independent actions threatened it were properly chastened. How far we have fallen from such clearly defined expectations.

In conclusion, the mistakes of the past few years can be reversed as support for the Cooperative Program returns. God can lead us to fund the Great Commission with a CPR—a Cooperative Program Revival. I have great faith not only in the power of God but also in the willingness of Southern Baptists to do the right thing and pay their fair share. The same convention that decreased CP by 4.4 points can increase CP by 4.4 points. But if we are going to get with the program, we must have the courage and moral fortitude to define that which fairness entails. There is a number out there, a percentage of total SBC undesignated church offerings, that will pay all the bills for every entity at every level. It may not be magic, but it will be a trick—a very simple one. It all starts with a clearly defined goal for each church. The magic begins when we simply “pick a number” and show it to every single Southern Baptist congregation, telling them, “Hit this number and we thrive—fail to hit it and we suffer.” Then we leave the matter between them and God. They still may not respond, but at least they will clearly understand what the CP needs to operate effectively.


  1. William Thornton says

    Rick, I would address other specifics but first, you have said here and in previous articles: “…church donations under ten percent produce funding levels insufficient to fulfill our mutual Great Commission goals” and that our present level of CP giving is insufficient to pay the bills.

    Questions on this part of your piece:

    1. What bills are going unpaid?

    2. The only specific I recall your mentioning is the people ready to be sent by IMB but whose departure is delayed by funding needs. Your proposal would absolutely fix this, but with only 20 cents on a dollar being applied to this critical need. If for example $5m is needed to clear these personnel and get them where they need to be serving you need $25m in new CP giving. The same amount would be generated by a roughly 3% increase in Lottie Moon giving. How does your proposal make sense if your only *specified* goal is clearing the delayed IMB personnel?

    3. If 10% were instantly given, the CP would have about an additional half-billion dollars in its flow with about $300m staying in the states. Is there good reason to roughly double state convention budgets?

    • volfan007 says


      I can tell you that most State Conventions need more money for the ministries they are trying to accomplish. And, the SBC needs more money for missionaries, Church starts in the USA, and to increase the pay of a Seminary Professor. They are vastly underpaid.

      My Church gives 20% to the CP. We also give 3% to our local Association. We give to Lottie, Annie, and a host of other offerings, as well. And, I’m all for supporting missions and the ministries of our state conventions and the SBC.


          • William Thornton says

            After your big pay raise…

            No, if you had an additional $500m you could distribute by Volfan fiat around the SBC at any level. How would you do,it?

          • volfan007 says

            1. A big, hot tub at the parsonage.

            2. $3.5 million to pay off the new building that we’re fixin’ to build here at my Church.

            3. a new church bus for my church.

            4. $25 mil to the TN Baptist Children’s Homes.

            5. $200 million to the IMB to support missionaries on the field.

            6. $25 mil to Southwestern, New Orleans, and Mid America in Memphis…each….to help raise the Profs salary at each school.

            7. $200 mil to NAMB….$150 mil for great, TV commercials to be aired nationwide, and $50 mil to start Churches.

            8. The rest to be given to Mission Dignity at Guidestone.


            PS. You asked me how would I spend it! :)

          • William Thornton says

            You wouldn’t give any to your state convention?

            Let me rephrase it. If the CP suddenly had an additional $500m, how would you like to see it allocated among stare and national SBC entities?

          • volfan007 says

            If the TBC got an extra $500 million, then I’d like to see it split 50% to the TBC ministries, and 50% to the SBC.


          • William Thornton says

            TBC gets $250m and IMB gets $125m? Year after year after year? I appreciate the response but would not share those priorities.

      • says

        Your stock just went up with me my brother.

        I have spoken here several times about the need to fix some things, however I firmly support CP and Assoc giving. Your CP % is most commendable.

  2. Dale Pugh says

    I wonder just how much of the CP decrease can simply be attributed to local church narcicissm? You know the attitude: “We have needs here at home that we can’t pay for. Why are we sending more of our money somewhere else?” It shows a tremendous missional (and biblical) shortsightedness, but it is present nonetheless. Such an attitude goes along with the “why are we sending people 1000 miles away to do missions when we have needs in our own neighborhood” statements we hear people make. The problem is that many people making those statements wouldn’t go across the street to minister to a neighbor either, thus they invalidate their logic by their own lack of action. The same thing is happening at the Covention-wide level, it seems.

    • Tarheel says

      Possibly…but I think in many cases it is more about wanting to do hands on missions…I say all the time to our mission team and to our church body that it is one thing “give to misisons” and that is good and biblical….but it is also essential to DO missions…if we epect that of our people shouldn’t we lead the body to do it as well?

      Of course this is coming from one who thinks that a church should give 10% to the CP, set and meet good LMCO and AAEO goals AND do “in house” Missions activity and spending on top of that.

      I hear that stupid excuse you mentioned above too, Dale – I just ignore them. I have even gotten to the point that I say to them something like “I am ignoring that statement, because I choose to hope that you believe the Bible and support gospel proclamation more than that statement implies.”

      • Dale Pugh says

        That’s better than my response, Tarheel. I usually say, “You aren’t really that biblically ignorant, are you?”


      • says

        That lame statement has been around for my 50 years and I suspect before then. How to respond? You can’t reason with a mindset like that.

        I also set worthy goals for special offerings. Every church I pastored but one gave in access of 10% to CP and 4-5% for Association. Yet I always seemed to have enough money in the church coffers to do what needed to be done. The church paid the bills in good fashion and paid me much more than I was worth. God will provide. That is the plain simple fact.

        • dr. james willingham says

          Fifty years, my eye. that old idea has been around since the beginning of missions.

  3. volfan007 says

    The way things are going, right now, in the SBC, I’d say that we’re headed back to a societal giving plan. Maybe the ship can be turned? but, it really seems to me that we’re heading away from the CP, and into more societal giving, and on Churches spending more money on doing mission projects, themselves.


    • William Thornton says

      We never left the societal plan. Clearly, we are trending more in that direction for many reasons both positive and negative. I’m looking for a reason not to do so. Rick asks for a return to the SBC of the 50s, 60s, and 70s in CP giving but hasn’t outlined any vision for doing so, nor any priorities for a mammoth funding increase.

      We are never far, it seems, from a ‘blame the churches’ mode when we discuss giving but that is the one approach that no associational, state, or SBC level leader can afford to take. The local church is king (under Jesus, of course) in the SBC. Our churches and pastors appreciate a challenge but detest and rebel against being told their giving is sub par, below acceptable levels, less than their fair share, or narcissistic.

      Blame and complain about church CP giving is a losing approach, which is why Frank Page’s One Percent plan is a good one. It doesn’t seek to trash any church’s present giving level but rather asks for an increase. I think the estimable Rick is a bit more judgmental about local church giving decisions that he realizes.

      • volfan007 says


        My Church already gives 20% to the CP. We can’t give anymore. We will not be increasing our giving by 1 %, or any other percentage.

      • says

        “we never left the societal plan”

        Would you mind elaborating a little please.

        “I am looking for reasons not to do so”

        What would make you change your mind?

        I am honestly not trying to “bait” you, but you may be on to something here and perhaps a little more information would help in my understanding.

    • dr. james willingham says

      Volfan: You are quiet right about moving to a more societal kind of giving, but the ministers and churches are now aware that that is what they are doing. And let me add here, for those folks wanting to do away with the local associations, that the state conventions can also be bypassed. Soon, very soon, we will disassemble the whole structure of the Southern Baptist Convention, and, in conjunction with the lack of jobs for our people, we will implode like a building being demolished. Over night 10,000 missionaries will find themselves without structured support; they will be reduced to fund raising unless they have made to the payrolls of a few big churches. All of the structures of schools, hospitals, rescue missions, church plantings, small churches needing help, will go away, and the government along with others who wish our demise will move in on us with a vengeance. Our only hope is a Third Great Awakening.

  4. Andy says

    Ok, I’ve decided…I’m adding William Thornton to my short list of people I will agree with before I even read what they wrote…William Thornton & Mike Leake, whatever they say is right from now on… :-)

    • Tarheel says

      I kinda agree with that sentiment except I have to say the more I actually read what William Thornton writes the more I tend to think…hey! that dude has a point.

      Disclaimer: I mean “dude” in the most positive and cyber affectionate way possible. :-)

  5. William Thornton says

    I was asked above about societal giving. Here is my response and a question for Rick who decried “picking and chosing” among SBC, state and associational entities.

    1. We’ve always had a dual system, cooperative and societal. IMB and NAMB never stopped their annual appeals to the churches. Every state I’ve served in has had a state mission offering for which they appeal directly to the churches. Lately associations have an associational mission type offering on top of their regular appeal for inclusion in church budgets. The seminaries all have development personnel who, while they don’t make direct appeals to churches, certainly appeal to individuals, alumni and others.

    2. I hear state personnel complain of other, non-cooperative direct appeals to churches. I judge most of this to be a result of states believing that these cost them CP revenue. Maybe so. Churches do respond to IMB’s partnership opportunities. Churches do join third party mission trip organizers. I don’t see IMB as doing much other than responding to the requests and needs of churches. At least when IMB puts out a list of volunteer opportunities they have vetted these to make sure they fit the needs and strategy of field personnel.

    I ask the brethren/sistren here, if a church approaches the IMB with an offer to fund a critical overseas need, should IMB reject the offer? Or, would it be serving churches to respond to the need? Mind you, the IMB did not solicit this but is responding to it. Those who respond that IMB should reject the gift have turned this business upside where churches are to serve the Cooperative Program rather than to do the work of ministry. Sacred cow comes to mind.

    3. I would appreciate Rick being less general and more specific about what he objects to in regard to churches ‘picking and choosing’ and in regard to an alleged increase in societal funding. If he is just venting. Fine. If he is making a case, let’s see some evidence.

    4. I would ask Rick if he is aware that he is arguing for a return to a higher level of cooperation while in another thread, simultaneously, arguing for quota SBC hiring? Does this not seem to be arguing against yourself?

    BTW, BP has a story featuring an Alabama pastor (not Rick) who is calling for 10% CP funding. Coincidence? Conspiracy? One notes that the pastor promoted this 10% CP giving by appealing to only two CP benefits, (1) seminary tuition reductions, and (2) overseas missions. There is no mention of any state programs, staff, buildings or other uses of the majority of CP funds. This approach is intentional, I think, because it sells better.

    • Tarheel says


      In the example you give… I say the IMB should say “thank you” have a secretary write a nice acknowledgment letter while the bookkeeper is depositing the money and preparing disbursement checks for the project!

      • Tarheel says

        But I still think churches should strive for a common percentage – I like 10% – and state conventions should 50/50 split CP contributions.

        • Rick Patrick says

          In this one specific area, Tarheel and I actually agree. Churches giving 10% through CP will get the job done. A 50/50 split with state conventions is altogether reasonable. This has worked before and it can work again.

          William may not like the priorities, but even he admits that it will fund those missionaries stuck in Richmond. We are only 4.4% short, not an impossible hurdle to overcome. These numbers will also adequately fund our seminaries and our state convention ministries. Supporting the latter strongly will (1) cut down on all the infighting, and (2) help us reach America, since the funds we give through our state conventions are, after all, being used to reach American states.

          • Tarheel says

            Oh rick….I think there’s more areas of agreement between us – in fact, as I’ve said, reasonable, great commission, gospel ing Southern Baptists have more in commonly held convictions than we disagree.

          • andy says

            I should say I’m not trying to be pessimistic, just realistic…i don’t see anything forthcoming that will reverse the current trend. Does anyone see something I’m missing?

    • Rick Patrick says

      3. The specific objection, per the OP, is that the independent program necessarily excludes the smaller church who can’t, for example, adopt a whole country, plant an orphanage or start a seminary overseas. We were successful when everyone “got with the program.” We can be successful again if we will do that again.

      4. I do not see any incongruity between the promotion of a specific CP giving goal (such as 10%) and the desire for SBC Leadership (whether hired as employees or elected as volunteers) to represent, in proper measure, the actual values and beliefs of the people in the pews who are paying the bills. In fact, I believe the goals work together quite well. If met, giving levels would strong, and the people in the pews would not feel disenfranchised and alienated from our leadership.

      Also, here is the BP article I think you might be referencing, and the answer to your question is—coincidence. I do not know the Pastor, although I agree with his appeal. Here in Alabama, with an excellent state convention providing us with great service, such sentiments are not at all strange or unusual. It’s a pretty commonly held viewpoint.

    • says

      By strict definition perhaps you have a point. However, to say we have a societal approach is a bit of a stretch. Prior to 1919 we had the societal approach. In 1919 the various entities banded together with a 5 year 75 million dollar goal to be divided among the groups. In 1925 the Cp resulted.

      While it is true we have approved “special offerings” and they have become big bucks, they are still “special offerings” not societal giving.

      • William Thornton says

        D.L., I don’t know how to define ‘societal’ giving other than by its accepted definition. IMB, NAMB, the state conventions (and some others – children’s homes, hospitals, etc) make direct appeals to churches. They never stopped doing this; thus, we have always had a dual cooperative/societal funding methodology.

        I don’t see how you can redefine the direct funding appeals of these as not being societal giving just because you call them ‘special’ offerings.

        • says

          William T
          One more statement then I will let this go. Re. your last paragraph especially the word “you”….I have never heard anyone before this call the LMCO a societal appeal, it has always been referred to as a “special offering”.

          BTW how was the fishing?

  6. says

    You said “10% CP loyalty and responsibility”

    BINGO As a young pastor I wore the SBC label with pride, as I was taught. Things changed and we changed. The question is can we re-work our structure in such a way that we can again gain pride and loyalty. Distrust is rampant and I fear it will destroy us. I fear we are doing too little too late. How I pray I am wrong.

  7. William Thornton says

    Rick, what other societal appeals are you concerned about?

    On one level, I like the elevation of the CP to its mid-twentieth century status, a comforting return to a simpler time. On a second level, doubling CP giving under the present allocation scheme is utter folly, would reflect poorly considered priorities.

    Here are two poll questions for LifeWay Research:

    1. “Do you believe that churches should return to giving 10% to the Cooperative Program from their undesignated offering plate dollars?”

    2. “Do you believe that state convention budgets should be doubled?”

    The former would find a good reception, I think since we are comforted by any thought of returning to a simpler time, but the latter would not find a good reception. Rick’s proposal would do both.

    Would it be a good idea for the legacy state conventions of the deep south to have twice as much money to spend? No, I think not. What you would see is what we have seen – buildings would be built, scads of additional staff would be hired, there would be a spending spree like you’ve never seen.

    A centralized state convention with a building filled with specialized staff, most with administrative assistants is likely not the structure that is conducive for the Great Commission.

    As long as the CP is promoted as reaching the world or keeping seminary tuition down, it is seen favorably. If the truth gets out, the CP is a funding plan that mostly puts money into legacy state conventions in areas where there are thousands of SBC churches, then opinion shifts.

    State conventions believe, literally, that it is their CP birthright to keep a base of 50% of every CP dollar and an additional percentage for being responsible for promoting the CP; hence, just about every state convention keeps over 60% of every CP dollar.

    These percentages will never see much change. Some states will make incremental reductions but never get to a true 50/50 split (because they believe the additional percentage for promotion is not a part of the calculation; the GBC has been saying for years that they share every CP dollar equally with national SBC entities). In time, I suspect that we will see some additional states have a second state convention created specifically over budgetary issues. These will likely not be traditional administrative structures with centralized staff, directors, and programs but rather funding distribution mechanisms.

    Absent anything like that, churches understand that it is easier just to shift some of their CP dollars to direct giving than to create a critical mass of votes to significantly change these legacy state structures. Thus, the reduction in CP percentages and an increase in Lottie, Annie, and other directed funding.

    There may be a route where I would join Rick in favoring a 10% CP level but he is going to have to outline a vision of what would be different about the CP allocation scheme to get me on board. Thus far, he has only spoken of ‘fair share,’ of having enough funds to do what will ‘get the job done,’ and what ‘has worked before.’ These do not constitute vision but rather returning to the status quo ante.

    [Rick, what about your arguing for greater cooperation and doubling the CP at the same time you argue for quota SBC hiring? Do you think these work against each other?]

    • Tarheel says

      How about all churches give an agreed upon percentage, again I like 10%, which would as you say almost double all monies currently coming in.

      All state conventions go to 55/45 or even 60/40 split favoring SBC.

      This way states get more than thier getting now (so they don’t “go broke” lol) but reastablishes a more appropiate emphasis on CP.

        • Tarheel says

          We could say that 50/50 is the standard – but encourage the 55/45 would be the encouragement.

          If you enlarge the pie, the amount of cash increases even if percentages of state kept money decreases.

          But the goal in my opinion is to greatly increase the money Currently going to CP. This will do that.

          • William Thornton says

            That’s always been the argument, if the whole pie is enlarged then everyone gets more. The failure in that, and it has failed to motivate greater CP giving, is that is presumes that the funding priorities that were present in 1925, or 1955, or 1985 are the same as they are today.

            Does anyone think that there is a priority in Georgia, or Alabama, or North Carolina, states with thousands and thousands of Gospel believing, Bible preaching SBC churches, should have claim to the lion’s share of new funding in the face of people groups with millions and millions which have not one evangelical church, tiny numbers of Christians, and very little Gospel witness?

            What do you think would happen if the NC convention had double the dollars to spend?

            The CP is a great system which I support. It is not a perfect system, however, and the greatest flaw is that once funding formulas are set, existing constituencies will almost certainly prevent any significant changes. What do you think the GCR was about? What was the result?

      • Tarheel says

        I think we also need to end SBC money laundering back to states.

        Church gives 5%. = $100

        60% to state $60
        40% to SBC $40

        New church gives 10% = $200

        50% to state. $100
        50% to SBC $100


        45% to state $90
        55% to SBC $110


        40% to state $80
        60% to SBC $120

        So even at a 60/40 split the state gets more money.

        I think this would “please the people” and therefore make the CP an easier sell.

        • William Thornton says

          Bit of a hefty presumption…that churches see anything that would cause them to double CP giving….but it’s nice to speculate. Costs no one anything.

          Again, you presume the allocations are a given. There is no possibility of state conventions moving below 50% because they believe that is their CP birthright. One should never underestimate institutional inertia. So as far as allocation changes go, we’re only talking about moving a few percentage points.

          I don’t think that minor changes will motivate anyone to do differently than they are doing now. Neither do I think that there is any indication that a clamor for a 10% standard is a motivator. It’s been tried. The moderates did that in the early years of the CR and denominational folks and others usually dust off the silly argument that churches should “tithe” to the CP.

          In a broader sense, I think societal and church changes are such that even substantial changes to CP allocations will move the needle much. We like to have choices and the CP doesn’t allow for any choice.

          • Tarheel says

            I don’t think it’s a tithe….I agree that notion is silly.

            I also think that if more money is directed to the Mission boards/missionaries as I’ve suggested that the church CP contributions could more easily be increased. It’s an easier sell.

            Our church people accepts it better and I have more conscience freedom to push it. This is why LMCO and AAEO do so well in so many churches, even in ones decreasing CP…people love to hear that the money is going to mission work…and by mission work they connect more with NAMB and IMB.

  8. William Thornton says

    As an aside, NAMB has changed the system of the kickback funding. It is tied to the ratio of existing SBC churches to total population.

    For those who doubt that existing organizations will do just about anything, including ignoring obvious facts, so as to protect their funding stream, I’d point you to the high levels of rancor that came when NAMB announced changes. There is little sense for my state, which has $25m to spend in state and thousands of churches, to expect NAMB to take funding away from other areas to funds things here.

    • Tarheel says

      I remember. Lol.

      But that’s calmed because it works just fine despite all the handwringing.

      Big changes are needed absent them everyone loses.

      Ask those “birthrighters” about Medicare spending and they’d sing a different tune, I bet. Entitlement mentality is not just a govt. problem folks.

  9. Tarheel says

    Remember a lower percentage of. Bigger pie is not a cut. In no scenario I’ve suggested do states risk cuts….

    Of course its all contingent on churches increasing percentage giving.

    Has there ever been a survey asking churches why they’ve lowered CP giving? I’d expect churches/pastors would answer if asked. not to browbeat but just to have info.

    Does the exec. Committee even ask a church what’s up when they decrease?

    Seems to me that’d be a reasonable course of action.

    • William Thornton says

      When LifeWay surveys this, they report that pastors are satisfied with the allocations, highly support the CP, etc. I am unaware if anyone has drilled down to find why happy and satisfied pastors cut their CP percentages.

      The GBC did a study of the top 100 CP giving churches in the state to see if there were any particular causes for steep drops in CP giving. The announced results were that it was just the economy. I asked for a copy of the study but was told it was a private internal document. I know of no reason why this should be so. The doc could have been redacted to remove identifiable data or results.

      I would think that all SBC and state leaders would want to know the causes of CP decline so that they can address them if possible. It is troublesome that the default position of the SBC at most every level is to be secretive and non-transparent.

  10. Tarheel says


    Since we’re all speculating and talking about short changes….

    I hesitate to even type this as my iPad might explode along with a few heads of fellow commenters.

    How about we do a 50/50 split between state and SBC, encourage all churches to give 10% of undesignated receipts to CP…..but….

    End NAMB, envelope Canada into IMB territory, and each state be responsible for reaching and church planting thier own state. States can partner with one another if desired.

    This way CP is clearly split 50/50 between stateside and international missions.

    Of course seminaries and exec expenses would come out of the SBC CP share but that’ll still leave like 92 cents on the CP dollar going to IMB.

    Now, I said it.

    • Tarheel says

      In other words..is NAMB itself duplicative of state conventions?

      Just for discussion, folks.

    • Andy says

      Do you mean 92% of the national 50% going to IMB? correct?

      I don’t think that’s a bad Idea…It seems a lot of NAMB’S work is through the state conventions anyway.

      HOWEVER…to play devil’s advocate…that means that states with a strong SBC presence would have much more money to go toward church planting in their own state, while frontier states with less SBC presence, would not have as many churches, or as much money working to plant churches in those states. Part of Function of NAMB is to allow all those Alabama churches to support some sbc church planting in New York.

      So a 50/50 split without NAMB could actually be seen as working against outreach, just building the big SBC states bigger.

      • William Thornton says

        Better check the math. With a true 50/50 split and adding NAMB’s share to IMB’s you still only have about 35% going to IMB/NAMB. If states had an option about AA, what are the chances they would hijack all or part of it for their own state causes? Pretty high I’d say. And would we be better off if the stronger states acted like little NAMBs each with a strategy to reach some or all of the US? Pretty soon you’d have a joint structure among the strong states to coordinate this…NAMB reinvented.

        The biggest change in institutional SBC life in the last couple of decades has been NAMB’s internal change to empty their Alpharetta HQ and disburse staff and money to where is is needed. This is the one SBC entity in tune with societal changes that move away from multiple layers and centralized structures.

        State conventions OTOH have been busy building new, expensive centralized HQ buildings. If the money was available these would be filled with new staff. Call me a cynic if you wish but it is difficult to underestimate the ability and desire of SBC/SC leaders to create new jobs for pastors who would love to exit the pastorate. The only restraint on this has been the lack of funds.

      • Tarheel says

        Andy, Yes, I mean 92% of the 50% LOL!

        But William is right…my math is wrong. Trust me, my math teachers over the years would not be the least bit shocked! (Actually I just failed to include all the seminary budgets and the other entities into the SBC share.)

        Right now the allocations are as follows…using round numbers.

        Guidestone 1%
        ERLC 2%
        Seminaries 25%
        NAMB 22%
        IMB 50%

        SO my proposals would need to be amended to be 72% of the 50% going to the IMB. LOL

        But remember it is a larger pie if churches increase CP giving to my proposal of 10% of their undesignated receipts.

        As for the smaller more sparsely populated states…perhaps we could have a (gasp) revenue sharing plan based on a fair formula someone smarter than me would need to devise wherein a portion of the money sent to the SBC by the various states is given to these states to help “grow them” like you mentioned.

        We could stabilize what we allocate to the seminaries and entities (no increases for them) and use that money to help those sparsely populated states. Example the seminaries might could keep the same amount of money with a 18% share of the pie instead of the 25% they get now…or ERLC might could do with 1% instead of 2…etc…remember it is a larger pie.

        • Tarheel says

          When I say no increases to seminaries and entities I mean we would lover their percentage so that the actual dollar amount stays the same…then we would use that money to “revenue share”.

          Hey, we said big changes is what we need right? I think this idea meets that standard. LOL.

        • William Thornton says

          1. What happened to the seminaries on the GCR? They successfully protected their slice of the pie. Actually, they are siphoning off more through the under grad programs. Ask your state exec how he likes his colleges having that competition. No chance of reducing the seminary percentages.

          2. NAMB wanted to get control of the kickback funding because even the ‘pioneer’ states took the money and created centralized admin structures with staff. Some states showed little or no effective church growth for years yet still using the funding in the same way. Some Associations were staffed and paid for with little to show for it. Now such positions have church planting requirements. We will see if that works better. In many cases our AA and CP money was thrown at the problem for years, no results required. I trust NAMB to require accountability more than local governance. We have a track record for all this.

          There is some history and a track record for most of these ideas, but I’m all for dropping the status quo.

  11. volfan007 says

    I once had a DOM, who told me that, one day, the local Associations would disappear, or else, the state conventions would disappear. He thought that we didn’t need both. He felt like the local Association could do everything that the state convention could do…and be more of a local ministry.

    Of course, you could say that either the state convention might disappear, or the SBC national entities might disappear…..that maybe we don’t need both, and really the state conventions could do the same things that the SBC does…and the state conventions would be more local.

    I don’t know. For some reason, though, in the past, Baptist people felt the need for local Associations, state conventions, and the SBC.

    What do yall think?


    • says

      I know that even in Missouri (far from a “pioneer” state) our local association is good and I love our DOM…but we’re spread out over 4 counties, one of the poorer areas of the state, and our association doesn’t really have the money to do much (church planting, resource providing, etc.). If we weren’t funneling money to the state through the CP, would we shift some of that to the association? I honestly don’t know.

      On the other hand, the state has more resources to work with in terms of church planting, conferences, collegiate ministry, etc. But very little of that has any direct correlation to what we’re trying to do in our part of the state. In other words, we don’t see our contributions making an impact. When you have state conferences, but half of them are 5 hours away, it’s hard for pastors of churches with little resources to actually get to them.

      On top of that, our state has been involved in a string of lawsuits for well over a decade that a lot of us think are just dumb and anti-1 Corinthians 6. Our previous Executive Director made several antagonistic moves that disfranchised some Missouri Baptists, before being booted from office because of an “inappropriate relationship with a woman who was not his wife.” The current ED seems to be trying to bring some reversal and healing, but the aggravation with the state has some deep roots to overcome

      So in this situation, we can’t really win either way, without some major shifts towards solutions that I’m not sure anyone has yet…

    • William Thornton says

      States traditionally funded colleges, hospitals, children’s homes, and a centralized admin HQ and staff. Hospitals are gone insofar as funding. Children’s homes may well be self sustaining. Colleges…well here in GA
      we are trying to resuscitate one, salvage another, and a third is rocking along OK but do we need all three. I hear there are public and private schools in the state also where average students are scholarshipped through the lottery. Big drain in dollars, not stellar results.

      After those you have aging conference centers whose appeal is limited, student ministers, and the large central staff, building, and admin. We will always have state conventions because institutions protect their budget.

      How much is it needed? Hard to say. Ask GBC pastors if they have noticed much difference since the SC budget and staff had to be cut.

      I like my SC, BTW, and all staff that I know. They just have a tough time convincing churches to give more for the same stuff they’ve been receiving. This is why CP appeals almost always focus on international missions and the like.

    • says

      VolFan007 asked “what do y’all think”
      It is generally true that the smaller the organization the easier it is to administrate, control, keep on track, hold accountable, make timely decision, and change if it gets off track. In addition, the closer one is to the action the more familiar one is with the needs.

      (1) Keep all three, but trim the fat drastically in the state and national entities. Trim personnel, office cost especially.
      (2) Shift more personnel to the associational area. What sense does it make to have a Sunday School guy located in the state building when he is charged with covering the whole state. The state should be strictly an administrative agency with ministry people at associational level.
      (3) Because the association is not working don’t scrap it. change it and make it useful. By putting workers in the associational areas they are closer to the action. In addition if we make associational workers out of state workers we will eliminate the “status seekers” (that was snotty wasn’t it)

  12. Tarheel says


    “If states had an option about AA, what are the chances they would hijack all or part of it for their own state causes?”

    You’re missing the point…without NAMB…it would be for their own causes. Reaching their own state and planting churches within their state…and if they are responsible they can assist neighboring states too! States partnering together and not working against each other with the help of NAMB like they do now.

    I see another hiccup…the states with two conventions. How might we deal with that? Although I will say that according to the allocation chart I looked at a little while ago…the BGAV in Virginia currently on average over the years only forwards less than 15% to the SBC. I imagine they would be VERY unhappy with my suggestion….While the SBCV forwards 50% and in recent years are a 51/49 split favoring the SBC and they would be just fine as they are already only “living” off around 50% of what comes in.

    • William Thornton says

      You propose that the big states keep all the AA money at their option, unless in their largess they send some elsewhere. GA gets rich. Utah sticks their hand out and hopes someone helps. I get this.

      I’m not up on the budgeting of the two VA conventions other than the older one offers churches options in giving. I would like to see state conventions offer churches options in funding that aren’t based on a moderate/conservative division. Options for the percentage of CP funds to be kept in state: the traditional budget, 60%, or 40%, or 20%. No chance of this because SCs will fear the choices of churches.

      I would look on the future for competing state conventions that are more funding distribution mechanisms without legacy institutional components, centralized HQ buildings, and expensive staff. it is easier to gather churches around an affinity for funding ministry that it is to change existing structures and power bases.

      • Tarheel says

        SBCV is a pretty lean machine IMO.

        There is a moderate HQ building outside Richmond, but most staff live in various parts of the state and serve the churches locally. One of their big things is decentralization.

        Again, I am not sure I communicating clearly…Utah (already a multistate convention) would collect 50% of the monies given to CP, they would do an AA offering, and – under my suggestion, they would get an equitable amount from the CP (remember we are not increasing dollar amounts to entities and seminaries – would us that money to fund some sort of fair subsidy back to Utah and other sparsely populated regions.)

        IF, and that is a pipe dream I know, LOL, this plan were enacted..I would encourage my state convention to share with the pioneer states…remember its a larger pie so they would be getting more actual dollars. I would support setting a percentage of the state budget to be sent to pioneer states to help them out.

        • says

          Based on your last paragraph, I would second any motion you want to make. :-) As I said in my last post, here in Montana we make every penny count and the needs are enormous as I am sure you are aware.

          Pioneer areas with which I am familiar are good investments for mission dollars. Having said that the South has been very gracious and generous to us and for that we are truly thankful

      • says

        William T

        As yo know I have been advocating the possibility of returning to a 10% level for the CP. I had breakfast with my Pastor/Son this morning. He is Young (38), Restless, but not Reformed. I asked him if he thought the convention return to the 10% days. With somewhat of a smirk on his face he said very emphatically “absolutely not”?

        Oh well, I guess I have to say I am wrong. Wow my brother, that was hard! :-)

          • says

            The question was phrased in ‘would’. As far as “should” I don’t know. He has a strong heart for missions and like me has a strong heart for Montana. He sees the needs that our state convention and churches have so in that respect I am sure he would say yes it should be increased. But again we are thinking Montana needs.

    • says

      Um, correct me if I’m wrong, but all the states with two Baptist State conventions have one that is moderate and one that is Christi…..err, I mean conservative, right? Has someone thought about changing something with the cooperative program so that the moderate state conventions are adversly affected financially? That seems like it would be a good thing to look into.

    • says

      William T
      Yes I did. He said basically what we have been saying in the thread. He did make a heavy emphasis on waste and what he called “messed up priority spending”. By that he means the South based national entities seem to have the money for luxury in travel, office, equipment etc. and here in Montana our convention, associations, and churches have to think twice before buying necessities. He gave as an example he has some people who want to be a part of the praise team but that would mean expanding the sound board, microphones etc and we do not have the money.

      I am not sure how fair that is but that is the thinking.

    • says

      William, Andy, Tarheel
      I know that I harp on exegeting the culture a lot but here is a point I would like to make. We are talking about the state/national split. We also talk about waste. In Montana our state convention has no waste. Our salaries are not high. We do not have elaborate facilities. We have a small state staff and support staff. We are more McDonalds and Super 8 in travel expense than the Hyatt Regency or whatever. Our exec does a good job in keeping the budget and expenses in check and leads by example.

      With this in mind, even tho we have as a convention adopted the 1%challenge I personally do not want to see more sent to the national level until some of the spending issues have been addressed.

      • Tarheel says

        I agree.

        The more I think about the more I like the idea I suggested.

        It ends a lot of the waste immeditaly as it ends a complete entity. It sends more money to overseas missions and keeps more money in the states.

        States like yours would also benefit from the freezing of dollar amounts at current levels with excess being given back to state pioneer conventions.

        In my perfect little world your state would get more, much more than it is getting now – and international missions (IMB) would get a lot more too.

        • Tarheel says

          Selling the NAMB palace, I mean HQ would also bring in some money….even more for international missions?

          • William Thornton says

            Ezell inherited the facility but quickly emptied it of a lot of staff, a good move, so that more money could be put towards church planting.

  13. William Thornton says

    I’d like for Rick, if he would, to answer my question about his 10% number and his advocacy of parity in hiring. I see no way that the latter does not undermine the former.

    Any push for CP increases runs into a lot of brick walls but most aren’t self-generated.

    • says

      William T
      I do have a problem with the number of Calvinist hires that I have seen. However, I cannot imagine a workable basis on which to rest parity hiring. That answer is a no answer. Problem is I don’t have a better idea.

      • Tarheel says

        Any quota, or parity plan like have been floated by anti Calvinists would cause a proverbial feces collision with oscillating blades!

          • Stephen says

            A hiring “quota” based on soteriological views is a non-starter. Soteriology is a 2nd/3rd tier issue in the convention (for most, not important enough to split a church over, or at worst not important enough to call someone a non-believer for disagreeing). What about other lower tier issues – will we have quotas based on eschatological preferences? Restrictions on communion? Church polity? KJV, ESV, or HCSB?

    • Rick Patrick says


      I answered the question on April 23, 2014 at 10:01 pm—”4. I do not see any incongruity between the promotion of a specific CP giving goal (such as 10%) and the desire for SBC Leadership (whether hired as employees or elected as volunteers) to represent, in proper measure, the actual values and beliefs of the people in the pews who are paying the bills. In fact, I believe the goals work together quite well. If met, giving levels would be strong, and the people in the pews would not feel disenfranchised and alienated from our leadership.”

  14. andy says

    I seem to have missed something…is Rick, or someone else suggesting we begin asking all prospective sbc employees their views on Calvinism and aim to balance the hiring among the views?

    • Tarheel says

      Yes, and he (Rick) wants NAMB to ask and report data regarding ‘Calvinist” church plants/planters too.

      • Rick Patrick says

        I just think the Southern Baptists paying the bills have a right to the information. There is a principle behind this, by the way, and it’s not me being unreasonable. It’s a simple matter of fairness.

        My concern is simply that (a) Calvinist churches who desire to plant in a soteriologically exclusive manner have an avenue for doing exactly this by giving a token amount through the SBC and a very large amount through Acts 29, thus promoting a new generation of predominantly Calvinist SBC churches and using significant resources from Traditional churches through NAMB to do it, while (b) Traditional churches who desire to plant in the same soteriologically exclusive manner have no such Acts 29 organization on the Traditional side of the equation to which they may devote the lion’s share of their missions support.

        Apparently, everyone seems to think it’s perfectly fair to ask Traditional churches to bankroll a New Calvinist Revolution, with no soteriological accountability whatsoever as to the convictions of the church planting pastor. But know this: the Acts 29 Network does indeed ask the question about whether or not the sponsoring pastor is a Calvinist—and if he’s not one, he doesn’t get their support.

        If NAMB is not going to give us the information, then the only way I can see that we can possibly balance the scales and offer Trad churches the same soteriologically exclusive church planting opportunities that already exist for Cal churches is to form a Trad Church Planting Network with all of the boot camps, resources and networks to go along with it.

        Forming a TRAD ACTS 29 may be the logical next step.

        • says

          Rick (and others) you have been told time and time again, including to my direct observation by Darren Patrick himself in another forum/blog, that SBC/Acts29 churches can give 10% to the CP and that that would suffice for its Acts29 requirements. That 10% missions giving DOES NOT have to go to exclusively “Calvinist” churches. You have been told this time and time again and you are not listening. Acts29 is a fellowship of like minded churches/individuals. Yes you have to be “Calvinist” to be apart of Acts29 because it IS a Calvinist fellowship. But Acts29 churches can give monies, fellowship, and even sponsor/planing non-Calvinist churches with no problems or issues. Again, that INCLUDES giving to the CP, AA, and LM!!!! How many times do you have to be told this before you listen and understand that what you currently believe is 100% FALSE regarding SBC/Acts29 churches and their missional giving.

          • Tarheel says

            Good SV!

            I would add that Also, as far as NAMB is concerned they ONLY plant southern baptist Churches…they do not plant “Calvinist churches” or “non Calvinist churches” for that matter.

            Those SBC churches may partner with whatever other groups they want for whatever reason they want – and so long as the BFM is not violated by the partnership there is no issue to be “dealt with” by the rest of us in the SBC.

          • Rick Patrick says


            What you have said here about Acts 29 is true. However, what you have said about what I have said is false. Please read carefully.

            I am *not* saying that they *have to give* to exclusively Calvinist churches. I am saying a SBC/A29 Hybrid *has that option* to be soteriologicially exclusive—an option that does not exist for Trads in the absence of a TRAD ACTS 29.

            However, I *am* saying that their Pastors have to be exclusively Calvinist to be Acts 29 Church Planters—which you readily admit —a criteria more narrow than the BFM2K, and one which marginalizes the majority of SBC Pastors, making this an unequal partnership.

          • says

            To be honest right now I am not sure if I am stating the obvious or not. IMO a church plant’s soteriology should be between the mother church and the plant, not a plant and an organization. Perhaps the Mother church and the organization can decide what is acceptable, but the plant must be accountable only to the mother Church.

          • says

            Rick, here in SW Mo there because the national headquarters is here, there are many SBC pastors who are also apart of BBFI (Bible Baptist Fellowship International). The BBFI has its own Articles of Faith which those pastors who wish to be affiliated with BBFI have to agree to in order to have the affiliation. Further, churches who wish to affiliate with BBFI MUST give to support other BBFI churches/entities. There is no mention if that can be done through exclusively supporting only SBC/BBFI churches, but as there are no SBC/BBFI colleges/entities, I doubt that that will work. Further as to the “size” comparison between Acts29 and BBFI within the SBC, I would argue that it is a lot closer than you would think. Being that there are only 500 or so Acts29 churches entirely, of which id wager less than 100 are SBC affiliated churches. To say there are not 100 pastors in the SBC who are also not affiliated with BBFI would be very naive.

        • Mike Bergman says

          with no soteriological accountability whatsoever as to the convictions of the church planting pastor


          • Tarheel says



            Isn’t it amazing how the answer is as plain as the nose on ones face, and yet some people just keep missing it?

          • Rick Patrick says

            Announcing Mission 316—an exclusively Trad Church Planting Network. This solves my problem, guys. I’ll never trouble you about this again. NAMB can still plant SBC Churches without asking planters about their soteriology just like they are now—as long as they are within the BFM2K. Some NAMB churches will partner with A29, while others will partner with M316.

            I’m fine with that. Or at least I will be once M316 forms. Trads will have the same options that Cals do. It just means we have to form our own church planting organization just as soteriologically exclusive as Acts 29. Okay. Never mind.

          • says


            Congrats on the new org. But you’ve had the option to be soteriological exclusive all along. Trad plants can give to other Trad plants, which Trad plants are soteriological exclusive. I mean you won’t directly give to a Calvinistic plant right? Exclusive by choice. And that’s w/in your prerogative.

          • Mike Bergman says

            Rick, go for it… That’s the beauty of the SBC and bf&m, we’re big tent enough by design to incorporate a variety of views on non primary issues, with the freedom to network how we want… That’s why we’re Southern Baptist and not some other branch.

          • says

            Also, seems to me that what Acts 29 and Connect 316 are doing is perfectly consistent with the BF&M 2000, which you excerpt on the Connect316 site. The entire section says,

            “Christ’s people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.”

            That’s all that’s happening. I especially like this part:

            “Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people.”

          • Mike Bergman says

            Help me to understand why plants need to partner with any group other than the sponsoring entity.

            additional networking for training, coaching, funding, resources, etc.

            Any single network, sponsoring church, denomination, etc., has limited resources in a culture where it’s not necessarily the cheapest thing to plant new churches, especially in an urban environment where costs tend to sky rocket…

          • says

            I understand and respect this viewpoint. It is very noteworthy. However this training etc. can be gained without a formal partnership, especially if it seems to be this divisive.

            I realize I do not have much of a point but surely we can do better than starting organizations and counter organizations that only alienate us more.

          • Rick Patrick says


            Connect 316 is a soteriologically driven ministry fellowship. It is more analogous to Founders than to Acts 29. We are not nearly as organized as the Cals with their 9 Marks and their Gospel Coalition and their T4G and so on.

            Founders began in 1983. Acts 29 began in 2000. These things take time.

        • William Thornton says

          Thanks for the answer above.

          I think you are exhibiting a disconnect between the actions you propose relative to cal/noncal issues and what you desire as a CP goal. You may think them a route to CP increases.most would recognize the reality that they harm it, unless you find a way to exclude Calvinists from the convention and a ‘purer’ more palatable but smaller convention can rally around the CP.

          Rick, how many ACTS29 NAMB church plants can you name? What would you propose that NAMB replace their policy on church plant/planter associations with? NAMB requires their people and plants to affirm the BFM. You wish to add to this?

          • Rick Patrick says

            Forget it, William. Let NAMB remain neutral on the Cal-Trad issue, since we all affirm the BFM2K. There is another way to address my concerns. Mostly, I just wanted to know whether or not Traditional Southern Baptists were paying for the planting of hundreds of Calvinist church starts, essentially building a more Calvinistic convention, and using Traditionalist money to promote doctrinal convictions not widely held by many Southern Baptists.

            My concern in this is actually not so much with Calvinist SB’s, but with the presence of a third party in this equation, namely Acts 29. As I mentioned elsewhere, I am coming to the conclusion that, since NAMB will not tell us of the soteriological positions held by these church planters, the ONLY way to address my concern with *soteriologically exclusive* Calvinist church planting by Acts 29 is for another *soteriologically exclusive* Traditionalist church planting network to form that NAMB could also partner with but not track their soteriology either.

            In this manner, the equation could be balanced, and Traditionalist churches would have the same outlet to support church planting that reflects their unique doctrinal convictions that many Calvinist churches currently have through Acts 29. I see this is the only way.

          • andy says

            Rick, this hypothetical trad. Church planting organization would have to be something outside of the SBC, correct? Just having snc trads start a network would not do what acts 29 does….sbc trads would have to start planting churches co-partnering with NAMB and (for example) Willow Creek network, right?

          • Rick Patrick says


            I think it just needs to be autonomous. It *could* plant non-SBC churches if it wanted to, but it would not necessarily have to do so. You are correct that it would be *outside* the authority of the SBC to direct or control—just as autonomous as Acts 29.

          • andy says

            But if it were not completely separate, as in not started and funded by SBC churches, it would be competing for those churches funds, not adding to them like a29 does.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Make no mistake. Acts 29 competes for a SBC church’s money when that church has to decide whether or not and how much they will give to the SBC versus an Acts 29 plant.

            Look, if Mission 316 is a completely autonomous organization, just like Acts 29, you who are not part of it do not get to dictate the terms of its founders or its mission or its theology or anything at all, just like I don’t get to do that for Acts 29.

            What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If NAMB will support Acts 29 plants as long as the church “gives through CP and believes the BFM2K” then that MUST be the only stipulation for NAMB to support Mission 316 plants.

            As already mentioned, Mission 316 would also *accept* gifts from non-SBC churches, just like Acts 29 does. How many of those churches there might be and what amounts they might give would be completely up to their free will and the providence of God.

            By the way, and this probably goes without saying, but the current President of Acts 29 is a Southern Baptist. There is no problem at all with Southern Baptists being a part of Mission 316—20%, 50% or 100%—because it would be completely autonomous, as is Acts 29.

          • Tarheel says


            NAMB funds SBC plants and SBC plants only – I know in VA (SBCV) there is a 10% CP giving requirement for all plants funded….is it so in Alabama? If it is, then any A29 or M316 church funded by NAMB/state convention would too. Si whatever the other partnership requires would be on top of that.

            As for your new network, have at it! – there a difference Difference though.

            A29 was not formed and has no intent of “getting even” with anyone or “sticking it in anyone’s eye”…if your Christian and pastoral conscience would be clear in doing so….like I said, have at it.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Wow, Tarheel, we were getting along so well yesterday… I said absolutely nothing about sticking anything in anyone’s eye. I am just trying to give Traditionalists the same “soteriologically exclusive” options as Calvinists already have at their disposal through Acts 29.

            The purpose is not “eye sticking” but *semper transformanda.* I want to promote Transformed theology, the Doctrines of Love, and Traditionalism over against Reformed theology, the Doctrines of Grace and Calvinism. That *cannot* be a wrong motive for me, as long as your motive is pure as well. In this, I am actually more accepting of your revolution than you are of mine.

            How could this possibly be offensive? It’s exactly the same thing as Acts 29—an autonomous, soteriologically exclusive church planting organization, open to all denominations, and willing to partner with NAMB and other Southern Baptists.

          • andy says

            I was not referring to competing for funds within the new plants, but among the planting/partnering churches… If say, 500 SBC churches started mission 316, those churches would bear the weight of supporting 316 and SBC…it would not add additional outside support…and if mission 316 seemed like a very important mission to those churches, many of them might start decreasing their cp giving in order to increase their 316 giving.

            So to clarify, I’m not saying trad. Churches shouldn’t look for outside groups to help support their namb church plants..
            but that for it to have any real effect, it must be an already existing outside group.

          • William Thornton says

            If this should be forgotten then I presume we not not continually be presented within argument that includes ACTS29/NAMB church starts. When I ask you or others who present this argumentation I get either no evidence or one church, maybe two, from several years ago.

            You should find some churches that support your assertion.

          • Tarheel says


            “The purpose is not “eye sticking” but *semper transformanda.* I want to promote Transformed theology, the Doctrines of Love, and Traditionalism over against Reformed theology, the Doctrines of Grace and Calvinism. That *cannot* be a wrong motive for me, as long as your motive is pure as well. In this, I am actually more accepting of your revolution than you are of mine.”

            1. I have absolutely NO connection with A29….none. My only motive here is to hopefully encourage you to reconsider your proposals not to preserve or defend A29. Any quota or monitoring or placing of a ceiling re: SBC Calvinists is sure to cause controversy, strife, and disunity. I simply don’t desire to see that. Our joint mission is too important.

            2. My motives are mine and yours are yours…neither can be determined good or bad based on the motives of the other. They stand on their own.

            2. I can’t read your motives but I can read your words and make assessments;

            You are Arguing that A29 is bad but then saying “if y’all can have one. We can too”. That certainly appears to me to be more about getting even or defending ground against those you consider to be doing wrong than you yourself doing the right thing.

    • Rick Patrick says

      Because Tarheel loves this chart so much, let me point out, Andy, that many of us have come to believe that since 86% of our last seven SBC entity leaders have been 4 or 5 Pointers with direct ties to Mohler, while perhaps *generously* as many as fifteen to twenty percent of our pastors and ten to fifteen percent of our laity *might* be 4 or 5 Pointers, we are top heavy with Calvinism in the SBC and it is creating friction and instability among followers who are aware of the issue.

      The more I think about it, the word *quota* may not be the best way to describe my desire, but I would like to see our *representation* among leadership expanded so as to include more proportionally the actual composition of the people in the pews on the corner of Main and First all across America.

      I hope it doesn’t sound so shocking when I put it that way. The principle is a well established one. It’s simply called representative leadership.

      • says


        I’m sure you’ve said it somewhere, but how do you propose to bring about this proportionality? What mechanism(s)?



        • Rick Patrick says

          Common sense in appointments. Six out of seven entity heads fails the common sense test.

          • Tarheel says

            Based on whose “common sense”? Yours? Mine? Who?

            If these heads are qualified, BFM2000 capable, men of integrity and good leaders how is their appointment not common sense…

            Are you suggested that the 6 who fail your test are lacking in one or more of the above characteristics.

          • William Thornton says

            There is no mechanism for this apart from replacing trustees with those who will do your bidding. I’m not up for another CR. Of course, it is perfectly acceptable to attempt to influence trustees by blogging, or petitions, etc.

      • Tarheel says

        Do you suggest doing so with eschatology views as well?

        Who defines the points? We have seen in these threads that despite what we SAY and TEACH, there are people who are convinced that we REALLY believe something else.

        What should we do once the “ceiling is met” tell a faithful southern Baptist…

        “you are qualified to be a missionary but since you believe in too many points of Calvinism, we cannot place you. But if you wait till we take our next survey and find that the percentage of ‘main street calvinists’ has increased in the SBC we might be able to send you then.”

        Aren’t you then driving away faithful SBC church plants?

        You say it is well established….but I am not sure that the SBC has ever placed a NON BFM violating doctrinal position under this kind of scrutiny.

        Also, would we ‘hire’ screeners to detect these Calvinists, given that many have argued at length that we all lie about what we believe?

        I just think you are asking for trouble. Personal disagreements aside – I am somewhat saddened that a fellow pastor would propose such a thing, and I mean that in all sincerity.

        • Rick Patrick says

          No. Eschatology is not splitting our churches or our convention.

          Among the dozens of nominees, we try to be representational—more minorities, more women, more rural, more smaller churches, diverse ages, diverse regions and yes, diverse on the single most significant fault line in the convention today—soteriology. Let’s hear from everyone.

          I’m sorry this saddens you, but I hope you can see things from my side. I’m really just trying to be fair to the perspectives and the theology of the people in the pews.

          • Tarheel says


            You mean you are defending the perspectives you assume are the majority and the ones that you presume that the average pew member cares about.

            What I mean by cares about is this….it is patently unfair and unreasonable for your church members for example to be held up as ones who represent the feelings of people across the denomination…why would I say that?

            Well they hear from you a skewed version of what a Calvinist is, what he believes, how he preaches, and how he evangelizes.

            The same could be true if a Calvinist were to expound in the pulpit or in the church hallways or on blogs about the agenda of Connect316.

            We all see through our own glasses and our people see through our glasses too, at least to an extent.

            I have made these observations before, and I will make them again.

            It’s reasonable to assume that those SB who attend conferences themed either on Calvinism or on non calvinism are enthused and at least somewhat informed on the issues surrounding the ideas.

            That assumption in place. Calvinist/Reformed conferences (of various kinds) garner thousands of Southern Baptists yearly. (T4G, Ligioner, TGC) Whosoever will conferences yeild in the low hundreds.

            The pastors conference in FL at FBC Jax started losing attendance when it took a decidedly anti Calvinist approach, now that it is showing signs of more balance, attendance is up again.

            The Trad statement has failed to garner 1000 local pastors and lay people signatures and many of the ones it has hail from a group of churches. I presume these laypeople were encouraged by their pastor to sign it? Sure its got some big names on it – but a cross section of the rank and file?

            I only mention these things to demonstrate that if the outcry and division and angst against SBCers who are Reformed in their soteriology is great as your portray “in the pew” then why are things as they are? It would seem that, if it is as you say, we would have outcrys from every or even most or perhaps even a lot of “corners of Main and First” across the denomination.

            I just do not see it.

            I only see outcries among those who are already favorable to anti Calvinism for whatever reason.

          • Rick Patrick says


            Only time will tell, I’m afraid. But please consider, Trad Southern Baptists are, organizationally speaking, where Cal Southern Baptists were in 1984—when Founders was almost one year old.
            It takes time to get out our message. It is a mistake to assume people do not *care* about salvation doctrine. They don’t really *know* that the salvation doctrine they have believed all their lives is being challenged rather aggressively—to the point where some, like yourself, question whether it is truly the view of the rank and file Southern Baptist.

            I believe the reason you do not see the outcry is that they do not yet understand it. Occasionally, someone will lead a session or a workshop and, quoting directly from Calvinists themselves, inform people of the basic tenets of Calvinism. The typical response? “You mean there are Southern Baptists who actually believe that?” They are incredulous at Calvinism’s determinism, theodicy, and view of the Father’s attitude toward the reprobate.

            Again, only time will tell, but I believe that the vast majority of Southern Baptists do not believe in the Calvinist view of salvation doctrine and do not really wish to see this view become the norm among our seminaries, church plants and congregations.

        • says

          You have raised a good point. Let me expound on that a little. Rick’s concern is the “splitting out” of churches from the convention, a valid concern. Remember the Charismatic turmoil years? Churches were being split out of the convention or just split. That issue was every bit as troubling as the Cal issue. Who settled the problem? The churches, not the denomination!
          Bottom line I am a local church man not a denominational man. The churches will take care of this if we let them. The only guideline we need is BFM2000.

          Water will seek its level. Can we not let each mother church settle this issue within the bounds of BFM2000.

          • Tarheel says

            I agree with you 100%, DL. The BFM2000 is enough!

            I will clarify though the convention is not being “split out”.

            This is simply a matter of churches taking a both/and approach to partnership, while Rick advocates for a either/or approach…these churches (plants are churches) are autonomous – It should matter not to Rick what autonomous churches not his own do in that regard.

            It is not me that is arguing for a denominational solution to the “Calvinism wars” that some seem intent on fighting.

            I am opposing what Rick is suggesting…namely denominational doctrinal litmus tests (that are devised and enforced by who knows who) for our church planters that are outside of the BFM2000.

          • says

            Yes, as stated I agree. I think Rick has some valid concerns. However, I think they are going to have to remain concerns. Any attempt to apply any litmus test or whatever is not going to find a workable solution. We agreed on the BFM2000 and even that had some issues. To try to narrow the parameters will only produce confusion and division.

            I may be naive but I think that if left to each church, they will do the right thing. If we believe that Cals can go to heaven and that Trads can go to heaven then let like minded churches plant like minded churches with in the BFM.

            I am not all that concerned if CP dollars plant churches with a different soteriology than that to which i hold. Two criteria: church plants that receive CP funds must (1) contribute to the CP (2) affirm BFM2000.

      • P. Price says


        I’m not a Calvinist, so I’m often in agreement with you, but this idea violates liberty of conscience, entity autonomy, and even (perhaps) the priesthood of the believer (among those choosing “God’s individual” for the position a search committee is seeking to fill). Any rebuttal to this charge?

        Also, I don’t think Kevin Ezell is a four- or five-pointer, though he was Mohler’s pastor. So Ezell and Page are at least two non-Calvinists leading SBC entities. Patterson, Kelley, and Luter are other notable non-Calvinists.

        Quotas are offensive to those of us who hold to historical Baptist principles.

      • Tarheel says

        As to the stupid chart….

        As I have said before, in years past we could have taken Paige Patterson and created a very similar chart…but I am pretty confident you were not complaining then.

        The problem with you is obviously not the connections but the theology. The connections are fine so long as the person in the center meets your NON BFM defined litmus test.

        Like I said….the SBC entity head appointments being a bit of a boys club is news to no one….no one at all. You just happen to not like the boys in the current club….

        FYI, us more reformed people have had to grin and bear it ourselves too over the years, ya know.

        At some point we have to realize that we are not going to agree on every point of theology with every leader in denominational leadership….in fact we have to realize that there is not 100 %doctrinal uniformity within our own churches or even the pastoral staffs of our churches, much less the deacon/elder boards.

  15. says

    We have boards that manage these agencies. I see no choice but to let them do their job. If we put quotas on soteriology what about eschatology, a certain number of Pre Post and A’s? This could become endless.

    Again I say this thing is a TRUST issue. Until we come to trust each other we have a broken system. Trads don’t trust Cals when they say they are not trying to take over the convention. Cals don’t trust Trads when they say we are not trying to run you out of the convention. IT WILL CONTINUE UN TIL WE FIX THE BROKEN TRUST. That should be the conversation.

  16. says

    To that end let me ask. Trads, what would it take for you to trust the Cals? Cals, what would it take for you to trust the Trads?

    Anyone care to respond?

    • says

      I don’t know if it’s as black and white as trusting Trads or Cals across the board. I believe you have said that you line up soteriologically with the Trads. And from what I can tell I would trust you. Let me tell you why. You seem to care about honest representation and have a desire to legitimately understand the other side. You might disagree on election and such but at the end of the day I believe you and I are far more united on the things that really matter. And I believe that is what drives you. For you (I believe) and myself we are driven by a much greater thing and I can tell that…so that’s why I would say that I trust you.

      I could go on and give a second paragraph about what are some of the things that cause me to….and I want to say “not trust” here b/c it’s the word you used but I’m not fully comfortable saying that…so fill in the blank. But what ends up happening when this question is asked is that we all get defensive and we Calvinsts start telling Trads to name specific instances of Calvinists taking over churches and wrecking them. And then we say the same thing happens to Trads…and then we lob a few bombs…a few bombs get lobbed our way…and on and on it goes. So for me, I’d rather just say, “D.L. here is why I trust you.”

      • Tarheel says


        Very well said, Mike. I was actually trying to word a similar response to DL, but yours is better than mine ever would be.

        Except for DL’s rejection of bacon yesterday he truly seems like a stand up fella.

        (Hey no one is perfect, DL 😉 )

      • says

        I hear what you are saying. Not to make this a Kum ba Yah group hug, I would also trust both of you.

        I guess the question then becomes what has caused that mutual trust between men in both camps of the soteriological issue?

        The soteriological issue is not the first rodeo for SB and we seemed historically to figure those things out. My deep concern is that I don’t see a happy ending to this match-up. I hope I am wrong.

        • Tarheel says


          I pray and hope that agreement on the BIG things, will win out in the end….as you have said – historically we have seemed to find a way, where there seemed to be no way.

  17. William Thornton says

    I appreciate the discussion here even though it is among just a few. While I like aspirational and positive pastors like Rick and have no problem with anyone calling for a CP increase, pegging 10% as the number is unrealistic. It doesn’t take long in a discussion to meet all the impediments that must be overcome.

    I’m going fishing. See ya…

    • says

      William T

      I live 45 minutes from what both Field and Stream and Outdoor Life say is the best 12 miles of trout fishing in the lower 48, the Big Horn River. Come on up and I will show you some real good fishing.

  18. Andy says

    Rick, Thanks for the replies. I suppose I did not realize at first you were refering to both institutional employees AND church planters. Here are my thoughts so far:

    1. Regarding executive/Seminary appointments: I can appreciate those concerned about calvinism wondering why Mohler’s associates keep getting placed in high positions. And I would probably go so far as to say those making the decisions should be aware of how it looks on a big picture scale. However, I, like DL, don’t think there is any feasable mechinism to widen the net (see my last point below) other than advising people to take great lengths to avoid the appearance of theological nepotism….and furthermore, it’s helpful to realize that when it comes to the seminaries, don’t the separate trustee boards from each seminary elect their own president? It’s not a SBC Executive decision. Also, it must be noted that Dr. Mohler is one of the best respected leaders in the SBC, and many high-ranking men have ties to him.

    2. Regarding church planters partnering with Acts 29, or any other orginization: (a) It should be noted again, that the SBC itself is NOT partnering with A29, Local autonomous churches and planters are partnering with both NAMB and A29, and perhaps 1 or 2 other groups. (b) It should also be noted that A29 was not started by SBCers. So it cannot be argued that SBC calvinists have set it up as their alternative tribe. Not that you have argued that, but in the discussions it can feel like trads are blaming sbc calvinists for the very existance of A29. (c) You are correct, of course, that church CP monies from trad. churches are going to support church plants by calvinists pastors. This will continue with or without A29. (d) As much as some might like it, the SBC is likely NOT going to enforce rules on church planters about WHO they can partner with in addition to NAMB.

    3. Regarding too many calvinistic church planters in general: Instituting a representational quota based on percentages of planters proportional to the percentage of SBC calvinists may seem to make sense on the surface, but would bring tons of problems (see my last point below). Also, I don’t know that it can be shown that non-calvinist church planters are being rejected…only that more calvinists than non-calvinists WANT to plant a church. It is what calvinists are excited about right now. This will likely balance itself out in time.

    4. Regarding the fear that some of these church planters may, once the churches are established, decide to withdraw from the SBC and not become cooperating churches: This is always a possibility, regardless of soteriology, which is why the SBC needs to cast a strong vision for its purpose that includes renewed and streamlined financial priorities. And it has been noted elsewhere that nearly ALL churches are diversifying their cooperation with other non-SBC groups.

    5. FINALLY, if these trends are unsettling to non-calvinists, I see only 3 possible outcomes:

    a) Continue dialogue and cooperation, making no institutional changes to change the balance of influence. Perhaps encourage those in decision-making positions to fight the urge to work, partner, and hire only within their soteriology tribe.

    b) Divide into 2 separate Baptist groups, one cal, one not. (Most people say they don’t want this, which is why I will argue that option (c) is also bad).

    c) Begin to institute policies in hiring, church planting, and appointments modeled on an accurate representational government model. Exclude Calvinist church planters & executives until a proportional number of non-cals have filled in the spaces. THIS WOULD, IN MY OPINION, END UP LITTLE BETTER THAN OPTION B…. because we would then end up, much like the US government, in a 2-party system in which each party views the other as the opponent, rather than a partner. Distrust and distain would increase, not decrease. Unity would suffer….and as a result: NO ONE, AND I MEAN NO ONE, WOULD WANT TO GIVE ANYWHERE NEAR 10% to the CP.

  19. Andy says

    Wow, that was longer than I planned…Here’s a few more cans of worms to open up:

    1. Should SBTS be allowed to hire based on the Abstract of principles over and above the BF&M (effectively excluding traditionalist professors) ?

    2. Should SWTS, or other baptist colleges, be allowed to exclude calvinistic professors over and above the BF&M?

    3. Why go fishing when you can stay home and watch a nice american sport on TV….like soccer, or cricket? :-)

  20. Rick Patrick says


    Thank you for pointing out the existence of Bible Baptist Fellowship International. Perhaps BBFI is already planting Traditionalist churches that are being co-sponsored by NAMB, just like the Acts 29 churches, so long as the church (a) agrees with the BFM2K, and (b) gives something through the CP.

    I’ll have to take a look at their doctrinal statement. If it is just as soteriologically exclusive as that of Acts 29, then perhaps the church planting mechanism I seek in order to balance our scales already exists.

    • Tarheel says

      If it already exists then shouldn’t it be overwhelmed with plethora of the “trads” who are as passionate as you about “evening” the, in your perception, uneven playing field.

      • Rick Patrick says

        Once again, Tarheel, if they don’t know about the existence of Acts 29 or the existence of New Calvinism or who John Piper even is, then they are certainly not up to speed on all of the various “alternative secondary denominations” whose doctrinal confessions would, like that of Acts 29, fit within the broad parameters of the BFM2K.

        • Tarheel says

          Acts 29 is NOT a denomination!

          I know we’ve been interchangeably using he phrase “planting” with the SBC, state conventions and networks….

          But it’s important to remind ourselves that those orgs. dont and shouldn’t plant churches-CHURCHES plant churches.

          So these issues, as DL,pints out could and should be dealt with within sponsoring churches.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Agreed. By giving all our sponsoring churches the same access to a soteriologically exclusive *network* we allow them the opportunity to express their desires in terms of the doctrines they wish to see promoted among the church plants they support. This will be a good thing.

          • Tarheel says


            As your church goes about planting churches, I’m sure you won’t plant churches pastored by Calvinists since that issue is of such paramount concern to you.

            As for me, we’ll partner with bible believing, conservative, godly men of character called to the task. We’ll seek out men who are equipped for the task. Men who line up without reservation with the BFM2000. The Calvinism issue won’t even come up, unless they bring it up. That’s what we are doing.

            You do as you must.

          • says

            As Tarheel says at 10:56 is the way it will be in reality. Each local church will do as they must and that is the way it should be.

            The question becomes, can we bless each other in the process. As a pastor I would led my church to plant Trad churches, because I line up there. However, surely I could bless and pray for a Cal plant that aligns with BFM2000 and is in good cooperation with SBCers.

            Make a strong mental note, I said as a pastor. As a DOM, to my knowledge, I never used a Cal to plant but that was just using what I had available. I would not as a DOM refuse to use a Cal as long as he had no agenda. In fact I would not use a Trad who had an agenda. I don’t like agendas, they tear us apart.

        • says

          Do we know how many NAMB church planters partner with A29?

          Do we know how many planters partner with any group other than NAMB and a local church?

          What is the latest NAMB church planter count?

          • Rick Patrick says

            We ask questions from the floor. Robin Foster asked last year. He was told they don’t ask those questions of their church planters, so they don’t know how many are also sponsored by A29.

            They don’t know how many are co-sponsored by other groups because, again, they don’t ask the question. They only ask, “Do you believe the BFM2K and do you give through CP?” That’s it.

          • says

            Thanks for the info. That brings me a little up to speed.

            I attended every SBC annual meeting between 1966 and 1993. When I came to Montana in 1993 I only attended 4 or 5. I did last year watch live stream. Thus I am somewhat out of the loop on some of these things.

          • says

            Rick said
            “they don’t ask those questions”

            When I was processing in 1993 I was ask if if was receiving any money from a CBF type church or a Charismatic church. Maybe that not an “official” question, but I was asked.

            Things change i guess.

  21. Rick Patrick says


    “As your church goes about planting churches, I’m sure you won’t plant churches pastored by Calvinists since that issue is of such paramount concern to you.”

    Au contraire! Right now, through NAMB, I am currently helping plant Calvinist churches, and I will likely continue. However, if the SBC starts turning “PresbyBaptist” then there will at least be a mechanism by which Traditionalists can do exactly what some Calvinists are doing now—token support for NAMB and strong support for a soteriologically exclusive church planting partner. It will protect those who do not wish to subsidize some kind of Calvinist revolution in the SBC.

    • Tarheel says

      Through NAMB your planting SBC churches.

      I hope your church is also directly involved in sponsoring church plants…or are you farming that exclusively to NAMB.

      Churches plant churches, NAMB helps SBC churches plant SBC churches….or that is how it’s supposed to work.

      • Tarheel says

        Through NAMB your planting SBC churches.

        Should read

        Through NAMB you’re helping other churches in the planting of SBC churches.

        Your church should be sponsoring church plants and enlisting the help of your state convention and NAMB in doing so.

        • Rick Patrick says

          Duly noted. I agree with your phrasing. Much better.

          In every church I have served, we have planted mission churches or constituted mission churches or co-sponsored mission starts.

    • Tarheel says

      Do all “trad” churches give substantial CP support or are they “Token” giving too….your comment implies that only A29 churches are doing that (without proof if the assertion I might add.)

      As Les, DL, nd Mike have asked repeatedly without answer – I’ll add my voice. Tell us, in your perfect world – how a quota/ceiling would be inacted? Mayb you could do an article outlining it?

      Please, tell us how you’d implement hat you’ve suggested.

      • Rick Patrick says

        There would have to be some agreement concerning the soteriology of our church members. Then we would gradually move toward a place where the leadership looks like the membership through the careful selection of representative leaders.

        I admit it’s a nuanced position—on the one hand, not driving all Calvinists from the convention, and on the other hand, not allowing Calvinists a disproportionate share of control relative to their actual representation in SBC life. There is a place of balance. I’m not sure we’re there right now.

        If you need even more specificity, I think some kind of objective study might need to be done to discern, with a fair degree of precision, how many Southern Baptists are Calvinists and how many are not. This way, we would not have to keep fussing and throwing out estimates. We would know.

        • Tarheel says

          Then we’d argue about who does the study, how the questions are phrased, who is asked…on and on.

        • says


          The issues of whether or not this is a good idea, and whether or not it should be done seems to me to be of a secondary nature. I don’t want to be a “johnny rainwater” here, but for the life of me I do not see how we could pull that off.

  22. says

    An observation. We keep talking about what the Convention becomes, which way it will lean. The fact is the Convention in this sense is an abstract and will ultimately become what the churches are. That is the way it should be. The Convention beginning in 1979 became more conservative because the churches WERE conservative. Churches did not become more conservative because the Convention became more conservative.
    Hence: (1) Which group (Trads or Cals) plants the most churches the Convention will de facto become theologically adaptive. I would think that 25 years from now we will have about the same percentage of Trads and Cals that we do now. If it becomes imbalanced one way or the other that is because one group did the better job in the area of planting. Can we not rejoice either way as long as churches or planted (2) If we continue to be divisive on this issue,nothing will happen and no one will have cause to rejoice, except for Satan.
    So I say again let each church determine the bound of her theology within the scope of BFM2K. We are making an issue where one does not need to be made.
    Am I being too simplistic? What am I overlooking? Have I had too much sugar?

    • Tarheel says


      “So I say again let each church determine the bound of her theology within the scope of BFM2K. We are making an issue where one does not need to be made.
      Am I being too simplistic? What am I overlooking? Have I had too much sugar? ”

      No, your bot being too simplistic. You’re overlooking nothing, but I have no idea bout your sugar consumption…lol

      You’ve said what every Calvinist is arguing. It’s only Rick, and maybe other TRAD movement leaders who just aren’t joking in this conversation (maybe not though) that want a top down solution.

      Bottom up s the way it’s supposed to be. Each church plants as they themselves determine.

  23. dr. james willingham says

    You fellows are barking up the wrong tree, because it seems that no one every really went back and did the primary source material research that is necessary to establish where the practices of freedom came from and how they worked. I have been saying, though no one seems interested, that the origins of Southern Baptists are essentially Calvinistic or, the better term is, Sovereign Grace, and that it was these people who worked out the principles of cooperation even among those who varied on theological issues. It was done in the Separate and Regular Camps in the agreement to become known as United Baptists. That agreement was first made in 1787, and I pastored a church organized some fifty years later in 1827 in Missouri that was based upon that agreement. I even served as an Interim Pastor in 2001 for a church organized in the 1850s in North Carolina on the basis of that agreement. Some have read John Leland’s writings, looking for a support for their position, and they utterly missed his experience of the theological harmony that was wrought. That harmony involved respect for one another even while not completely agreeing. You all might want to see the prototype for our present day Traiditionalists (though they are a little bit shy of the orthodoxy of the United Baptist agreement). Look for The Life and Times of Elder Reuben Ross. He was won by a Calvinist, and his funeral was preached by a Calvinist, but his views were very much like the average John Doe Southern Baptist today. There is even a fellow writing in this blog who was won to Christ by a Calvinist, ordained by one, who is not a Calvinist, and who did a little survey of Calvinists and found that they were a tad better than the Traditionalists. He also found that the Calvinists had their tare hairs and so did the Traditionalists. He likewise found that there were good men in both camps. Trying to force our way is the wrong way for Baptists, especially Southern Baptists.

    • says

      Dr. JW

      You are right, I have not studied the primary materials in this area. However, based on your knowledge and scholarship I am more than willing to accept your historical facts as being accurate.

      You are also right about Southern Baptist and freedom. It is our most cherished tradition and most valuable contribution to the Christian tradition. I am a Trad but I do not want to sacrifice such a worthy principle to halt the growth of those who have a different soteriological theology than I.

      I say again. If a Cal can lead a person to a saving knowledge of Christ and a Trad can do the same, I simply fail to see the problem

      Thank you for your years of hard study in this area.

  24. dr. james willingham says

    D.L. You are one of the smoothest fellows that I have seen in a long, long while, make that three or four or five or however many longs you wish. :). What I am seeking in Southern Baptists is the realization that one needs the freedom to be committed to one view or to the other or to be able to change his or her mind. When I was ordained by a Supralapsarian Hyper Calvinist, I very plainly indicated before the ordination council of the St. Louis area that I did not believe the Calvinistic or Sovereign Grace interpretation, but in about a year after going to my first church (the ordination had that in view by request of that church) I had changed my mind on the basic issue of the Fall of Man. Dr. Campbell asked my during the ordination, “What do you believe about the Fall of Man?” I answered, “Which answer to you want? There are five (I might have added “or six) of them.” Dr. Campbell said, “Jim, don’t be a smart alec.” And a short while later, he said, “Jim, you don’t believe Church and State should be separate, do you?” I answered, “No.” Mrs. Campbell gasped, and everyone else just laughed as I changed my answer, rather hurriedly. So much for being a know-it-all, but under the vicissitudes of pastoring a divided church (divided over the firing of the previous pastor for a moral reason) and studying a Puritan on Original Sin who had every word in the Hebrew of his text wrong, as the editor said in the footnote, but whose listing of all the other evidences for Original Sin, I changed my mind. I changed slowly, in some respects, and others, that I have known or heard of, have changed, too: the other way, mind you. So what I am saying is this we need the freedom to change on these issues and the freedom to associate together, regardless of the differences.

    If you all really want to dig into this subject, you all might consider the Aristotelian logic which dominated John Calvin and Dr. Gordon Clark’s thinking, not a wise idea in my opinion. The Puritans were influenced by a fellow named Peter Ramus who had a different take on logic. Just google him and Ramism and note how many editions his main work went through in a hundred years (circa 1560-1660). Out of this grows the paradoxes which Dr. Clark said never existed and which I think was a premature reflection on his part. Paradoxes allow for a recognition of both poles involved in every one of the points being argued back and forth between the Calvinists and Traditionalists. There is a great deal more, but I would only add, that the main thing was the opening of the door to communication, argument, friendship, recognition of the sacrifices everyone was making in those days. Note that the change regarding the Separate and Regular Baptists sprang, in part, from the fact that some of the people who held that Christ tasted death for every man had also suffered for the cause of Christ. When you see someone willing to suffer for the faith that you do hold in common, you are unwilling and even ashamed to toss that individual out. You all ought to back and read everything you can get your hands on about the union of the two groups in 1787 down to 1800. Within the past year or two, I found that the first named member of the group that set forth the principles of union would become a Primitive Baptist later in the 19th century. I always wanted to ask a friend of mine, a Primitive Baptist Elder who had been Southern Baptist and had had people attempt to assassinate him and so left the SBC, who had a tremendous education, “What he thought of that Primitive Elder’s having been the first named member of that committee?” But he died about 2-3 months ago, and I did not get to ask him. He, by the way, was the only person invited to speak at a celebration of Gordon Clark’s teaching at Butler University in Indiana while the latter was alive. The logic by the way is predicated upon the idea that logic will lead to absolute knowledge, when applied to Scripture???? Clark seemed to have forgotten that the Catholic Aristotelians were behind the fuss over Galileo. O well, Ramist logic was a little different. In these matters, the secret is asymmetrical and if any are willing they will even find that Jerome Zanchius and John Gill hold asymmetrical positions, speaking of God allowing sin which even Calvin once conceded to a church member troubled by the loss of a loved one. Tellingly put, by Dr. Al Mohler in the Q and A held after Dr. Eric Hankins’ noteworthy sermon at Southern. Dr. Mohler’s comment reduced everyone to laughter.

    • says

      Dr. JW

      I have been called a lot of things. One man called me an “expert”. I said “thank you”. He said “do you know what an expert is” I said “tell me”. He said ” an ‘ex’ is a has been and a ‘spert’ is a drip under pressure”.

      I think i like “smooth” better. :-)

  25. dr. james willingham says

    Dear D.L.: I know someone else who would think you were a smooth fellow, I dare say, but I will not say who or whom.

    • Les Prouty says

      DL I don’t have a vote. But I sure would vote for you if I had one. You look more and more like a peacemaker.

      A little off topic but I saw where you commended Dr. Criswell as the greatest preacher over at SBC Today. I can’t comment over there but I agree he was a great preacher.

      But have you ever listened to Martyn Lloyd-Jones? His Reformed theology aside for you, you might put him up there as well if you listened to him. Many, me included, consider him the greatest expositor of the 20th century. Check him out online if you haven’t. Especially listen to his series on revival. Unparalleled IMO.


      • says

        Yes Martyn Lloyd-Jones is as good as they come. I have not heard the revival series, but that will surely be in my future. His soteriology will certainly not hinder my listening. I suppose I am partial to Dr. Criswell because I had opportunity to hear him many times as a young pastor. I enjoy hearing many of the “greats” who preached in the classical tradition.

      • says

        One other thought….I am sure you are familiar with Martyn Lloyd-Jones writing on the Sermon on the Mount….the best work on that subject I know anything about.

      • says

        DL absolutely. One of the best on that section of scripture. On a related a note, I had the privilege to meet his daughter Lady Elizabeth and her husband Sir Fred Catherwood back in 1997 while in Cambridge. We had tea and scones in a friend’s small flat. To hear her speak of her father was simply amazing and an incredible blessing.

      • dr. james willingham says

        Les: Did you get booted off of SBC Today? I did, too? And not for being mean and hateful or any such thing. Only for citing the facts of Baptist history. Seems them folks don’t care for them. And the latest by the president of a college is a sad commentary on how to do history; it would effectively, if unknowingly, deny us the very answer to our present day problems. The recommendation of Finney overlooks the fact that even Finney would later admit his converts were pretty sorry. They even call the area in which he held his crusades “the burnt over area”; it was an area in which evangelical Christianity had little chance of a foothold after Finny finished.

        • says

          Dr. Willingham,

          Yes sir I did. Almost a year ago if memory serves me well. I don’t think I was mean or hateful either. Just seemed to make folks there uncomfortable. At least the moderator anyway. Part of an echo chamber I was not.

          I’m with you on Finney. Not good to cite him favorably IMO.

          Blessings to you brother.

          • dr. james willingham says

            Yup, it was the moderator of the blog who seem to be uncomfortable with my comments, but I suspect there were others. I was truly disappointed after he had shown such openness with reference to a response to Dr. Paige Patterson which I had written. O well, there are no explaining some of things.

  26. dr. james willingham says

    Dear Folks on this blog: You all had better watch that fellow, D.L. He is a salesman par excellence. He will soon have all of you voting for him to be pastor of FBC Podunk Hollow or some such place or even Prez of the SBC. Like I said, he is one smooth fellow, but I like him anyway for some odd reason.

  27. dr. james willingham says

    All this chumminess makes me think we are getting ready to have a big blow up, following typical Baptist practices. Nothing like a good knock down and drag out to clear the air. I hope not. I am getting to old for it.

        • says

          I never count my Birds out my brother. I was born and raised in St. Louis and pastor there for 6 years. It will always be “home”. Will be in West County (Ellisville) in June for a family reunion.

          Enjoy the coffee.

        • says


          I live in Ballwin and was a pastor in Ellisville back in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Small world. If you have time I’d love to buy you a cup of this SBUX coffee and actually meet. Let me know and I can give you a contact email.