What Does It Mean to Enthusiastically Support the Cooperative Program?

by Howell Scott on September 29, 2010 · 65 comments

After much intensive research, discussion, and prayer, an SBC committee, whose members included a who’s who of Southern Baptist leaders, issued its historic report and recommendations to the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention assembled in their Annual Meeting.  After a move on the Convention floor to amend the Committee’s report and recommendations, the messengers defeated the proposed amendments and overwhelmingly approved the final report and recommendations.  On this day, the messengers from cooperating churches of the SBC spoke clearly about the future direction of the Convention and her churches.

For those with a poor memory (like me) or just plain no memory at all, the year was 2006 and the committee in question was not the GCRTF, but rather the Ad Hoc Cooperative Program Committee.   Appointed by the Executive Committee, these ten men – Anthony Jordan (OK — Chairman), Steve Bass (AZ), Morris Chapman (EC), Frank Cox (GA), Carlisle Driggers (SC), Jim Futral (MS), David Hankins (LA), Bob Rodgers (EC), John Sullivan (FL), and Bob White (GA) –  spent over two years in research, discussion, and prayer before issuing their final report on March 22, 2006 (read full report here).  In the Preface to their report, the Ad Hoc Committee presented the following challenge to Southern Baptists:

It is vitally important that we also cast a new vision to Southern Baptists, a compelling vision that challenges them to use the immense resources God has placed in our hands to literally fulfill Acts 1:8 in our generation.  We must place before our people, our pastors, and our churches a challenge that is so big that it will require us to give sacrificially, pray passionately and become personally involved in reaching the world for Christ.

In addition to the detailed challenges contained within the body of the report, the CP Committee also asked Southern Baptists to approve nine specific recommendations.  Among those recommendations that were presented to the full Executive Committee and which were approved by the EC in February 2006, were Recommendations #3  and #4, which originally read as follows:

#3 – That we strongly encourage each believer to tithe of his financial resources to his local church and encourage all Southern Baptist churches to adopt a missional mindset as they contribute at least 10 percent of their undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program.

#4 – That we encourage the election of state and national convention officers whose churches give at least 10 percent of their undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program.

Sounds good to me.  However, these two recommendations were changed by the Executive Committee before the final (really final) report was presented to the messengers at the Greensboro Convention.  What changes were made to these two recommendations?  Instead of encouraging churches to give 10 percent to CP, the final report would simply encourage churchesto give an increasing percentage of undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program. Recommendation #4 would encourage the election of leaders whose churches “systematically and enthusiastically lead by example in giving sacrificially and proportionally through the Cooperative Program.”

Why were these recommendations changed?  A press release dated May 26, 2006, issued by the President and Officers of the Executive Committee, might give us a clue:

The president and officers of the SBC Executive Committee, in a conference call Thursday afternoon, May 25, 2006, concluded that the convention’s environment has changed dramatically since the February meeting of the Executive Committee when it received the Ad Hoc CP Committee Report and approved its nine recommendations.  Therefore, revisions to two of those recommendations, #3 and #4, will be presented to the Executive Committee prior to the convention in Greensboro.

Why had the environment changed so dramatically following the EC’s approval of the original recommendations?   Rob Zinn, then Chairman of the Executive Committee, issued a statement on May 26, 2006 that, in hindsight, perhaps answered this question too clearly:

When we voted on this in February, there was no intention that we’re telling any church what to give. We as officers of the Executive Committee have been listening to pastors around us – it is coming from large churches, mega churches and even small churches (emphasis added) – the feeling was that we’re telling people what to give. That’s not true.  So, we’re simply changing the wording to make sure our churches understood that what we’re pushing is an enthusiastic response to the Cooperative Program.

My, isn’t that interesting.  After the EC approved specific language ENCOURAGING churches to give 10 percent to CP, they began hearing from pastors of churches.  What kind of churches?  Large churches and mega churches!  Oh, and even small churches.  But, who’s kidding who?  The voices of the pastors of many of our “leading” large and mega churches throughout the SBC were telling the EC exactly what?  Whatever it was, it was apparently enough for the entire Executive Committee to excise the 10 percent language before it reached the floor of the Convention for a final vote.  And, despite Frank Page’s historic election, affirming a strong CP, and despite motions made to re-insert the 10 percent language, the messengers were not inclined to reject the Ad Hoc Cooperative Program Committee’s final recommendations.

Fast forward four years.  In 2010, the messengers to the SBC’s Annual Meeting in Orlando overwhelmingly approved the GCRTF Report which, in some key areas, is seemingly at odds with the 2006 CP report that was also overwhelmingly approved by messengers from our churches.  However, the GCRTF Report did not explicitly (nor perhaps even implicitly) rescind or overturn the will of the Convention when it approved the Cooperative Program Committee’s nine recommendations just four years prior.

If that is the case, and I would submit that it is, then Recommendation #4 is still operative, although obviously, as with all recommendations, not binding upon autonomous churches, local Associations, or State Conventions.  That being said, do you believe that elected leaders at the Association, State, and National levels of the SBC should be from churches that “systematically and enthusiastically lead by example in giving sacrificially and proportionally through the Cooperative Program?” If yes, what would characterize “enthustistically leading by example” and, how would you interpret “sacrificial and proportional giving” to CP?   If no, then what criteria would you use when electing leaders within the SBC?  While I may have a different interpretation than you, there is no right or wrong answer to these questions.  As we discuss, we might find just how close – or how far apart – Southern Baptists are on some key issues that will shape the future of our great Convention of churches in the days ahead.

PostScript:  I want to thank Dave Miller for inviting me to be a contributing writer here at SBC Voices.  I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts and to add my voice to the ongoing discussions among Southern Baptists.  While you may not always agree with what I write, I look forward to the dialogue.  I hope to contribute at least one blog post per week.  Please know that all opinions are mine and that Bro. Dave has not told me what topics that I could or could not write about nor has he limited my freedom of expression in any way.  For that, I am truly thankful.

1 Dave Miller September 29, 2010 at 9:09 am

Glad to have Howell Scott (no relation to CB, as best we can tell, so don’t hold his last name against him) as a contributor at SBC Voices.

I will be on the road today, going to see my grandson! Play nice, boys and girls.

2 Louis September 29, 2010 at 10:59 am

Interesting retrospective.

Probably, the earlier committee got ahead of themselves and thought better about the firestorm they were going to face if they actually proposed a 10% giving “requirement” through CP.

I don’t see this as the conundrum that you may. I see a committee in 2006 proposed one thing (that was adopted?), and another committee proposed the GCR report in 2010 that was adopted.

I would like to think, and I hope, that the GCR report is more reflective of where Southern Baptists are. Giving patterns by different churches are complex. Size, church history, existing debt (ususally due to the age of the congregation), emphasis, philosophy of ministry all play a role.

The choice for the convention is whether it will seek to increase cooperation among Southern Baptist congregations by 1) seeking to push and promote uniformity. Encourage 10% (or whatever percentage) giving. Encourage that type of giving to be a requirement for leadership and/or service; or 2) push and promote diversity. Allow churches to give as they see fit. To give in the directions and through the channels that they prefer. And not to make giving a certain percentage through a certain channel a requirement for leadership or service.

For me, it’s an easy call.

I believe that the SBC would do better promoting the product (the mission boards, the seminaries, LifeWay, the various commissions). Leaving the amount and method of giving as a matter for churches to decide.

I feel the same way about local church giving. I believe that local churches do much better at attracting contributions by having good preaching, good education, good fellowship, good service to members etc. If you do those things, contributions will follow.

The “tough love” approach emphasizes tithing sermons, lots of talk about finances etc.

I do not believe at the end of the day people give more because they are told to, or they are shamed, or they are coerced (i.e. you can’t lead or serve unless you do what I tell you…).

People give over the long haul because they are moved by love and need. One might get a “bump” from a tough tithing sermon. But that’s it. And you never know who you turned off by the bossy approach.

So, emphasizing the things that cause a member to love his church (or a church to love being part of the convention) is the way to go.

I know a lot of young guys involved in church plants. I have seen a lot of them at the Baptist 21 meetings.

If the SBC has a future in reaching new areas and expanding, it will want to keep these guys.

The other vision for the SBC is to become more “pure.” To emphasize a program, and to reward people who follow the program.

That is one way to have an organization. There is nothing illegitimate about it.

It’s just not one that appeals very much to me or many of the people I know.

But I am just one guy, and these are my thoughts.

3 cb scott September 29, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Louis,

Greensboro was an interesting meeting to say the least. I think you are well spoken to say the committee saw the further chaos of that specific meeting if they actually “proposed a 10% giving “requirement” through CP.”

Personally, I think local church autonomy as a Baptist distinctive would have come under scrutiny had the committee not changed the language of their challenge to the Convention.

Also, I think your point about “emphasizing the things that cause a member to love his church” is a far better way to lead church folk to give consistently and sacrificially over the duration of the giving lifetime of the average congregant.

People make sacrifices for that of which they love. Such a reality should inspire pastors and church leaders to strive for excellence in all things. And striving for excellence in fulfilling the Great Commission is the highest of “all things.”

4 Howell Scott September 29, 2010 at 3:04 pm

CB,

The Recommendations by the CP Study Committee were encouragements, not mandates. However, anytime you start “telling” churches to do something, you begin to infringe upon their autonomy. Depending on whose ox is being gored, we may or may not have a problem with issues of autonomy. With money and CP giving, yes. With doctrine and the BF&M2000, not so much.

In terms of giving, I certainly agree that people, at both the local church level and in terms of CP, will give because of a changed heart, not because someone told them to give. I typically do not beat people up about giving, although I could very easily preach a sermon on tithing and see a temporary spike in giving.

In regards to leaders within the local, State or National SBC, does it matter for you how much, if any, their churches contribute to the CP? All things being equal, if you had two candidates running for President of the Alabama Baptist Convention, one from a church whose CP giving was 2% and one whose CP giving was 12%, would their CP giving effect how you voted? Thanks.

5 cb scott September 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Howell,

I realize the challenges were not mandates. The primary reason for my comment in affirmation to what Louis said was due to what I heard and experienced during the Greensboro meeting.

The language of the report from the committee was the topic of no small amount of discussion even before it was presented. It rapidly, along with Ben Cole’s beverage alcohol speech, became a heated item in the hall ways.

Howell, please know that I, in no way, meant to suggest you would not be of a compassionate leader in your local church relating to giving. My point was that people give to that of which they love. A “twisted arm” will give only until one of two things happen: the arm breaks under the pressure. The arm is released to do as it pleases.

Howell, in all honesty, my first consideration in voting for a candidate will be his position theologically. Therefore, I try to find out all I can about a guy’s theology first. Now, if the theology of two guys is of an equal nature, I would normally go with the 12% guy.

But let me say one thing more. The 60′s theologian “Bob Dylan” was right about the SBC. “The times, they are a changin’”

6 Howell Scott September 29, 2010 at 6:55 pm

CB,

Thanks for the response. I did not take it that you suggested that I was not a compassionate leader. I completely agree with your “arm twisting” analogy. I also agree that times are a changin’. Hopefully for the best, but I remain a bit skeptical. God bless,

Howell

7 Gene Scarborough September 29, 2010 at 11:35 am

Howell–

I’m delighted to see this post. It exhibits good research and good questions which deserve a spotlight.

What I see is a CLEAR attempt on the part of many leaders / mega church pastors most—to keep any percentage check away from them! For me, it is the same as the Pharisees not wanting Jesus stading on the steps of the Temple and examining their financial practices with Temple Money and how they enjoyed the “first fruits” being taken from the Alter back to their dinner table!

They were always making it a demand on the faithful to “bring the best.” What they failed to disclose clearly was how what was “given to God” ended up being “given to them” so they could wear fine clothes / be carried in fine chair seats through the dusty streets / be addressed with great titles the same as our “Dr. so-in-so.”

Jesus was about as clear as one can be in Matthew 23 when he called them, among other things, “whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones.” It was actually one of the nicest things Jesus had to say toward the Pharisees.

Meanwhile, Jesus was walking among the poor and lowly / forgiving and talking with the Samaritan woman at the well / healing / feeding the multitude / all the things which people really desired, but were denied by the Pharisees in their attempt to be “great.”

What I notice most is that when the current Pharisees of the SBC do not get their way, they just wait a few years / hope the Average Joe has forgotten how their earlier attempt at control was defeated / try and usually succeed later on. They remind me of spoiled children standing in the corner and plotting how they will win against their parents a little later in the week.

Some years ago the NC Baptist State Convention made a conscious attempt to be sure all churches of all sizes, along with women, were represented on any given Committee. It was formally charged to the Committee on Committees to show in their reccomendations the church size / gender / location of a given candidate.

That simple request was honored for a number of years and, because of it, we had a well-represented and diverse Convention where all felt welcomed.

Sadly, our “bad boys standing in the corner” kept up their pressure and basically ostracized those who still insist on Autonomy / freedom of ministry for a local church to participate. Their magic bullet to eliminate Autonomy came in 2 parts:

(1) Create a new “Incorporation Document” to replace our old Constitution and By-Laws. This was primarily put together by the “new leadership.” It, further, had more than a “great influence” from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary after it’s takeover.

(2) Create a “Financial Policy” which refused to take money from any church they defined as “ministering to homosexuals (as a start).” In recent years that policy is being amended to further control who can participate in giving.

Simply put: If you can’t give, then you can’t vote!

I filed a formal protest with the NC Secretary of State relative to the fact a Financial Policy and Autonomy cannot logically co-exist in a Corporate Document. This complaint was taken and sent to the NCBSC for reply. It was all reported as if it were a “lawsuit.” In reality, it was simply a complaint from a Member of the Corporation who was questioning what the Incorporated Entity was doing.

Would you believe, the NCBSC came back to state they were “not incorporated!” Only the Trustees were incorporated was their excuse! What was most interesting was the fact that for some 20 years the NCBSC had been encouraging EVERY CHURCH to incorporate for their legal protection of members and money!!!! They had a good Lawyer and took some serious money-spending to come up with it, but it managed to fly with the Secretary of State.

I think I pretty well cast the same light you are, Howell, on what goes on privately and what the public preceives!

I got criticism, but no real change. The ways and decisions of the larger body through the Executive Commmittee is tough to put in a clear light. The average Messenger would rather be partying in the Concession / Display area than hanging tight at the Business Session.

We bring it on ourselves through a self-centered preference for the party over the business which is more critical than we realize.

In the case of the NCBSC, the party is over. CBFNC is growing by significant numbers because there is a de facto recognition that the NCBSC is no longer for all the churches to fully participate. In our case, many of the churches defecting are the state’s largest contributors, hence financial problems.

The site of the annual meeting has been moved to a small Conference Center in Greensboro over the larger Coliseum there and at Winston-Salem. Pretty soon, I project, the Men’s Room at Baptist Headquarters can accomodate the “crowd.” Think how much Cooperative Program money we can save then!!!!!

8 Mark September 29, 2010 at 11:49 am

Howell,

I agree that there is no right or wrong answer to these questions. What is very unhelpful in these discussions is when we start questioning motives.

Some times we see comments that the large or mega church pastors want a particular position in place because they want control, to keep their money, etc. Could this be the case? Sure, but without admission from those pastors it becomes more speculation to argue over.

I’m not saying you’ve done this. I just stating the point.

9 Howell Scott September 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Mark,

I hope that I am careful not to judge someone’s motives. However, I do believe that someone’s actions and words can be used to arrive at conclusions about what they believe and how they would govern. I do think it is proper to question those who would be in positions of leadership within our Convention. I think it is proper to disagree with the phiosophies of leaders who we think will take the Convention in a wrong direction. How we ask questions and how we register our disagreements should be in a Christ-like way, but our leaders should be accountable.

10 Joe Blackmon September 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I can see somewhat the point that some SBC leaders have pretty lousy CP giving records. In understand in the SBC that the CP has been ued to fund missions and ministry. Certainly this could be a case of the Have’s telling the Have Not’s “If you don’t do things our way, we’ll take our toys and go home”.

However, as folks discuss the pros and cons of updating/changing the CP I submit there’s something that also needs to be considered–making sure that the leadership installed in place is solidly conservative, not moderate. If you’ve got two people fromw which to chooe: one is the pastor of a mega church with low cooperative program giving but is solidly conservative and another from a smaller church who gives a larger percentage but the pastor calls himself a conservative but it really a moderate and the church is duly alligned (SBC/CBF) it’s very easy to see which of the two is the better candidate.

While people continue to think through how the SBC should handle giving and cooperating together, I hope people will remember that true cooperation and unity begins with unity around the truth of the gospel as revealed in God’s inerrant word.

11 Howell Scott September 29, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Joe,

Unity and cooperation must be centered upon Christ and His Gospel, founded upon the Word of God, and inspired by the Holy Spirit. Without an agreement on the fundamentals of our faith, it is hard to have unity or cooperation.

I cannot envision a scenario in which there was a non-conservative pastor, whose church was dually aligned with SBC/CBF, ever running for President of the SBC. I’m sure that it could happen, but I highly doubt it. What we are talking about is how to determine if someone is a “cooperating” Southern Baptist, particularly when running for an office that would represent the churches of the SBC or a local Association or a State Convention. Some have answered the questions I asked while others have avoided directly answering the questions or have answered questions that I did not ask.

When electing leaders at the Association, State or National level within the SBC, do you think CP giving of their church’s should have any factor in YOUR voting? Does it matter whether a nominee for State Convention President gives less than 1% to the Convention? I think it matters. If you don’t, that’s okay.

12 Joe Blackmon September 29, 2010 at 4:15 pm

I would not rule CP giving out as a factor. My first concern, if I were voting, would be the guys theology. I would want to make sure he was solidly conservative, meaning that he was not accomodating to moderates. Assuming he was, one of the other things I would want to know is his church’s CP giving. I would certainly agree that it does matter, although I’m not sure how much weight I’d put on it. However, I certainly would want to know that.

13 Bob Cleveland September 29, 2010 at 2:15 pm

I’ll repeat what I said in Greensboro .. the money given to the local church is God’s money, not the church’s. The responsibility rests heavy on the leadership of the church to spend that money in a manner pleasing to the Holy Spirit. NOBODY outside the body can tell them how, and to presume to do so, even with a certain percentage of it, is unthinkable.

Judging the suitability of an individual to lead, based on the percentage of giving to the CP, is like judging a good friend of mine’s abilities based solely on his terrific work in our church, while for 15 years engineering the 3rd largest corporate fraud ever.

14 cb scott September 29, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Bob,

You rascal. :-)

15 Bob Cleveland September 29, 2010 at 3:07 pm

CB,

Flattery will get you … well, I guess, lunch.

16 cb scott September 29, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Lookin’ forward to it.

17 Howell Scott September 29, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Bob,

If the pastor of a church was running for elective office within the State Convention or in the national SBC, would the CP giving of the church the he pastors be A factor that you would consider in voting or is CP giving irrelevant when it comes to electing leaders? Obviously, there are many factors that go into electing or selecting our leaders, but I was not sure if you were ruling out CP giving entirely. Thanks,

Howell

18 Bob Cleveland September 29, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Howell, FBC Pelham gives 10% of undesignated receipts, off the top, to the CP. We also give 2% to the local association, and set aside another 2% which we use specifically for missions outreach by our people. We send 100+ people on a summer mission trip (KY, LA, AL, GA, MO, WV, among others), all paid by the church, plus we subsidize our members who want to go on overseas trips. 6-12 of our members will typically go on a half dozen E3 trips to South America, for instance.

I fully support all that. But that’s what our body has decided we should spend God’s money on.

19 Howell Scott September 29, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Bob,

The church I pastor, Bethel Baptist Alamogordo, NM, gives similar percentages to CP and the local Association. I think each local, autonomous church should decide how God wants them to use the resources that He has entrusted into their care. I certainly do not want anyone from Nashville or even our State Convention office in Albuquerque to dictate what we give.

However, I do think that it is legitimate to ask questions of those running for elected office within the Association, State, or national SBC regarding how they cooperate with other churches that they seek to lead. The CP, while not the only criteria of whether a church is a “cooperating” Southern Baptist church, is at least one indicator of support. Thanks for the reply. God bless,

Howell

20 Bob Cleveland September 29, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Agreed.

21 Bob Cleveland September 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Agreed, and amen.

22 SSBN September 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm

I think that in these CP discussions we sometimes lose sight of the fact that the local church IS a mission agency and the US is one of the largest mission fields in the world.

Souls do not become more valuable the further they reside from the local church. The local church deserves a lion’s share of the mission giving in my opinion because without the strong base of local churches, there are no resources for any other mission.

The right amount of support for the CP is what the local church decides. In each case, that will (and should be different). We must be careful not to let the tail (CP) wag the dog (the local church).

23 bill September 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm

We can get people coming out of the woodworks to support a mission team to Nicaragua but we can’t get ten men together to do light construction projects around our small city.

We, the Southern Baptist Convention, have done such a great job glamorizing going off to do missions that the extent of most churches’ local missions are either block parties or whatever the youth group does during the summer.

And no, church plants is not and should not be the sole function of the North American Mission Board. I think it’s time that we start looking at ways to reinvigorate and repair our existing churches in the communities. Either NAMB needs to do this or the state conventions need to do this, the resources are too plentiful to just pay men in suits to shuffle papers and make rote sermons on the Sundays they’re invited to speak.

There are many, many problems that need to be fixed and promoting mega church pastor buddies is not the way to handle this.

24 bill September 29, 2010 at 4:18 pm

As for CP giving numbers…

Why do we celebrate amounts over percentages?

Jesus celebrated the percentages with the widow’s gift.

Shouldn’t we do this same?

Or are we, in fact, the very same pharisees that we claim to NOT be?

25 Gene Scarborough September 29, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Money is just that–a means of moving funds from one place to another. When Jesus said, “The LOVE of MONEY is the root of all evil,” I think it applies here in organized religion.

A new church just trying to reach people for Christ soon begins to take an offering for expenses. We have been well-trained that worship can’t be worship without “taking an offering!”

What if there were no “offering time” in your service. Would you feel naked??? I think so!!!

People tend to want to give when they are right with God. The next question would be, “Give to what?”

Building / leaders / the poor / some missionary / some larger group / a church bus / the options are endless. Sadly, too many churches want to “look good” in the eyes of the community first. Have you ever heard of a Mega Church without a building or not located within eyesight of a major transportaion artery?

Someone, with tongue in cheek. down in Mobile, ALA, called Dophin Way the “Church of the Immcaulate Intersection!” Is this our prime-mover in giving = to look good to the competition????

The CP figure does nothing more than make you feel good about wider participation—-but, in what???

In simple early days of the SBC, that “what” was missionaries to the Indians or to China / Brazil / a few other places. Mostly we sent our Foreign MIssionaries to easy places where Western Civilization was, at least, tolerated. A part of that was to give them the chance to experience our version of religion.

Accompanying our sharing of religion was the automatic judgement that “without our God you will go to Hell.”

The wise Missionaries did not use the above statement as a first point of contact. Usually, they shared their life and love in public and shared their faith as people grew to accept them. In many cases it took years to just begin to form a church or mission in foreign territory. Using Western Culture/Education was a route / medical help another / wells / food / basic human needs for nourishment and sanitation help fill up the list of needs we met with a Bible in our hand and prayer that souls might be saved.

Now our mission enterprise is just a portion of CP giving. It is also based almost solely on Evangelism over other needs that used to be a “first point of contact.” We feel obligated to support something outside the 4 walls of the majority of SBC churches. When we became so Creedal as to violate all the insistance of Autonomy, the majority of SBC churches simply ignored it and kept on giving. You might say, “Giving is addictive.” The addicted person just has to have his fix with little concern for what it is doing to him / how much money his dealer is making!

Now the economy is busted / people can’t even pay their lights and mortgage / they try to give as they did, but can’t. At tithe of $0 is $0!!!!! Few just make $0, but after food / clothes / utilities / transportaion, what is left?

I offer no instant solution. I am pointing out factors which make for this hard time.

What I see is churches of SBC Leaders is putting so much focus on their local needs, they give almost nothing to Denominational causes. Percentage is always a proper way of looking. It puts all churches, no matter the size, on an equal footing. It was the basis of the Tithe. Even more, it was the basis of the Widow’s Mite and Jesus’ comment: “She gave everything she had!”

More important, she came up quietly and slipped her mite in the offering box without the show of the Pharisee attached.

Another good question: “Is it equally important to give of self as it is to give of money?”

26 Joe Blackmon September 29, 2010 at 7:17 pm

When Jesus said, “The LOVE of MONEY is the root of all evil,” I think it applies here in organized religion.

Um, Jesus did not write 1 Timothy. Oh, let me guess, that’s from that complete transcript of everything Jesus said that they keep at Emory, right? (/sarcasm)

27 SSBN September 30, 2010 at 6:54 pm

”’The wise Missionaries did not use the above statement as a first point of contact.””

Gene, I’m not sure you have your history right. Lottie Moon never had a “well-project” but took on the Chinese culture head-on in regard to the evil practice of foot binding.

I do not subscribe to the idea that we need to “warm-up” unbelievers to hear the gospel. I think we just need to give them a clear, simple gospel motivated by a heart of love. The most loving words that could ever be spoken in the English language are: “You are going to hell, but you don’t have to. Let me tell you why.”

In thousands of gospel encounters over three decades only two or three times did the person get offended by a direct approach. Hundreds of others either left knowing the gospel or left knowing the Savior.

The key is not what you say or how you say it, but “why.” As Paul says, “The love of God constrains me.”

Too many Christians are too busy trying to make “friends,” instead of “disciples.” That ain’t never worked.

28 Gene Scarborough September 30, 2010 at 8:06 pm

No one knows EXACTLY how Lottie Moon reached people with the Gospel. She had to come up with something containing love to overcome their cries or “Foreign Devil!!!”

I have known quite a few successful missionaries, both home and foreign. When I talked with them I noticed the warm way they talked and the way they wanted to know who you really are. I think that might be one of their secrets.

I will tell you something which is somewhat a “missionary secret.” My first Staff position was with the son of famous SC missionaries to China. He, in total honesty, said they had a housekeeper / fine home / all the comforts of life as missionaries to China!

Now, the story of Lottie is one of suffering and sacrifice. I’m not sure it is quite that way these days.

I am apalled with the current force being applied to have our missionaries riding across the countryside handing out pamphlets and showing the “Jesus Movie.” They have far too much emphasis on a “head count” or “commitments made” over a real measure of people becoming seriously involved in the Lord’s church and work. You may call it “evangelism,” but I call it “cheap grace and surface religion.”

29 Gene Scarborough September 30, 2010 at 8:13 pm

By the way:

My “get acquainted” questions are along the lines of “Are you really happy in your religious walk?”

“Can I tell you what has helped me along life’s pathway?”
“Tell me about your ‘joy of salvation’ and we can compare notes.”

The last thing I care to do is ask–before getting to know them–”Do you know where you will spend Eternity?” “Prove to me you will be there.”

That turns a religious encounter into a hunting expidition!

Did Jesus ever whip out his pamphlet or offend his new friend with offensive questions?

Did He, instead, simply sit beside the woman at the well and let her start asking why he would bother? What did he ask Zacheus up that tree?

Name ONE where Jesus came on like a Campus Crusade “warrior.”

30 Joe Blackmon September 30, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Name ONE where Jesus came on like a Campus Crusade “warrior.”

Luke 13:1-5 (NASB)
Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Don’t tell me, Gene, let me guess–what “perish” means is “get tickled” or “get shot with a rubber dart”?? Because if perish means, well, perish that sounds pretty menacing and harsh to me. Of course, since you’re not a Christian and don’t believe the gospel your opinion is somewhat, how you say, irrelevant.

31 Joe Blackmon October 1, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Gene,

You
*believe that mormons are Christians.
*believe that a muslims islamic faith is sufficient to save him
*blapheme God’s holy, inerrant word with the above “remix”.

Therefore, you have not believed the biblical gospel and are not a Christian.

32 bill October 1, 2010 at 5:21 pm

“I think first of all a Christian blogger should present a Christian worldview based on God’s word. it is important that we do not come to people with clever words of man’s wisdom as Paul said. I also think we need to demonstrate the love of Christ when dialogueing with those who disagree with us. We need to have the humility to realize that we can be wrong and the willingness to learn from people.” JOE BLACKMON, 2008

33 jack September 29, 2010 at 11:36 pm

I think it’s time for me to be moderated. Like getting thrown out of a bad bar on the bad side of town.

34 jack September 30, 2010 at 12:20 pm

NC Baptist Convention recently met and the proceedings might be of interest to everyone and can be found on ” biblical recorder ” by Norman Jamison, Editor of North Carolina’s Baptist newspaper who attended the meeting.

35 Gene Scarborough September 30, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Here is the heart of the report on the NC Board meeting:

So at the board meeting, Blanton proposed a committee that would gather input from Baptists of “partner churches” across the state.

Blanton, pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Mooresville, repeatedly maintained North Carolina Baptists are a diverse group and said, “the time is right” to invite the input of all North Carolina Baptists to determine with Executive Director-treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. how best to discern, affirm and fund North Carolina Baptist efforts to fulfill the Great Commission.

The Executive Committee endorsed the idea fairly easily but it nearly ran aground later that evening when the full board considered it. It almost disintegrated into generational tensions when Alan Smith of Lake Wylie Baptist Church implied that such an effort gives too much influence to young pastors.

What makes NC particularly interesting is it’s heavy influx of SEBTS students each year. When I came here in 1986, NC was strong on Autonomy and the same warfare going in the SBC was strong here. Where GA / SC / most other “further South” state conventions were considered “taken over.” NC was not.

To the north, VA was not taken over and ultimately split with the CR group separating and leaving.

With every passing year I watched animosity and political scheming under Conservative Carolina Baptists slowly eat away at the fellowship and ultimately “win” with a new Financial Policy restricting the Autonomy of the NCBSC.

Our NC “reality” is that the attendance and giving decline is slightly more so than the SBC. The NCCBF is growing significantly–and doing so with many large churches joining. Of those who have not yet joined, many have a “Demonimational Relations Committee” watching closely how mission money is being used and how Autonomy is being handled.

Adding this splitting force of young ministers wanting things different is not helpful to fellowship. Sadly, I know from personal conversations with SEBTS students that most tend to be confrontational / have little real background in SBC churches / are there due to the reputation shared with Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University—and the low tuition compared with Liberty.

36 Greg Alford September 30, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Everyone…

I have just received word at our Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting last night that our small local Christian School, that is run by a 86 year old saint of a Christian Lady that volunteers her time in order to keep the doors of the School open, is behind in paying their bills by more than $6,000 dollars due to the downturn in the economy. That may not sound like much to you, but it is huge to this very small Christian School. The School is really suffering and the Children are now selling donuts to try and keep the lights on.

NOW… Should I increase my percentage of giving to the C.P. in order to “enhance” my résumé for a leadership position in the SBC, or should I set aside any ambition I might have to leadership in the SBC and give sacrificially to help keep the doors of our local Christian School open?

*** I am not making this up just to prove a point here…. and if anyone would like to help me keep the doors of “The Galilean Christian School” in Defuniak Springs, Florida, open for our children you can send a check to [First Baptist Church, 2877 Highway 81 N., Ponce de Leon, Florida 32455] Please make any checks out to First Baptist Church and put “Galilean Christian School” in the note… Thanks.

Grace Always

37 SSBN September 30, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Greg, we are experiencing the same down turn in the economy and our school is thriving — 60% new students this September.

I think you are creating a false option in only suggesting it is CP or School. Why not think outside of the box and do something different with the school.

I have a plan that works if anybody is interested; but it is a no-nonsense, reject the government model, completely sold-out to Jesus plan.

38 Greg Alford September 30, 2010 at 9:12 pm

SSBN,

I am glad to here that your school is doing fine in these difficult economic times… others are clearly not as fortunate. This school is not run by my church, but several of our children attend and we are deeply concerned for it’s future… So any advice that you or anyone else can give that might help this small school survive would be welcome.

It was not my intention to create a “false option”… my only intention was to share a real world issue that we are facing… How can I possibly tell children of this school no? And what kind of a Pastor would I be if I did so? I have no intention of reducing our giving to the C.P., but neither can I ignore the needs of these children.

Grace Always,

39 SSBN September 30, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Greg, many private Christian schools flounder because they are infested with the same wrong-headed ideas about education as the public school. They buy into the lie of things like accreditation and other myths about education.

Most Christian schools also accept readily the government model, while trying to reject the government method. Both are non-Christian at the base.

Our school would have been out of business last year after 32 years if we had not adopted a fully Christian approach to education. In the process we lost about 4 families, but gained about 40 in the space of one year.

One of the keys is “technology.” By adding a computer component we have been able to increase our academic standards and reduce our costs. But, we had to make a commitment to think outside the box and buck status quo.

40 Lydia September 30, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Greg, keep the school open. It is more important. We are doing the same here in order not to raise tuition.

Let the SBC entity leaders cut their salaries.

41 Marvin Merriweather September 30, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Greg,

It’s important to give to the Cooperative Program. The kids in that school are probably saved and can go to public school for free.

42 SSBN October 1, 2010 at 2:35 am

“”can go to public school for free.””

It will only cost their hearts, minds and souls :(

43 cb scott September 30, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Marvin,

I have stayed away from this debate for the most part, but I have to ask:

Are you saying that the CP ministry takes priority over the ministries of a local church? Are you saying to close down some of the ministries of a local church in order to finance CP ministries?

Or, were you just raggin’ on Greg?

44 Dave Miller September 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm

I have limited access here, so anything that goes into moderation has to wait until I can hijack some access somewhere. Sorry for the inconvenience.

45 Marvin Merriweather September 30, 2010 at 10:31 pm

I just think that if the school is having difficult times, it shouldn’t be a surprise to Greg. After all, this was eternally decreed by God. We call this exhaustive determinism, which Greg wholeheartedly affirms. So this shouldn’t surprise him.

46 Bob Cleveland September 30, 2010 at 10:50 pm

CB,

Take it easy on Marvin. I guess some folks are led to be more concerned about formulas than kids.

47 Marvin Merriweather September 30, 2010 at 10:59 pm

The CP is God’s gift to the lost world. Who cares about Christian kids when the lost need a Savior? I guess I’ll take it easy on you, Bob, since you obviously don’t care whether lost people go to hell.

See the obviously fallacious logic I just used? Think about that the next time you comment, Brother Cleveland. I care about kids, but I just prioritize the lost in this particular situation. I know it may be hard to understand, but if you just try I think you can get what I am saying. The kids won’t suffer since they can go to public school for free, and the lost will get the funds we should sacrificially give for evangelistic efforts and Great Commission obedience.

I’m not saying the school isn’t important, I’m just saying the lost people on earth are more important in this particular instance.

48 Dave Miller September 30, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Group hug, guys.

This is getting unnecessarily confrontational here.

49 cb scott September 30, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Marvin,

Do you really believe all the CP money goes to evangelizing lost people?

50 Marvin Merriweather September 30, 2010 at 11:56 pm

No, I know that not all CP funds go to evangelizing the lost. Again, a false premise has been derived from my statement. I simply see the priority of evangelizing the lost, and CP funds accomplish this, even though not all dollars are specified for evangelistic purposes.

51 cb scott October 1, 2010 at 7:35 am

No Marvin,

There is no false “premise” here. You implied more than once that CP money was for evangelism of the lost. (BTW, you need to examine the meaning of the word “premise.”)

We will use “premise” as you have here.

There is a false premise being stated here and it is by you. You stated that “The CP is God’s gift to the lost world.” That is a false premise. God’s gift to the lost is the gospel of Jesus Christ. God commissioned the Church to proclaim the gospel. God did not commission the SBC to use its CP to proclaim the gospel.

The CP is a means by which local churches may choose to facilitate the proclamation of the gospel. There are many other means at the disposal of local churches by which they may facilitate the proclamation of the gospel.

You said you “know that not all CP funds go to evangelizing the lost.” Therein, you speak correctly. A great amount of the CP goes to educate future pastors, ministry staff and missionaries. It is assumed that every student who attends seminary is a “Christian” just as you assumed that the students in Greg Alford’s school are Christians.

Why is it assumed that the training of future missionaries, pastors, ministry staff, etc. is more important to the Kingdom’s Enterprise at the seminary level than at the Christian grade school level?

Marvin, every local church is accountable to fulfill the Great Commission. It is the responsibility of every local church to seek the best means by which it can fulfill the GC.

If a local church determines that funding a Christian school is a means by which God desires them to fulfill His mandate of the GC to them, then that local church should seek diligently to fund the Christian school.

LOcal church autonomy is a biblical concept. It is not just a Baptist distinctive. It is for that reason that it was a good thing for the committee that reported to the Greensboro SBC in ’06 to have changed the language in their report to assure the convention that there would be no 10% mandate for giving imposed upon Southern Baptist churches.

It is for that same reason that Greg Alford’s church can fund a Christian school in addition to the amount they send to the CP or any other entity without legitimate guilt of any kind being placed upon them.

The gospel, not the CP, is God’s gift to lost people. The CP is just one means of many by which a local church can best fulfill the mandate of the Great Commission.

52 cb scott October 1, 2010 at 7:37 am

BTW Marvin,

I had asked you a question. I had not developed a premise. On the other hand, you did superimpose a premise upon the substance of my question.

53 Jeff October 1, 2010 at 9:38 am

“Cooperative Program” dollars went towards this guy’s salary:

http://www.rogereolson.com/2010/09/07/protestant-purgatory/

54 Jeff October 1, 2010 at 9:46 am

Another example of how Cooperative Program money got spent by a state convention:

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=24299

55 Bob Cleveland October 1, 2010 at 9:47 am

Not to mention the fact that the Great Commission concerns the making of disciples (and my Strong’s says that means the enrolling of learners), as in teaching.

:)

56 Jeff October 1, 2010 at 10:02 am

Cooperative Program dollars go to pay for the salaries of this orphanage:

http://spiritualsamurai2.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/a-little-history-and-buckner-update/

57 Jeff October 1, 2010 at 10:10 am

This is an example of how much typical state convention employees make, all paid for with Cooperative Program money:

http://spiritualsamurai2.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/breaking-the-bgct-salary-code/

These guys all make 2-3 times as much as I do as pastor of a church.

58 Marvin Merriweather October 1, 2010 at 11:56 am

Yeah,

You’re all right. Maybe we could petition the Executive Committee for emergency funds to keep the school open.

You may laugh, but if you don’t try, you can’t complain. If, on the other hand, you try, and are rejected, then we can boycott CP altogether. After all, it isn’t like the CP is God’s gift to the lost world or anything.

59 cb scott October 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Marvin,

I support the CP. I have for a long time.

I have given Annie and Lottie a small fortune and was never married to either one of them. I have served two churches that gave very near 30% to the CP. I have received a salary for CP monies. (So did my wife) The majority of my theological education from four institutions was paid by CP funds.

I support the CP.

Yet, I believe that every local Southern Baptist church is an autonomous entity and is accountable before God as to how they fulfill the mandate of the Great Commission.

Therefore, it is my contention that the SBC has no authority to present giving mandates upon member churches. I believe every church has the right to determine its giving to the CP and any other entity which provides means by which to fulfill the Great Commission.

At the same time, I do question the election of administrative personnel to the governance of SBC entities.

60 cb scott October 1, 2010 at 12:32 pm

That should be:

“At the same time, I do question the election of administrative personnel to the governance of SBC entities who has given little or no support to the CP through their local churches.

61 Gene Scarborough October 1, 2010 at 2:51 pm

cb–

I am amazed at how, on the other blog dealing with moderation concepts and my work in Mobile, ALA, I could choke you—-yet here I could hug and kiss you for having EXACTLY the SAME view I do on CP giving!!!!

If nothing else it proves 2 things:

(1) We are so Baptist we can kill and love at the same time.
(2) In Autnomy we both have the right to totally agree / totally disagree / change our minds / get along for the greater Gospel-sharing good over who is the greatest!!!

At any rate, these discussions are interesting and keep me out of trouble on rainy days when I can’t take down trees!

62 Marvin Merriweather October 1, 2010 at 1:42 pm

CB,

I get your point. I, too, support the CP. And I highly doubt whether giving mandates to the CP will ever be put in place. The autonomy of the local church is the prized ecclesiological position upon which we have always rested.

MM

63 SSBN October 1, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I think we need to remember that autonomy flows both ways: just as local church pastors have the autonomy to give as much or as little to the CP, we, the messengers have the autonomy to reject those who give more lip than money.

64 SSBN October 1, 2010 at 1:57 pm

that is . . . reject them for positions of leadership.

65 jon October 8, 2010 at 11:15 am

I agree totally; the autonomous local church should not be told by the state convention or SBC what they should give. It should be a local decision. HOWEVER, I believe that, ethically, an individual who does not significantly support CP should not be given the privilege of serving as an officer. 10% should be a minimum for anyone to serve as state or SBC leader. This has nothing to do with the local church; it is about ladder climbers who want to have recognition and power over how money is spent without having to give to it. If you don’t want to be criticized for low percentage of giving, simple answer: DON’T RUN!!! I have a hard time figuring out how people who do not support the backbone of our financial infrastructure have the audacity to have their name placed on the ballot or be considered as president of our entities.

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