What Percentage Should Churches Give the Cooperative Program?

by Mark Lamprecht on September 3, 2009 · 63 comments

Southern Baptist Convention churches exist as a Convention because they cooperate with each other. These churches agree with the larger picture under which conditions they will cooperate with each other. However, it is the nuts and bolts of these conditions and how it all actually works out that is not always agreed upon. Obviously, the SBC comes to a consensus and agrees while at the same time some work for change from various angles.

A curious question looms and the answers should be interesting.

What Percentage Should Churches Give the Cooperative Program?

  • 10% minimum and greater
  • 10%
  • 5 to 10%
  • 3 to 7%
  • 1 to 5%

What number is acceptable? Why? How is this number justified?

Mark Lamprecht
Blog | Examiner Page

1 Todd Benkert September 3, 2009 at 7:56 am

A more fundamental question is: What percentage of our missions giving should go to international missions?

As for your question, ask me again after the Orlando Convention :)
.-= Todd Benkert´s last blog ..3 Tips to Help Visitors Feel Welcome =-.

2 Brent Hobbs September 3, 2009 at 8:10 am

I’m not sure its possible to put a percentage that every church ‘should’ give. I don’t like the idea of even trying. 5% may be fine for one church while 15% is better for another.

For the church I pastor, the answer is “more than we give right now.” I hope with the IMB budget shortfall of last year that many other churches will take the same attitude.

3 John (student at a SBC seminary) September 3, 2009 at 9:12 am

0%

I think the Cooperative Program is a bloated bureacracy that puts too much distance between missionaries and their supporting churches. Many non-SBC Baptist churches are doing a much better job with regard to foreign and domestic church planting.

4 volfan007 September 3, 2009 at 2:45 pm

John,

You do realize that the CP is paying a lot for your education, dont you?

If you think this way, then give your share all back to the SBC, and do not take anymore help from the CP. That would be hypocritical.

David

5 Mark Lamprecht September 3, 2009 at 4:00 pm

I agree with David.

6 Dave Miller September 4, 2009 at 4:17 pm

So do I. That’s becoming a disturbing pattern. For an SBC seminary student to disdain the CP is the ultimate in ingratitude.
.-= Dave Miller´s last blog ..Swine Flu Symptom Check – IMPORTANT =-.

7 Luke Tolbert September 4, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I am also a Seminary student, and while I feel there needs to be an overhaul in how CP funds are spent, I am eternally grateful to the CP for my education. Southern Baptist seminary students have quite the blessing with their education being subsidized to the extent that it is. We have an amazing blessing to have a quality education and little to no cost.

Als0, at least at the seminary where I attend, the students don’t generally disdain the CP, we just want it to be spent more effectively. Most of the students that I know are grateful for the CP but just want it to do what it was originally intended to do.

8 SelahV September 3, 2009 at 10:27 am

Mark…believe that is up to the autonomy of the individual churches. Should “should” even be considered? Some churches don’t even say church members “should” give a particular amount to the church. Just thinking.

9 Mark Lamprecht September 3, 2009 at 10:42 am

I understand the question of how much is difficult and really up to the local church. However, objections come up and certain people at certain times and CP giving is questioned.

So I’m wondering what the answer is. :) Maybe a better question is: How much should those churches who have members serving in official SBC offices give?

I know only a few of you have answered so far, but if we can’t answer the question of how much how can churches be criticized for not giving enough?

10 Barry Wallace September 3, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Mark, should churches be criticized for not giving enough? Unless the convention has already established (or intends to) a minimum percentage that has to be given for a church to be considered in cooperation, the answer is “no” they shouldn’t be criticized.

I think the tendency toward legalism (a completely separate issue which has been discussed to death here) has to be recognized as well. In the most extensive passage in the NT on giving (2 Cor. 8-9), there’s no hint of a percentage. Instead, principles for, and examples of, generous, joyful giving are laid out.

I think I’m pretty much with SelahV on this one. Our churches and our convention would be much better off if we would just stick to those principles and forget about percentages.
.-= Barry Wallace´s last blog ..Moses in India =-.

11 Mark Lamprecht September 3, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Barry, I’m with you.

The lack of agreement here *may* also show that certain leaders shouldn’t be criticized in this area. Unless, of course, they are trying to motivate churches to give x amount more.

With what seems to be a generally accepted accepted position on the tithe for the NT church I thought some SBCer’s would have a 10% type of figure.
.-= Mark Lamprecht´s last blog ..Poll: Should Christians Just Say No? =-.

12 Les Puryear September 3, 2009 at 1:53 pm

I gotta agree with Selahv and others. Each church is autonomous and “should” be giving according to the leading of the Lord. However, when we’re talking about SBC leaders, it seems to me that they should be exactly that: “leaders.” I’ll leave it to others to decide what that means in regards to their church’s giving.

Les
.-= Les Puryear´s last blog ..Why You Should Schedule Your Missions Trip Reports For Sunday Morning =-.

13 Mark Lamprecht September 3, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Les,

Doesn’t the statement about leaders get to the heart of the issue? If we can’t come up with a % basis for the average churches then how do we do so with leaders’ churches? There is really no scale upon which to judge whether or not they are leading in CP giving or not since there is no standard.

14 Dr. James Willingham September 3, 2009 at 2:20 pm

The Cooperative is not a sacred cow, free from criticism. However, there is a great deal to be said in behalf of its continuance. The seminar student’s comment is a case in point. The seminary derives a great deal of its support from the CP as does some of my family members who are missionaries under appointment by the NAMB. The CP maintains a far greater mission program than that of any other denomination of Protestants. On the foreign fields, there are not only missionaries and schools, but even special ministries like medical and deaf undertakings. In one country I met a missionary who dug wells for the local populace. I also met a friend who was there with an independent mission effort. The task on the mission field is huge. There is more than enough work to go around. Years ago I knew of independents who were help out of situations by Southern Baptists. I would think they were thankful for the big pockets and hearts of Southern Baptists. I do not think we are the best by a long shot. I am just thankful we have been able to give so much and send so many for so long. With the future looking so bleak for job seekers, our giving could decline even more and that permanently. Let us do what we can to maintain what is being done. Even Independents have wastage and poor missionaries and failures. I have known of missioanries among the Independents who drew their help from churches and did little or nothing for it. That we have bloat, wasted effort, is no surprise. What is surprising is that we have so much accountability. Sooner or later the garden gets weeded with so many keeping their eyes on what is going on. What can you expect when you have an enterprise of such magnitude as that of SBC?
.-= Dr. James Willingham´s last blog ..The Climax of the Reformation =-.

15 volfan007 September 3, 2009 at 2:47 pm

I’m with Selah and Les on this one. Every Church is autonomous, and there shouldnt be any CP giving requirement in order to be a part of the SBC. But, if you’re gonna be a leader in the SBC, then your Church should be giving well to the CP.

It’s hard to hear people tell us how we need to be giving more to support missions, education, etc, when the person’s Church is only giving 1.01 % to the CP.

David

16 Rick September 3, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Since the Bible doesn’t mention CP or SBC, the answer is extra-biblical. However, several advantages exist if every church is “challenged” to “voluntarily” and “gradually, if necessary” bring their giving up to a specific standard such as ten percent.
(1) EDUCATION: Even though tithing is for individuals and churches, we can still “model” the practice and use it to teach an important stewardship principle.
(2) EQUALITY: The widow only gave two small coins yet her percentage was greater than that of the rich. The Bible teaches not equal gifts but equal sacrifice. Thus, small churches and large churches can both participate in equal giving if it is measured by percentages rather than coins.
(3) STANDARDS: When tithers John and Mary Baptist move to a new community and transfer their membership from the church that gave 10% through the CP to the church that gives 2% through the CP, the missionaries receive a hidden 8% reduction in funding from John and Mary which a consistent standard could eliminate. (4) LEADERSHIP: Paul asked Christians to imitate him as he imitated Christ. If one is in leadership, it is fair and right to ask the question, “What if everybody did what I do?” If the churches led by our SBC leaders are giving 3% or 4% then we can and should ask, “Where would we be today if EVERY church gave 3% or 4%?”

On a final note, the “everybody just give more” argument is an insult to the intelligence of those who are already sacrificing greatly in order to give at a very high percentage level right now. Imagine four guys go to dinner. They eat the same thing and the bill is $100. Three of them put $25 in the middle of the table but one only puts in $10. Then, to make things worse, the one turns to everyone else and says, “This just isn’t enough. We’re short, guys. Let’s ALL give more than we already have.” The other three say, “My friend, you are the one who needs to give more in order for us to cooperate in paying our mutual obligation.”

17 David R. Brumbelow September 3, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Mark,
I believe in the tithe, but I don’t believe the Bible teaches that a church should “tithe” to the Cooperative Program. If a church does give 10% or more through the CP, that’s great and God bless them. Also, a church may give much more to missions in other areas: Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, state & associational missions, independent missions, Gideons, special mission projects whether SBC or otherwise.

Another consideration is that the finances of each church is different. Should a church not give a cost of living raise to the staff so they can send more through the CP?

A church is autonomous and free to give as they feel led. But I would at least say that the Cooperative Program is one of the best ways, if not the best, to give. I would not be for setting a limit to give to the CP; and churches and pastors are cantankerous enough to rebel against that kind of pressure. We should just educate folks about the CP and encourage pastors and churches to give. And thank them when they do.

If a church wants a larger percentage of their gifts to go to the IMB, they can do so by designating a portion of their offerings to the IMB. It just will not be counted as Cooperative Program gifts. The genius of the CP, however, is that it is a way to fund all our mission endeavors (except associational), state, national, seminaries, and international.
David R. Brumbelow
.-= David R. Brumbelow´s last blog ..What Legalism Really Means =-.

18 chris metcalf September 3, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Churches are autonomous
Associations are autonomous
State conventions are autonomous

The SBC is to be structured to help with the cooperation of like minded, missioned and hearted churches. The cooperative program provides a great vehicle to cooperate with and serve many ministries. I am not aware of a percentage mandate. Maybe an unwritten rule than seems to be interpreted as written?

To my knowledge the GCR is to make sure everything we do as SB is measured by and through the Great Commission.

Percentages seem to be a top shelf issue for many and is being presented as kind of a measuring stick when in reality we need to be measured by how faithfully and effectively we are fulfilling the Great Commission.

I am not saying the cooperative program is not important, it is but does it tell the whole story? I am not sure it does.

Just one man’s humble opinion!

19 Dave Miller September 3, 2009 at 6:33 pm

I don’t think that autonomous churches can set a “tax” – a set percentage that all churches must give.

However, if want to be president of this convention, if you want to serve on its Great Commission Task Force, if you want to be a denominational leader, then I want to see a history of significant support for the convention financially.

I do not see how we can put our convention in the hands of people who give 1%, 2% to the Cooperative Program.

You can be a Southern Baptist with minimal contributions. But if you want to LEAD Southern Baptists, I think you should earn that right through generous support.

But that’s just me.

20 Dave Miller September 3, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Vol, I can’t believe I said the same thing you said. What are we going to argue about now?

21 Mark Lamprecht September 3, 2009 at 7:50 pm

So, should we say that giving percentages are up to each church unless that church has a member(s) that desire SBC leadership?

It seems that just by taking the position that leaderships’ churches should give more to lead by example then implicitly this position assumes some sort of minimum giving standard.

22 Dave Miller September 3, 2009 at 8:38 pm

I don’t know about a strict minimum, so there are always going to be gray areas. I am against setting rules for everyone. But I have seen some statistics that bother me a lot about the CP % of many of our denominational leaders. The only thing I have control over is my vote.

If you do not invest in the SBC, how can you lead the SBC. That’s the principle.

Defining that becomes the problem. 10% 5% What’s the minimum? I don’t know, but I know that no one who gives one or two percent will get my vote for president.
.-= Dave Miller´s last blog ..Swine Flu Symptom Check – IMPORTANT =-.

23 aaron September 3, 2009 at 9:04 pm

My feeling right now is the CGR was specifically set up so we will change how CP dollars are counted. By looking who is on the committee and the CP giving of their churches it would appear an agenda was preset. From the video at the Arkansas Q and A you can tell how a few of the mega church pastors were miffed by some of the questions about giving. I hope I am wrong and the GCR taskforce is all about really looking to how we can do missions better not just how we change how we give. We need streamlining and many changes with our bloated structure but I am not sure cutting the state convention dollars will be the answer.

24 Dr. James Willingham September 3, 2009 at 10:01 pm

The problem is that some of the leaders of conservative resurgence back in the 70s & 80s were not noted for great giving by their churches to the CP. But churches have the right to give as they see fit, and the pastor does not always have the influence to secure and increase. The church I pastored was a small country church, but we did increase ourgiving 100% in one yr. However, due to the fact that we were small no one ever noticed or commented. Not that you do those things for that purpose. Getting members to go overseas was the best method to get the church to increase its giving. Once they saw the need, they were wlling to do more. Even trips to mission areas within those covered by the NAMB will help to motivate a church to improve its giving to the cooperative program. Few Baptists have any real conception of just how vast the operations are that are sustained on a yearly basis. Go granttht we might began to see just what is being accomplished. And let us organize to pray for the progress of the Gospel on every side.
.-= Dr. James Willingham´s last blog ..The Climax of the Reformation =-.

25 Jason Smathers September 3, 2009 at 11:34 pm

Hunt seemed to think that the percentage was not important from what I heard in the GCR Task Force breakfast recording.

I am not convinced that our CP dollars are being used wisely, I hope to see some changes or some reassurance of that come from the GCR Task Force.
.-= Jason Smathers´s last blog ..WORDsearch 8 Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible, a review =-.

26 jack September 3, 2009 at 11:59 pm

There are a lot of people who think they are Entitled to more money Forever. That they can Demand it thru coercion or intimidation. Got news for you. Nobody Spends the Church’s money but the Church’s Congretation. A good pastor leads but not down the primrose lane and his Church is able to sustain itself in bad times – hopefully. That should be the test of a person to be a SBC “leader” – not how much money he’s given away! I believe Johnny Hunt has the business sense and track record along with the management skills. You don’t hear him crying that his church doesn’t have enough money. That’s the problem the SBC has now. They’re overstructured. Go to Lifeway and demand they give more back to SBC. Go to Broadman & Holman and demand they give more back to SBC and see what they tell you if they’ll even talk to you. They’ll probably tell you their too busy trying to make a living in trying times to hear you cry! A mission (hunting) trip to Alaska would be good about now if I could get somebody else to pay for it.

27 Joe Miller September 4, 2009 at 1:37 am

Your question begs the issue.

The problem is the focus is placed on the “should” and “percentage” of giving instead of the”people” and “generosity” needed to fulfill the Gospel mission.

Asking the wrong question, only gets wrong answers.
.-= Joe Miller´s last blog ..A Parable of Political Compassion =-.

28 Barry Wallace September 4, 2009 at 11:17 am

I really agree with that. “Should” and “percentage” are the wrong things to be discussing, which is what I was trying to get at in my previous comment about focusing on principles instead of percentages.
.-= Barry Wallace´s last blog ..What Biblical Counseling Isn’t =-.

29 Mark Lamprecht September 4, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Joe and Barry,

The focus might be wrong, but the aim of the question wasn’t for it to be the *right* or *wrong* question. Rather, it was to be *a* question.

It reminds me of a friend who was once told by church leadership that he wasn’t giving enough. So when he asked how much he should give, leadership couldn’t give him an answer. That is quite a predicament to be in.

It reminds me of some of the current comments. No one can say how much, but there are opinions of what too little looks like for certain people. So I asked the question(s) out of curiosity. This is how we learn things like “that’s the wrong question” as well as get input from others. ;)

Maybe we could get a national average of CP giving and then all a leader’s church must do it exceed that average. Then he can then call for others to give more since he is above average. :)
.-= Mark Lamprecht´s last blog ..Poll: Should Christians Just Say No? =-.

30 Barry Wallace September 4, 2009 at 4:49 pm

I understand and agree, Mark. I don’t think it’s ever wrong to ask questions, even if in the end it becomes apparent that our questions are the wrong ones.
.-= Barry Wallace´s last blog ..What Biblical Counseling Isn’t =-.

31 Mark Lamprecht September 4, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Gee, thanks Barry.

If my questions, are without question, the wrong ones then I hope I never hear again about how such and such a leader’s church doesn’t give enough to the CP.

32 Another Rick September 4, 2009 at 10:18 am

The autonomy of the church is important in not requiring a certain percentage to be a part of the SBC and the Cooperative Program. My problem is when committees are appointed to set budget and direction of the SBC and the “major players” are from churches that give less than 5% to the Cooperative program.

People who give little or nothing are routing finances of churches who are faithful in giving, to their own agenda.

I’m asking a little more tangible commitment from those who want to be in leadership position. Probably many examples of this, past and present, can be pointed out.

33 Robert Reeves September 4, 2009 at 1:40 pm

This is a very good discussion and one that is very needed. I, too, agree that this is a decision for every autonomous local church to make on its own based on the Lord’s leading. I work for the Kentucky Baptist Convention though and I believe very strongly in the Cooperative Program because I have seen it work so effectively. (Yes, I know the fact that I work for a CP-receiving organization may make my opinion suspect to some but my job also gives me an up close and personal view that I hope makes my opinion a well-informed one.) No, nothing is perfect, but I sincerely believe that CP is an extremely effective way of supporting missions and vital ministries both at home and abroad. There’s a high degree of accountability in the system and the givers (by participating as messengers at annual meetings and by electing Mission Board representatives) get to prayerfully decide how the funds are divided and among which worthy causes.

That said though and regardless of how you feel about what percentage a church “should” contemplate giving, the fact is that the percentage that churches “are” giving has been on a long slow slide. For instance, here in Kentucky we’ve seen the average percentage that churches here give to support missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program slide from 10.1% of undesignated offerings in 1997 to 6.9% in 2008. And although Kentucky is blessed with many, many generous churches for which we are very grateful, growth in CP giving has not kept pace with inflation in many years. In the 11 years that I have been with the convention, the Mission Board staff has never seen an increase in available program dollars which means that due to inflation, we are faced with trying to do more with less. Fortunately, we’ve been able to use new technologies and methods to do just that but it has never been easy.

One of the reasons I am grateful for this Great Commission Resurgence discussion is that it has gotten Southern Baptists thinking and praying really hard for God’s guidance on how to best fulfill the Great Commission. I think He will honor those prayers and will give us discernment and wisdom for moving forward in a way that pleases and glorifies Him!
.-= Robert Reeves´s last blog ..Kentucky ‘Connects’ to Fulfill Great Commission =-.

34 Mark Lamprecht September 4, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Robert, I really appreciate your input here.
.-= Mark Lamprecht´s last blog ..Poll: Should Christians Just Say No? =-.

35 SelahV September 4, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Robert, thanks for offering your input here. I for one appreciate the service you give to Baptists. The slide in the CP could very well be because of all the negative discussions going on about the CP in general. And just as the leaders of the church help bring their churches to give more, they can lead their churches to give less by beating down the CP for some particular they do not agree with.

I’m grateful to the CP for all the things I see it doing. In each church my husband pastored in KY while he was pastoring, the churches gave more than 10%…most of those churches were giving larger percentages long before we got to them, though. Everything a church does or doesn’t do goes hand in hand with the leadership (good of bad) of their churches. Sometimes the pastor has no input because the churches are already “led” by a group within the church they pastor. Sometimes it takes years for a pastor to gain the trust of their people to bring them to new attitudes for giving. But sometimes (and I believe it is norm) the ministers do not stay in their churches long enough to build that trust. But if the younger ministers who graduate (and most of the KY churches are pastored by younger seminarians because of their proximity to Southern), are led to think ill of the CP, that it is some humongous bureaucracy of grab all it can from the churches and blow it all as they will and whim, then it is not surprising there would be a decline in CP giving. Plus you probably have more of the elderly who’ve always believed in the CP who are dying off and leaving the churches to the younger people who have not been as educated in what the CP does so they see the immediate needs of their own programs and ministries as more important to spend their money on. It really does have a lot to do with the education of what the CP is. I find it rather interesting that in this one comment stream we have a person going to seminary that is funded by CP who thinks we don’t need to give anything to the CP. So we have percentage to percentage how he may represent others who feel this way.

May God lead us all to more generousity as we go forward in our walk with Him. Not for ourselves but for His ministries around the world. selahV
.-= SelahV´s last blog ..TESTING IT ALL…by SelahV =-.

36 Robert Reeves September 4, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Thanks SelahV. I know that many factors can impact a church’s giving percentage so I wasn’t seeking to judge what that should be but to simply share information about the trend. I know one of the factors that has impacted many churches but that has not gotten much attention has been the cost of providing health insurance for staff members. As churches have struggled with handling steep increases in this area, it has been difficult for some to be able to maintain or increase missions giving. Other church needs and the desire to do more hands-on missions both in the local missions field and through missions trips abroad are also factors that impact church CP decisions. I’m sure there are many other factors as well. I know it can be a challenging task to be a part of church leadership and put together a budget that meets all of the needs.
.-= Robert Reeves´s last blog ..Kentucky ‘Connects’ to Fulfill Great Commission =-.

37 SelahV September 4, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Robert, I didn’t think you were asserting blame on anything. And neither do I intend to do so with my speculations. There are so many variables (economic ones too), that we all can see that it gets harder and harder to budget what we receive in our churches. And the smaller churches are really getting hit as they try to provide for a pastor and his family as well as reach out. As prices skyrocket for essentials such as fuel, food and health-care, every one will feel the pinch of getting by with less. We depend more and more on miracles of God’s provision every day. May God bless you and yours richly. selahV
.-= SelahV´s last blog ..TESTING IT ALL…by SelahV =-.

38 jack September 4, 2009 at 6:50 pm

The comment from the wife of a pastor to me is on target. But, always a but , why dont some see the decrease in giving as a result in the decrease in Baptist church memberships and that is aggravated by a poor economy currently. The preachers are in the drivers seat. Only some people today will send their money in for an original piece of the cross or for a prayer cloth that will heal everything. I’ve heard that as well as seen a Baptist preacher after giving his sermon hold up two of his DVDs and tout them as his best yet. If you’re going to be regarded as Professional representing a true and honest religion, then act Professionally. I’m not going to say what that is because I believe in freedom of speech from the pulpit with or without the IRS considerations. But I will say we have alienated people in our public schools, unions, ethnic groups, fraternal organizations, one political party or the other (we only have two mainly) and that doesn’t leave many left who even want to visit to hear you PREACH THE GOSPEL! Say what you want to say but to me you alienate a large sector of the people when a couple of Baptist preachers (one SBC) prays for God to kill the President!

39 Bill September 4, 2009 at 7:29 pm

I say this without intended insult to folks who have benefited from CP dollars, but I wonder how many people know that CP dollars fund seminaries? I’d be willing to bet that a great number do not. I suspect they think that most of that funding goes to support missionaries.

Please understand that this is just a hunch on my part, but if my premise is correct and many are ignorant of where CP dollars go, how do you think that would influence their giving if they availed themselves of the facts?

As far as that goes, I don’t know myself how much of each CP dollar our church gives goes to directly support missionaries. Can someone tell me?

40 SelahV September 4, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Bill, I take no insult in your question at all. When I first became a Christian and member of the So. Baptist Church in East Hartford, Connecticut (now called FBC-Manchester), I learned that the CP monies went to fund seminaries, missions, hospitals, agencies etc, within the SBC. The WMU (Women’s Missiionary Union) was big on educating the congregation of this and so was the pastor. We also knew that because our agencies were already in place that every dime of the Lottie Moon Offering, the Hunger Offering, went directly to the mission field because we didn’t have to pay for administrative costs like the CARE, Children’s Funds, and World Hunger funds we saw advertised on television that were literally eaten up with administrative costs.

So…I think it would be a great thing if the So.Bpt. churches knew exactly where all their CP dollars go. We do a mighty work with them. And yes, there is probably lots of waste (as is the case with any large amount of money and administrative situations). But we should specify to the churches exactly how many dimes and nickels go where. Great point. Worthy of emphasis. selahV
.-= SelahV´s last blog ..TESTING IT ALL…by SelahV =-.

41 jack September 4, 2009 at 9:59 pm

It’s correct to say there is waste in every corporate set-up, but if a person can steal a million dollars and not get his hand slapped thats a little beyond taking home razor blades and pencils. Its rumored that certain SBC employees wives have their own office staff. That should be looked at and reported on. Nobody wants their ox gored; but the fact remains that the money that constructed or bought all these Seminaries with the beautiful Rotundas and purchased these businesses and their obligations is not NOW enough money to support it all. Maybe there’s nothing wrong at all and we are just amagining red ink.

42 SelahV September 4, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Everyone: Please pray for Abby Ayers in the loss of her husband. He pastored in Lavonia, Georgia and was killed by plainsclothes officers in a botched drug sting according to Baptist Press. selahV
.-= SelahV´s last blog ..I’D RUN TOO =-.

43 Matt Svoboda September 5, 2009 at 2:17 am

I havent chimed in at all in this conversation, but here I go…

Mark has done something that is greatly needed. There has been great hypocrisy within the SBC in the area of giving to the CP, especially when looking at “percentages.” Most in this thread have pretty much told Mark the questions aren’t valid because the churches are completely autonomous and there should not be a set standard/minimum that churches ought to give. I agree with this, there should not be a set standard/minimum for any churches, at all.

YET, it is by this standard(the standard no one believes in) that we hold our leaders accountable. It is incredibly hypocritical, even laughable, that we are oppose this so strongly and yet when Mohler, for example, announced his bid for Presidency people looked directly at what percentage his church gave to the CP.

Now, I agree that the leaders of the SBC ought to lead in this area as well… But what does that mean to “lead” in this area? I sure hope to lead in this area does not mean to try to be part of the church that does whatever it takes to throw as large as a percentage of the churches budget to the CP as possibly. Is this a givings race? Of course not… Then why are we holding our leaders to this “standard?”

We say, no minimum… Then we see a leader’s church gives 3% percent and we act as if he is a traitor or something. If there is to be no minimum then there should be no minimum standard we hold are leaders too. If Mohlers, or anyone elses, church feels God leading them to only give 3% to the CP that year in order for them to give a much larger amount than normal to help with community development and more local outreach initiatives we ought to applaud and thank God that a church is willing to do something that might not look great, for the leader, in order to obey the Spirits leading.

Let us be consistent. If there is no minimum then lets not try to put an “acceptable standard” on our leaders and churches. There should not be this attitude in the SBC of, “If you want to be a leader in this convention, be sure your church is giving at least 10% to the CP.”

Now, where does that leave us? Would this attitude in the SBC make giving decrease? I sure hope not… If giving goes down it merely shows that our churches dont believe in what our convention is doing. I dont think this is the case. I think that when churches and leaders didnt feel they were being held to a “standard” giving would increase. If churches believe in the work of the convention the will give, and give generously. If they don’t, the wont. We dont want a standard, at all. If we had a standard we would not get to see whether or not our churches were buying into what the convention is trying to accomplish, the churches would merely be giving in order to keep the SBC name. If the SBC starts going in a bad direction I pray that churches stop giving. I pray that our leaders would recognize this, examine the convention, and get “refocused.”

Well, that is all for now.

44 Dave Miller September 6, 2009 at 12:23 am

Here’s my position, Matt. I am against rules and set levels. But the only thing I have control over is my vote. And if a candidate for President of the SBC shows a consistent pattern of low Cooperative Program support (and since its my vote, I have to decide what constitutes “low”), he does not get my vote.

I would not advocate any kind of percentage vetting. But I do reserve the right to withhold my vote.
.-= Dave Miller´s last blog ..Swine Flu Symptom Check – IMPORTANT =-.

45 Matt Svoboda September 6, 2009 at 1:03 am

Dave,

Will you vote for me? Thats all I really want to know. :)

46 Dave Miller September 6, 2009 at 8:22 am

Are you running? I’ll give your nomination speech. I’ve always wanted to do that.
.-= Dave Miller´s last blog ..Not Loving the Joba Rules =-.

47 Andrew September 7, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Matt,

There is a standard for giving already in the SBC guidelines:

Article III. Membership: The Convention shall consist of messengers who are members of missionary Baptist churches cooperating with the Convention as follows:

1. One (1) messenger from each church which: (1) Is in friendly cooperation with the Convention and sympathetic with its purposes and work. Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior. And, (2) Has been a bona fide contributor to the Convention’s work during the fiscal year preceding.

2. One (1) additional messenger from each such church for every two hundred and fifty (250) members; or for each $250.00 paid to the work of the Convention during the fiscal year preceding the annual meeting.

(SBC Consitution, http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/legal/constitution.asp)

Note the emphasis on money: “a bona fide contributor”, “One (1) additional messenger…for each $250.00″. I don’t know if anyone has ever done a study on this, but I bet that more messengers are assigned under the $250 rule that under the 250-member rule…in other words, the 10-messenger cap is reached at the (small) church giving its CP dollars well before the megachurch with its 2500+ roll!

If we care about CP giving, why not change the rule to make it one messenger per 1% CP giving? And I agree with Dave (below): My vote is based on what I count as consistent support for the Convention-i.e. baptisms and CP giving
.-= Andrew´s last blog ..UPDATE: Hammond resigns from NAMB presidency =-.

48 Bill September 5, 2009 at 8:02 am

Forgive my continued ignorance, but is the somewhat luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by our seminary presidents funded by CP dollars? Are commissioned portraits funded by the CP?

I think you can see where I’m going. If people want to fund all the things (and no doubt more) that SelahV listed, terrific. But if churches want their money to go in a more direct and efficient route to support missionaries, we shouldn’t be surprised that their CP percentage is low.

49 Matt Svoboda September 5, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Bill,

What is funny about us Southern Baptists is that we love to have these nice beautiful seminaries, including Presidential office, and then we throw a fit when we realize that nice buildings cost money.

50 Bill September 6, 2009 at 8:27 am

Matt: “we love to have these nice beautiful seminaries, including Presidential office,” I don’t think I’m included in that “we.” I don’t think spartan austerity is necessary, but people are giving money to help fulfil the great commission. Managing that money and training missionaries necessarily requires some overhead costs, but luxury doesn’t fit in with that.

51 Mark Lamprecht September 7, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Bill, you raise a very interesting point of concern. Will the CGR task force look at the internal use of funds for such lifestyle expenditures? Will the question arise as to whether or not they are necessary?
.-= Mark Lamprecht´s last blog ..Westboro Baptist Revealed: Evangelized, Interviewed, Reviewed (Updated) =-.

52 Rick September 5, 2009 at 9:50 am

It is naive to think that no standard, formal or informal, will ever emerge when people contribute to a common fund. Our leaders “should” raise their “percentage” to a standard that, if followed by all of our churches, would result in the adequate funding of our missionary endeavors. Unless they do, 3% will become the new informal standard. If the church I serve redirected our 10% to 3% we would free thousands of dollars to bring up low salaries, help struggling ministries and provide needed repairs. We have been sacrificing our own needs to support missionaries on the field, but we cannot do it alone. If others will not follow our 10% lead then perhaps we will follow their 3% lead. Autonomous selfishness will spread throughout the convention until all churches are giving 3%.

53 jack September 5, 2009 at 12:59 pm

I didn’t want to say this but after two blogs and one statement otherwise it’s necessary so here goes; “You can’t outrun a bullet”. All that’s necessary for the GCR process to work is for people who see wrong to speak up! People are starting to get it. Johnny Hunt has an email site and I’m told he reads every one. If I lived closer to Lavonia , Ga. I’d go there this Sunday.

54 Rick September 5, 2009 at 2:56 pm

It does not interfere with anyone’s autonomy to suggest a reasonable percentage range for voluntary giving. As an example, when you go to a restaurant, you are only “legally” required to pay for the meal. However, it is customary to pay an additional 15% to 20% as a tip for the server. Unless the service is incredibly bad, I don’t mind saying that you “should” give such an amount, even though I recognize your autonomy to give 3% or even nothing at all. While my practice is to give 20% I consider even those who give 15% to be “cooperative” with the generally accepted system of supporting America’s restaurant workers. If our current 6.6% average church giving through the Cooperative Program is not getting the job done, may I suggest that all churches be encouraged to voluntarily give between 7% and 12% or even more than that? Let’s give missionaries the same kind of reasonable yet voluntary percentage range that we afford our waiters and waitresses.

55 Dr. James Willingham September 5, 2009 at 9:28 pm

If the economy keeps heading for the bottom, all of us could soon be wondering where our next meal is coming from. There are forces at work which want to bring about an economic collapse in order to make the changes they desire in order to get a firmer grip on things. Mr. Lewis touches upon this in his sci/fi novels. Is the hour that is to try the whole earth (Rev.3:10) coming upon us? It has always been the last hour since I Jn.2:18 was written. Apocalyticism has been with us from the first century, but the end results are still to be discerned. John Bunyan and Jonathan Edwards provided us with some insights in to this. While some waste the gifts of saints, others labor to get the maximum from them in a way honoring to God. Remember our Lord chose Judas and he kept the money. He was also a thief. An apostle who stole! Imagine that! However, he went to his own place. Let us do the best we can, make what corrections we can, and get on with the task at hand. Our duty is to be faithful with what we have. There are always those who love to have the pre-eminence and who abuse their trust. We do not have to answer for them; we have to answer for our own conduct and behavior. And that is enough to give any one pause for thought, if they think at all. And the ones who abuse and misuse their positions will have to answer for it – perhaps sooner than they think.
.-= Dr. James Willingham´s last blog ..The Climax of the Reformation =-.

56 John McGill September 7, 2009 at 12:29 am

Since the CP does not recognize matchable funds, I was forced to by pass the church, state convention and SBC.

This information was taken from the 2008 Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention.
http://sbcvoices.com/cp-budget-08-09/
TOTAL BUDGET ALLOCATION $205,716,834.00 (100.00%)
WORLD MISSION MINISTRIES $ 149,741,283.47 (72.79%)
· INTERNATIONAL MISSION BOARD $ 102,858,417.00 (50.00%)
· NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD 46,882,866.47 (22.79%)
THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION MINISTRIES$ 45,586,850.41 (22.16%)
· SWBTS 9,869,277.53 (4.81%)
· SBTS 10,234,743.04 (4.98%)
· NOBTS 9,067,137.17 (4.41%)
· SEBTS 8,540,412.74 (4.15%)
· GGBTS 3,713,996.94 (1.81%)
· MWBTS 3,640,562.61 (1.77%)
· HISTORICAL LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES 493,720.40 (0.24%)
ETHICS & RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION $ 3,394,327.76 (1.65%)
GUIDESTONE FINANCIAL RESOURCES -0- (0.00%)
SBC OPERATING $ 6,994,372.36 (3.40%)
LIFEWAY CHRISTIAN RESOURCES -0- (0.00%)
http://sbcvoices.com/cp-budget-08-09/

1. Assume a six seminaries amount of $45,000,000.00(22%)

2. Assume the state conventions pass along 50% of their funds = (½) X 22% = 11% of the funds they get at the state level.

3. Assume churches give 7% to the state conventions = (7/100) X 11% = 0.77% of the funds given at the local church level goes to the six seminaries. If you look at the total dollars given at the local churches I am sure the amount to fund the six seminaries is less than .5% of the total dollars given. This means if we can find matching funds for .5% of the funds at the local level and send these matching funds through the CP system, the six seminaries would have twice the amount of money they now have to fund their operations.

4. The best estimates are that of all the funds given to all charities 1%-10% are matchable funds. As (3) above indicates we only need to find .5% of the total funds that are matchable to double the amount the six seminaries have to fund their operations.

5. I have proposed for over 10 years that the CP program which includes the churches, state conventions and the SBC be opened to recognize matchable funds at the church level, state level and SBC level and pass the matchable funds to the six seminaries so their operating funds can be doubled and more. I have personally used matching funds to help God help me generate over $1,000,000.00 to fund SWBTS and SBTS over the last 10 years. The matching funds came from the General Electric Company(started the gift matching program in 1954) at a rate of $50,000.00 per year. Since the CP does not recognize matchable funds, I was forced to by pass the church, state convention and SBC.

John McGill,
General Electric Company retiree

Please E-mail me with your comments, questions or your desire for more information.

57 jack September 7, 2009 at 2:34 pm

I am aware of a man who reached into his own pocket and tore down a fire trap and completely rebuilt a seminary and/or college building – a large building with all the bells and whistles. I hope the people with the “smarts” are in the wings ready to straighten this mess out. I’m sure the final numbers will be staggering.

58 Stephen Newell September 9, 2009 at 12:22 pm

What we need is good, old-fashioned prosperity preaching in every Southern Baptist Church. I say we have an SBC at Lakewood Church with brother Joel Osteen as the keynote speaker. Breakout sessions with Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, and a special comedy presentation by Robert Tilton.

Then we’ll see the dollar signs flow.

/tongueincheek

59 Dr. James Willingham September 9, 2009 at 4:33 pm

To Brother Newell: Hilarious! I had to laugh. No doubt, we would get a upsurge in giving…………..until……….the economy hit rock bottom in reality therapy.
.-= Dr. James Willingham´s last blog ..The Climax of the Reformation =-.

60 David R. Brumbelow September 9, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Stephen,
Did you know that we did have an SBC at Lakewood Church? Well, sort of. The historic 1979 SBC was held in the Summit in Houston, TX. That is the building that is now used ( a long term lease) by Lakewood Church.

I know, I was there in 1979. Of course, you can make what you want out of that historical tidbit.

That was the annual SBC in which the Conservative Resurgence began, and the one in which Adrian Rogers was elected president.
David R. Brumbelow
.-= David R. Brumbelow´s last blog ..Wit And Wisdom Of My Dad =-.

61 jack September 10, 2009 at 2:41 pm

It was the Professors and the Students at Oral Roberts University that exposed him and later on his son and his wife who reportedly had a $50,000 /yr wardrobe allowamce. Oral’s now with Benny Hinn or Benny Hill . Some of these guys show up and make a splash in some circles , but they don’t last but so long . Baker , of PTL Club fame, in North Carolina went to prison crying and in handcuffs. Paybacks are hell!

62 Dr. James Willingham September 10, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Falsehoods never fail to have a bad payoff. jack is quite right about that.

63 Artemio Burns January 7, 2010 at 11:48 pm

A little late in joining this thread but I came across it while trying to find out what percentage of CP dollars actually go to missions. I recently read (sorry, don’t remember the blog) that it is less than 30%.

By way of providing some background, we are a small bi-vocational church with less that 100 members and a budget of just over $100,000. We give 10% (5% to our local association and 5% to our state convention). In addition, we give 2% to help support a missionary family in the Phillippines and periodically support a mission work in Central America, neither of which are affiliated with SBC.

No report from the state but our local association puts out a report which shows that in terms of actual dollar amount, our little bi-vo church consistently gives much more to CP than many of the larger churches in our association. Many, both large and small, give zero dollars.

We praise God for the opportunity to give to missions and I am neither bragging nor complaining. Here’s why…

First, the NT teaches how to give not how much. The decision on how much to give rests entirely with the individual and by extention this would also apply to the local church as a body. It is important to understand that how much anyone gives has more to do with their attitude towards giving than with how much they have.

Second, no individual or church should hold itself to a standard set by another. Jesus is our standard and we should be prayerfully striving to measure up to Him. I am not saying we cannot learn from each other, and we should certainly encourage each other in all areas of Christian living to include giving. However, our standard is Christ who gave His life for His church and when we start looking at each other to determine how we should conduct ourselves we’ve missed the mark.

NOTE: I still don’t know what percentage of CP dollars actually go to missions. Brother John McGill gave us the figures and percentages but I would like to know how it breaks down. What percentage of the 72.79% actually goes to support our missionaries and what percentage is retained for “administrative” costs. Does anyone know?

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