1, The CP funding program was adopted at the SBC annual meeting in Memphis in 1925.
Todd Starnes has a pretty good summary article on the event here. One notes that the matter was heartily adopted. Guess they didn’t have the mics stacked with people who were after a few moments of notoriety.
2. CP promotion is done mostly by state conventions.
I’m a gracious grader, so give yourself a correct answer if you said either “a” or “c”. The CP is promoted pretty much everywhere in the SBC at every level, by every entity.
3. The largest share of CP revenues has always gone to state conventions.
While the percentage has varied over the decades since 1925, there has never been a year when state conventions did not keep most Cooperative Program revenues. Never. Assignment: Ask some of your key church leaders to tell you where most of the money your church gives to the CP is spent.
4. The average church devotes 5.4% of their undesignated offerings to CP giving.
Most Americans weren’t born the last time the percentage was in double digits. Although the percentage rose very slightly last year, this year should show another decline. The most salient fact about the CP is that churches are giving less-and-less of their offerings through it and have done so for over a generation.
5. The CP has been very rigid and unflexible.
I’ll allow for some subjective opinion on this answer and you can count either “c” or “d” as the correct answer. State conventions have varied a little in the percentages they keep of the CP, some years keeping more and some years keeping less. The allocations to SBC entities has been quite rigid among the IMB, NAMB, the seminaries, ERLC, and Executive Committee.
6. Most SBC presidents have pastored churches whose CP giving was below average, sometimes far below average.
Alas, in public, SBC messengers declare their belief in the Cooperative Program but when they cast their ballots for the most visible SBC leader, they happily elect those whose churches give below average CP percentages, sometimes far below. During the contested years of the Conservative Resurgence, this was understandable. It is only understandable now in recognition that what we value most in an SBC president is celebrity status. I have an article on this. Our current president, Fred Luter, is exemplary in his church’s CP giving.
7. The CP is dying: False
I regularly read folks saying this but the SBC’s Cooperative Program giving plan is a mammoth, garguantuan funding stream that provides almost $500,000,000 to various SBC and state convention ministries. The CP is a legacy brand and has a long future in front of it. It may have peaked and has less “market share” than in its halcyon days but there is no danger of it’s being discarded. The SBC would be unrecognizable without it.
8. Most SBC pastors are unhappy with the CP: False.
LifeWay Research did a survey of pastor’s attitudes five years ago and found that 80% believed their churches attitude towards the CP was overwhelmingly or mostly positive. LifeWay Research will have to work harder to drill down and get to the real truth about pastor attitudes on the Cooperative Program. They haven’t tried so far.
9. The CP provides most of the funding for our SBC entities: False
Check it out. IMB and NAMB have large chunks of their budget funded through the week-of-prayer offerings, direct gifts, and investments and the seminaries have tuition and direct gifts. The much smaller entities, ERLC and Executive Committee, depend on the CP for most of their budgets, so give yourself credit for either a true or a false answer here. The point is that a reduction in CP giving will not harm IMB, NAMB, or most of the seminaries as much as state conventions.
10. Since the adoption of the CP, giving in the SBC has been cooperative as opposed to societal: False.
Another old saw I hear regularly is that the SBC is in danger of moving back from cooperative giving to societal (an odd, archaic ecclesiastical term) giving. Societal giving is that which has each entity making direct appeals and doing direct fundraising with the churches. We never left societal giving (ever hear of Lottie and Annie?) and have since 1925 had a dual system. It would be accurate to say that today we are less inclined towards cooperative giving and more inclined towards societal giving than in the recent past. See my recent article on the closing of the 2012-2013 Cooperative Program books by the SBC Executive Committee.
11. True or False: The Cooperative Program will continue to decline as a percentage of church offering plate dollars.
Speculative opinion require here, so count yourself correct for either true or false. I suspect that the answer is true.
So, how did you do? I would like to think that most SBC pastors would find correct answers to be easy and I’m almost embarrassed to post such simple questions, but experience has shown me that such is not the case.
Critique? Something I need to know? Corrections?
I’m all ears.