Another “Plodder” examination of the workings of the Cooperative Program. William Thornton is the SBC Plodder and always has an interesting perspective on the SBC’s inner workings.
Editor’s note: If you want a good laugh, follow the link and read the Rev. Dr. Thornton’s latest post about Theological Triage. Nice work. Now, back to the CP
I blogged earlier in Cooperative Program Confusion about how state conventions, by utilizing accounting presentation techniques that are perfectly reasonable and understandable to them, probably confuse average Southern Baptists about the distribution of Cooperative Program gifts from the churches.
An average of about 63% of all monies given in churches through the Cooperative Program is retained by respective state conventions. Many would like to see this move to a 50/50 split. That’s clear enough, right?
Read the following paragraph, a report in SBC Life on the recent meeting of state convention executives:
[State convention executives] agreed to begin moving toward a 50/50 split of Cooperative Program receipts, after shared ministry expenses have been subtracted, between the respective state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention.
There you have it: 50/50 – half to the state conventions, half to be distributed to the SBC mission boards, seminaries and the rest.
Note the phrase after shared ministry expenses have been subtracted.
These shared ministry expenses are monies that stay with the state convention, every single penny so labeled. There is nothing nefarious about this. The explanation is that if states are going to collect for SBC entities, let them deduct their expenses.
But then, if God is in the Cooperative Program concept, the devil is in the details. Some states allot as much as 20% of their entire budget to these “shared ministry expenses.”
Presto! 50/50 becomes 60/40. Only 40 cents on a CP dollar gets out of the state and on to seminaries and mission boards, yet state conventions may accurately say that this is a 50/50 split.
State executives have sensibly recognized the value of limiting this soft accounting practice and recently agreed among themselves to limit shared ministry expenses to 10%. Good. Now…
Voila! 50/50 only becomes 55/45.
What SBCers can expect out of this 50/50 talk is that state conventions will make a good faith effort to move from keeping 63 cents of every CP dollar to keeping only 55 cents on that dollar.
Good. To take about a 13% cut in revenues is a move in the right direction and is not an insignificant development. But neither does it convey much clarity.
I’d bet that the average SBC pastor or layperson if they are told there is a 50/50 split, thinks that 50/50 is 50/50, not 55/45.
Nope. 50/50 is actually 55/45.
But whaddoIknow, I’m just a plodder in this business.