For the record, I’ve always supported and given to the CP in my churches. More than average in some, less in some. The SBC would be unrecognizable without it and it is here to stay. All churches in friendly cooperation with the SBC should support it. Didn’t ask, but everyone knows CP giving is not required to be SBC, right? (Exceptions are those churches who are NAMB or state convention supported plants).
The Cooperative Program is our oldest giving program. FALSE. Both mission boards had their offerings well before the CP was established in 1925 and I’m sure there were a variety of state and associational offerings all over the SBC back then.
Our CP Centennial is in three years, 2025. Question: Since the CP as a portion of church offerings has been declining for a generation and a half and shows no signs of any recovery from that trend, why hasn’t some effort been made to re-brand it?
The CP is our largest and wealthiest SBC giving program. TRUE. The latest figures show it at almost $458 million for 2020-2021, a mammoth sum even though it is slightly declining year-to-year (but, yes, a slight increase over the COVID year of 2019-2020). This year 2021-2022 may show a slight increase also. I don’t see this as a trend unless inflation kicks in. Side note: this is why some of the sex abuse survivors and advocates have their eye on the SBC funding reparations or damages for past abuse victims. It’s a big pot of money but every cent is money held in trust for various entities.
Most CP receipts go to the mission boards and seminaries. FALSE. Most pastors and informed laypeople get this. I’d speculate that most folks in the pews do not. State conventions have always sucked up most of the CP dollars from your church. It varies by state convention but it’s about 59 cents for your state, 41 cents for the mission boards, seminaries, Executive Committee, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Historical Commission. Don’t try this in your church: Ask how much of a CP dollar goes to the IMB. Answer, about 20 cents. State conventions have made a living obscuring the fact that they keep most. After almost 30 years of watching promotions in my state and others, I’m perfectly comfortable with the term “obscuring.”
Churches give around 10% of their undesignated offerings to the CP. FALSE. Not since Carter was president. The current percentage is 4.68. The figure has hovered around this number for a few years. Perhaps it is stabilized there.
The CP is as old as the ages of Bart Barber and Adam Greenway combined. TRUE, or at least in the neighborhood. Barber is a svelte and fit 52 or so and Greenway, though hairless, is in his forties. Both good men and good leaders. The CP is a creaky 97.
The SBC portion of the CP was actually less than the two big mission offerings, Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong. TRUE. Unless they are taught, SBC laypeople don’t even know there is are two sections to the CP. The most recent SBC portion, funds sent to the EC for distribution according to the SBC CP allocation plan, was about $188 million. Lottie and Annie both expect record offerings this year. They will yield a combined total of about $234 million. The EC share of CP is well under $200 million, $187 million. The two powerhouse mission offerings have always been strong, and they are growing. Seems to me that there is a long term trend of churches giving more to IMB and NAMB and less to CP. Makes sense to me to do this and I don’t see anything changing this approach to missions giving.
Generally, churches are giving less to CP and more to designated SBC offerings. TRUE. See above.
SBC giving plans may be described as “cooperative,” not “societal.” TRUE. (Historians love to use that old, almost archaic term ‘societal.) But credit given for either T or F on this one. While some SBCers decry “societal” giving, we’ve always had a combined system: The CP plus a panoply of special designated offerings.
The sex abuse scandal has hurt the CP. FALSE. But credit for T or F. I read of a few churches who eliminated or cut their giving. While sex abuse in any church or organization is a scandal, the overall impact isn’t felt on giving. We will spend far more funds on new task forces, committees, and staff than we will feel in lost income. There are those who are invested in the SBC’s total demise but slogging along in a slow decline is probably what the future looks like.
The Executive Committee decides how to distribute CP funds. FALSE. SBC messengers in the annual meeting vote on the allocation formula. The EC recommends the formula, unchanged for years. It could be changed from the floor if the body had a mind to do that. If the EC should be so foolish as to cut the IMB, NAMB, or seminaries percentages, they would, I expect, be handed their hats. ERLC is ripe for reduction. The EC is too, although they are busy spending down their reserve funds at the moment.
Who will be the first to suggest renaming the CP to something like “The Great Commission Baptist Program”?
Everyone gets a trophy who participated in the quiz.