Lost, swamped, overwhelmed by white hot discussions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, by debate about whether or not elder rule practitioner and SBC Pastor’s Conference invitee James MacDonald made a proper apology for calling congregational governance “satanic”, and by other weighty matters is this little item that directly affects tens of thousands of Southern Baptists in ways other than triggering social media explosions: Our beloved Cooperative Program is up 2.49% for the current fiscal year.
Baptist Press: CP 2.49% ahead of projection at mid-year point.
Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are 2.49 percent above the year-to-date SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget projection, and are 2.10 percent above contributions received during the same time frame last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Frank S. Page.
“This report marks the first time since 2008 that CP contributions have increased over the previous fiscal year’s mid-point,” Page said, “and is the highest mid-year total since March 2012. This should drive us to our knees in gratitude to God and is truly a cause for celebration.”
Credit the SBC Executive Committee for prompt, accurate, and specific reporting about CP giving. They do so at the first of each month and reports may be accessed online. They even report the numbers by state convention, showing how much each convention has send to the EC in the previous month and whether or not this was more or less from the same month a year ago.
This may be the first year in many that the CP shows a significant increase, significant being a percent or two over last year. That might not sound like much but what it may be showing is that the long, slow decline of the CP as a percentage of church offering plate dollars has reached a floor and may even bump up slightly.
What SBC churches will find to be a reasonable percentage of their undesignated offering plate dollars to devote to the Cooperative Program has been somewhat of a mystery. It used to be over ten percent. Currently, it’s about 5.5%. If five percent or so is the floor then most SBC leaders will be privately celebrating. I know of no credible plan that shows promise of moving the percentage back up to any significant degree.
So, if the CP is up a little at the end of this fiscal year, what would that mean for the seminaries and mission boards?
Nothing much, frankly. If the CP is up 2.5% over budget allocations for 2014-2015 then the International Mission Board would have an additional couple of million on a budget of $300 million, not pocket change but not enough to move forward with any major new initiatives. Same for the seminaries and NAMB. We are hopeful of maintaining the level of CP support at the SBC level, not terribly hopeful of any significant infusion of money. Any of our entities that have major new thrusts are looking elsewhere for the money, not that they don’t appreciate the CP income stream.
Any way you slice it, though, staying where we are and not declining, maybe even inching up a bit is a good thing.