William Thornton is the SBC Plodder and always has an interesting take on the happenings in the SBC
South Carolina Baptists are doing something that ought to raise at lease a single eyebrow around the Southern Baptist Convention.
They are taking a significant portion of their Cooperative Program receipts from the churches and sending it directly to the International Mission Board thereby bypassing the Executive Committee, all of the seminaries, the North American Mission Board, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
I am unaware of any other state convention taking this course.
The Baptist Courier has the story, carried here by Baptist Press:
The direct allocation to the IMB was boosted from $400,263 to $583,768, while the amount of Cooperative Program funds to be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention remained unchanged at $11,685,000.
State conventions are autonomous, just like churches, and may direct their funding any way they wish but if they choose to take the traditional route of taking Cooperative Program receipts, keeping a portion for in-state use (the SCBC keeps about 59%, below the average for state conventions across the SBC), and forwarding the remainder to the Executive Committee, the International Mission Board would receive 50.2% of that amount.
A simple way to express this is to say that the SCBC gives about 5% of their SBC allocation directly to the IMB, that portion not being diminished by funds taken for the seminaries, Executive Committee, NAMB or the ERLC.
Under their policy of direct giving IMB, S.C. Baptists allot about 2% of the CP gifts from churches to the IMB. What this does is effectively double their giving over what it would have been if it was routed through the Executive Committee and half of it diverted to other SBC causes.
If the usual route were followed, church to state convention to Executive Committee to SBC entities, a church in SC that gave $1,000 to the CP would understand that about $206 ends up at the IMB. Under the policy that adds on a direct giving component to the IMB, a church in SC that gave $1,000 to the CP will understand that $220 goes to the IMB.
What the SCBC is saying is that International Missions has higher priority in their CP allocation and they are taking steps to accelerate IMB support.
I like the concept.
The Cooperative Program is our main channel for missions support, a mammoth funding engine. Here is what I see happening:
1. Churches are giving less of their offering to the CP. This is a trend a generation and a half long.
2. State conventions are moving to keep less of the CP dollar in their states. This trend was initiated mainly by the Great Commission Resurgence report. Many state conventions are making tentative moves from keeping 60% or more of the CP dollar to a 50/50 split. This is a very slow process that only marginally helps the IMB.
3. State conventions giving directly to the mission agencies, bypassing the Executive Committee, seminaries, etc. So far as I am aware, only South Carolina is doing this but if other states follow it would be quite significant and sufficient to be felt, mainly by the seminaries and NAMB who lose potential funding in this process.
SBC life is interesting these days. There are few firm ground rules.
Having formerly served in SC, I am familiar with things there but I do not recall hearing any reaction from SC Baptists on this nor can I find any discussion of it. I’m curious if there was any reaction.