The percentage drop featured in the Baptist Press story above is a bit less negative than the actual CP receipts for the first two months of the fiscal year as compared to the first two months last year: a drop of 5.07%. That is a significant number although there is some variation in how states might send the checks to Nashville, so the two consecutive monthly drops may be quickly reversed.
The most recent trend for the CP is that it has leveled off and even shown slight increases at the national level. The economy is doing better, state conventions are giving slightly increased proportions of their CP revenues to the national CP allocation budget, and the Executive Committee’s latest increase program has been adopted by numerous SBC churches.
So, why the early indications of a CP decline this fiscal year?
I haven’t seen any leader speculate as to the cause. Perhaps they are hoping it is a statistical anomaly that will be corrected in the coming months. Such may well be the case.
It should remind SBCers and those recipients of SBC allocations that in spite of the cheerleading, the CP shaming, and the normal CP promotions the program is not likely to be the engine of ministry growth in the future and, in fact, is rather precarious as a funding stream. Not that it’s future is in doubt or that it will not continue to provide hundreds of millions in funding for state and national causes but that it is difficult to visualize a growing future for it. State conventions are making some adjustments that are significant to their work but which do not seem, at this stage, to be motivating increases in giving.
No one in leadership may be saying it but our venerable Cooperative Progam which will celebrate its centennial in a few years does not capture the enthusiasm of the bulk of Southern Baptist churches. I am open to persuasion that it is doing so but cannot find good reasons absent cold, hard revenues.