The SBC Executive Committee is reporting that for the fiscal year 2015-2016 that ended September 30th Cooperative Program receipts have increased by 3.47 percent over last year. Designated receipts, almost all Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong were up 4.95% from the previous fiscal year.
Cooperative Program receipts:
Designated giving surpassed CP giving at the SBC level several years ago and remains greater. SBC churches have shown for some years that they are more inclined to maintain and increase giving directly to the IMB and NAMB than to the Cooperative Program. This past year the record Lottie Moon offering increased the differential by several million dollars.
Frank Page attributes the increased CP receipts to a couple of factors, (a) “sacrifice” by SBC churches in bumping up their CP gifts last year, and (b) “strategic” decisions by many state conventions who have reduced their share of CP revenues and are forwarding slightly more (except in the case of the Florida Baptist Convention which is forwarding significantly more) to the SBC Executive Committee for distribution, mostly to the seminaries and mission boards.
We might lament the state of CP giving (the average church gives about 5.4% of undesignated receipts, far less than the 10%+ of earlier years) except for the fact that it is a mammoth, colossal distribution plan that is once again approaching $200 million to be divided up among denominational entities, and, if you take the entire CP including the majority share kept by state conventions, the total approaches half a billion dollars. Nothing to sniff at.
While the additional $6.57 million is good news for the seminaries and mission boards the increase alone does not contribute significantly to the budgets of any particular entity. IMB will benefit the most with another $3-4 million, between one and two percent of their budget. In contrast, the Lottie Moon increase was about three times that size. The two together have given David Platt and the IMB about another million to spend on international missions every month this year.
We will see where we go from here. The CP Centennial is less than a decade away. What will the amounts be then? Will churches increase from the present 5.4% average to 6%, 8% or more? Will states reduce their share of CP revenues from above 60% on average to 50% or below? My conjecture is that the average church giving will hover around 5% and that the states will never get below 55% on average.
Well, today is National Mad Hatter Day, so someone make a crazy prediction about the CP and the future. A number of my blogging colleagues get into tinfoil hat mode on occasion. Today’s the day for that.