Well, highly unlikely that we would yet some state conventions are in a position to do just that because of their definition of what constitutes a church in friendly cooperation.
Baptist Press reported recently on how Indiana Baptists amended their bylaw regarding cooperating churches.
The new State Convention of Baptists in Indiana (SCBI) rule provides “a personal and proactive approach to dealing with churches that have not met the basic requirements of being a ‘cooperating church with the SCBI,'” the group reported…
…Under the amended church cooperation bylaw, approved overwhelmingly, the SCBI will make efforts to communicate with churches who have not met cooperation guidelines. Churches are considered in cooperation with the SCBI when they agree with the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, give to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program or the state mission offering, and submit basic statistical information to the SBC annual church profile. To that end, a team of SCBI representatives will meet with the church in question to discuss any problems and determine whether the church desires to reaffirm cooperation.
The clause in bold is the curious one and I provided the emphasis.
I was speaking recently with a pastor whose church is a cooperating church in a local Southern Baptist association, state and national Southern Baptist bodies. The church gives to the association and Cooperative Program and is aligned doctrinally with all of the bodies. The pastor told me, however, that he doesn’t bother with the Annual Church Profile (or Report as my state labels it). He isn’t opposed to providing data but doesn’t see it as worth the trouble. When pressed, he admitted that his view was that financial data on his church wasn’t anyone else’s business. He had no objection to reporting of membership, attendance, and baptism statistics.
The Indiana Baptist bylaws, as amended, now call for a process of church discipline (er, outreach) for the churches that among other offenses fail to submit basic statistical information via the SBC annual statistical profile.
My suspicion is that a church that fails to file the statistical report will not be excluded on that basis. I’ve never heard of any state or association excluding for lack of such. Most state conventions are happy to receive Cooperative Program contributions from these statistically phantom semi-cooperative churches and I suspect that the state bodies, Indiana and elsewhere, would be loath to exclude merely because of a failure to file the ACP. Besides, thousands of of SBC churches do not file the ACP. In spite of that some basic data is available on these churches elsewhere with records of their contributions given to and through the state office being available.
Nonetheless, it is striking that there is even the threat, the possibility, of a church being branded non-cooperative and potentially excluded solely on this basis.
I doubt it will happen anywhere but I’m trying to visualize a committee of stern-faced Baptist sent by the state convention to meet with a pastor whose church has failed to send in their data.
Big Ecclesiastical Brother?