Happens every time. It’s in our DNA as Southern Baptists. In those periodic times when there is dissension and conflict in our Grand Denomination the cry goes out, “Don’t send them your money!”
That’s seldom appropriate and seldom effective.
I daresay that every pastor of an SBC church has been in the place where individuals or groups have declared their intent to withhold their giving to the church in objection to church staff or direction. The beleaguered and formerly beloved pastor is usually the focus of the giving boycott.
Sometimes this is the kind of pressure that works. More often, I would speculate, it is not.
So, in the heat of the ire at our Executive Committee last week, while they were struggling to make a decision on the SATF and waiver of privilege, the cry to withhold funding went out. My friend and colleague here, Jay Adkins, wrote the article How a Church Might Reallocate Funds Away from the Executive Committee. That resonated with some of the outraged brethren and sistren. I joined in the effort as far as the mechanics of it were concerned. If you have a mind to recalibrate your church’s giving, here’s how you do it and here’s how you do it without taking funding from other SBC causes, mostly missions, state conventions, and seminaries.
But, maestro, would you do some math?
Happy to oblige. Consider below (and I’m using round numbers, estimates in a couple of cases):
Total Cooperative Program Giving: $460 million
Average CP giving per church: $9,200
Average of this $9,200 that is sent to the EC in Nashville: $5,520
Averages aren’t worth a whole lot in all this because thousands of SBC churches don’t give to the CP at all and a minority of SBC churches account for the great bulk of CP giving. But, here’s the bottom line:
Average amount of an SBC church’s CP giving that funds our Executive Committee: $110.
Imagine the impassioned, hot-blooded average SBC pastor writing a stern letter to the EC declaring that he is going to lead his church to doggone well keep their $110 and give it somewhere else.
It’s not the money that causes the pressure.
More likely, since it is such a complicated scheme to ferret out EC giving alone, a church is more likely to just ditch or escrow CP giving altogether. It’s too hard to do much otherwise.
Nonetheless, breathless declarations of withholding giving went out. It’s the Baptist way.
There was a better way: SBC leaders aligned with the SATF against the EC’s attempt to modify or eliminate the waiver provision. That probably pushed the ball over the line.
Regardless, any conflict hurts overall giving.
How about another number? The petitions, one of which was put here on Voices.
Astute Twitterers compiled the aggregate total of protest names. I think the number came to 1,200 or so. Significant? Yes.
One might consider that about the same number of SBCers signed the Traditional Statement of theology a few years ago. Ruminate on that for a bit.
Here’s my prayer for an SBC future that includes peace, harmony, cooperation, enthusiasm for the mission of reaching North America and the world, and a sedate and quiet Executive Committee which functions in the background. All that and whatever improvements we can make in our churches and entities to make children and adults safe from abuse. No one knows exactly how that will be accomplished but it’s the subject of the current Task Force. Let’s see what they come up with.