Here are the two most important numbers for SBC financial statistics (2015-2016, the latest year available, as reported by Baptist Press):
- 5.16% Cooperative Program gifts as a percentage of undesignated church offerings,
- 59.92% Percentage of Cooperative Program gifts kept by the state conventions.
In spite of as much promotion, giving increase programs, and other methods by which SBC and state convention leaders attempt to induce, encourage, and inspire local churches to increase their giving to the Cooperative Program the average continues to decline, though not by much. The most recent figure is ever so slightly less at 5.16% than last year’s 5.18%. The long, slow slide southward from the glory days of 10% and above continues, although it might be more appropriate to say that the number has leveled off. Perhaps 5% is the floor.
How much of the CP state conventions keep and spend
The most contentious part of the Great Commission Resurgence Report was the suggestion, encouragement, recommendation that we “Determine to return to the historic ideal of a 50/50 Cooperative Program distribution between the state convention.” It is still a surprise when some SBCers find out that state conventions have always and still continue to suck up well over half of Cooperative Program revenues and spend within their own state. When the GCR was passed, the percentage the states kept was 62.33%. Now, it is slightly under 60% at 59.92%. While some may fault the states for their dilatory pace towards the mythical (and in my opinion unreachable) 50/50 split, the pace has actually picked up the last couple of years. Nonetheless, I would be surprised if many pastors and churches are motivated to give more to the CP because the state conventions cut their percentage from 62.33 to 59.92 over the past seven years. We will see.
Whatever the trends, the Cooperative Program is still a mammoth giving engine for many, many ministries. I plan to watch some of the CP conversations that are planned for Phoenix. Perhaps there are new things to learn.