The Cooperative Program is our grand cooperative funding mechanism. SBC churches give on average a little under 5% of their undesignated offering plate dollars to the CP, totalling over $460 million. It is the envy of other denominations.
But you knew all that, right?
Ronnie Floyd, CEO of our Executive Committee has outlined a plan, Vision 2025, that sets a goal of returning the CP to $500 million and more. COVID-19 has struck a blow against that for the moment. July was a good month for the national CP but the EC reports year to date totals down a bit from last year. Still, the EC expects to distribute almost $200 million, mostly to our mission boards and seminaries through CP giving.
We’ve always had SBC subgroups. The CR spawned several. We’ve had the Calvinists (Founders Ministries) and related groups for years and several others that receive support from SBC churches and individuals. The defunct 316 Trad group conducted events and spent funds. I presume they had a channel for giving and many SBCers used it. My old alma mater, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, is funded by SBC churches and individuals, not the CP and they pointedly say that they do not want churches to cut CP to support MABTS. When I was in seminary long ago, they took up an offering for CP every year. Once, a chapel speaker took some shots at the CP. That was the only time I ever saw a preacher in chapel interrupted mid-sermon, Gray Allison quietly explaining that “we don’t do that here.”
The new SBC sub-group, Conservative Baptist Network, has an online giving option. Big deal. I’m not shocked that they do and am mildly surprised that they haven’t prior to now. Various critics decry that this undermines the CP. Maybe it does, but the CBN specifically expressed support for the CP and asked for giving to be over and above a church’s CP giving. If churches chose to redirect their CP giving to the CBN, that’s their choice. I don’t have a complaint about how the CBN solicits gifts from SB churches and individuals friendly to them. After all, many CBN advocates declare that the SBC needs a new CR, that’s a takeover movement, and you wouldn’t want to destroy the funding scheme for the group you are taking over.
I’m not a CBN supporter and look askance at any org that doesn’t tell you where their funding goes (staff? direct gifts to some? consultants? marketing?) but until they start promoting the escrowing of CP giving or ask for CP gifts to be redirected to them it’s tough to build a case for their undermining the CP.
If you want some better targets for undermining the CP here are a few: Operation Christmas Child, AWANA, independent mission orgs, and any of a thousand ad hoc boutique missions which funds any individual or small group doing ministry here and there.
If the CBN is unsuccessful in achieving progress toward an SBC takeover and start their own funding mechanism and ask churches to use it rather than the CP, then we would have more to talk about.
For now, a pretty slick (though anonymous) social media presence, some videos made in some guy’s library, a spokesperson who doesn’t speak much, a couple of supporters who speak a lot, some backroom manuevering. Very SBC ish, seems to me.
We will have an election next June. That should give a pretty good reading on all this.