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I’m picking a single item, the last one, number five from his list of five strategic actions:
Increase annual giving through the Cooperative Program to surpass $500 million by 2025.
I would put the graphs here but haven’t figured out how to do it.
A few items from his address that concern the CP:
- The CP (total CP, state share and national) has declined from $554 million in 2008 to $467 million in 2020, a decline of $87m or about 16%.
- More than half of that decline came during and after the Great Recession of 2008. The CP dropped from $542m to $488m in the period 2008-2010.
- CP giving never recovered after the Great Recession, an unarguable fact.
- Floyd and his staff project another decline of about $15m for 2021, settling at $452.5m.
- The vision is that folks give more starting next year and to get to the goal of $500m by 2025 consecutive increases of 2.5% to 3% must be achieved and maintained.
More on other aspects of this later but one set of figures was rather stark as I listened to him and watched his graphics:
- 27.5% of our churches did not give anything through the CP in 2008
- Over 40% of our churches did not give anything through the CP in 2019
Questions and observations from the SBC hinterlands.
1. Will the EC, LifeWay or any SBC body research the reasons that the number of ZERO CP giving churches increased by about half in the decade following 2008? It always safe to blame external factors like the Great Recession. But, I’d want to know something from the additional thousands of churches that joined the ZERO CP group. Why did you stop? Prime subject for serious research.
2. The CP is mostly a state program. The state conventions collect almost all of the money and keep most of it. Always have. Is there any room to assess if the main issues involved in declining CP giving involve the state conventions? Not a syllable about any concern here in the Vision 2025 address but then the EC is unlikely to tackle this.
3. Is there any action to be planned and taken beyond aggressively asking churches to give more? Frankly, the only CP increase plan that has ever come out of Nashville is the one which simply asks for more money. A “new pathway” for the CP might involve structural changes, a sober look at the generations long decline of CP percentages, incentives and disincentives that might motivate churches to give more.
4. What is the breakdown of the ZERO CP giving churches? Are more of these dually affiliated churches? Do these give correspondingly more directly to some SBC causes?
5. The Great Recession was bitter medicine for the SBC and all SBC giving. Is it noteworthy or instructive that giving to our two mission boards recovered much more quickly and completely than the CP? There has been a long trend of churches giving less to the CP and more to the mission boards, primarily through Lottie and Annie.
We will see where this goes. I favor the vision goals and hope the CP recovers. There are serious issues to be examined before it does, I suspect.
Every SBC church should give something through the CP, even if it is a token gift.
CP giving is not required for a church to qualify for messengers to the SBC Annual Meeting. I wouldn’t favor requiring it.
40 percent is a shockingly large number. I would never have guessed that the portion of ZERO CP churches was so high.
Yes, I am aware that a certain segment of SBC life blames the drop in CP giving and, presumably, the increase in ZERO CP churches on the Great Commission Resurgence movement and report. I don’t buy that, though in some small ways it may have contributed along with a few dozen other factors. It’s not that simplistic.