Editor: William Thornton is the SBC Plodder and a keen observer of SBC life. This is a repost from his site. Yesterday he posted the part one. “Why the CP has been Dropping Like a Rock, Part One.”
These are not in order of magnitude or importance:
9. It is too hard to change the allocation formulas. We just went through a heavy movement called the Great Commission Resurgence. If successful, international missions will get a little trickle of additional funds through the CP. Lots of effort, little result.
10. The Cooperative Program doesn’t allow the convention to easily adjust to new realities and prioritize allocations. All the money is spoken for. Nothing new, or nothing dramatically different, need apply for the funds. Even the GCR process didn’t dramatically change the CP landscape.
11. The Cooperative Program is tailor made for bureaucratic expansion. Churches hand over those funds and entrenched bureaucracies drool over them. There isn’t a state convention or SBC entity who does not have an endless supply of destinations for all the money they get and a limitless number of dreams for money they don’t get.
12. The CP makes it too easy for state conventions to multiply their staffs and ministries. In the halcyon years when dollars were rising even though percentages were falling, what did state conventions do? Found more staff and more programs to suck up those dollars.
13. The CP makes it too hard to focus on the true mission priorities. Denominational executives understand the value of the term “missions” and have eagerly applied it to everything to justify their funds with the result that Deep South state conventions indignantly resist any criticism that their keeping about two thirds of CP revenues shows flawed mission priorities.
14. The CP locks in huge allocations, forever, to seminaries regardless of a changing denominational landscape, changes in theological education, and changes in student populations. We will always have six seminaries who will always find uses for their slice of the CP pie no matter what the SBC’s need for trained ministers is. Note the seminaries finagling with student populations, undergraduate degrees, etc. to justify continuing streams of money. Note also that the recent and continuing SBC eruption called GCR didn’t touch the seminaries.
15. The CP makes it too easy for the XComm to siphon off funds that would have gone to the mission boards and seminaries. This is chump change but how did we justify expanding staff in Nashville when dollars were scarce at the IMB? It was simple and easy, and the SBC did it with CP dollars.
16. Pastors and churches have caught on to the reality that their $100 in CP giving yields only about $20 to international missions.Actually, I doubt many churches are aware of this.
17. Pastors and churches have felt the need for more and fancier buildings, more specialized staff, and more local spending and have justified in their mind and budgets reducing CP to pay for these. This is probably one of the top two or three reasons for the decline.
18. Cooperative Program promotion has been staid, unimaginative, and uninspiring. Is it just me, or does anyone else get the feeling that every new CP study committee ends up saying the same thing, “How about you churches send us more of your money.”?
Almost every Southern Baptists who reads this, pastor or layperson, will be in a church whose CP percentage has dropped over the past 30 years. I would be curious as to which of these (or others that I haven’t thought about) would you say is the cause.