LifeWay Research is constantly releasing new data and helpful insights. But the most interesting part of their latest study was the purpose of the research. This new study was “conducted on behalf of the SBC’s Executive Committee.” I would like to address the purpose of this research. Here is the stated purpose of the XComm in their official description.
The Executive Committee initiated the survey of all Southern Baptist churches to collect data that would provide an empirical baseline of our churches’ thoughts, feelings and perceptions about the Cooperative Program and stewardship, and to give us insights for developing a more focused strategy in the promotion of the Cooperative Program and stewardship across the Convention.
In other words, the Xcomm wanted to see what you were thinking so they could better market the CP. This survey was about quantifying the strength of their brand identity. Perhaps a worthy goal, but I would like to suggest a better way.
Forget Marketing, Build Trust Through Transparency
The best way to earn trust is through increasing transparency. Our whole system of giving is confusing to many regular church members. It’s just too complicated. While in Seminary, I was required to sit for a half day seminary just to learn about the Cooperative Program.
Either find a better way to educate people about the CP, or simplify the system. We should not rely on marketing to cover up the plain fact: people just don’t understand the system. Mom and Pop Baptist Churches know better than to trust complicated bureaucracy, especially when it comes to doing God’s work.
We should insist that no money flow should be more complicated than absolutely necessary, and not to simple to be most effective. Above all, those who give should understand where and to whom the money goes.
Why not make transparency the goal rather than brand perception?
(see also Ed Stetzer’s post on this research)