Monday, May 17, 2010

Doug's Thoughts on the SBC GCRTF Part 1

While there have been comments recently downplaying whether anyone cares what bloggers think, I'm going to chime in with my own opinion about one of the current issues we're facing in Southern Baptist life. Now, this is a long thought, so it's going to be spread across 4 blog posts. There's a “Contact” link at the top of the blog. Email me if you want the whole thing in one document. Or click here for a PDF (I hope!)
    The hinge point of the GCR seems to be about structural change and the control of funding. Specifically, we seem to be having an extremely large stir about “Great Commission Giving” and the dissolving of “Cooperative Agreements” between state conventions and the North American Mission Board. The stirring point for the whole action seems to have come from our inability to fund the IMB Missionaries we've wanted.

  1. The first observation I'd like to make: SBC churches have always been allowed to designate every dime they give to the work of the Convention. The Cooperative Program exists to allow churches to contribute to all agencies and operations, and to fund those items which need budgets both too large (IMB) for single church support or too small (like the Historical Commission) to expect much in the way of designation.

    1. Even if a church didn't know how to designate the giving, if it wanted the IMB to get everything, it could have given it all through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Likewise NAMB and the Annie Armstrong Offering, and I would be stunned to find a seminary that would turn down a gift.

    2. As evidenced by the SBC system for preregistering messengers, all of those designated gifts count towards the $250 to be allowed a messenger. For example, the system accounts our church as having contributed the total of our Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO), Annie Armstrong Easter Offering (AAEO), and a direct designation we've been making to an IMB Missionary on the field. So, no church should be being denied either the opportunity to send messengers or serve on Boards/Committees due to designated giving. I'd venture, though I lack evidence, that far more small churches are denied involvement because of travel expenses to Convention meeting locations.

  2. Since the SBC allows churches to directly designate gifts, including designating to bypass state convention choices, then concerns about state allocations or bureaucracy should be evidenced by seeing designated giving around the general Cooperative Program (CP). This is evidenced by the much-discussed decrease in general CP giving among churches overall. However, if the churches that find problems with either states or specific CP agencies have designated their giving, it should be reflected in a corresponding increase in designated giving to the appropriate agencies. For example, if the prevailing concern is that the International Mission Board (IMB) does not receive enough of the shared pie, the SBC should be seeing more churches give directly to the IMB and bypassing all other activities. The IMB should, therefore, be on the positive receiving end.

    1. Instead, what has happened is that many churches have, apparently, moved to also supporting other missions groups or directly supporting their own missionaries.


  3. How a church spends 100% of the funding God gives them reflects their Great Commission passion. Every last penny we spend should be about spreading the Gospel, making disciples , and obeying the commands of Scripture. One of our issues is that we have spent untold resources on things that, in all honesty, don't match those expectations. This problem is not specific to one type of church or another, but a problem I believe all churches and organizations face at various times.

    1. It is neither fair nor appropriate to judge a church's commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ based on their giving to the Southern Baptist Convention. In no way, shape, form, or fashion, neither by percentage or volume, can we say that a church that greatly supports the SBC greatly supports Christ nor the inverse.

    2. However, the amount given to SBC causes is an adequate measure of a church's commitment to the Southern Baptist Convention. As such, it is a valid question for those who would claim the leadership of the SBC to reveal their commitment to the SBC. This is not about Christian commitment or leadership, but specifically about leadership and commitment within our own context as Southern Baptists.

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