Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: SBC Associations, Conventions, The CP, and the local church.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

SBC Associations, Conventions, The CP, and the local church.

What does the state convention or the local association do anyway? How does the CP (Cooperative Program) fit into any of that and does the CP do anything for my church?

These are questions that could very likely be asked the majority of SBC members in the local church setting. Put simply, the CP seems to losing support from churches who would like to see more "hands-on" results from within their local congregations. And why not? How much more "rewarding" to be personally sending a missionary out into the mission field rather than sending money to an organization in which your money gets "lost" in the allocation of funds. More than that, how is the local church being aided by CP dollars in ways that all SBC churches can experience and rally behind?

I am a CP supporter. However, in a time when the IMB and NAMB seem to be placing increasing controversy on themselves with continued restrictions imposed on missionaries, a lack of a unified vision seems to be a perilous thing. Case in point, at the seminary last week, the flagship of scholarly conservative thought, both in theology and polity, we had a visiting NAMB missionary from Seattle who was trash-talking the increased restrictions right there on the SBTS campus! Currently, the CP is broken down like this: a predetermined (by the church) percentage of undesignated tithes and offerings become CP dollars. Those are sent to the state convention. (not the association like as is commonly misunderstood. A separate association percentage is typically made by the local church). The state then keeps a percentage (determined by the state conventional meeting) and then forwards the rest to the SBC to be allocated. From there, the breakdown basically comes in at 73% missions (both NAMB and IMB), 21% theological education (for which I am most grateful), 4% facilitating ministries (guidestone financial, etc), and then 2% Christian Ethics and Religious Liberty.

A recent quote from Frank Page concerning this year's SBC meeting in San Antonio brings hope for some improvement. Page says,

"it looks like we will be able to unveil a general outline of a 10-year evangelistic strategy which brings associations, state conventions, NAMB and other entities into a true focus in calling churches not just to win souls but, better, showing them how. . . .Obviously, every Baptist entity is autonomous, but we are coming together to say here is a common direction for 10 years to equip churches and people to win the lost to Christ.”

That could be great news for the local church who feels a disconnect between them and the work of the NAMB and IMB. There is certainly nothing wrong with the local church supporting missionaries on their own, but if CP dollars and percentages continue to decrease, the entire point of the convention could be compromised. I am hopeful this will not be a fancy packaged evangelism model that will cost the local church $500 to purchase, but will be a viable, exciting opportunity for the SBC and the local church to become friends once again.


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