Archive for the ‘Cooperative Program’ Category

In the last installment this writer expressed his concern about where he saw the Seminaries, The ELRC and Executive Committee, and Doctrine  in 2025.  In this post we will look at this writer’s non-scientific future prediction for the Mission Organizations, Local Associations, and the Cooperative Program in 2025.

Mission Organizations

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At Ebenezer Baptist Church, where I serve, various ministry groups visit and we often take up special offerings for them.  Many times we would find out months later that some members continued to send money to that particular ministry, designating it through the church.  But we eventually took a stand and set a policy that the church would only forward funds to outside ministries specifically approved by the whole body and we asked individuals to send contributions to their special interest ministries directly and without the imprimatur of the congregation.

We felt it was inappropriate to tie the church to a ministry without the consensus support of the entire membership.

Now Southern Baptists have learned that the North American Mission Board is not using this same type of discretion in the distribution of church planting funds Southern Baptists have contributed through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

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Chance Darlington

In a day when the Cooperative Program has been relegated to the back yard like the weird uncle that unexpectedly shows up at the family reunion, we have a young pastor step up and deliver a great word.  Chance Darlington, Pastor of The Church at Pine Level located in Deatsville, Alabama, has presented a well articulated position on the purpose of supporting the Cooperative Program.  I encourage you to read his article as it is a word that every Southern Baptist should take to heart.

As our Budget Committee met this past year we had a discussion concerning the investment we give to the Cooperative Program (CP).  In that discussion we spoke about the mission trip we were planning for Honduras this summer.  It was questioned if we could take some of the money we were giving to the CP and use it for our Mission Team this summer.  It was then that I expressed my reasoning for not doing such a thing.  With that in mind I want to share my reasons on the blog because it is, I believe, the same reasons that many SBC churches are not funding the CP and Lottie Moon as they have in the past.

Mission Teams are Short Term

The very understanding of a mission team from a local church is that they are going to be there only on a short term basis.  While some churches adopt an area or people group and go back year after year, they still are only short term teams.  The funding for short term mission trips is something that is very expensive.  Take for example, a trip to Honduras.  It is believed that we should be able to travel from Charlotte, NC to Honduras for the approximate cost of $1000.00.  This trip will cover seven days and the cost covers food, lodging, and air travel.  If we have six people go on this trip we will spend $6,000.00 of church funds.  For those who do not know, $6,000.00 is what we gave as a church to Lottie Moon.  Thus, we have a way to compare the effectiveness of the $’s.

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Louisiana Baptist (LBC) must be drinking from the same fountain that I am drinking.  I sent a resolution to the Resolution Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) entitled “Accentuating the Cooperative Program”.  In that three and one-half page resolution it was a history lesson in the “Whereas” statements on the Cooperative Program (CP).  The resolves called on the BSCNC to recognize the CP as the only missions giving platform.  Shortly after that resolution was affirmed as being recieved by the BSCNC committee, the LBC resolution ran in Baptist Press.  Boy, what a shot in the arm it was for me to see, not only a state convention Executive Committee affirm their Executive Director, but also recognize the CP as their main funding source for missions.

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Since Baptist Press released the story concerning the Louisiana Baptist State Convention’s resolution, I have seen two others weigh in on Dr. David Crosby’s statement;

“We are in a battle for cooperative mission giving….The CP is the glue that binds us all together…. I feel strongly we should make this statement.”

Of the two I have seen weigh in, one has received his discounted education and is now receiving his salary on the back of CP funds, while the other has received his discounted education on the back of CP and is now directing his church’s giving 8% of undesignated funds to the CP.  In both articles the authors weighed in on the “glue that binds”.  Both questioned Dr. David Crosby’s facts concerning the statement.

In the beginning of this Op let me state clearly I am not speaking ill of either author.  I am just calling attention to their misinformed opinion.  Why do I say “misinformed”?  Well, neither went to the supporting documents of the Convention to see what it is that holds together the SBC.  Both speak straight from their personal desires on this issue.  Why do I say that?  Let’s look at the evidence.

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Dr. Kevin Ezell, NAMB President

As a Southern Baptist pastor that believes in and supports the Trustee system, I fully support the new President at NAMB.  Dr. Ezell is the man the Trustees affirmed, reportedly by a 76% vote, to be the next President of that entity.  According to one report NAMB has a budget that consists of 17% for Church Planting. My question is simple.  Out of a $70 million budget, where is $12 million being used in church planting?  In NC we have set aside $4 million in our budget for church planting.  What part of NAMB’s $12 million is being used in cooperative agreements?  What part of that $12 million is being used in administrative costs?

Now the hard part begins for Dr. Ezell.  He will need to tie up loose ends in Kentucky and then he will be on his way to Alpharetta, Georgia.  Some question his ability to build the divide that is apparent between him and some state Executive Directors.  Will he simply dismiss those that have raised concerns or will he try to mend broken bridges?  Dr. Paige Patterson has issued a statement in favor of Dr. Ezell as a model of character and integrity.  So it seems that the entity heads are in favor of this latest addition to the Presidential Council.  It seems Southern Baptist are rallying around this newest entity president.

I have always been one that has spoken in favor of our trustee system.  I will not abandon that conviction.  The trustees have spoken and I will follow.  I will not stop questioning when there are legitimate questions that need to be asked.  I will certainly voice my concerns and not be afraid to do so.   I will not sale the call of God on my life to be a pastor for a denominational position because of political expediency either.  I will stand up and call on our denomination to do better.  I will stand up and call for our leaders to model the CP as central to their missions giving.  I will call on trustees of both missions organizations to be models for us in giving to the Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon offerings.  I will call on the nominating committee to look specifically at those giving items when placing names before us.  I will call on those leading Southern Baptist to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, without caveats.  This I will do because that is who we are as Southern Baptist, we trust God and tell the people.

And when the votes are cast and Southern Baptist have spoken.  I will call on all Southern Baptist to rally around our leaders and move forward taking the Gospel to the world.  Anything less will not be cooperative and certainly will not be what Southern Baptist have historically stood for.

Whenever the US Congress says they made a budget cut they use a funny way to go about reporting it.  What Congress calls cuts we citizens call tax increases.  We find that Congress predicts that they may need $200 million for something and when they budget it they only budget $175 million.  When this is reported  it is reported as a $25 million savings.  Sounds good, but the problem exists that the predicted amount was not in the budget in the first place.  Thus, the $25 million savings, in reality is a $175 million increase added to the bloat of the bureaucracy that we know as the Federal Government.

“Bloated Bureaucracy” was a term that Dr. Akin used when he first spoke about the need for a Great Commission Resurgence. Using that term brought push back from many executives in various state conventions. When Milton Hollifield spoke about the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report, he expressed some of his concerns but overall he supported the recommendation. In an interview after the GCRTF vote Brother Milton said:

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Philippians 3:17
17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

As the Apostle Paul penned these words to the Church at Philippi he reminds us that we must be examples to those we lead.  Isn’t it interesting that the Greek word (συμμιμητής–symmimētēs) for “followers together” is the compound Greek word that means “co-imitators”.  One of the Greek words that is compounded is where we get our English word “mimic”.  Thus, Paul is telling the church that they are to “mimic” the actions they see of their leaders.  This same scriptural principle can be applied in the leadership of those we have within our state convention.

We have been trying for years to regain leaders that will lead, standing firmly on the platform, of a position of an inerrant Scripture.  These “conservative” leaders adhere to and promote principles and ministries that have, as a Core Value, that the Scriptures are inerrant.  The conservatives have held a majority on the Board of Directors, formerly General Board, since 2002.  It would be fair to say that the Executive Committee has had a majority and been led by these conservative leaders since 2005.

Why then do we still have churches giving around the North Carolina Baptist State Convention directly to the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee?  I asked this question privately to some of the conservative leaders of the Carolina Conservative Baptist  back in 2005.  I was told that we still had moderates within leadership and it was causing many conservative leaders to shy away from giving through the CP because the NCBSC was funding some of these more moderate causes/agencies.  I accepted this as a fair reply and was assured that when conservatives were in positions of leadership and could influence the budget process this would change drastically.

Well, there are some things that just do not seem to pull together.  Here is just one example.  The Budget Committee  Chairman, the same one for the past two years and now appointed to serve for a third year, serves as Missions Minister in a church that reported on the 2009 ACP a gift to the Cooperative Program of $122,000.00.  Quite an impressive gift with the economy doing what it is doing.  That same ACP reveals a Lottie Moon Christmas Offering of $564,000.00.  WOW!!  Another very impressive gift with the economy like it is.  What a great celebration of giving we see in this church that is led by one of the SBC Great Commission Task Force members.  We celebrate this giving as it certainly is impressive in the amounts of dollars that are forwarded to the NCSBC and the International Mission Board.

However, the Budget Committee Chairperson has much say over the various areas of spending for the NCBSC and the % split for NCBSC  and the SBC.  In 2008 the Budget Committee Chairperson’s church gave $300,000.00 through the CP.  That means that our Budget Committee has for its Chairman a person who is from a church that gave approximately 60% less in CP giving than the previous year.  My question is not why this person is serving on the Budget Committee, but why is this person serving as Chairman?  I mean, sarcastically speaking, if his church cuts another 60% in CP giving are we going to move him to Dr. Butler’s position?

That is just one example.  Another example is that we have serving on the Board of Directors three people who are from churches that are giving significant amounts of dollars around the CP in order to give to the SBC in Nashville.  Every church, as an autonomous body, funds whatever entity they deem appropriate.  This is not about whether a church decides where to send their funds.  It is, however, about leaders in the NCBSC funding around the very convention they are elected to serve.  In serving this convention these people are called to make decisions that affect North Carolina Baptist Churches but they give significant amounts around the NCBSC to the convention they do not have any direct decisions.

Certainly no one believes that just because we give to certain conventions we should all have direct say into the priorities of ministries.  However, when one is sitting in leadership positions we should, at the very least, see their commitment to the convention through their giving behavior.  I still remember the uproar of conservatives when we had leaders giving significant amounts to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and serving on the General Board (Board of Directors). Also, should there be special audience given to one person on how to prioritize ministries?  It seems that is the direction our Executive Committee has taken.  In their recent meeting the Executive Committee invited the maker of the motion at a recent Board of Directors meeting to address them as to the motive of the motion.  Pastor Rammel raised some very good points and I agree that we need to prioritize various items on the Budget.  My point is should it be a pastor, sitting on the Board of Directors, that came from a denominational position but directing his church to give less than the average NC Baptist church to the CP.  I am sure Pastor Rammel is doing an excellent job leading his church.  But, I wonder how many people he has making decisions about the churches direction and priorities that are giving as much to outside ministries as they are to the church’s ministries?

What does this mean for NCBSC?  We call on our leaders to lead by example.  Hey, I want to follow our leaders, but it becomes hard to not question the commitment of some to the NCBSC.  I believe that we have Godly men and women serving on the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors.    I call on our Nominating Committee to present persons to our convention that are from churches that support the Cooperative Program first, then the other ministries that our various entities and agencies promote.  That is what it means to affirm the Cooperative Program as centralized giving for a Great Commission Resurgence.