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.