Recently I was called by the editor of the Biblical Recorder to question if there was forthcoming a motion from me concerning combining the giving plans of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention (BSCNC). In the course of the interview I made it abundantly clear that this motion did not hold with it the intention for anyone to leave the convention. While some may offer comments otherwise, I promise you my heart is clear on the intent of this motion. I honestly believe that if we are going to be united in North Carolina we must unite the giving plans. Uniting the giving plans unite NC Baptist in three ways.
What is the intent of those giving to the various plans? There are different ideas all across the state about who deserves what and how much each entity should get. However, as you look at the plans you find that it is more than just a disagreement on who gets what. The plans were developed and designed out of vengeance. The first division of the giving plan came because some desired to hurt SBC causes due to the Conservative Resurgence, but they did not want North Carolina affected. That plan is now called Plan B. When that plan was not doing as much as some thought it should there came forth a new plan that placed nothing in the SBC coffers and helped fund a new start-up denomination called Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, but they still did not desire to hurt North Carolina. That plan is known as Plan C. When conservatives came into leadership prominence, there was decided that another plan was needed in order to keep the conservatives from doing completely away with Plan C. This plan is known as Plan D. This plan allows for lest to go to North Carolina, but more to in-state pet projects of the Conservatives. Fruitland Bible Institute is a huge recipient of this plan. Once again, notice how this plan came about. It was done to keep the conservatives from deleting Plan C.
Which brings me to a question. What is the intent in our giving? Do we give because we do not like something? Do we give more because we like something? In 1 Corinthians 8:3 the Apostle Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that the Macedonians gave to a poverty relief fund out of their own poverty. I can imagine some in the churches there in Macedonia saying, we are just as poor as those in Jerusalem we are not giving to help them. No, they gave above their ability and the Bible goes on to tell us that they pleaded with Paul to allow them the opportunity to give. It seems that we in North Carolina need to return to our intention of giving. What is the reason I lead my church to support our Cooperative Missions Giving Offering? What is the reason that you lead yours? Returning to one giving plan will unite North Carolina Baptist on intent.
What does four giving plans insinuate about North Carolina Baptist? Not only that, but what do giving plans that give directly to CBF insinuate about North Carolina Baptist? According to CBF website the BSCNC is listed as a Congregational Partner. Who knows exactly what that means. If you follow this link on Congregational Life it says the CBF will fund up to $20k of certain projects. I do not believe the BSCNC is receiving any funds from CBF. However, the insinuation that we are Partners with CBF tells the world that BSCNC is supporting the CBF in their mission through our budget.
Let’s not leave Plan D out. What is the insinuation of Plan D? Well it tells the world that there are things going on in the BSCNC that is not acceptable. Plan D has grown the most in the past couple of years. Shouldn’t that say something to our leaders? What is going on that makes churches move their giving from Plan A to Plan D? Plan D gives less to the BSCNC but gives the same amount to the SBC as Plan A. Plan D insinuates that there is not enough votes for me to change something at the convention level so instead of pulling out altogether, I will give a nominal amount. But I do not want to hurt Fruitland and by giving to this plan I can still have a voice in the convention.
Multiple giving plans insinuate to the world that we are not together in North Carolina. The insinuation further brings about division within the local associations and also even comes to the church. Some churches giving to Plan C do not realize they are not supporting Southern Baptist causes. Plan D was presented as a plan that would allow more SB causes to be funded. However, most churches giving to Plan D do not realize they are giving no more % to Southern Baptist causes than a church giving to Plan A.
The insinuation of a united front is the first thing that is brought to light when you call a budget consultant to your church. I had the opportunity to use a consultant from the BSCNC to help our church make certain that our budget was doing what we desired it to do. The first thing he pointed to was the various “love” offerings we involved ourselves in. He commented that a church was not united in cause when there were small groups of people pushing for a love offering for their pet projects. What a unique concept.
Therefore uniting the giving plans into one plan insinuates to the world that we are united. We are together in what we are about and that we plan to accomplish our tasks under a united banner.
What is our mission as a convention? According to our Articles of Incorporation we see two purposes of our formation.
A. To assist the churches in their divinely appointed mission; to promote missions, evangelism, education, social services, the distribution of the Bible and sound religious literature; and to cooperate with the work of the Southern Baptist Convention; and
B. To do any and all acts and things which may be deemed desirable or expedient for the benefit of the programs of the Convention.
This mission should be funded through one budget. If we relegate our responsibility of education to the CBF, then let the schools be under the banner of CBF. We should not set up a separate budget in order to accommodate our purpose for education.
I will not try to explain how we are able to have a budget designated to the CBF when our mission plainly states we are “to cooperate with the work of the Southern Baptist Convention“. Suffice it to say that a study in 2001-02 produced a decision by lawyers that this statement did not restrict us from setting up a plan giving directly to the CBF. However, I still ask the same question.
We need to focus on our mission and it is evident from the WMU-NC’s latest move that we are not united on mission. Mrs. Ruby Fulbright, Executive Director of the WMU-NC, said in a meeting that BSCNC was focused on Evangelism and Church Planting and WMU-NC was focused on Evangelism and Social Ministry. This statement was a shock to many in the meeting. However, if you look at our budget one can see how these various mission visions compete with one another. If we had one budget then we would be able to clearly define the mission because it would be reflected in the budget. If an entity or auxiliary were then to say their mission was different we would be surprised for a reason.
Will we lose congregations if this motion passes and the study committee returns a recommendation to return to one budget? We probably will. Will we lose congregations if we continue with separate giving plans? We most definitely will. This trend has already been noted especially among churches giving to Plans B & C. Many are wondering aloud the reason we are bending over backwards trying to salvage relationships when we are constantly getting bombarded with walk outs. I have also spoken with some that desire to see these issues settled in court. What many do not realize is that the Baptist Retirement Homes of North Carolina did not allow the new trustees chosen by the BSCNC to attend their first trustee meeting. Why? BRHNC does not recognize BSCNC’s right to seat trustees. This is wrong, but I do not believe court action is the answer. If we have one giving plan will this keep these incidents from taking place in the future? Probably not. But, if we have one giving plan we will certainly tell everyone that takes money out of the pot that those placing money in the pot are united.
Thus, the time is now for the BSCNC to begin the process to return us to one giving plan. Whoever we lose I bid them Godspeed in their endeavors. Whoever we gain I praise God for their addition and desire to seek God’s will through their participation in the BSCNC.