I must first put this disclaimer: I am a confessional Southern Baptist. I believe in the strength of the Cooperative Program as an efficient means of distributing resources and personnel for the sake of Christ. I believe it works, and I believe it can continue to work. I also believe that it is a very ill program, and is in need of desperate attention.
After reading a post on cooperation between SBC churches and the Acts29 Church Planting Network, which was very unbiased and fair in its approach (as much as MSNBC is non-partisan in its approach), which you can read here. I then read the Missions Goals from the KBC (for the record, I support and endorse the KBC as a great missions/ministry organization) and I found myself both deeply troubled and very understanding of why we so desperately need the GCR and why we see so many young pastors in joint partnership with the SBC and other agencies.
Here is why I am so concerned. We give our money as Southern Baptists under the assumption it will be used around the world for God’s Kingdom. We give under the assumption it will be used well, and those to whom we give will be good stewards of it. How can we possibly say we are being good stewards of our money when the state of Kentucky receives $27 million (roughly $6.50 per person in the state) while the IMB gets $4.5 million. That sounds like a lot of money, and it is and praise God for the generosity of Kentucky Baptists. But, that equals less than a penny per person in the world (.075 cents actually). How can we sleep at night knowing all that money is staying right here to fund as I call it “Crayon Clown Ministries” when churches MUST be planted around the world and we MUST send missionaries. It isn’t that Acts 29 is stealing from the CP, it’s the CP and its poor stewardship robbing from itself.
I heard it said once before that if the average church member knew how their money was being spent, they would throw a revolt. Well, here it is, based off some very rough calculations/estimates:
Median household income for Kentucky – $37,046
Tithe (should do the 2% that is average, but I’ll pretend for this) – $3,705
Assume church gives 10% to CP – $371
KBC passes 16.67% on to IMB – $61.83
KBC keeps in state 62.68% – $232.54
Of the hard-earned money that you give to your local church, less than 2% of that will ever go on the international mission field under the current model of fund allocation. Take 2 pennies out of your wallet, and that is your annual contribution to God’s mission to redeem the Maasai people of Africa, the Nepalese in Asia, the Slavs in Europe, and the countless others who are waiting for us to send missionaries to them.
Stop pointing the finger at groups like Acts29 and other Christian organizations, they are not stealing from us. We have given to them because they are showing themselves to be much better stewards of God’s money than we are. God’s heart is for the nations, and we are allocating HIS money in an overwhelming percentage to keep our coffers full and to keep our pet projects going. Shame on us in the American church for this.
As always, a Southern Baptist who stands behind the historic witness and purpose of our voluntary affiliation with various Baptist bodies, but also as one who says that change and refocus is necessary.
Soli Deo Gloria