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1% Increase to Cooperative Program

While not all of our clients are Southern Baptist, we do have quite a few that are. Read the post below by Nate Adams, the Executive Director for the Illinois Baptist State Association. It’s amazing that a 1% increase in your church’s giving to the cooperative program would have a $100 mil. impact.

You can see Nate’s post Here or read below:

By Nate Adams, Executive Director, IBSA
I find myself needing to write and speak more frequently about money and stewardship these days. I guess it’s because I sense we are approaching a crossroads, both as Southern Baptists and as Illinois Baptists. And how we choose to proceed may affect our Great Commission efforts for years to come.

This crossroads is about giving, and specifically missions giving through the Cooperative Program. And there are options at that crossroads that some appear to be taking already, but that I believe are far inferior to the historic road of missions cooperation that we’ve traveled since the CP was birthed in 1925.

One inferior option would be to allow the current downward trend in church giving through the Cooperative Program to continue. Nationally, CP giving has gradually declined from a nationwide average in 1998 of 8.1 percent (of total undesignated gifts) to just 5.9 percent in the most recent report. IBSA churches have fared slightly better, averaging 7.1 percent in 2010. But even that is down from our churches’ 9.3 percent in 2000.

It’s difficult to generalize and say where the percentage that’s not going to missions through the Cooperative Program in fact is going. But let’s assume for now that it is staying in the church budget and being spent locally. Staff and facilities are usually the largest portions of a church’s expenses, so perhaps this would indicate more staff, or more costly staff, or a more comfortable or useful facility.

None of those things are bad, nor are stronger church programs or expanded church resources, or anything that improves a church’s effectiveness. But even if it is simply more expensive to operate as a church these days, I would plead the case that the proportion of church budget spent within a church’s ministry itself should not increase at the expense of its missions investment.

There is a second inferior option to consider at our coming crossroads. That would be to embrace a “societal missions” approach, rather than one of “cooperative missions.”

These weren’t terms I heard a lot about as a layman so let me explain further. Societal missions refers to the practice of a church sending and supporting its own missionaries, or its own missions projects, rather than cooperating with other churches to do so. The concept is that only the local church should do these things, and not groups of churches or mission boards that act on behalf of the churches.

Churches that practice societal missions have much more direct control over their missions efforts, and their missions giving. But they can only do so much alone. Most medium sized churches can support only a handful of missionaries, and smaller churches can’t afford to fully support even one missionary. As a result, their view of the world and their involvement in it missionally is quite limited.

Frankly, I see more churches taking both of these “turns for the worse,” than I would like to see, or than I think is best for the Great Commission cause we share. As we approach this crossroads, I would urge you and your church not to look to the left or the right, but to continue straight ahead with renewed vigor down the path we’ve been on together since 1925 – the path of multiplied missions impact through the Cooperative Program.

Specifically, I am joining SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page in challenging IBSA churches to accept a “1% Challenge,” beginning next year, and in doing so to reverse the downward percentage trend in CP giving. Whether your church currently gives 7 percent, or 11 percent, or 1 percent through the Cooperative Program, I hope you will prayerfully consider increasing your Great Commission giving through the CP by just one percentage point.

Dr. Page has pointed out that if Southern Baptists nationally increased their CP giving percentage by one point, nearly $100 million more would flow to state, national, and international missions, as well as seminary education and other cooperative ministries. Hundreds more churches could be started here in North America, and at least 380 more international missionaries could be sent to the 3,800 unengaged people groups of the world.

As you may have read recently in the Illinois Baptist, the North American Mission Board will reduce its funding through IBSA by $265,000 in 2012. I know it would be a miracle, but I would love to see those lost funds replaced with Illinois Baptist generosity, and at the same time send more on to the missions causes of the national SBC, including NAMB! There’s no better way to navigate this crossroads than with straight-ahead, renewed commitment to the Cooperative Program.
Last Published: October 6, 2011 5:12 PM