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Annual Church Profile: A 'before' and 'after' look at the Task Force recommendation

 

Shown above are the current and proposed Missions Giving categories as reflected on the Annual Church Profile. There are two primary changes, both in nomenclature and in what gifts will be allowed to be counted.

Under the proposed wording, the distinction between historic Cooperative Program and designated giving will be more obvious, though both will be recognized as Great Commission gifts. The Cooperative Program will be affirmed as the primary giving channel but the designated category will acknowledge the contributions some congregations make in addition to, or designating around, the Cooperative Program.

The Georgia Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee is asking the Task Force to further strengthen that Cooperative Program category by formally encouraging and challenging local churches specifically to increase their support and sacrificial giving through the Cooperative Program.

The primary change will be in category 23, known as “other missions.” To further strengthen Southern Baptist mission efforts, only gifts to the denomination’s mission causes will be allowed under that listing. Such has not been the case for at least the last half century.

Research by The Christian Index, utilizing both the Research Services office of the Georgia Baptist Convention and LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, revealed that the “other missions” category allows gifts to non-SBC mission causes. Therefore, a church is currently allowed to register any gifts to para-church agencies, independent missionaries, and even other denominations under that heading.

Research further indicated that the category was added to the ACP as far back as 1957. The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force recommendation would change that line item to exclude any gifts to non-SBC entities.

Tom Crites, who oversees the GBC’s research department, said, “While we can’t say for sure why the ‘other missions causes’ category was added to the ACP, it was likely included to provide an opportunity for dollars that didn’t fit into one of the other breakdown categories to be reported. The ‘other missions causes’ category would allow anyone studying the data a chance to know the total dollars spent on missions” by any congregation.

Therefore, the definition in place for 53 years would be reworded and strengthened in favor of SBC mission causes. Further clarification from Task Force members indicate that churches would not be able to report funds which they expend in church-based outreach such as church planting, evangelistic endeavors, or supporting their own missionaries. Local state-based gifts, such as for Children’s Homes and related convention-approved ministries, would fit under that designation.

GBC Executive Director J. Robert White said, “The Task Force recommended approach to reporting giving, while the terminology may be adjusted, is a giant leap in the right direction. A loophole that has existed for many years would be closed.

“The ‘Other Missions’ category currently allows churches to report missions gifts to any cause outside of the SBC. That would not be permitted under the new plan. Whatever the giving is called, it is a huge improvement to report only gifts to the Cooperative Program and SBC, state and association causes.”