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Great Commission Giving does not equal Cooperative Giving


Morgan D. Kerr

Morgan Kerr has served as lead pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Savannah since March 2010, having served as a pastor in Colorado for almost a decade previously. He also served two churches in Kentucky as pastor and began his ministry pastoring in Toccoa in 1992.

Though Kerr was born in Richmond, VA, he grew up in Oviedo, FL. He enjoys fishing, hunting, and spending time with his family. He currently serves as a member of the GBC Executive Committee.

He and his wife, Ladette, have been married for 20 years and have five children.

I would like to express my deep concerns of the rise of societal giving, which gravely jeopardizes the Cooperative Program.

First, allow me to say that I am proud to be part of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Georgia Baptist Convention. Currently, I pastor Immanuel Baptist Church in Savannah and have the honor of being our associational representative on the Executive Committee. While I have been pastoring for 22 years in five churches over three states, I have been the recipient of Cooperative Program generosity by earning a master’s degree and doctorate from two of our seminaries.

Since 1925, God has used Cooperative Program giving to lay unilaterally a foundation of equal distribution of funds throughout the SBC structure, which has allowed God to lead in the most Spirit-inspired effort to reach the world for Christ. However, despite the almost century of success that giving through the Cooperative Program has demonstrated, it is under attack in the most subtle of means, namely, societal giving.

So-called “Great Commission Giving,” – which was adopted as part of the Great Commission Task Force Report – has been used by some to elevate societal giving. In fact, it was this type of giving that necessitated the inspiration and implementation of the Cooperative Program.

Many current SBC leaders – including our SBC president, several seminary presidents, as well as celebrated megachurch pastors and blog sites – have severely criticized Cooperative Program giving, especially in regards to state conventions like the Georgia Baptist Convention. Forgetting that they themselves have been the recipients of CP generosity, they speak unfavorably about Cooperative Program giving while leading their churches to give the smallest percentiles to the Cooperative Program.

Frankly, I have never pastored a church that didn’t give 10% unrestricted through the Cooperative Program, so why should I applaud a pastor who decides to raise his level of giving from 2% to 3% instead of 10%? Why should I be excited over our new IMB president, whose very position is funded by giving through the Cooperative Program, when he led his church to give less than 1% to the Cooperative Program?

What if the rank and file Southern Baptist pastor were to alter his CP giving, following the example of some SBC leaders, and give a flat rate or an extremely small percent through the Cooperative Program?

Let me be very clear: if the passive-aggressive, pick-and-choose manner of societal giving becomes the new standard, we will see the dissolution not only of gifts through the Cooperative Program but of the SBC itself. Despite being a younger pastor, I have never felt the necessity to reinvent the wheel. Since I have personally benefited from CP giving, I have never withheld funds from any SBC entity, even when I disagreed with its direction or current methodology.

However, I will not remain silent as I watch short-sighted leaders dismantle the historic, God-ordained mechanism of giving through the Cooperative Program and the disappearance of the benefits that have helped all of us together.