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The Open Door

 

The following information comes from an article in SBC LIFE, Winter 2014/2015 Edition, published by the SBC Executive Committee.

 

The front page article is titled: “Pastors Show Increased Confidence in the Cooperative Program.” The article is written by Roger S. Oldham, who is vice president for Convention communications and relations for the SBC Executive Committee and a member of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. In the article Oldham is reporting on a survey conducted by LifeWay Research from April 23-June 4, 2014. There were 1,097 surveys completed.

The article states, “Southern Baptist pastors are strongly supportive of the Convention’s Cooperative Program, according to a study commissioned by the SBC Executive Committee last spring. The survey shows an increase in confidence that the Cooperative Program supports the ministries and missions valued by their churches (81 percent), up from 73 percent in a 2012 survey that asked the same questions to a set of randomly-selected pastors and 71 percent in a similar survey conducted in 2008 that included pastors, laypersons, and other church staff.”

Eighty-six percent of pastors who participated in the survey agree that the Cooperative Program fuels an aggressive global enterprise of reaching the unreached people groups around the world. This is up 5 percentage points over the 2012 survey. Eighty-three percent stated that the Cooperative Program provides partnership opportunities for local, state, and national missions, 3 percentage points greater than the 2012 survey.

While 13 percent of the pastors say that the strategies of the SBC entities that receive Cooperative Program dollars are not moving in the right direction, 65 percent agree that the SBC entities that are supported through the Cooperative Program are moving in an appropriate direction. Sixty-three percent say that the entities are using their contributions effectively.

Southern Baptist pastors also indicated that they generally agree with the current allocation of national Cooperative Program funds for the entities that receive Cooperative Program funding. With 15 percent selecting the current distribution percentages as their preference, just more than half listed higher percentages for the North American Mission Board, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and the SBC operating budget, and almost half listed slightly lower percentages for the International Mission Board and the six SBC seminaries.

Ashley Clayton, Executive Committee vice president for Cooperative Program, stated that this is the third survey of pastors that the Executive Committee has commissioned since 2007. Clayton reports that a large majority of pastors have affirmed the statement “the Cooperative Program supports missions and ministries that my church values.” More than 77 percent agree with the statement, “The SBC allocation budget places a high priority on penetrating lostness both locally and worldwide.”

Continuing as the highest priority for pastors is “Sending and supporting overseas missionaries to reach unreached people groups around the world.” It is the only ministry selected by more than 70 percent of pastors as “essential” or a “high priority.” The statement is up 3 percentage points from the 2012 survey.

Eighty-six percent of pastors who participated in the survey agree that the Cooperative Program fuels an aggressive global enterprise of reaching the unreached people groups around the world.

Clayton also reported that “While international missions remains the highest priority for the Cooperative Program, pastors also place a high priority on participating in local ministry projects for evangelism, developing and implementing an evangelism strategy for penetrating lostness in North America, and improving the vitality and health of existing churches. It is not a case of either/or. Pastors see the value in both/and—supporting an aggressive global vision while simultaneously strengthening a strong home base.”

The Executive Committee also asked pastors about the decision their churches made regarding contributions through the Cooperative Program in the most recent budget process. The vast majority of churches (80 percent) decided to keep their CP giving the same as the previous year. Three times as many churches raised their CP contribution as decreased it. Of those churches that increased their giving through the Cooperative Program, 5.6 percent increased it by more than 2 percentage points of the church’s undesignated receipts while another 9 percent increased their CP contributions from 0.1 percent to 1.9 percentage points of their budget.

On the next to last page of the same edition of SBC LIFE is an informational section titled “How Well Do You Know the Cooperative Program?” You might be interested in a few of these facts.

“According to the Great Commission Resurgence Final Report, the ‘preferred means’ through which churches contribute to support SBC entities is through the Cooperative Program.”

“By definition, the ‘cooperative’ of Cooperative Program refers to the SBC and state conventions cooperating together to provide a means by which churches can fund ministries at the state and national level through submission of a single check.”

“Since the turn of the twenty-first century, total CP (both state and national) has yielded more than $6 billion.”

“The International Mission Board receives 50.41 percent of the national (SBC) Cooperative Program funds distributed according to the SBC CP Allocation Budget.”

“The highest total in Cooperative Program gifts (combined state and SBC) exceeded $535,000,000 in 2007-2008.”

“The average SBC share of Cooperative Program funds since CP was established in 1925 … is 36.65 percent.”

“Contributions calculated as part of ‘Great Commission Giving’ a giving category created in 2010, does not include funds used by a local church to fund its own overseas missions initiatives.”