Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What is wrong with this picture?

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
Scott Douglas


  1. I wrote this song you are singing twenty years ago and couldn't get anyone to buy the rights and change things then and they probably won't now. I think it certainly needs to change and pray it will. But until it does you owe me for copywrite infringement.

  2. Misspelled copyright - sorry!

  3. Thanks Anonymous, who should I make the check out to?

  4. Hi, Scott. Thanks for your post. I work as the communications director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention and will be glad to try to answer any questions that you might have about how CP gifts are divided. We on the Mission Board staff are very supportive of the Great Commission discussion that is now ongoing and want to be a part of helping our whole world know Christ -- both those who are across the street and those who are on the other side of the world. Just off the top of my head, I can think of three staff members who are former IMB missionaries and I personally came to Christ through the work of an IMB missionary so I don't think you'll find people anymore supportive of international missions anywhere.

    Just a couple of observations on your post. One, please keep in mind that the funding priorities are set by Kentucky Baptists and that all Kentucky Baptists have the opportunity to be a part of the process by electing the Mission Board and by approving the CP budget goals at the annual meeting each year.

    Second, you'll note as you look at the mission goals, that CP funds are use for a wide variety of missions and ministries here in Kentucky, across North America and around the world. This is in keeping with the orginal intent of the Cooperative Program to be a way to move away from a "societal" method of giving where every good cause had to send a speaker to ask for support from every church to a "cooperative" method where a unified budget was created to support a wide range of missions and ministries from children's homes and colleges to literacy missions and disaster relief. In addition to the $4.5 million that Kentucky Baptists are sending to IMB through CP, remember that this is basically doubled by Lottie Moon gifts from Kentucky churches so that IMB by far receives the single largest piece of the pie of total giving (and rightly so I believe).

    I don't share any of this to say there can't be or shouldn't be changes or adjustments to how we give and what we support as Kentucky Baptists. That's why the current discussion is so valuable in Baptist life. These giving decisions have been and will continue to be made by Kentucky Baptists so the more people become informed and engaged in the process, the more discerning they can be in understanding God's will.

    Well I've gone on way too long for a comment so I'll stop there but you may want to check out a new blog we've started to help Kentucky Baptists engage on this issue. You'll find it at If you go back through the archives of the posts, you'll see more information about the CP budget process and exactly where your CP funds go. Please feel free to comment there as well. We're open to all viewpoints and hope Kentucky Baptists will really use the blog as a place to share and discuss.

  5. DUDE! I typed up a whole big thing about this and I lost it somehow. Suffice it to say this.

    1) What about special offerings? Lottie Moon and the like for example.

    2) What are the statistics for individual churches supporting missions / missionaries? Wouldn't allowing churches to choose to support missionaries of their own or of their choosing match with the SBC's congregationally centered ethos?

  6. 3) Is the purpose of the SBC primarily international missions or empowering individual denominations to support missions and other initiatives?

  7. Response to Jason - churches supporting missionaries on their own is often a route to difficulty. Many countries have requirements for "deportation bond" which for SBC missionaries is handled without the missionary having to get a lawyer and pay the bribes to the officials to get it handled properly. I know both SBC missionaries and independent Baptist missionaries - the SBC missionaries have medical coverage, support structures provided by the IMB, assistance with all the legal issues involving long term residence in a country and other things we don't normally consider. Many of the independent missionaries are called "Post Office Missionaries" by the natives because they spend most of their time at the post office waiting for promised support to arrive or they shuttle back and forth between the US and their chosen field trying to raise and maintain support.

  8. I've grown up as a Southern Baptist and have supported and given to the CP all my life through my tithes and offerings. My current church has sent out dozens of career and hundreds of short-term missionares. We have planted about 40 local churches in our area through our history. A former pastor served as president of the SBC a couple decades ago. Ties are strong with the local association, the KBC and all the national/international SBC entities.

    That said, I personally love what I see happening with the Acts29 network and their unapologetic, soundly biblical core expectations for whoever is affiliated with them. May their tribe increase!

    As for denominations, it is high time we read the writing on the wall that the younger generation as a rule simply doesn't have the same loyalties to a demonination that previous generations had, and such changes in loyalties will translate into where time and money are invested.

    What might have been a good model a couple of generations ago may not be so today. We need to be more mindful of Henry Blackaby's advice to "Find out where God is at work and join Him there." I doubt we'll find Him with his head buried in the sand.

  9. Hey Anonymous -

    Thanks for your response. I think my point is that there are a number of agencies outside of SBC that churches use to support missionaries. Wycliffe and Word Made Flesh are two that come to mind immediately. My point is that the money a church or denomination spends on missionaries isn't necessarily reflected in a quick breakdown of budgets.

    I think Jeff makes an excellent point - the Millennial generation and below could honestly care less what name is on the sign - they are more interested in authenticity and action and will seek that out WHEREVER it is - be it Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, para-church, or house church.