Only 25% of MBC churches give 10% to CP
JEFFERSON CITY – Only 526 churches in the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) give 10 percent or more of their annual budget receipts through the Cooperative Program (CP), according to a survey of the 2005 Annual Church Profile conducted by David Tolliver, MBC associate executive director who is over the CP.
The survey revealed that only 25 percent of MBC churches are giving at the level recommended by the MBC Executive Board in April for election of state and national convention officers, trustees, board and committee members. Similar recommendations for a 10 percent standard have been promoted by state executive directors and adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee.
“At this rate, we will continue to decline in Cooperative Program giving,” he said. “Therefore, we will continue to decline in the effectiveness not only of the Missouri Baptist Convention but also of the Southern Baptist Convention, International Mission Board and North American Mission Board.
“In 1985, the average CP gift in Missouri was 14.5 percent. In 2005, the average CP gift in Missouri was 7.2 percent. If we do that for the next 20 years, obviously we won’t be the same convention that we are now. We won’t have the missions and the ministry that we have now.”
Some Southern Baptist leaders have pushed for firmly calling for a 10 percent level of CP giving in a local church before a pastor or a lay person from that church could be considered for denominational leadership. It is clear to Tolliver, based on the survey, that requiring 10 percent in Missouri right now would be severely limiting and essentially unrealistic.
In another disappointing revelation emerging from the survey, 597 Missouri Baptist churches give 5 percent or less through the CP. That accounts for 30 percent of the convention’s churches.
“The board never placed a litmus test on CP percentages for leadership,” Tolliver said. “They are suggesting that leaders are drawn from those churches that give 10 percent or more to the Cooperative Program. My personal encouragement, then, is rather than drawing from a small pool of 25 percent of Missouri Baptists, let’s increase the number of churches that are giving significantly to the CP so that we will continue to have a large pool from which we’ll choose our leadership.”
The Cooperative Program is the Southern Baptist method of supporting missions and ministry efforts of the MBC and SBC. The CP total includes receipts from individuals, churches, state conventions and fellowships for distribution according to the messenger-approved MBC budget and the CP Allocation Budget.
“If we lose our zest for the Cooperative Program, we’ll lose some of our zeal for missions,” Tolliver said.