Questions about the GCR Report

After blogging about the Great Commission Task Force Progress Report a few days ago, I received some questions about the report.  The questions reminded me that the report includes some terms that may not be familiar.  After answering the email, I decided to share my response in case others had similar questions. I’ve also included some information specific to Kentucky.

1. Cooperative Agreements are the agreements that each state has with the North American Mission Board to provide funding for certain items in that state.  The agreements vary from state to state.  What it means is that the funds we send to NAMB via CP and AAEO are returned to states to fund missionaries and ministries in that state.  Stronger states like Kentucky, send more to NAMB through these channels than we receive back.  New work states receive upwards of 90% of their operating budgets through the Cooperative Agreements.  In the 2009-10 KBC budget, it shows that we expect to receive $588,702 from NAMB.  (KBC gave over $2 million to AAEO last year plus what was sent to the SBC through CP.  CP is then divided between IMB, NAMB, the seminaries, etc.)
       These are called Cooperative Agreements because there are only a handful of missionaries who are fully funded by NAMB.  All other NAMB career missionaries are funded through a variety of sources depending on where they are ultimately employed (NAMB, state convention, association, church).  
       Note: MSC missionaries do not receive any NAMB funding.  They are included in the prayer calendar and sometimes receive some program support for work that they do through the state convention or the association.

2. The Cooperative Program is a voluntary program at every level.  Churches determine what amount they will send (usually a percentage of their undesignated receipts).  State conventions determine what percentage they will send to the SBC, and the SBC designates how CP funds are divided among IMB, NAMB, seminaries, etc.  The SBC division is approved at the Southern Baptist Convention each year.
       The suggested percentage of church CP giving is 10% of undesignated receipts.  We have churches that give far more, and many who give less.  The current average is between 6-7%.  
       In Kentucky, 37.32% of CP is forwarded to the SBC where it is divided between IMB, NAMB, seminaries, etc according to the plan approved by the SBC.  KBC retains 62.68% which is divided according to a plan approved by the KBC Mission Board.  This division includes the work of the KBC staff as well as amounts for Christian Education (Baptist colleges and schools) and the KBC entities (Assemblies, Foundation, WMU, Sunrise, Western Recorder, and Baptist Healthcare System).
       The 2009-10 KBC Cooperative Program budget is divided as follows:  $9,136,887 SBC, $9,015,276 KBC Mission Board, and $6,327,837 for Christian Education and KBC entities.  Total:  $24,480,000.  
       KBC also has some other sources of income including the Eliza Broadus Offering, NAMB (Cooperative Agreements), investment income, etc.  Total other income estimated for 2009-10 is $2,650,606.
       
3. Great Commission Giving: In addition to gifts through the Cooperative Program, and missions offerings (LMCO, AAEO, EBO) some churches want to give designated gifts to IMB, NAMB, etc.  Some churches would prefer to do most of their support for SBC work through designated gifts rather than CP.  Because of our emphasis on CP, sometimes these churches have not felt that their gifts were affirmed or recognized. The recommendation by the GCR task force is to celebrate all gifts to SBC causes, including designated gifts. This total will be called Great Commission Giving.
       
The Progress Report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force deals with both spiritual and methodological issues. Certainly we as Southern Baptists long for our denomination, including every church, association, and state convention to make the Great Commission a priority. If we do, we will see an increase in baptisms, missionary appointments, and missions giving.  The GCR emphasis was also a call to study how Southern Baptists could more effectively use our resources to spread the gospel.  The GCR task force has looked at very complicated issues and has presented a plan.  Not everyone will agree with all the details (and there are still many details yet to be worked out).  There are certainly hard choices that states will have to make.  But it is also a fair question to ask ourselves as a denomination:  With 95%+ of the Christian resources of the world found in the United States, where people can freely hear the gospel, should we not increase the amount that we use for international missions when there are people in the world who have never heard the gospel even one time? The recommendation in the GCR Progress Report to increase IMB funding from 50% to 51% (of national CP funds) is to indicate our desire to focus on reaching the world with the gospel.  It is not a large increase at this time, but it is symbolic.

Many have encouraged state conventions to raise the percentage they send to the SBC, suggesting even that states work towards a 50-50 split of CP funds with states retaining 50% for work in the state, and sending 50% for SBC work (IMB, NAMB, seminaries, etc.). Dr. Don Mathis, our current KBC president, has been speaking out about CP and saying that he has studied the giving in our state.  He has concluded that if every church would increase their CP giving by 1% a year to reach 10%, that there would be enough money to do everything KBC is doing now AND give 50% to national SBC causes.

Kentucky has also appointed a Great Commission Task Force to study how Kentucky Baptists can more effectively use our resources to fulfill the Great Commission.  I was asked to serve on this committee which is meeting monthly between now and the KBC meeting in November. We hope to bring a report at that time.  We are looking at every aspect of KBC work, including the work of the Mission Board and staff, as well as the colleges and all of the entities.  The Task Force is charged with examining all of our work and making recommendations.
       
As I write all of this, please understand that my purpose is to provide explanations for those who may find that the GCR Progress Report contains some unfamiliar terms or ideas.  As a member of the Kentucky Great Commission Task Force, I am committed to seeking God’s direction for Kentucky Baptist work and the use of our resources.  As a member of the committee, I have been given many things to read, will be hearing reports, and sharing in prayer and discussion with the other committee members.  Please pray for the national GCR Task Force and for the Kentucky Task Force.  Above all, pray that we will indeed see a renewed commitment to the Lord and the Great Commission.

Reflections on the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report

I was privileged to attend the presentation of a Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) Task Force Progress Report by Dr. Ronnie Floyd.  The GCR report was presented at the SBC Executive Committee meeting and it is the subject of much conversation, twittering, emails, blogs, and so on.  

One of the things that I greatly appreciate about the GCR Task Force is the way that they are communicating their findings and vision quickly to everyone who is interested.  You can view a video of Dr. Floyd presenting the report and download a copy at www.pray4gcr.com.  Most importantly, you can sign up to pray for a Great Commission Resurgence and for the Task Force.  Over 6,000 people have committed to pray.

I wanted to attend the presentation for several reasons.  First, I am serving on the Kentucky Great Commission Task Force and wanted to hear the tone and the content of the report from the national task force.  Secondly, a number of WMU leaders attended because we know that WMU has always been about the Great Commission.  We know that there will be implications for our work.

One of the significant changes will be in NAMB’s primary assignment and in what we call Cooperative Agreements with the states.  The phase out of these agreements and funding will mean change for many state conventions, especially in new work states.  But the increased focus on planting churches in the parts of our country that are least reached with the gospel has great potential.  

Another recommendation is to free the IMB to work with unreached people groups wherever they are found, regardless of geography.  That means that some work to engage unreached people groups may take place in the United States when there are pockets of these folks right here.

Another recommendation is to both promote the Cooperative Program as our primary channel of support for SBC missions, yet at the same time affirm all Great Commission giving of our churches.  Gifts to CP, missions offerings, associations, and other designated missions giving would be included in the reports of total Great Commission giving.  This, too, will encourage giving through all channels of SBC missions support chosen by our churches.

The GCR Task Force Progress Report is one that every Southern Baptist needs to read.  Much prayer and thought and hours of work have taken place.  It is a progress report and the final report will be released on Monday, May 3rd.  This Task Force needs our prayers as they hear reactions to the Progress Report and entities begin to think through the implications and how best to proceed.  I urge you to sign up to be GCR prayer partner.

I also encourage you to sign up to receive the Kentucky Great Commission blog by email.  The Kentucky blog provides great information about Kentucky missions and includes progress reports of both the national and Kentucky Great Commission Task Force.

Above all, pray for a Great Commission Resurgence.  Like a spiritual awakening, it will be longed for and prayed for before it will become reality (Preparing for a Great Commission Resurgence).  May it begin with me.

On the Road with Kentucky WMU

Years ago someone asked me about getting more senior adults involved in WMU.  I jokingly said, “Have a bus trip.”  I said that because people like to travel and they like to see our mission work.  A missions bus trip is different from a missions trip in that it’s purpose is more to introduce missions and help people understand the needs.  Then they can pray more effectively and will be challenged to give even more for missions.

Kentucky WMU has been asked from time to time to plan this type of trip.  Since we hosted the national WMU Annual Meeting last June and had over 700 from Kentucky to attend, we thought that this might be a good time for a bus trip to the national WMU meeting.  

The national meeting will be in Orlando, which is a long way to ride on a bus.  But by traveling overnight, we save two nights of hotel expense.  For folks who would rather not have the long walks of airports, plus having to go through security and keep up with your belongings, getting on a bus is much simpler even if it is a long ride.

The trip will depart from Louisville on Friday, June 11 and return early on Thursday, June 17.  We will attend the national WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting (Sunday & Monday). We will also attend most of the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting (Tuesday and Wednesday morning).

Click here for complete details and a registration form. Cost of the trip is $400 which includes bus transportation and hotel (double occupancy).   Deposits ($100 per person) are due by March 15, with the balance by May 1.  We must have at least 30 for this trip.  If we do not have the required number, those who have signed up will be given the option to fly (at additional cost).  

We are also offering the opportunity to go to Hawaii with the WMU Foundation for the Baptist Women’s Leadership Conference and Baptist World Congress.  This trip runs from July 23 – August 2.  Click here for all the details.

On the road…again!  Hope you will join us for one of these trips.

Buckets of Hope

Kentucky Baptists are joining a nationwide effort through Baptist Global Response to provide food buckets for Haiti.  By filling a 5-gallon bucket with specified items, we can help feed hungry families in the name of Jesus.  The cost of each bucket is approximately $30 plus a $10 donation to help with shipping costs.

All of the project details are listed on the Kentucky Baptist Convention Buckets of Hope for Haiti web page: http://www.kybaptist.org/kbc.nsf/pages/haiti-buckets.html. The web page includes a specific list of items and packing instructions.  There is even a video to show you how to pack the bucket and get everything in it!  Contact information for each association is also included on the web site.

Please follow the exact packing list provided on the web site.  We have learned that buckets may be any color, but the items in the buckets must be exact. The buckets must be completed and delivered to your Baptist Association collection point by March 4, 2010.  From there, they will be transported to Miami, Florida, where they will be packed in cargo containers and shipped to Haiti.  Each bucket will be labeled as a “Bucket of Hope,” indicating that the bucket is is a gift of Christian love and support from Southern Baptists.  A gospel tract will be added to each bucket before shipment to Haiti.

The food items can be generic, store brand items.  Once the food supplies are used, the Haitians will find multiple everyday uses for the bucket.  Please do not substitute any item listed and do not add anything additional inside the bucket.

We have participated in sending coats and food boxes to Korea, buckets of home health care supplies to Africa, and now buckets of food for Haiti.  Such tangible expressions of God’s love open doors for a gospel witness.  This is short notice and a quick deadline, but the need is urgent.  Many Kentucky Baptists have wanted a hands on way to be of help, and Buckets of Hope is a project that individuals and churches can do.

Contact your association for the collection point in your area and pack a Bucket of Hope today.