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.

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