A report straight from the Biblical Recorder informs us that a task force formed by the Board of Directors and appointed by the President of the Board just before our convention last year will recommend consolidating our giving plans back into one plan. The buzzword of the report is; Simple with Options.
Tony Cartledge responds with;
If the proposal is passed in its present form, it is unlikely to spark either a hoped-for spike in giving from conservative churches, or a rapid exodus of moderate churches. Giving from more conservative churches will probably hold steady, however, while the ongoing decline in moderate participation will continue for a number of familiar reasons, most of which have little to do with the giving plans.
I must agree with him as I do not believe we will see any spike in giving as a result of this plan. The reason? The same reason conservative churches began going around the BSCNC and giving directly to the SBC in the first place–support of causes that are seen as liberal leaning. Neither do I see a rapid exodus of moderate churches due to this giving plan. That reason? The same reason there has not been a rapid exodus of moderate churches to date–there is not that many churches in NC that consider themselves as moderate, it is the pastors that are moderate. These pastors are experts at using what has, in the past, been referenced as “double-speak“. For example, they will say to their congregation that they believe in the inspiration of scripture. Saying such, to a uninformed church member sounds like they are saying the Bible is without error. Why? The average church member believes that God inspired the Scripture and it is logical that if God inspired it, then there are no errors. However, as time moves along and the pastor begins ordaining women deacons by questioning certain texts one begins to realize their pastor does not believe the Scriptures are without error. By the time one realizes such a thing the pastor has endeared himself to the WMU director and she is the one being considered for ordination. As the church member responds he/she finds out the church they have been a member of for the past 20 years will disintegrate over this issue. Besides the one that feels compelled to confront the issue also believes the Bible when it says to honor their pastor. Thus the moderate pastor leads the church by saying something like the CBF is a good cause and then presents a plan that would allow church member to check a box that would send money to the CBF.
Concerns about the Recommendation
I see basically two concerns with this recommendation. The first concern is the recommendation itself. Notice what Dr. Ed Yount stated in his presentation to the BoD.
North Carolina Baptists — their multiple giving plans unique among state Baptist conventions — told the task force they wanted something less confusing, Yount said. His committee provided “a simple plan, with options.”
This is a very well articulated presentation and it deserves consideration. However, notice the reason for this task force, as quoted in this article.
Eanes, a friend of Rogers, said his intent is, “simply to study the feasibility of the plans.”
“Are they doing what they were designed to do?” he said. “The dynamics are changing. The demographics are changing. Some of the plans have pretty significant decreases. Others have had increases. The only plan that’s had any study is Plan C. I just want to look at what we have and see if they’re working.”
This response from Brother Scott is the purpose of the Task Force as it was presented to the BoD. Notice the amendment that was asked to be included.
David MacEachern, of Bat Cave, asked Eanes to amend his motion to declare the intention of the study would be to “move to one giving plan.” Eanes declined, saying his intent was simply to study the plans.
Brother Scott’s comments were made after Brother David’s appeal for an amendment to include this in the Task Force’s purpose. This was not included thus, the intent of the Task Force has been expanded without proper authorization. According to Dr. Yount their committee heard from churches that wanted something less confusing which says nothing about the feasibility of the plans being used. If the main purpose of the Task Force was simply to study the feasibility of the plans, then how did a recommendation come out that still includes the plans? Wouldn’t it seem reasonable that a recommendation to remove the plans that were not feasible and combine into the one plan the items that were feasible? As it is, we are still at the same point we were last year. We want the money but not the responsiblity to say enough is enough.
The second reason I have concerns is the CBF allocation. However, it is not just the CBF allocation but add to that the negative designations and you still have a Plan C. The plan that; The number of “Plan C only” churches peaked at 169 in 2006. It dropped to 160 in 2007 and is at 119 through nine months of 2008, as reported here. Allow a simple scenario of how it could work. A church could send their funds to the NCBSC with the box for CBF checked and then negative designate the SBC portion. Let’s say that happens with a church that gives $10,000.00 per year. Because they checked the CBF box then $1,000.00 goes to CBF through the NCBSC. This leaves $9,000.00 remaining. Other boxes that could be checked would be the Non-SBC theological education. This $9,000.00 would then become $6,500.00, if the 2.5% is based on the original gift of $10k, which is not clear. If the 2010 Budget Committee agrees to place Southeastern Baptist Theological College as an allocation within the budget then one could negatively designate that portion. Thus, this would conclude with a church not supporting the Southern Baptist Convention with one red penny. But, because the church contributed to the State’s allocated version of the Cooperative Program to the tune of $6,500.00, that church has the ability of sending a full slate of messengers to the annual convention without a dime of support going to the SBC.
However, there is a section that defines Cooperative Program giving on the Proposed 2010 MISSIONS GIFTS REMITTANCE. This bulleted sections is below.
A church may choose to contribute to the Cooperative program by entering the amount of the gift in the box below. The church may choose to negatively designate up to 3 items of the Cooperative Program budget by indicating the excluded items on the lines below. Gifts which negatively designate the Baptist State Convention of NC will not be considered Cooperative Program gifts. Gifts which negatively designate the SBC will not be reported to the SBC as qualifying gifts for SBC messenger status, but will qualify the church for BSCNC messenger status. A church must congribute $420 per employee each year in order for its employees to be eligible to receive Matching Funds and Protection Benefits under the Church Annuity Plan.
While this explanation seems reasonable there is one thing that our committee seems to forget. The messenger cards for the SBC comes from the SBC not from the NCBSC. The churches not only get their messenger cards from the SBC, but when I went online to order my messenger cards they asked the amount my church gave to the SBC. My messengers to the SBC are determined by what I tell them I give to the CP not what NCBSC reports. Why do I say this? Have you ever heard of http://sbds.lifeway.com/? That is your way of entering your churches ACP and that is what the SBC follows. If there is a difference in the state convention reporting of CP gifts and the Church’s reporting, according to Baptist Polity the Church is the one right.
We go to the convention and vote for the recommendation. If someone were to ammend this recommendation to exclude the options it may be something worth considering. Also, it would be worth considering an amendment to separate the options from the giving plan and vote on each individually. I am not certain that could be done because I am no Parlimentarian and it would take one to figure out how to do it. But you can certainly rest assured that a Parlimentarian has certainly advised the BoD on how best to present this motion in order to restrict the amendments. It is going to be an interesting convention.