Explanation of the "Cooperative Program"

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Oct 3, 2001.

  1. Dr. Bob

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    I am not an SBC, but have heard shots taken at the "cooperative program" from every direction. Does it mean<UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>being "required" contribution from the so-called independent church<LI>convention owning the deed to the property<LI>money given to missionaries and schools that are liberal or moderate<LI>money given to state bureaucrats who "lord" over the churches<LI>forced to give or no vote or standing within the organization<LI>lever/tool for a select group of leaders to push their fundamentalist agenda[/list]Lots of questions and figure a few from each side of the SBC fratricide could help me understand!

    Thanks, brothers!
     
  2. donnA

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    Volentary giving by local church, who decide how much, not required. Still have voting rights no matter how much given or any, as far as I know, I've never heard different. Each church ownes it's own builging and properties.
    ==money given to missionaries and schools that are liberal or moderate==
    Don't know.

    I can find out mor eif you want it.
     
  3. ellis

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    The college I attended was Southern Baptist and taking a class in how the Cooperative Program worked was required for all majors and minors in the Bible department.

    My understanding is that it is a unified budget plan which churches voluntarily support by designating a percentage of their gifts (or a specific amount of money if they choose) which they forward to a state or regional convention. At the state level, the work that is funded is generally that of undergraduate colleges and universities, in-state missionary support in evangelism and social ministries, and various other entities (hospitals, children's homes, retirement homes, etc.). The state organization forwards a designated percentage of the money they receive from their churches to the national Southern Baptist Convention which is responsible for foreign and home missions and seminary education at six theological schools owned by the SBC. The publishing house, Lifeway, produces its own revenue through sales of its products.

    The colleges, universities, seminaries and other instutitions are governed "in trust" by boards of trustees elected by whatever body operates them; colleges and universities by the state convention, and the seminaries by the SBC based on a formula that includes trustees from each state convention.

    All organizations are autonomous. State conventions are independent of the SBC and the SBC is independent of the states. Churches are under no obligation to adopt or conform to any standards set by the conventions and can withdraw or increase their funding as they see fit at any time.

    However, there are some elements of "cooperation" which are being used by the conventions to elicit a particular level of cooperation or conformity from its churches. If a particular church does not "fall in line" with what the controlling group in the convention wants, then they will discipline that church by refusing to allow any of its members to serve as trustees on any of the boards. There are also cases where the convention attempted to influence a church by nullifying members of that church who wanted to run for convention office. And my local Southern Baptist friends are constantly complaining of interference from convention staff and officers in the pastor selection process in churches with vacant pulpits, in attempts to put the "convention approved" man in a particular church in exchange for his support of the convention down the road.

    The Baptist Foundation of Arizona, a state-convention supported group that distributed inheritances and gifts to Baptist work from managed investments, recently had some major trouble that caused the college operated by the Arizona convention to declare its board of trustees "self-perpetuating" in order to avoid having its assets plundered to settle the foundation's money troubles. The requirement still exists that the trustees be active members of Arizona Southern Baptist Churches, but they are no longer elected by the convention. I know that the reaction from Southern Baptists in Arizona about that move was one of relief that the school can now set its own direction free of the convention body.

    The problems that the Baptist Foundation experienced here, as well as the difficulties I see happening in the SBC churches where some of my friends and former classmates are pastors and leaders, have confirmed for me the belief that denominations build around conventions and organizational structures can often bring their problems into the local churches. It has made me appreciate my own church's posture in choosing our associations wisely and maintaining our independence and autonomy with any organization we may decide to cooperate with.
     
  4. Pioneer

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    In our town there was an SBC church that was struggling financially for several years. They received financial support through the cooperative program since it was considered a mission church. The church was debt free with a good sized building and property. They had a part-time pastor who was paid through the cooperative program.

    Last year the SBC came in and shut the church down. The regional director (I think that's what he was called) told them that the SBC was withdrawing its funding and the church was being closed down. The church was disbanded and the pastor was fired without a church vote. It was then that they found out that the SBC owned their church property. The building has been setting vacant for almost a year now.

    What bothers me the most about the whole incident is that the pastor and the people just accepted it as being God's will. They had no desire to fight it. They just rolled over and died (spiritually speaking).

    Bro. Steve Smith
     
  5. ellis

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    The stories I hear most often from my Southern Baptist friends here, and in other places are similar. Convention staff and officers act like regional bishops and governors sending candidates to specific churches to make sure the pastor they call is sympathetic to what they term the "conservative resurgence" of the SBC. When the churches decline to call these men, the convention takes some kind of action to censure the church in some way.

    What happens if some of the people on a pulpit committee aren't knowledgeable about the way a Baptist church calls a preacher, and think that this is the way it is supposed to be done?
     
  6. donnA

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    When we searched for and called our pastor, the SBC had nothing to do with it.
    The committe wrote and asked for resumes, and also accepted resumes from anyone who applied wether throught the SBC or not.

    How can anyone take over ownership of a building and land? No matter who pays the bills, someone with the power to do so must have signed it over.
     
  7. Michael Wrenn

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    Some Baptists are beginning to use trust clauses, like the Methodists!
     
  8. Circuitrider

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by katie:
    When we searched for and called our pastor, the SBC had nothing to do with it.
    The committe wrote and asked for resumes, and also accepted resumes from anyone who applied wether throught the SBC or not.

    How can anyone take over ownership of a building and land? No matter who pays the bills, someone with the power to do so must have signed it over.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The SBC like any organization is quite diverse in the way it functions. Some areas are more strict, others more liberal, while others are more interfering. However, anytime you have a convention over the ministry of a local church that is a potential problem.

    As to the SBC owning property, the convention will sometimes choose to start a church in a given community. They will put up the funds, buy the building and support the pastor. People and pastors come and go. Let's say this church decides to no longer be a part of the SBC. Since the convention owns the building and holds the title (though the people and pastor may not know that) they can simply toss the congregation out on their ear :eek: I have a pastor friend in the Chicago area to whom this happened. He simply left the building and went and started a new church so he would not have to hassle with the convention.

    My home church was originally affiliated with the American Baptist Convention. In the 1950s the majority of the church wanted to separate and head in a more fundamental direction. The liberal minority sued and were able to gain control of the building. The majority had to leave the building and move into a rented school building for services. Things like this happen and make the ministry more challenging. Anytime you have party bureaucrats calling the shots rather than local church congregations, I get worried. That is not to say that SBCs are all bad, :cool: but I could not live with the outside control upon my ministry.

    Keep in the Word!
     
  9. Phillip

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ellis:
    The stories I hear most often from my Southern Baptist friends here, and in other places are similar. Convention staff and officers act like regional bishops and governors sending candidates to specific churches to make sure the pastor they call is sympathetic to what they term the "conservative resurgence" of the SBC. When the churches decline to call these men, the convention takes some kind of action to censure the church in some way.

    What happens if some of the people on a pulpit committee aren't knowledgeable about the way a Baptist church calls a preacher, and think that this is the way it is supposed to be done?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I don't know what Southern Baptists you have been talking to, but I have been SB all my life (born to parents who were members and became a Christian and was Baptised at 9).

    I have NEVER heard of being strongarmed by the convention in any form, shape or fashion. I am 43 now and both of my parents and many, many friends have been on pulpit committees and not ONE has been approached by anybody from the SBC to accept or reject or even tell us what type of pastor they would like to see. If this is done in some particular state, it would have to be a state convention because neither the national SBC nor our Oklahoma BGCO have EVER, EVER strong armed any pastor, any member of a search committee or any church governing group that I have EVER seen. FBC of Oklahoma City CHOOSE to leave the SBC, the SBC would NOT have kicked them out even for having women preachers. That is between the church and God. If there has EVER been an indicident where somebody on a search committee was strong armed it would have been a major abuse of power and that person would probably be fired immediately upon the main convention finding out that the incident happened. I'm not saying it did not happen because some people are evil and will overstep their authority, but if it did the church needs to make a formal complaint to the convention.

    In answer to the questions starting this thread: Southern Baptist Churches are independent (regardless of what outsiders say). The churches are typically a non-profit corporation, which in our state means it is owned by NOBODY, but governed by the board of directors as appointed in the bylaws (this is just the legal aspect of the corporation as required by the state.) Each church decides on how much to give to the convention. My church now gives 20% of gross revenues and the church I just moved from gave 7% of gross revenues. It can be anything from 0 on up and is decided by a vote of the church during a business meeting. There are designated offerings which may be given to the convention for Lottie Moon offerings, etc. to go to special things. For instance, the state convention sent $20,000 and a semi designed for disaster relief that has already given out over 125 thousand meals to relief workers. We voted as a church to take up a collection to send specifically to the Southern Baptist Convention in New York to distribute for disaster relief.

    When the convention meets a group of people are sent and they will vote on resolutions. The resolutions are ONLY the OPINION of the members in presence. If a church wishes to accept a resolution, it typically takes a vote of the church. For instance, our county (Pittsburg county) association adopted the following resolution last week:
    "WHEREAS on September 11, 2001, our country was attacked by terrorists killing thousands, and

    WHEREAS this great tragedy causes our country and its leaders to stand in need of God's Divine wisdom,

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we urge all members of the Pittsburg Baptist Association churches to uplift President Bush, his Staff, Congress, the Military, and our great nation with fervent prayer that God would keep His great hand on our nation. (II Chronicles 7:14)

    This was tied in with another resolution to ask members to write to congress to ask that prayer be returned to the schools since congress has prayed etc. since the attacks.

    Our pastor was VERY CAREFUL to explain to our church that these resolutions were ONLY THE OPINION OF THOSE PRESENT INCLUDING THE REPRESENTATIVES FROM OUR CHURCH and that our church had to decide for itself if it wanted to accept these resolutions and be a part of them.

    The SAME thing with the Baptist Message and Belief of 2000 which was adopted. It is the opinion of the members present to adopt that as beliefs of the convention and in no way has been binding on the local churches. There are two or three Southern Baptist Churches in America that are members of the convention who have women pastors in conflict with the Message and Belief, but the SBC will NOT kick them out of the convention because that is between the local church and God.

    If I read the newspapers correctly, the FBC of Oklahoma City who left the SBC is still a member of and intends to stay a member of the Oklahoma Southern Baptist Convention (BGCO--Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma). The BGCO and the Southern Baptist Convention is very SAD that they decided to drop out and would accept them back in a heartbeat.

    The SBC does and will not Strong-ARM churches and I have no idea where this notion came from, but if you will give me specifics, I personally will see to it that the people involved in the strong-arming are turned in to the appropriate leaders of the convention. Just have your facts straight and have proof of the specifics before I attack any person with accusations. :mad:
     
  10. SaggyWoman

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Dr. Bob Griffin:
    Does it mean<UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>being "required" contribution from the so-called independent church<LI>convention owning the deed to the property<LI>money given to missionaries and schools that are liberal or moderate<LI>money given to state bureaucrats who "lord" over the churches<LI>forced to give or no vote or standing within the organization<LI>lever/tool for a select group of leaders to push their fundamentalist agenda[/list]understand!

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    We aren't "required" to do anything. We can choose to do what we want to do.

    Our church owns the deed. No one else.

    If we don't like who we give to, we can support who we want to directly.
     
  11. Charlie the Chosen

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    I am a member of a Southern Baptist Church and I don't agree with everything the Convention does, nor does our pastor. The Convention is nothing like it used to be in the early 60"s and early 70"s. My father was a minister and was called to pastor a small country church in Mississippi. After 2 years the church decided to no longer use the sunday school literature provided and eventually decided to get out of the Convention all together, the church voted unanimous. The convention went out and found a family that had not entered the doors of the church since before my father had come there. Coerced this family to vote to stay in the sbc. They said this family was part of the membership and were not notified of the voting, so it had to be done again. With this families vote, the entire churches decision was null and void. This family took my father to court and sued, being backed by the sbc, they won. The entire church flock was booted out into the street. A large church in town along with the sbc started this church, and years later when the church wanted out, they let them out alright, out of a building. The trial was held in Lowndes County, Mississippi. My dad said up until that point, he never understood why it was so important to discipline those that are unfaithful. Had this family been disciplined and their names eventually dropped from the church role, maybe none of this would have ever happened. He also said a church must be started scripturally, not by any organization. But regardless of all that, the convention is not run like that as far as I know anymore. The convention does alot of good work with the money that is given thru the program too.
     
  12. Jonathan

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Dr. Bob Griffin:
    I am not an SBC, but have heard shots taken at the "cooperative program" from every direction. Does it mean<UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>being "required" contribution from the so-called independent church<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    No. According to the SBC constitution and bylaws, there is not a level of financial support that is considered a minimum for cooperating.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR><LI>convention owning the deed to the property<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The way that the convention would own a deed is if it actually purchased property. Contrary to a popular belief among many of my IFB brethren, the SBC has no desire (or time) to be a landlord.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR><LI>money given to missionaries and schools that are liberal or moderate<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    As we all know, the defintion of the terms "liberal" and "moderate" are largely in the mind of the bearer. However, the SBC has a statement of faith that, now, is used as a doctrinal boundary for those who would serve in positions of employment and leadership. Check it out at sbc.net and see for yourself if you think that that statement allows for liberal or moderate theological views.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR><LI>money given to state bureaucrats who "lord" over the churches<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    There are definitely "state bureaucrats" who think that they can "lord" it over the churches. But the fact is that these individuals have no authority over churches.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR><LI>forced to give or no vote or standing within the organization<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This depends upon the association, state convention, or SBC rules. Each group of Baptists have the right to establish membership rules and expectation for participation in that specific group. And these rules are determined (or revised, rejected, etc...) by messengers from members churches.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR><LI>lever/tool for a select group of leaders to push their fundamentalist agenda<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Have you ever known a single organization of humans that could not be used as a level/tool for the propagation of a particular agenda? That said, the autonomy of each organization (church, association, convention) allows for a great deal of silly and divisive oratory. Of course, we all know that this has never been a problem in IFB circles. [​IMG]

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>[/list]Lots of questions and figure a few from each side of the SBC fratricide could help me understand!

    Thanks, brothers!
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
     
  13. Jonathan

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by BroSmith:
    In our town there was an SBC church that was struggling financially for several years. They received financial support through the cooperative program since it was considered a mission church. The church was debt free with a good sized building and property. They had a part-time pastor who was paid through the cooperative program.

    Last year the SBC came in and shut the church down. The regional director (I think that's what he was called) told them that the SBC was withdrawing its funding and the church was being closed down. The church was disbanded and the pastor was fired without a church vote. It was then that they found out that the SBC owned their church property. The building has been setting vacant for almost a year now.

    What bothers me the most about the whole incident is that the pastor and the people just accepted it as being God's will. They had no desire to fight it. They just rolled over and died (spiritually speaking).

    Bro. Steve Smith
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I have heard stories like this for years. Would you care to provide more details so that one could actually check this one out? Details like, name of the pastor, name of the "regional director", name and address of the church, etc...
     
  14. Jonathan

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ellis:
    The stories I hear most often from my Southern Baptist friends here, and in other places are similar. Convention staff and officers act like regional bishops and governors sending candidates to specific churches to make sure the pastor they call is sympathetic to what they term the "conservative resurgence" of the SBC. When the churches decline to call these men, the convention takes some kind of action to censure the church in some way.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I don't know who your SBC friends are, but there are no regional bishops or governors who control who can or cannot be pastoral candidates. The next time you hear one of these stories, get some actual details.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>What happens if some of the people on a pulpit committee aren't knowledgeable about the way a Baptist church calls a preacher, and think that this is the way it is supposed to be done?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Simply, the SBC has never called a pastor to any church. If you know of a church that has its pastor selected by any agency other than the local church itself, I would like to know the name of this church.
     
  15. Jonathan

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>That is not to say that SBCs are all bad, :cool: but I could not live with the outside control upon my ministry.

    Keep in the Word!
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The best way to avoid such "outside" interference is for a local body to actually own its own building and provide for its own support.
     
  16. Jonathan

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Charlie the Chosen:
    I am a member of a Southern Baptist Church and I don't agree with everything the Convention does, nor does our pastor. The Convention is nothing like it used to be in the early 60"s and early 70"s.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    You are absolutely correct. The SBC in the 60s and 70s was a place where professors and writers who denied any number of biblical truths could find a warm home of employment.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> My father was a minister and was called to pastor a small country church in Mississippi. After 2 years the church decided to no longer use the sunday school literature provided and eventually decided to get out of the Convention all together, the church voted unanimous. The convention went out and found a family that had not entered the doors of the church since before my father had come there.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Who were the individuals that acted on behalf of the "convention" to find this family? Please provide the actual names.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Coerced this family to vote to stay in the sbc.

    "Coerced" by what method? Threatening to take their singing priviledges away? Not allowing them to eat their quota of fried chicken?

     
  17. Phillip

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Jonathan:


    The best way to avoid such "outside" interference is for a local body to actually own its own building and provide for its own support.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I still think there is misunderstanding and misquotes on "control" the SBC has. In the case of ownership of churches, that obviously comes from helping to bail a church out of debt and then the SBC might hold the title and get the point whether they disagree with the pastors direction (since in this odd case they do own the property) or the church is not a good steward of their assets. There are always more than one side to these stories. In these cases usually this is a "mission" which was started by another church and has yet to launch into a church, on their own. In this case, they are depedent financially and otherwise on the church that started them and rightfully so since that church has put up the money and effort to start the "mission". Once a mission becomes a church on its own then it is independent.

    I am still waiting patiently for some specific names and churches and events (in detail) that I can turn into the convention as abuse. I do NOT believe the stories above occurred under the auspicies of the convention as a whole and somebody has abused power they did not have. We can see to it that justice is served because these churches are to be independent, but without specific names, dates, places and other items it is simply rumours blowing in the wind.

    Finally, I have never heard of the "convention" trying to get a family to do something specific. If you are referring to a local county "convention" then it is possible--again the abuse of perceived power. If you are talking about the SBC as a whole, I want names, dates and places and we will see to it that all is corrected.

    Please, folks, quit posting stories unless you provide the information required to do something about it. Otherwise, it is no more believable than a grocery store tabloid. ;)
     
  18. Phillip

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    Hello!!!!!
    Are we just going to let this thread die? There have been serious accusations made here and we need the specifics so that the situations can be both verified and possibly rectified if wrong-doing was the case.

    As far as the Baptist Faith and Message goes that is just one of three updates of the same document to take into consideration changes in society and better explain what the SBC believes in general. On my website at http://www.baptist-church.org/beliefs.html
    you will find ALL three Baptist Faith and Message transcripts. The first written in 1925, the second modified in 1963 and the third modification made in the year 2000. The messages are parallel and you can compare the changes made to each one right on the screen without having to flip between screens. (be sure to use the hyphen in baptist-church.org), better yet, just clip and save the address (cntl-c) and then paste it in your address line (cntl-v) if you are not familiar with the routine. ;)
     
  19. ellis

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    The practice of asking for specific names and incidents is nothing more than a way for those of a particular political persuasion within the SBC to find out where their work needs to be done.

    I am not aware of any buildings of churches that have been taken away by the SBC, though I have a close friend who pastors a church started and supported by the North American Mission Board of the SBC. The board holds the deed to the property until the church has a chance to get on its feet financially. Originally, he received what they call "church pastoral assistance" to pay his salary until the church was able to do that themselves. He was one of eight people, including his wife, to originally start this church. Now, it has an attendance of over 200. Their congregation becomes the owner of the building in January, after paying $100,000 to the mission board. Conditioned upon receiving the property, they must agree to remain as a "cooperating" Southern Baptist church. If at any time in the future they cease to become that, the building reverts back to the mission board and they are evicted.

    There has been pressure on the congregation to adopt the 2000 BFM as their official statement of faith. They adopted the 63 version, but so far are not willing to go by the 2000 version because, in their interpretation, it is not theologically consistent with what they believe and teach. They are concerned that the building might be used as a lever to force their cooperation, even though the board originally did not require them to accept the 2000 version.

    If the convention decides that the 2000 BFM is necessary for a church to be considered as "cooperating Southern Baptist" then this congregation could stand to lose its facility. Obviously, there are good reasons for not naming them.
     
  20. Michael Wrenn

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    Ellis,

    This just goes to show that the SBC is no longer Baptist. This is not upholding the autonomy of the local church; this is no different than the United Methodist Church which owns all local UMC churches by means of the trust clause.

    This policy of the SBC toward this local church that you have described is non-Baptistic, and it is blackmail and extortion.
     

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