The churches of three nominees for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president reflect much of the uniqueness of the SBC, including their giving through the Cooperative Program, baptisms and other facets of church life.
One is a multi-campus church in a robust part of Arkansas led by a pastor who has held numerous SBC leadership positions for two decades. Another is an ethnic congregation in the Washington, D.C., area, whose pastor has been a leader in the SBC’s Korean fellowship. The third is a rural Kentucky church led by a Ph.D. seminary student currently serving as the SBC’s second vice president.
Baptist Press, prior to the election of a new SBC president, traditionally has reported on various measures of church life in the lead-up to the SBC annual meeting. This year’s sessions are next Tuesday and Wednesday in Baltimore.
In addition to information relayed by a church regarding its CP giving and baptisms, it should be noted that no single measure – such as the Annual Church Profile or the records of a church’s state convention – provides a full picture of each church’s commitment to missions-oriented stewardship. The Annual Church Profile (ACP) is a largely self-reported database collected by the state conventions and compiled by LifeWay Research.
Among various complicating factors:
Different fiscal years often are used by a church or state convention compared to the ACP’s fiscal year of Oct. 1-Sept. 30. The CP giving and baptisms a church may report for a calendar year, for example, may be recorded quite differently by the ACP or a state convention in a different fiscal year. Also, some state conventions adjust their ACP reports of a church’s gifts to the convention’s fiscal year while other conventions do not make such adjustments.
An ethnic church may send some of its giving through the missions initiatives of its ethnic fellowship within the SBC. Such gifts are not recorded as Cooperative Program gifts. Such a possibility is particularly true within the Korean Council of Southern Baptist Churches in America which has its own international and North American mission boards.
Volunteer treasurers who keep financial records of some churches may not be fully aware of what constitutes Cooperative Program giving compared to other gifts that are received for other purposes, which typically are recorded as “designated gifts.”
Church gifts sent to the SBC Executive Committee for dispersal according to the CP Allocation Budget distribution formula are considered designated gifts since the Cooperative Program is a cooperative agreement between the state conventions and the SBC.
Following are Baptist Press reports, then, on Cooperative Program giving, baptisms and other facets of church life using information relayed by the three pastors to be nominated for SBC president as well as data from the ACP and their state conventions.
Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, where Ronnie Floyd is pastor, is the top Cooperative Program giving church in the Arkansas Baptist State Convention among more than 1,400 congregations. The five-campus church increased its CP giving from .26 percent of undesignated receipts in 2005 to 4.1 percent in 2013.
In terms of dollar amount, Cross Church went from giving $32,000 through the Cooperative Program in 2005 to $700,000 in 2013, the church told Baptist Press, reflecting an increase of just over 2,000 percent. In both 2005 and 2006, the church’s giving included $189,000 to the SBC Executive Committee for dispersal as designated giving according to the CP Allocation Budget distribution formula.
“In the journey of leading the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, God changed my life and ministry,” Floyd told BP. “Confronted with the reality of lostness, I was convicted to give the rest of my life to influencing and investing in others to win the world to Christ. … Projected to top $750,000 this year, our [CP] giving increased significantly even during our nation’s great recession. We made sacrifices to give more through CP – like eliminating our national television ministry.”
The effect of different fiscal years is seen in records relating to Cross Church: The ACP and the Arkansas convention in 2009 both indicated approximately $250,000 in CP giving by the church, while the church reported about $350,000 to BP for 2009. The following year ACP and the ABSC both reported about $500,000 in CP giving, compared with the church’s report to BP of $400,000. Over the two-year period, the CP reports by the church, the ACP and ABSC matched at $750,000.
In its information to BP, Cross Church noted that its Great Commission Giving has grown from $677,988 in 2005 to $1.2 million in 2013, a 77 percent increase. For 2014, the church has reported $181,000 in gifts to the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions and $61,000 to the Annie Armstrong Offering for North American Missions. In 2013, the church saw 346 members participate in 17 mission trips in six countries and seven states.
Cross Church, averaging 8,500 in worship each week, reported 1,175 baptisms in 2013 through its five campuses, according to ACP, with 1,102 baptisms in 2012 and 1,082 in 2011.
Among the ministries Cross Church uses to reach people with the gospel are a Compassion Center that provides food, clothing, English classes and life skills training; age-graded ministries such as Bible studies, Vacation Bible Schools and camps; and special events on holidays.
Cross Church has helped plant 101 churches since 2000, including 56 in the past three years, according to the information it provided to BP. The congregation is investing in 27 church plants in 2014 – 15 of which are in cities that are part of the Send North America church planting strategy of the North American Mission Board.
The Cross Church Circle Prayer Ministry, meanwhile, involves 3,200 people praying in 30-minute blocks weekly.
Dennis Manpoong Kim
Global Mission Church of Greater Washington in Silver Spring, Md., where Dennis Manpoong Kim is pastor, is among the top five CP giving churches in the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware among more than 500 congregations. The church gave 4.4 percent of its undesignated receipts through CP in 2013.
“I believe in the power of collaboration,” Kim said. “That is the reason why I have always led the Global Mission Church to be faithful in its participation in the Cooperative Program.”
In terms of dollar amount, Global Mission Church went from giving $86,200 through CP in 2012 to $97,600 in 2013, the BCMD reported, an increase of 13.2 percent.
Global Mission Church’s report to BP of $93,600 given through CP in 2013 varied slightly from the state convention’s report, a deviation possibly stemming from different definitions of the fiscal year.
In 2013, Global Mission Church told BP it gave $13,601 to the Lottie Moon Offering, $11,396 to the Annie Armstrong Offering and $16,900 to its local Montgomery Baptist Association. In 2012, the church reported $21,523 for Lottie Moon, according to ACP.
In 2013 total missions expenditures for Global Mission Church, a predominantly Korean congregation, amounted to $321,026 or 14.6 percent of its undesignated receipts. A portion of that amount included gifts to the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches, a network of Korean Southern Baptist congregations that partner in joint missions and ministry efforts; the Korean North American Mission Board, an organization of Korean churches that support church planting in the U.S. and Canada; and the Korean International Mission Board, an organization of Korean churches that support institutions and churches across the world.
“With a steadfast commitment to world missions, our church is training and sending more than 10 short-term mission teams every year and it has produced more than 50 career missionaries working for the International Mission Board,” Kim said. “The Global Mission Church has also planted five churches in various locations: Baltimore (Md.), Fairfax (Va.), Seattle (Wash.), Cary (N.C.) and Bun-dang (South Korea).”
In 2013, Global Mission Church, averaging 1,580 in Sunday worship each week, reported 25 baptisms, according to ACP. It reported 71 in 2012 and 78 in 2011. The church generally holds baptism services on Christmas and Easter as well as once in late summer or early fall if needed, Kim told BP. Between May 2013 and March of this year, Global Mission Church members presented the gospel to 3,125 people through personal evangelism using a witnessing technique devised by Kim. Through that effort 1,078 individuals professed faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.
New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, Ky., where Jared Moore is pastor, told BP that it contributed 16 percent of its undesignated receipts through CP in 2013. That puts New Salem 10.5 percent above the convention average of 5.5 percent.
In terms of dollar amount, New Salem gave $12,412 through CP from $77,587 in undesignated receipts, the church told BP. In each of the previous four years, the congregation gave between $11,000 and $12,000 through CP, according to ACP.
“New Salem Baptist Church believes in the Cooperative Program,” Moore said. “We give 16 percent of our undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program. … Giving through the Cooperative Program is still the best way to fulfill the Great Commission.”
In some instances, New Salem’s giving report to BP varies from ACP data and information reported by the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Moore said the variation is largely due to two factors. First, some giving was reported as undesignated when in reality it was designated. Second, the church treasurer does not send CP gifts to the KBC each month, but often sends several months of contributions at a time.
The effect of placing designated funds with CP gifts, for example, resulted in an ACP record of $119,941 in undesignated receipts for 2013 and a resultant CP giving percentage of 10.6. In sending CP gifts less frequently than monthly to the state convention resulted in a KBC report for New Salem of just $7,477 in CP for 2013.
Last year the church gave $417 to the Lottie Moon Offering and $532 to the Annie Armstrong Offering, according to ACP. The church reported to BP an additional $322 to Kentucky’s state missions offering and $2,151 to the local Lincoln County Baptist Association (2.8 percent of the congregation’s undesignated receipts). New Salem’s Great Commission giving for 2013 totaled $21,383, the church reported.
New Salem, averaging 55 in Sunday worship each week, reported two baptisms in 2013, according to ACP. It baptized none in 2012 but four in 2011. Moore estimated that at least a quarter of the church’s members engage in personal evangelism weekly. For the second year in a row, a group from New Salem plans to take a mission trip to Oklahoma to conduct a day camp for children where the gospel is presented. Among New Salem’s local evangelistic ministries are an annual Vacation Bible School; two annual revivals; a church van picks up children each Sunday morning; a booth at the local flea market at which church members talk to people about the gospel; and a “free sale” where the congregation gives away items typically found at yard sales and talks with shoppers about Jesus.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press chief national correspondent David Roach and BP editor Art Toalston.)