WOODWORTH, La. (BP) — In a show of solidarity with Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Director David E. Hankins, the LBC Executive Board Sept. 28 overwhelmingly adopted a resolution supporting the Cooperative Program as the convention’s primary funding method and praising Hankins for his unwavering and passionate defense of the 85-year-old channel of missions giving.
Hankins told Executive Board members he is willing, if necessary, to play “the skunk at the tea party” in challenging the idea that the Baptist state conventions are “the bottleneck preventing mission dollars getting to where they need to be.”
The Executive Board also heard reports from each of the state’s entities — the Baptist Message, Louisiana College, Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and the Louisiana Baptist Foundation — that affirmed the Cooperative Program as essential to their ministries.
The resolution, On Cooperative Giving, Our Common Method For Reaching the Peoples of the World with the Gospel, was presented following Hankins’ report by Bob Heutess, pastor of Grace Memorial Baptist Church in Slidell.
When David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans, spoke to the resolution, he left no doubt where he stood on the Cooperative Program. “We are in a battle for cooperative mission giving,” Crosby said. “The CP is the glue that binds us all together…. I feel strongly we should make this statement.”
Howard Turner, pastor of Live Oak Baptist Church in Montegut, spoke against a motion to remove a paragraph expressing appreciation for “Hankins courageous stand in sending an Open Letter to the North American Mission Board Trustees that raised concerns about that entity’s new president whose church leadership reflected a lack of support for cooperative mission giving.” “We shouldn’t be politically correct when it comes to battling for the Kingdom of God,” Turner said. “Our executive director was right on. Facts are facts, and he spoke the truth.”
Bob Adams, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bogalusa, called for a vote on the resolution, and it passed overwhelmingly. A motion by David Shaw, pastor of Parkview Baptist Church in Alexandria, to send the resolution to SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page passed unanimously.
In his report, Hankins told the group the national Southern Baptist Convention “is presenting the LBC — all state conventions — with a number of challenges.”
Hankins noted that the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report, adopted by messengers to the SBC annual meeting this past June, recommends state conventions adopt a 50/50 allocation of dollars received through the Cooperative Program. He also noted the Louisiana convention has been working toward that goal over the past three years, increasing the allocation for national and international mission causes by 1.5 percent in that time.
The GCR recommendations also suggest that, over the course of seven years, North American Mission Board funding for Louisiana shared ministries should be reduced from $825,000 to zero, Hankins said. The goal is to eliminate the shared missionary personnel and projects in Louisiana where LBC pays a portion and NAMB matches those funds.
SBC President Bryant Wright has urged state conventions to “radically reprioritize” and operate on 25 percent to 30 percent allocation, sending the balance to the national convention. “He [Wright] says it is radical, and I concur,” Hankins said. “Instead of cutting, I would rather increase our funding to cover these different ministries. I prefer a ‘growth-based’ plan rather than an ‘elimination-based’ concept.”
Hankins told the board Wright’s idea would eviscerate state convention ministries, which is unacceptable. Hankins said that if he must, he is willing to play “the skunk at the tea party.”
“I am speaking the truth in love and I am challenging some of the assumptions of our Southern Baptist brothers,” Hankins said. “The state conventions are being accused of being the bottleneck preventing mission dollars getting to where they need to be.
“I say the biggest problem is the back pockets in our own Baptist churches,” Hankins said. “Our members are giving less percentage of their income than our parents and grandparents did 80 years ago during the Great Depression. If people gave as generously as they did 20 years ago, then another $300 million would have been given through the Cooperative Program this year.
“There is a lot of talk, but not a lot of action, at the SBC about getting resources to the ends of the earth,” Hankins said. “The SBC has not reallocated one additional penny to the two mission boards.” The SBC has had two opportunities to do so in the last 15 years when unallocated money was released back to the budget. Instead of increasing support for missions, SBC leaders recommended increased funding to the seminaries, the Executive Committee and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“I would suggest if the SBC wants more money for IMB, it allocate the money it has charge over, rather than trying to allocate the money it doesn’t have charge over,” Hankins said.
“So, what do we do? We stay the course,” Hankins said. “Churches don’t want to be told they need to eliminate a state convention ministry to fund another ministry. They love the International Mission Board, but they also love Louisiana College. What is being suggested is unwise and unnecessary.
“If we have learned anything in the last 150 years, it is this: We can do more if we work together. And the Cooperative Program enables us to work together,” Hankins said. “I am concerned there are those leaders who are about to give away our strength. Everything we have is because of cooperative giving.”
Philip Timothy is a staff writer for the Louisiana Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
The full text of the resolution by the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s Executive Board follows:
On Cooperative Giving, Our Common Method For Reaching the Peoples of the World with the Gospel
WHEREAS, these are unprecedented times of globalization, communication, declining Western Civilization, and a great opportunity for sharing the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and shining the light of the Gospel; and
WHEREAS, these times call for an unprecedented level of cooperation to accomplish the goal of bringing the Great Commission message to every people group in Louisiana, North America and the world; and
WHEREAS, the recently adopted Great Commission Resurgence Report adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention was an attempt to refocus the energy, creativity, leadership, institutions and financial resources of Southern Baptist churches and entities on the task of reaching people who have never heard the Gospel; and
WHEREAS, the Southern Baptist Convention’s history includes several decades of churches attempting to resource its national and global mission endeavors independently before discovering a cooperative missional model that has become the envy of the evangelical world, a model that has 1) developed an unprecedented international strategy for reaching generations with the Gospel, 2) leveraged the personnel and financial resources of churches working through their respective state conventions and associations to permeate unreached demographics in North America, 3) created the means by which each state convention determined the most appropriate strategy for coordinated Gospel outreach and collaborative church planting, 4) provided superb theological education for leaders who would lead for generations the convention’s churches and its entities, 5) established a moral and religious liberty lifeboat in the midst of a culture drowning from its wicked choices; and
WHEREAS, the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Orlando, June 15, 2010 voted to adopt the Great Commission Resurgence Report that refined the strategies of the convention but only after the report was amended by a nearly unanimous vote to state unequivocally that Cooperative Program giving is the preferred method for funding the Southern Baptist Convention’s ministries and that designated giving is not a substitute for Cooperative Program giving;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Board meeting in Woodworth, Louisiana, September 28, 2010 acknowledges the value of concerted, cooperative ministries of our churches to reach the peoples of our state, the nation and the world; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we are concerned about the strength and vitality of our coordinated strategies, ministries and institutions being diminished by the independent model that proved to be a failure decades ago; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we encourage Baptist conventions and boards to select leaders for their entities who have demonstrated strong support for our cooperative missions model; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we want to express our gratitude to Dr. David E. Hankins, executive director-treasurer of the Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Board, for his courageous expression in his Open Letter to the North American Mission Board Trustees that raised concerns about that entity’s new president whose church leadership reflected a lack of support for cooperative mission giving; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we are grateful for Dr. Hankins and his staff for their public and private advocacy for the Acts 1:8 model of simultaneously reaching the lost in our local areas, the state, the nation and the world through the Cooperative Program; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that we embrace the Cooperative Program model as the most accountable, effective, efficient and compelling method for fulfilling the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.