NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists has reduced the percentage of Cooperative Program receipts forwarded to Southern Baptists’ national and international causes from 32 percent to 22 percent, the convention’s news publication reported in its September edition.
Two factors caused the decision, according to Ron Pracht, president of the Kansas-Nebraska convention.
— The impact of the economic recession on churches.
— Diversion of cooperative missions funds into direct missions causes.
The action is retroactive to the first of the year and is temporarily in place through the remainder of the year.
The CP reduction was approved by 40 members of the convention’s mission board in voting by mail and e-mail from mid-July through early August, while one board member registered opposition, Pracht reported in a front-page column in the September edition of the Baptist Digest, the KNCSB’s news publication.
“Because of the state of the economy across Kansas and Nebraska and because some churches in KNCSB have chosen to redirect some of their mission dollars in light of the adoption of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report, we need to consider a redirection of funds received through KNCSB,” Pracht wrote.
“Great Commission Giving” was endorsed by the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report. However, messengers to the SBC annual meeting in Orlando this past June adopted the report and recommendations only after an amendment was made that emphasized “that designated giving to special causes is to be given as a supplement to the Cooperative Program and not as a substitute for Cooperative Program giving.”
“This was a difficult and painful decision for us to make,” Pracht wrote in the Digest. “As I told the members of the Mission Board eighty percent of our budget is invested in people. These people are making a difference for the Kingdom of God throughout Kansas and Nebraska. Short of massive layoffs or significant pay cuts, this was the best SHORT TERM alternative we could find.”
Digest editor, Tim Boyd, in an accompanying editorial wrote that without the action by the convention’s mission board, mission work in the two-state convention would have been crippled.
While the GCR recommendations challenged churches to give sacrificially so the Gospel could be taken to people groups that have yet to hear the Gospel, Boyd expressed concern in his editorial that some congregations are redirecting money away from initiatives to reach their cities, states and nation in order to boost giving to international projects.
“There is a tendency in the SBC to focus on our giving to the ‘uttermost ends of the earth.’ And I celebrate our desire to reach the nations,” Boyd wrote, referring to a missionary commission given by Jesus to His followers and recorded in Acts 1:8. “However, we cannot forget ‘Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.’
“The modern world missions movement began with William Carey in England. Why is England no longer the leader of this movement? Why has that shifted to the United States? It is because they did not pay enough attention to ‘Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria,'” Boyd wrote. “Today, they are more pagan than Christian. What will happen to us if we turn our attention away from Nebraska and Kansas? In the short term, we may send a great deal of money on to the nations. But remember England. That could be us in just a few years.”
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston and assistant editor Mark Kelly.