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SBC Life Articles

Recommendations from the SBC Funding Study Committee


The SBC Funding Study Committee (FSC) is an ad hoc committee of the Executive Committee, having been charged by action of the full Executive Committee in February of 2002 with the task of studying Southern Baptist Convention funding issues. The study was begun against a backdrop of recognition that the SBC seminaries faced financial challenges, although funding issues relating to all our entities are within the committee's scope of discussion and review. At the Southern Baptist Convention, June 13-14 in Greensboro, North Carolina, the SBC Executive Committee will present the following recommendations from their report.

RECOMMENDATION #1

That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention recommend to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, that the Southern Baptist Convention request that the Executive Committee post the Organization Manual on the SBC.net Web site, and print it in the Southern Baptist Convention's Book of Reports and Annual each year, to make as many Southern Baptists as possible aware of each entity's assignment, and to provide a backdrop against which entity reports of progress and accomplishment can be made.

The committee believes that any expectations Southern Baptists might have of their entities must be tied to specifics, and that when reports are delivered by the entities at each year's annual meeting to the messengers in attendance, those reports should respond and relate to the very assignments the Convention has meted out. During the course of the committee's investigation and discussion, it became evident that very basic matters perhaps once known by most Southern Baptists have fallen into an increasing obscurity. An example, unfortunately, is the Cooperative Program's history, process, and record of performance. Another is the existence and function of the Organization Manual and its ministry, mission, and relationship statements. The Organization Manual is one of the Southern Baptist Convention's five governing documents, the others being its Charter, its Constitution, its Bylaws, and its Business and Financial Plan. Of the five, the only one not readily accessible by Southern Baptists is the Organization Manual, since all of the others are printed twice every year — once in the spring in the Book of Reports, and once each fall in the Annual. Without possessing the Organization Manual's clear iteration of assignments, Southern Baptists have no standard against which to set expectation or satisfaction levels. Similarly, the SBC entity reports each year vary in response to general perceptions. To assure that all participants are on the same page, that "page" should be produced.

RECOMMENDATION #2

That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention recommend to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, that the Southern Baptist Convention request that the Executive Committee take the initiative in collaborating with each entity to develop appropriate metrics which can be reported consistently each year in the Ministry Reports and SBC Annual beginning no later than 2008, and which measure the value each entity adds to their Cooperative Program allocation in their respective areas of ministry assignment, all with the goal of engendering increased awareness of and trust in the Cooperative Program, and increased contribution through it.

The committee believes that every Convention entity and the Executive Committee, and every affiliated Southern Baptist organization, adds value to the funds they receive. If the SBC entities, in their collection and application of Cooperative Program receipts for the highest and best purposes — Kingdom purposes — make the value they add more noticeable and measurable to everyday Southern Baptists, doing so will beget further trust and increased giving. This could be accomplished if entity reports were 1) more uniform from year to year, reporting the same sort of information, and 2) more specific, to allow for a quantification that could be graphed over time, which could then result in better assessment and course correction, making it much easier for average Southern Baptists to understand and support the work of the Convention, its Executive Committee, and its entities.

Examples of things Southern Baptists might be interested in knowing include such things as the numbers of graduates produced at each level of education, the number of past graduates (five or ten years prior) still in Southern Baptist ministry, the percentage of Cooperative Program given by the average Southern Baptist church, and the year's increase or decrease in that figure, similar numbers for baptism rates, the number of ministers in the Adopt an Annuitant program, the amount distributed under that program, the number of SBC affiliated churches using LifeWay Sunday School material, the percentage of our churches that number represents, the number of new church plants for the year, the number of church plants reported in past years (five or ten years prior) that are still functioning churches, and other such meaningful statistics. Obviously, the foregoing list is illustrative only, but all of such things are called "metrics" (things to be measured). Accordingly, the committee makes Recommendation #2 to facilitate future "assessment of efficiencies" (a topic this committee was originally authorized to review).

RECOMMENDATION #3

That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention recommend to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, that the Southern Baptist Convention request that the Executive Committee and all SBC entities take every opportunity to explicitly remind all Southern Baptists and appropriate others of the Cooperative Program's benefits by including motivating references to it noticeably and continually on all regularly issued printed materials, characterizing it as a most efficient way of funding worldwide missions and ministry, and directing readers to the Cooperative Program Web site to learn more about it.

The committee has discussed several times over the course of its deliberations the gross disparity between the levels of knowledge and understanding about the Cooperative Program the older generation has as compared to that of the younger. A complete loss of comprehension of the Cooperative Program can be achieved simply by assuming that being born to Southern Baptists is all that is required. Any pastor can prove to himself the dismal levels of understanding about the Cooperative Program by asking a few simple questions to ten randomly-selected people in his congregation on a Sunday morning. With LifeWay as the world's largest religious publisher, and our other entities also regularly printing a raft of materials, the committee is assured that by using the cooperative coordination skills we as Southern Baptists surely possess, much can be done to bring greater awareness of the Cooperative Program to the forefront.

To view the entire FSC report, go to www.baptist2baptist.net.

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