The BGCT reports its year to date Cooperative Program receipts each month at the bottom of its website, http://www.bgct.org.  Since last year’s staff layoffs, I have been paying more attention to the figures there, and I am disturbed by what I see.  In spite of Dr. Everett’s announcement that the convention would operate at 90% of the approved budget, giving year to date is still more than 10% less than anticipated revenue, and it is more than 2% below the same time last year. 

Other than the initial announcement that the convention would be reducing spending, very little has been said about either how that is working out, or about the continued drop in Cooperative Program support.  This has been a pattern for almost a decade, and over the past five years, our income has declined by more than 10%.  Part of that is certainly due to the fact that churches have options, and denominational financial support is facing a paradigm shift that is not unique to Baptist conventions.  But I think part of it, too, is due to a perceived lack of communication.  It is difficult for leaders to address the situation directly.  It’s like the elephant in the room, everyone knows it is there, few know how to make it go away, and no one wants to talk about it.

I’ve heard almost nothing about the budget plans for next year.  Obviously, the continued decline in Cooperative Program support is causing concern.  Appealing to the churches to increase their giving is a tired, old, exhausted method that will not work this time.  I do see a solution.

Present a budget that contains items most churches would not object to supporting.  There are things in the BGCT budget that some churches would prefer were options, not default giving.  Our basic ministries, including the universities and other educational institutions, and the efforts to plant and support new churches, should be at the top of the list.  Everything else should be subjected to close scrutiny.  At some point, the impact of the budget will require some things to be eliminated.  Organizations which are not directly related to the BGCT, but which receive some financial support should be warned that funds may no longer be available.  We must be good stewards with our money, and our convention-related entities come first.  Leaving out controversial contributions would likely generate a little more income from the churches. 

It seems that it is time to start hearing from the BGCT regarding their budget planning process.  Most Texas Baptists, at least, the ones interested in convention matters, are concerned that there be no more staff lay offs, and they are concerned about the ministries and spiritual interests they have supported in recent years.  It would be nice to prepare our messengers prior to the convention.

The key here is simplicity.  The budget needs to be as simple as possible, as understandable as possible, and directed at those things which we, as Texas Baptists, consider priorities for our state convention ministries.  There might be many causes we would like to support, but our convention entities and their employees come first.

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About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

6 responses

  1. Ken Coffee says:

    For several years , starting with Bill Pinson, the BGCT has been seeking other ways of funding ministries, other than Cooperative Program. There has been some success in developing alternative sources of funds. While I am not privy to all of this information, it would be helpful if we could hear from BGCT how much total revenue is available, not just C.P. funds. It is conceivable that the alternative sources are producing enough to fund 90% of the budget, even if the C .P. does not provide enough to do so.

  2. Colby Evans says:

    You don’t really expect to get a straight response to the questions you’ve posed here, do you? I’m sure it grates on the nerves of BGCT leadership that they have to report their monthly CP giving, and disclose that it is in a decline of crisis proportions. Of course, everyone cites the “postdenominational” period we are in, that denominational giving is down everywhere, and this is a reflection of that. Maybe some of it is, but I think that the decline in Cooperative Program support for the BGCT is directly due to the way they do their budget, and where some of the money goes. The church I attend has deliberately cut what it gives to the BGCT, by at least half compared to five years ago, because of TBC’s control of the officer positions, the financial support that goes to the BWA, and it designates around Baylor and the two theological schools, Truett and Logsdon. Every time the BGCT has decreased its default percentage to the SBC, our church has increased our designation to SBC causes. There are lots of smokescreens in the annual budget proposal.

  3. chishinji says:

    You write: “Organizations which are not directly related to the BGCT, but which receive some financial support should be warned that funds may no longer be available. ”
    I ask: which organizations are not related to BGCT that are receiving funding?

  4. Todd Pylant says:

    You wrote, “Our basic ministries, including the universities and other educational institutions, and the efforts to plant and support new churches, should be at the top of the list. Everything else should be subjected to close scrutiny.”

    Do you have any suggestions as to what the “everything else” might be? I ask this honestly, without malice, because I don’t know enough about the BGCT budget to know what kind of soft money might be in there that can and will be eliminated when the funds are no longer there.

  5. Lee says:

    Two of the bigger ones are the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and the Baptist World Alliance, via the North American organization. There are some smaller ones. I’m in the process of trying to find out through the budget office. I don’t object to these things being in the budget for churches to designate to them, but if they are in the “default” giving plan, that’s something else.

  6. spiritualsamurai says:

    Lee,

    I think the BGCT also gives to ABP. What would really be interesting is to see what the BGCT pays to consultants and who decides who the consultants will be.

    I know of one woman who made a killing as a consultant getting the BGCT to set up the phone center. We don’t need any more of these sugar daddy good deals.

    We all know what the 800 lb. gorilla stated that he made.

    Way to many people use their work at the BGCT for their own social and economic advancement rather than kingdom work.