Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Seminaries and the Cooperative Program

I just wanted to direct you to Dr. Thomas White's latest post. Since I've been blogging a good bit about the Cooperative Program lately, it seemed appropriate to direct you to it.

And one other thing: I've decided to re-open my CP series. Most of the previous material, plus a few extras, went into my article for the Southern Baptist Texan. I had thought that I would exhaust all that I had to say there, but then I remembered why I love blogging—none of the word-count limitations inherent to print media. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to what I consider the greatest state paper in Southern Baptist life, but I think that there is enough material left on my cutting-room floor to stitch together another thing or two.


Matt Brady said...


I enjoyed your article. I understand your support for the role of state conventions, especially since you were writing for the publication of a wonderful state convention. I would hate to see any changes to SBC structure that would hurt the SBTC, but on the other hand, I haven't made up my mind that all the state conventions are completely indispensable to the SBC. I agree with you that the states should all get on board with the BFM and support the SBC, but the truth is some will never do that. Why use CP money to teach one thing at the state college level and more CP money to teach the exact opposite at the national seminary level (if our students even make it to the national level)? That can't be good stewardship.

I agree that the state and national conventions are intricately interwoven, but at first glance, I'm not sure that is a good thing. The two main points of interweaving that I see are first, a bloated bureaucracy at NAMB which spends great time and effort to send CP funds right back to the states from whence they came via the bureaucracies of state conventions. NAMB might be transformed to eliminate the need for so much coordination. Much of the wasteful aspects of the bureacracy could then be eliminated. The second connection I see is national leaders taking their cues from state exec's for appointments and such. I'm not sure that is always a good thing either. What are the beneficial interweavings that you see?

What would we lose if our state conventions were funded like our associations? Let churches send a percentage to the state just like the association. Why is it beneficial (besides keeping the peace) to keep the state conventions tied directly to the SBC CP? Good state conventions could still thrive, just as good associations do.

I'm just thinking out loud. I'm open to being convinced of my errors. I'm looking forward to your continuation of the series.

Bart Barber said...


For you, I wish what I wish for so many: If only you could live for one year within the SBTC!

State involvement in SBC appointments is, when you are a member of the SBTC, a good thing.

Although the CP increases the intermingling of the two tiers, I wouldn't label it as the CAUSE of the intermingling. The mere fact that both the SBC and the SBTC draw from the same churches makes it inevitable that the two tiers will be intermingled in some sense.

As the SBTC throws its weight behind the NAMB-created GPS initiative, I see one of many examples of how the state-national process ought to work. Money spent on NAMB while underfunding the state would make GPS less effective in Texas. Money spent on the state while underfunding NAMB would do the same. Ditto with regard to the SBTC's relationship with SWBTS.

So, I'm saying that the ideal is a CP funding strategy that is a partnership between a great state convention and a great national convention. I believe in that ideal because I am living it and am delighted with it.

But I do remember another time and another circumstance. I am the beneficiary of the courage of others. For them I give thanks.

Matt Brady said...


I'm thrilled that SBTC is supporting NAMB's GPS, but I still don't see the state conventions as indispensable to that or any other national program. For instance, our local association, which of course is completely outside of the CP, has geared up our churches to be very involved in NAMB's GPS. We have organized numerous training events and are coordinating plans to reach the door of every home in our two counties. Such coordination is actually much easier at the local level rather than the state. We can figure out which churches will hit which streets a lot easier than the state office 200 miles away. We are also adding extra advertising in the media along with other efforts. To be fair, the state is subsidizing the cost of some flyers, but we would have bought them anyway.

Do we really need to keep our state conventions tied to the CP in order to support national initiatives at the local level?
I'm still not convinced.

Further, I too am thrilled about what has happened in Texas. I'd like to spend not just one year, but a lifetime of ministry in a convention like the SBTC. Y'all are a shining light to the rest of us, but I seem to recall you not being very encouraging of the same thing happening in other states. :)

I'm still open to being convinced, but you know how hard headed I am :)

By the way, Thomas White's article was great. Thanks for pointing it out.

Bart Barber said...


I think people generally come to affirm a system like the CP when they believe the following:

1. I have a good state convention and a good national convention, both of which I wish to support.

2. I believe that my state convention and my national convention are unified and are generally trying to accomplish different portions of the same mission.

3. I believe that money is wasted when it is spent by state convention and national convention in fundraising efforts to make sure that one is not forgotten in fundraising in comparison to the other.

4. I believe that a unified CP budget system virtually eliminates that wastefulness as the state and national convention both lock arms to promote the same budget plan.

When I look at the percentage of money that a group like Compassion International spends on fundraising (also billed sometimes as "education" in some organizations), I am convinced of the importance and magnitude of these savings.

Matt Brady said...


I agree with you, but in the current system if points one and two aren't true, then points three and four become irrelevant.

I just think there ought to be a way to allow those of us who, through no fault of our own, don't fit into those first two points to still be able to participate with the latter two.

Hopefully that can be done without being detrimental to state conventions like yours. I think it all comes down to options. In Texas, y'all have them. I think everyone else should have good options too. That doesn't neccesarily mean dual conventions. It might just be providing different routes to get our money to the SBC level of the CP. If the state conventions want to stay in the loop, they might then have to tighten their belts and straighten their course. If they do, then they could all be supported wholeheartedly, and that would be a great thing.

I'll hush for now :)

Bob Cleveland said...

I am behind the SBC Cooperative Program 100%. I would also have been behind the SBC in Louisville adopting the GCR manifesto as our position. If that were the case, it would have told the various entities that there's no room for bloated bureaucracies, and the various BoT's would have been under and implied mandate to do that. And keep the CP as is now.

For an SBC college or seminary student to graduate and then lead a church away from the CP in any way is simply wrong.

Just my opinion.

ps: In fact, I think it rhymes with the security word showing on my screen: "subid"

Matt Brady said...

Brother Bob,

I run the risk of sounding obnoxious on this subject, but somebody needs to be raising the point that the Conservative Resurgence never completely reached the state level.

I appreciate your point, but I would still lead my church to defund the state level CP/my Baptist College Alma Mater in a heartbeat. When an entity can no longer support Southern Baptist Doctrine, they should no longer receive Southern Baptist support.

On the converse, I did not receive a penny of CP support for seminary, but I am all for strengthening our CP support of the six seminaries which receive it.

I'm more than willing to jettison liberal state institutions in order to better fund God honoring schools and mission endeavors at the national level.

I'm all for submitting, but I don't see any state convention having authority over any local church or our budget choices. Their submission should be to the local churches, not vice versa.

Until we deal with the problem of state bureaucracies and liberal colleges, we will continue to have a weakening of the CP.