Baptist Press is reporting that that Florida Baptist Convention faces a liquidity crisis in the future because of its commitment to forward 50% of the Cooperative Program funding that it receives from churches to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to fund missions on a national and international scope. Half of the money, of course, the FBC would retain to fund missions within the state of Florida.
I'm a big fan of this kind of reallocation. Yes, there are gospel needs within our states. Yes, we need money in places like Florida in order to address those needs. But no, it is not the right priority to take more than half (or, in the case of some state conventions, as much as 80%!) of Cooperative Program money for ministries within our states. I'm thankful that states like Florida have begun the process of reallocating their budgets.
The story goes on to reveal a rift between two philosophies of how to accomplish this reallocation without bankrupting the convention. One approach would address the problem primarily by cutting expenses in other areas. I think that's a good approach, for a number of reasons. Another approach would slow the progress toward 50% to avoid financial stress on the convention.
Here's what needs to happen. Every pastor or church in Florida who has ever complained about bloat or inefficiency at the Florida Baptist Convention needs to step up right now with increased CP giving as they see the Florida Baptist Convention take bold steps to forward more funding to the field. As the FBC acts with a greater sacrificial commitment to see the gospel carried around the world, if the member churches of that convention continue (or worsen!) the current sorry state of CP giving among SBC churches, they simply reveal that all of the excuses bandied about are just that—excuses designed to cover up the real motivation of self-absorbed greed that I fear underlies most of our declining cooperative financial estate in these days.