[Excuse me for a moment while I rant about SBC Politics]

In recent years, and especially recent months–in regards to the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR), the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF), and the tome-like report from the task force which includes a more voluminous response in Baptist papers and Baptist blogs all over the world–I am discovering greater and greater misunderstanding of the concept of funding missions through the Cooperative Program (CP).

As simple as it may seem, the difficulty boils down to an exchange of words (more precisely prepositions) that re-orders the whole CP issue. I understand that what I’m about to say will be viewed by some as hair-splitting, but it finds it’s source at the very root CP historically, and Southern Baptism at its core.

From its inception, the designers of the CP had in mind an effort to unify Southern Baptists  and free local pastors from the constant demand from cause representatives (mostly good, worthy causes) who desired two minutes here, five minutes there, and the full service over there, to pitch the local church on supporting this ministry or that. In addressing the outcry from local pastors, the Cooperative Program plan of giving was born. Local pastors could continue to invite whomever they desired into their pulpit to present their ministry, but by giving through the CP toward missions efforts of all stripes, Southern Baptists could join together to support everything from Scripture translation to missionary work in foreign lands. The distribution of those cooperative funds would be determined as the Convention met annual and approved whatever budget they deemed appropriate for the SBC.

The concept of giving through the CP was changed as people began to talk about giving to the CP, turning this unifying concept of giving into just another special offering. Today as I was reading some commentary on what might happen in Orlando as the SBC meets for her annual meeting, I noticed once again that a prolific Southern Baptist voice in the blogosphere had missed the point of CP altogether.

Perhaps it is a result of the greater influx of leaders whose roots are firmly planted in historic Independent Baptism rather than historic Southern Baptism that causes this misunderstanding, but I see it as one of the main reasons that we are struggling with just such a dilemma today–namely, how can we as Southern Baptists find a more effective way to embrace the Great Commission and be a true Kingdom force in the coming years (which is after all the point of the GCR and the GCRTF)?

Just my thoughts, what are yours?

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