On June 11th my pastor Al Gilbert delivered the convention message at the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Indianapolis. In his exposition of 1 Corinthians 4, Al said that we have been given the stewardship of this incredible mystery (the Gospel), but we have also been given a mission to proclaim the gospel to all nations.
The challenge to the convention was clear. When one looks at the way the SBC supports missions (national and international) through the cooperative program, you cannot help but question the current allocation process, and the efficiency of that process in fulfilling the great commission.
The intended ideal is a 50/50 split of funds between the state conventions (for local ministry), and the national convention (for foreign missions and other ministries). It has been noted in a recent book that the average amount of funding that actually reaches the national level is under 40%.
Al asked a good question in his sermon, Soon we’ll be passing the baton to the next generation, adding that some aren’t sure they want it. We cannot continue to do business as usual. Al then added, Can we really defend our bureaucracy to the next generation?
As Dr. Daniel Akin put it, “Al Gilbert’s charge in the Convention sermon to our denominational entities and our churches was a clarion call we all need to heed. A bloated denominational bureaucracy on the national, state and associational levels is choking us, and it must receive attention. The stewardship of our financial resources and how we account for and count those resources needs to be rethought.”
I would be willing to assume that many faithful members who give to SBC churches assume that (much of) their money is reaching the local and foreign mission fields. But is this truly the case?