The President of the Cooperative Program
When I first heard, from an opinion piece in the Florida Baptist Witness
, about the dismal Cooperative Program
giving of First Baptist Church in Springdale
under the leadership of Dr. Ronnie Floyd
, it made me curious. That curiosity led to research that eventually led to a chart
detailing that church's CP giving since 1986, the year Dr. Floyd became their pastor.
I then realized that, in order to be fair, I would need to publish such a chart for each announced SBC presidential candidate. Not wanting to be forced to rush the research, I prepared charts for every person I heard mentioned as a possibility. I think I did six or seven charts in all, and I was struck by a pattern I noticed in each of them.
Without exception, Cooperative Program giving had steadily declined in each of the charts I had done. In fact, if you look at the rate of decline in the CP giving of FBC Taylors
, South Carolina, where Dr. Frank Page is pastor, you will find that their CP giving
has declined under Dr. Page on a pace similar to that of FBC Springdale under Dr. Floyd.
In response to a question from Jeff Richard Young
, I dug a little deeper, and completed a chart for Dr. Page's previous church, Warren Baptist Church
in Augusta, Georgia. This chart, which I never published, detailed the CP giving of that church during Dr. Page's pastorate there. It showed CP giving in his first year, 1991, of 5.63%. That giving grew to 9.10% in 2001, his last year as their pastor.
I had an idea that I knew what this indicated, but to be sure, I emailed Dr. Page to ask him. Specifically, I asked if these numbers indicated a belief on his part that 10%, the number originally advocated by an ad hoc Cooperative Program study committee which reported to the convention this year, was the ideal for a church's CP participation.
Dr. Page responded, saying that he has said publicly that a church's CP giving should show "a selfless, missional mindset." He stated his belief that 10% does indeed reflect that mindset. He also said that, while it was true that his church's giving has been declining, he believes that trend will reverse when this year's numbers are published. He also pointed out in his email to me that, when he came to FBC Taylors, there was little to no mission activity emenating from that local church, and that they now have developed "one of the largest mission programs in the Southern Baptist convention from a local church," while at the same time giving "serious support to our denominational mission work."
Dr. Jerry Rankin, during the report of the International Mission Board
to the convention in Greensboro, made a statement that has stuck with me. I don't remember the exact quote, but the substance of the statement was that it is not the job of the IMB to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, but rather it is the job of the local church. Clearly, Dr. Page understands this mandate, and he is a fine example to follow in this regard.
I titled this post as I did because I believe that this is what Dr. Page's election was all about. In conversations with many who are not regular participants in the SBC blog conversations, I have found very little understanding about issues that have motivated many in this venue (IMB, NAMB, narrowing paramaters of cooperation, etc.). But I never had to explain the difference between .27% and 12.44%. Dr. Frank Page is our president, and his presidency is of
the Cooperative Program.