Voter Guide Notes
The purpose of the SBC Today Voter Guide is to provide SBC Messengers with accurate information concerning SBC Presidential Nominees early enough in the election cycle to allow for their study of the relevant issues.
Rather than relying upon nominee interviews, which are often helpful, we prefer to offer readers facts and statements which have already become a part of the historical record. The use of verbatim personal quotes spanning a broader period of time allows a more thorough investigation into each nominee’s background.
Each entry consists of facts taken directly from published news sources, including the frequent use of verbatim quotes by the nominees. In some cases, to accommodate the space limitations of the Voter Guide table, slight redactions and the occasional borrowing of an antecedent from a previous sentence were required. Such editing never alters the meaning of any Voter Guide entry.
SBC Today believes each Voter Guide entry stands alone as a complete unit of thought. We nevertheless encourage readers to explore the full context of every statement to develop a broader understanding of the issues than the space limitations of a Voter Guide will allow. Because we wish to encourage such further research, each Voter Guide citation below is hyperlinked to the original source.
View of State Conventions and Local Associations
Greear, JD. “Our Church, The SBC, and the Cooperative Program.” JD Greear Ministries. February 8, 2012. jdgreear.com.
Hemphill, Ken. “Convention Priorities.” Ken Hemphill SBC 2018. March 13, 2018. kenhemphill2018.com.
Cooperative Versus Societal Missions
Southern Baptist Identity Approval
Transparent Salvation Doctrine Position
Cooperative Kingdom Participation Convictions
Cosper, Mike. “Mike Cosper Interviews JD Greear.” Audio podcast. Sojourn Network. November 9, 2017. sojournnetwork.com.
Hemphill, Ken. “Convention Priorities.” Ken Hemphill SBC 2018. March 13, 2018. kenhemphill2018.com.
Internal Versus External Cooperation
Record of Cooperative Program Support
Roach, David. “JD Greear to be SBC President Nominee Again.” Baptist Press. January 29, 2018. bpnews.net.
Hall, Will. “Ken Hemphill to be SBC President Nominee.” The Message. February 1, 2018. baptistmessage.com.
Convictions Regarding Beverage Alcohol
Greear, J.D. “Three Ways We Make It Difficult For People Turning to God.” J.D. Greear Ministries. August 27, 2014. jdgreear.com
Rodgers, Jane. “Q and A with SBC Presidential Candidate Kenneth Hemphill.” Southern Baptist Texan. March 28, 2018. texanonline.net
Dr. Rick Patrick, Pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Alabama
Exec. Director, Connect 316
In 2010, when Southern Baptists adopted the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report, we admitted that all missions giving is worthy of celebration, but we also clearly affirmed the superiority of the Cooperative Program over every alternative method for financially supporting missions:
We call upon Southern Baptists to honor and affirm the Cooperative Program as the most effective means of mobilizing our churches and extending our reach… The greatest stewardship of Great Commission investment and deployment is giving through the Cooperative Program. We call upon Southern Baptists to recommit to the Cooperative Program as the central and preferred conduit of Great Commission funding, without which we would be left with no unified and cooperative strategy and commitment to the Great Commission task. (Emphasis mine.)
The Southern Baptist Convention rises and falls on our support of the Cooperative Program. Over the past few decades, as CP giving declined, we saw 25% of our missionaries return home. We saw certain areas of SBC life point fingers at other areas, claiming they were the problem. We saw relationships between national, state, and association partners diminish to the worst level in a lifetime, perhaps in the history of our convention. When Southern Baptists fail to unite around this program, we fail to cooperate. It has been a fool’s errand for Southern Baptists to flirt with societal missions when the best thing we ever did together was cooperative missions.
Cooperative Program Support by SBC Presidential Candidates
Some people talk about the Cooperative Program being the greatest thing since sliced bread while their church only donates one or two percent of their undesignated receipts to the cause. When it comes to the Cooperative Program, they are “all hat but no cattle.” Fortunately, there is a better way, and Ken Hemphill is clearly the man to lead us there. Hemphill’s support for the Cooperative Program is much more than merely lip service. With a lifetime of faithful and sacrificial Cooperative Program giving, he has the resume to back it up.
While serving at North Greenville University as the Director of the Center for Church Planting and Revitalization, Hemphill was a member of the First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina. This church donated 12.2% through the Cooperative Program in 2016 and 2017. This is a strong and exemplary level of Cooperative Program giving among Southern Baptists. By example, it encourages others to donate in a similar fashion.
To put this level of Cooperative Program support in perspective, consider the percentage of undesignated receipts given at the church of Hemphill’s only announced opponent in this election, JD Greear. While First Baptist Church of Hendersonville, North Carolina, was contributing 12.2% through the Cooperative Program, The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, contributed only 2.4% through the Cooperative Program. The Summit Church will be quick to mention all of the work they are doing through other channels, which is all well and good, albeit completely beside the point. Their primary approach to the support of missions is manifestly not the Cooperative Program, which Southern Baptists have declared to be the central and preferred conduit of Great Commission funding.
Southern Baptists Deserve a True Cooperative Program Champion
Ken Hemphill is the personification of Southern Baptist loyalty and commitment. In a ministry spanning several decades, he served as a Pastor, Professor, Seminary President, and Denominational Executive. Because of his faithful and stellar record of service at NAMB, LifeWay, Southwestern Seminary, and the Executive Committee, nobody understands rank and file Southern Baptists like Ken Hemphill.
He knows that our hearts beat for the spread of the gospel. He also knows that the best way we can accomplish our mission is through the strong support of the Cooperative Program at every level of our denominational structure. Recently, in articulating his vision for Southern Baptists, Hemphill wrote:
The Cooperative Program has produced the greatest funding stream for the most powerful, multigenerational and multi-diverse mission-equipping and mission-sending movement in church history. Our cooperative strategy enables every church of every size to be an equal partner in a kingdom venture so vast that only God will be able to receive the credit and glory. It is not the size of the gift but the size of the sacrifice that counts.
Can you hear the vision he is casting? Do you see the value in having one program that every Southern Baptist Church can enthusiastically embrace? The disasters of this past decade have proven that Southern Baptists should resist any and all rival missions funding conduits and redouble our efforts in supporting the greatest missionary-sending movement in church history.
Ken Hemphill has clearly demonstrated a lifetime of support for the Cooperative Program that is unquestionably without peer in this election. In so doing, he has definitely earned my vote. I encourage you to register as a messenger, come to Dallas this summer, and vote for Ken Hemphill as the next President of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Who should lead Southern Baptists? Answer: those who fully support the Cooperative Program and have demonstrated their support through the percentage giving of the church they serve and lead. My assertion’s explanation and argumentation is this:
In round numbers, Southern Baptists churches contribute approximately $690 million annually through the Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon International Missions Offering and the Annie Armstrong North American Missions Offering. Approximately $475 million is contributed through the Cooperative Program and $215 million is contributed through the two major mission offerings. These numbers vary year-to-year by several million dollars. In addition, many millions more are given through State Convention annual missions offerings, Disaster Relief, World Hunger Offering, and associational mission gifts.
I share these numbers because I fear the average “Brett and Brianna Baptist” SBC church members have little idea of the impact Southern Baptists make because we cooperate financially to send and sustain missionaries, educate pastors, start churches, train leaders, and so much more. Moreover, “Brett and Brianna Baptist” probably do not understand the scope of our cooperative work and the manner in which it is funded.
The largest and primary funding strategy for SBC churches is the Cooperative Program (CP), a unified effort for local, regional, national and international ministry and missions. Most churches allocate CP mission dollars as a percentage of their annual budget, though some budget a set dollar amount. According to a report of the SBC Funding Study Committee, issued on September 23, 2003, SBC churches maintained a percentage giving to missions through the CP in the 11 percent range from 1930 to 1980. By the 1980s this average had dropped to 10.5 percent, and by 2002 it was 7.39 percent. In 2017 that number had fallen to 5.16 percent. As a percentage of the church budget, SBC churches are giving less than half to CP missions than they did just 30 years ago.
Various suggestions have been offered as to why CP missions giving has dropped so dramatically. These suggestions range from rising health insurance costs, to more emphasis on local ministry, political infighting, and the desire of churches to do missions directly. No doubt these have all contributed to our decline in CP supported missions. But I want to suggest something different – I firmly believe that the single biggest factor in our decline is the selection of leaders who do not fully support CP as the major way to fund Southern Baptist missions. Thus, they do not – and, really, cannot – share passionately with others a vision for the impact such a unified effort makes.
If a church chooses to support missions directly, and gives a small percentage or zero through the CP, that is their right as an autonomous church. Some pastors and churches may believe they can better allocate their missions dollars than can state conventions and the SBC. Often these are megachurches with huge budgets. I get that. But remember, there are less than 200 SBC megachurches (average worship attendance of 2,000 or more), and a total of 51,000 SBC churches and mission churches. Half of the churches in the Northwest Baptist Convention, where I serve, average 50 or less in worship. Nationally the median number is probably closer to 70, but the normative SBC church has far fewer than 100 on Sunday. That’s partly why CP missions has worked so brilliantly over the years. It makes possible a cooperative missions strategy that strengthens the abilities of the typical church to play a part in the far-reaching responsibilities of the Great Commission. Sure, if your church has 200 or 500 or 1,000 on Sunday, you might have the staffing and finances to do some larger mission projects. But even a large church finds it difficult to have a fully-orbed Acts 1:8 missions strategy.
Recently I visited with the pastor of an independent church that has 3,000 in weekend worship attendance. He was amazed to learn our church planting efforts in the Northwest include Vietnamese, Bhutanese, Korean, Spanish, Burmese and many other non-English language churches. He quickly understood that even given the resources of a large church they cannot penetrate lostness like our 500 smaller churches do through a cooperative strategy. CP missions is just such a cooperative strategy and we should choose leaders who understand it, believe in it and have supported it over the course of their ministries.
Presently, the International Mission Board (IMB) of the SBC is seeking a new president. In addition to the necessary spiritual qualifications, experience, and gifting, the next president should have a background that demonstrates a strong commitment to support missions through the CP. Remember, international missionaries don’t fall off angel’s wings onto the mission field! They are discipled and educated and called out through the ministries of our churches and through CP supported state camps, college ministries, seminaries, and the like. The SBC is a system of missions, ministry, training and education, and we need each part of the system for the global enterprise to remain healthy. Key leaders like the president of the IMB should understand this and support it. If a particular leader doesn’t support the SBC system of CP support (and you will only know he supports CP by what he led his church to do), he should not lead a CP supported SBC entity.
This June Southern Baptist will also elect a new SBC president. The man elected to this position should likewise be someone who has a track-record of strong CP support. How can a person effectively lead Southern Baptists if his church doesn’t support CP with a minimum of the 5.16 percent that the average church gives? Indeed, shouldn’t our leaders come from churches that give above the average percentage? This seems like common sense, but such sense seems less and less common.
Southern Baptists are at a critical crossroad. One road leads to the continuation of decline in CP missions giving and the continuation of the decline of the SBC (that is a subject for another article, but yes, we are in serious decline by most every measure). The other road will lead us to growth in our cooperative missions strategy. Which road we travel will depend not only on what we do individually, but also on those we choose to lead us. As for me, I will do all I can to encourage Southern Baptists to select leaders who generously support missions through the Cooperative Program and have a long history of doing so.