CP Changes in States Tread into the Unknown!

October 14, 2013

by Tim Guthrie, pastor
Arlington Baptist Church
Knoxville, Tenn.

In a few weeks Tennessee Baptist will decide to accept or reject a change in the funding plan for CP giving in Tennessee.  Included in this proposal is the phased out plan to defund some Tennessee Baptist entities.  These entities are Union University, Carson Newman University, the Adult Home and the Children’s Home.  You read that right.  The plan calls for a phased out funding of CP money to these institutions. This article will focus primarily on the two Educational Institutions.  Each of these institutions currently receives $1,800,000 per year from the Tennessee CP giving plan.  The new approach is calling for a phase out of funding at a yearly $200,000 per year until ZERO.

The goal – get the convention to a true 50-50 plan (half in state and half to SBC)
Ironically along with the defund move, the Tennessee Baptist plan asks for 60% of trustees to remain Tennessee Baptist people.  Yet it allows the remaining 40% of trustees to be selected from anywhere with preference given to SBC people but open to any and all evangelical groups.  This is a major change that allows the two Tennessee colleges to be even more ecumenical in their approach both in the selection of the trustees and their casting of the vision of the school. No doubt those graduating from these two institutions will soon no longer look like Tennessee Baptist Churches.

If you do not fund, how can you control?
In Tennessee the task force seemed to have worked out some kind of deal to secure majority trustee selection from Tennessee Baptist for the institutions.  How long this will hold is another story.  The idea that a state can control the trustees without any funding of the institution will not last long in my opinion.  This move is actually the phase out of Tennessee Baptist higher education in the state.  The senior adults who have cherished this part of the funding  plan will find this one difficult to take.  The report also allows the schools to approach churches for money individually, a further erosion of cooperative efforts and an expansion of a more independent and societal mindset.  The CP will be under massive attack when this occurs.

Union and Carson Newman will be on their own to chart their own path.  Some will be fine with this.  But not all.  The dog in that hunt will be gone to the shelter.  This change in CP budget allocations will be just another step in the gradual dismantling of historical CP structure and the abandoning of Baptist Christian education in Tennessee.

The emphasis of National SBC rules the day:
The effects of the GCR and the move to increase church plants is now the focus and priority of everything CP.  The idea is that in SBC life, CP giving, the whole egg is being streamlined to IMB, NAMB, and the seminaries.  All else is on the chopping block.  Everything else drains too much money away from the main focus.  To be Great Commission-oriented is now defined as only supporting the above. This will be a tough move for many in the pews of our churches.

The effects of the change – CP days are numbered:
The real change is one that was actually discussed with the release of the GCR.  With GCR giving being a valid line item now in the ACP, add to that state conventions allowing direct fund solicitation from churches, you have the beginning steps of dismantling of the CP or at best, a major alteration.  There are only so many dollars in our churches.  With the institutions getting the green light to go straight to the churches, the dash for the cash will begin.  CP will be effected substantially regardless.
Additional thoughts:
This post is NOT an attack.  It is simply presenting factual realities and consequences. Both of which we need to think and pray through. Taking a 360 look at our SBC levels and funding is important.  Streamlining is vital today.  But the nuts and bolts of the streamlining can be treacherous.  Tennessee is proposing a BOLD move.  The agenda of getting the state conventions to do what a select group in the SBC are pushing can be a dangerous game.  If it works, success.  If it fails, the SBC will have been changed with no path for a return.  It is known as a fundamental transformation.

It is important to realize that our younger adults do not have the same passion for all things SBC.  Yet they are passionate about select things.  Baptist Christian education may or may not be one of them.  I am seeing a growing concern for CP money being channeled to church plants that last just a short while and result in more swapping of members from other churches than new souls added to the Kingdom. Is it not ironic that recently a group was tasked with studying why we are seeing a continued decrease in Baptisms? We were told church planting would change this.  Decisions to make such drastic changes can and may backfire. Are we seeing the results of this change already?

Some important Questions:
The real problem is that if there is a failure or backfire, what will we do next?  Will other state conventions move in this direction?  And if they do, have the people of the SBC decided to get out of ministries such as education, adult homes, and children’s homes?  What will be the societal ramifications of such a move.  The President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recently discussed the role of higher education in changing a nation.  It seems odd that we are abandoning the same while saying we are trying to reach the nations of the world.

I keep thinking about the healthcare crisis and the Affordable Care Act.  People are demanding a defunding and return to the old system.  What they do not realize is that there is no return.  The old system was and has been changed over the past three years.  There is now NO going back. The old system is gone!

The above mentioned changes in CP funding in the state of Tennessee are extremely similar and there will be NO going back.  Are we ready to make this move now and in this manner?

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Rick Patrick


Thanks for taking such a clear and courageous look at a GCR strategy that appears to narrow our Great Commission focus to church planting and virtually nothing else.

Our traditional denominational commitment to education through Southern Baptist colleges and universities, to orphan care through children’s homes and to senior adult care through assisted living centers is evidently being dismantled, sacrificed on the altar of this three year-old agenda to rob from the Peter of state convention Great Commission work in order to pay the Paul of national convention Great Commission work.

The GCR Agenda is a destabilizing force in our convention–which is exactly what GCR advocates appear to desire–shaking us up from the status quo. The problem, of course, is that this so-called status quo is filled with traditional ministries we have long considered worthy of our support. It’s a trade I’m not willing to make, especially with no pilot program establishing that our church planting vision will yield positive results.

Tim G

I think each state will have to ask the question – do we, or do we not want these other ministries. In education, this is problematic on several levels. Are we raising the white flag on our state colleges? Do we have alternatives? If one simply looks at ministry education, the problem and need become HUGE!

William Thornton

I appreciate the information offered by my sensible Tennessee colleague but think his piece is a bit shrill and overdone for the moment:

1. Tennessee Baptists may certainly spend their CP money as they think best. If they believe that the percentage kept within the state should be 50% instead of 59.25% I commend them for the change. I am not seeing how stepping up the SBC proportion from 40.25% to 50% establishes that the “emphasis on the national SBC rules the day.” Can Tennessee Baptists survive on 50%, over $18 million? I guessing that they can.

2. Putting the reduction in CP kept in-state on the backs of the schools, children’s and aged ministries is up to messengers and I can see how many would question this. Why not reduce what is imaginatively labeled “Kingdom Growth.” “Leader Growth,” or “Strategic Relationships” budget categories that total several million dollars? I trust that messengers are informed and will get what they want in the CP budget.

3. NAMB moved less than $10m of their $110+m budget to church planting and aims to spend half of their budget on church planting endeavors.I am not seeing how one SBC agency’s move to put half of their budget into church planting leads to a conclusion that the CP is mostly about moving to church plants through GCR reforms. This is hyperbole, I suppose, perfectly acceptable from an SBC pastor.

4. Exactly how is the CP now “all about NAMB, IMB, and the seminaries” when states still keep sixty or so cents on every CP dollar?

5. The CP’s days are absolutely not numbered but churches have been deciding for decades to allocate less of their revenues to CP giving. Why? The CP is and will remain a mammoth funding engine but what I see reflected in giving patterns are churches making choices to give directly to IMB and NAMB where their dollars for the work at the mission boards will not be diluted by state conventions. State conventions do good work but seem to be finding it harder to lay out a vision and funding plan that engages churches to give more to the CP.

6. Increasing appeals directly to churches is a concern of mine but in states where I have served (GA and SC) all of the schools, the children’s home, and aging ministries were already making direct appeals to churches.

7. Tim, other states have already moved in this direction – some years ago. the GA Baptist Conv. doesn’t give CP funding to children’s ministry. Our major Baptist school, Mercer, has been off the bood for several years now. In SC, Furman manages better without SCBC funding. What you are seeing is a normal progression.

8. Would you please show me how GCG has harmed the CP? Facts and figures, please. GCG merely recognized the reality on the ground.

Still, I appreciate the article in that it raises the questions that state conventions are facing.

Tim G

I appreciate your thoughts. What strikes me as odd in this proposal (knowing that other states are looking at similar moves, is the reality that the network of Baptist Christian Education developed over the years by the SBC structure appears to be on the verge of distinction. Int he inception of the CP, it was understood that states would need to keep monies for admin areas, and then split the rest. With the implementation of the GCR, the idea for changing this seems to point to a abandonment of key institutions to achieve a greater amount monies going to NAMB and the others. Do not forget that NAMB also made the decision to cease sending money back to the states.

My thoughts on this primarily focus on the reality that Baptist Christian Education will be lost in our states and the churches are once again moving in the direct path of being opened up to massive solicitations by institutions. In our current economic climate of health care change and low jobs with decreasing wages, the CP will suffer IMHO due to limited funds available.

I can already see the sale pitches being developed by the institutions. Let one of them hire a real good one, and any congregation they present will be so sold on that institution that monies will be re-routed. We both know that this already occurs occasionally. Think what it will be like once these changes go into effect?

Buckle down Pastors, your gate keeping portion of your job description just became more difficult.

dr. james willingham

Regardless of who or whom we accuse, the problem is that there is a movement afoot (and has been since the Moderates lost – and note I am not taking their part as will be seen in a moment), the aim of which is to end the greatest Protestant mission enterprise to date. No one pays attention to the reality that three things happened about 25 years ago that effectively guaranteed the end of the SBC as we known it (and it wasn’t the Moderates losing either); it was automation, computerization, and robotics. These three empowerments for our civilization simply meant that the basis of SBC support in the South, e.g., textile mills, furniture factories, and other manufactures would be ending their dependence on workers. The day of the assembly line worker was gone. Add to that the end of tobacco as a socially acceptable habit, and you unemploy a bunch more Baptists in several states. And then there was the government co-opted into moving jobs overseas (this was at the behest of the corporations who even got financial help to transfer their factories to other nations….and spread the New World Order so dear to the heart of certain groups behind he political scenes, like in following the money trail to the international bankers, etc.).

Next, look, as in the case of our state, at what is called the Research Triangle, a scientific, business, and industrial complex of medicine, electronics, and assorted industries, placed strategically between three cities which contained some great educational institutions and hospitals. Impound the water of certain rivers and creeks, to create reservoirs for sources of water for a great increase in population. Then bring in the people from all over the world, but primarily the North. They sell their houses up there for 450,000 and buy down here, some better structure at less than half the price they received for an older, more modest dwelling. They have lots of training, education, etc. Baptists are still number one in numbers in North Carolina, but that will not last long I suspect. The Methodists were number two. I am not sure where they are now, but the number two denomination in numbers is the Roman Catholics. Funny how we financed this great influx of people to take the jobs that should have gone to our people. One wonders what the tie in was between certain orders in that denomination and certain societies in our area??? Now we are letting our institutions go, regardless of whether Moderates or Conservatives are in control (AND IT WOULD NOT MATTER WHETHER CALVINISTS OR TRADITIONALISTS WERE IN CONTROL). I say the latter, not because of any suspicion of both groups, but due to my perception of infiltration by people who pay lip service to our views but whose loyalty lies elsewhere. I mean I hold to Sovereign Grace (I still don’t like the term Calvinism [though Dr. Truett used the term frankly in his address at the Spurgeon Centennial in 1934 in London]due to the fact that people were dying for the doctrines called such among Baptists before John Calvin was ever born, much less thought of), and I for sure do not want to see the loss of our institutions, knowing who build them and why.

Sorry to have been so long winded. What I pray for is a Third Great Awakening, pleading the promises/prophecies that were pleaded by Carey, Fuller, and others, the promises in Edwards’ Humble Attempt.


Not sure anyone knows the real intentions since the GCR meeting minutes were put in lockbox for many years after promising transparency. It is all a big secret. So we will have to “look back” after 15 years or so to figure it all out.

At this point, I would rather fund homes for the elderly and children than plant dictatorial YRR churches.

Norm Miller

Lydia: After 15 years, most, if not all on the GCR will be retired.

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