Matthew 6 and Great Commission Giving–Updated

May 10, 2010

Matthew 6:1-4 (NIV)
1 “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

In their final report the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) has certainly squelched some of my fears.  I want to be on this Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) train!!  I do not desire to be the one driving it and I do not want to be the one blowing the horn.  I just want to be one of the 40,000 that are known as GCR pastors.  Thank God, and I look forward to being part of this grand movement of God in the SBC.

At this point I want to call attention to one obstacle that I see laying on the tracks.  If this obstacle is not removed it will cause this GCR train to jump the tracks.  It is the Great Commission Giving (GCG) aspect of this train.  This particular aspect will bring a GCR to a halt faster than the Caner brothers can grow beards. It will be the death knell of the Cooperative Program (CP) just as sure as OS Hawkins has his shirt buttons in line with his belt buckle and his shoes shined with a mirrored glaze to the point one could shave with a dull razor.  Why would I make such a statement of surety?  I believe in the surety of this event for three reasons.  Great Commission Giving relegates not accentuates the Cooperative Program.  Also, Great Commission Giving discourages not encourages cooperation. And the motive of Great Commission Giving elevates selfish desires over the Scriptural directive of giving.

Relegating the Cooperative Program–The Cooperative Program (CP) is the main artery for the flow of funds for  missions and ministry within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).  The CP funds the cooperative efforts of Southern Baptist to ensure the Gospel gets to the lost.  The CP funds the various ministries that are being used by God to penetrate the darkness.  It is through the CP that we cooperate with the various ministries of the 41 state conventions.  These state conventions are resource centers for local churches in order to do ministries on the local level that cannot be done by the SBC.  It is because of the CP that we are able to see national strategies developed and put into place.  It is because of the CP that we are able to see strategies developed within the states.  It is through the CP that we were able to fund the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) with the $250,000 they requested.  Does one realize that if GCG would have been in place when the GCRTF was formed we may not have been able to release the $250,000 because it would have already been allocated?  Thus, GCG relegates the CP to one of many different forms of giving to the SBC.  When the CP is relegated to one of many forms of giving then GCG will be seen as the main source of giving.

Discouraging Cooperation–GCG discourages cooperation in the very form it is being presented.  The very churches that are promoting GCG are ones that fund projects in various SBC entities.  Some of the churches represented on the GCRTF give to agencies outside of the SBC.  However, one needs to remember what makes something a Southern Baptist gift–A Southern Baptist Church gives to it.  If GCG becomes a reality in the SBC then we will see a time that churches designate their giving to all sorts of agencies.  For example, there are some churches that may desire to fund their students education to an SBC college or seminary, so they send funds designated to one of the SBC entities or state conventions for the particular student.  When a church funds 10 0r 12 students at various entities and state universities they are doing so for their own advantage.  Here in NC we have a historical relationship with Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.  Let’s say (I am not saying this is happening, I am just saying that it could very easily happen) that Pastor Gilbert has a student that is attending WFU and their church is paying the tuition for that student.  All Calvary Baptist does is designate through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina for that student and the BSCNC sends those funds to WFU.  Those funds will then be counted as GCG for Calvary when it is going to a school that is supported by CBF, has for its President a Presbyterian who came from Notre Dame University with no Baptist background, and has just appointed an ordained woman minister with the United Church of Christ to head up their Baptist Divinity School.  Another example is in the area of church plants.  Some churches partner with NAMB to plant churches in major metropolitan areas.  These churches not only make major contributions, but NAMB matches this contribution with funds from the CP.  However, the church names the Pastor and staff, not NAMB.  Thus, the mega church decides the form of government and these church plants usually end up as Elder rule congregations not congregational rule.  Nothing wrong with a particular church fulfilling their vision and call of God in supporting their students and planting their own churches, but should one call that cooperation?  With just these two examples one can see that there is no cooperation but more of  ‘you scratch my back and I scratch yours’ direction for funding.

Elevating Selfish Desires–This is one area that I believe is the most evident.  The final report calls for us to celebrate ever dollar given by every church.

We call upon all Southern Baptists to celebrate every dollar given by faithful Southern Baptists as part of Great Commission Giving, including designated gifts given to any Baptist association, state convention, and to the causes of the Southern Baptist Convention.

It is evident that the GCRTF desires to be recognized for all dollars given.  However, this is where selfish desires take over.  It is clearly not a biblical mandate to recognize every dollar given.  Notice in that Matthew 6, as posted above, Jesus teaches that we are not to desire recognition for our giving.

Mark 12:41-42 (NIV)
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.
42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

Also, it is clear that Jesus recognized only those that gave out of their need not those that gave out of their abundance.  In the story about the Widow’s Mites Jesus recognized the exact amount that the Widow gave.  However, Jesus never recognized the exact amount of those giving out of their abundance.  He just said that they gave “large amounts”.  GCG is not something that the SBC needs.  Celebrating what people give when they are giving out of their abundance is against scripture.  We know that many large churches give large amounts to various entities.  However, if we begin celebrating everything everyone gives then GCG will only promote selfish desires.

The GCRTF report is something that I believe will advance a desire across the SBC to see the darkness penetrated with the Gospel.  However, I believe the GCG will derail any GCR that begins.  Why?  The CP is a chain of sand with the strength of steel.  However, if the CP is relegated to second class status as one among many forms of recognized giving that steel will return to sand and the chain will be broken.

**UPDATE**

After reading Brother Dave Miller’s questions in our comment thread, I realized there is another reason the GCG will derail the GCR.  It has to do with trust.  The GCG reveals there is a lack of trust among the GCRTF concerning the state conventions.  If there was trust among them, with two state Executives sitting on the GCRTF could they not have called in the group and worked out a compromise for the CP to remain central?  I know the GCRTF is calling for the CP to be central, but the unique ability of the CP was the trust given at all levels.  With the GCG we will be saying; “we do not trust those state Executives”.

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Bob Cleveland

I think you are right on, about this. “Celebrate” Great Commission giving? How far is celebrating giving, from scripture?

It’s been said before but I’ll steal the line anyway; they’re putting lipstick on a pig. Trying to make something nice out of something that isn’t.

Just look at the CP percentages of the churches headed by the pastors on the Task Force.

Gary L

The Matthew 6 passage is very pertinent to this discussion. I think some folks are settling for the acclaim of men.

On GCG as it will be applied, consider who will be framing the conversation about missions giving in the future–it will be state execs and Executive Committee staff. I don’t expect to hear the term “Great Commission Giving” in many contexts. It may encourage some who are already committed to societal giving but that train left the station some time ago.

I can support this because I think GCG be a rarely used term and won’t likely change what pro CP churches are doing.

Rick Patrick

Gary,

If “GCG” is a term to be used only rarely, why would the Task Force even go to trouble to coin it so officially? I think they coined it because they intend to use it, celebrate it, emphasize it and lay it right next to CP giving as an acceptable form of missions support.

If the Societal Missions train that left the station is in fact moving in the wrong direction, let’s go get it, turn it around, and switch tracks so that it returns to Cooperative Missions Station. That won’t happen by ignoring this runaway train.

Les Puryear

Thank you for speaking the truth with such clarity.

Louis

I have a couple of thoughts to share, but like most of us on this topic, no new ideas.

The amount (percentage) that churches give to the CP is already talked about. Every time someone becomes a candidate for an office in the SBC, that’s one of the first things we hear. That is already a big part of SBC culture.

The passage of the GCR will not change or enhance that. It will only allow other gifts to the SBC and its agencies (entities) to be counted – since we are already talking about it.

If the GCR doesn’t pass, I think that the term “Great Commission Giving” may survive. Even if the term doesn’t survive, the concept will.

Last year during the convention at the luncheon for church planters and such (I can’t remember the name of the church where it was held) all of these young church planter types really resonated with the idea of churches cooperating in new ways and not being forced to have 65% or so of every dollar given to missions siphoned off at the state level.

The only point I am making here is the option for Great Commission Giving is the way a lot of younger people and younger churches see things. Telling them that “you can’t give that way” will not work. It never has.

Also, I still cannot understand why people continue to lump many types of giving in the “Great Commission Giving” basket. Some patterns would take us to a societal giving structure.

But others are not directed toward societal giving. For example, we write 2 checks – one to the SBC and one to the state. We are not wanting a societal giving paradigm to emerge from that. We simply want as much of our money to go to the national missions giving programs as possible. The state programs do not interest us as much.

We will continue that practice regardless of whether the GCR acknowledges that practice as CP giving.

I believe that most churches will continue to do what they are doing, regardless of whether the task force plan is adopted.

So, you can put me down for someting like “Great Commission Giving” or whatever it’s called. Loyal Southern Baptist Churches are already doing this, and that trend is not going to slow or reverse. We should acknowledge and celeberate any money that is given to SBC causes.

Dave Miller

I disagree with your analysis in general, Tim. But I wonder how you know the motives of every person in the GCRTF? They unanimously stood and supported the report. Every one of them is acting out of a selfish motive?

Two questions:

1) How do you know the motives of these men and women’s hearts?

2) How is reporting GC Giving any different than reporting CP giving? Couldn’t everything you say about selfish motives be attributed as well to the reporting of Cooperative Program dollars?

Tim Rogers

Brother Bob,

It does seem that the Task Force is trying to make something nice out of something that isn’t. Dr. Jimmy Jackson, in a recent interview said, ‘in the new report the language has mellowed but the motives and direction is still the same’. IOW, while the Task Force language is not call the state conventions “bloated bureaucracies” it is still placing the monkey on the state convention backs for the problems we find ourselves. You see it in their recommendation to remove 1/3 of the EC budget. Why not take some from the NAMB budget, some from the Seminary budget and some from the ERLC and some from the EC? There is a bullseye painted on the EC right now and the GCRTF is pointing the weapon.

Brother Gary,

I believe Brother Rick makes a very valid point. Don’t allow the opining of the GCRTF to fool you that CP will remain central. Why? They would not go through this much trouble to take this much push back if they were keeping CP the central form of giving? Let me ask this? How many of the leaders of the GCRTF have committed publicly to increase their CP giving? Let me ask another question. If there has been any, how much have they said would be a great move for all of us to commit? IOW, have they given a % or even a figure they have in mind to increase?

Brother Louis,

When one decides to allow his/her name to go before the convention to be elected to President. Or someone allows his/her name to go before the convention to be elected to serve as a trustee, it becomes everyone’s business as to their support of the SBC. You can say that you love your church all you like but do not expect to sit on a committee to decide where the money will be spent if you are sending your tithe to the TV preacher each week. It is the same scenario here. If you sense God’s call to lead why haven’t you sensed God’s leading to give? Why would you want to lead an organization that you do not lead your people to support? A better question would be why would you desire to lead an organization that you only desire partial cooperation among?

Also, when you lead your church to give part to the state and part to the SBC you are doing a dis-service to their understanding. There is no connectional relationship in the SBC. However, the agreement signed in 1925 was that CP would be considered funds received through the state conventions. So, while you are teaching your people that they are giving to the state convention, you are not truly giving a clear picture. Why? Part of the state convention funds go to the SBC. Thus, you are double dipping the SBC when you divide the funds in that way. Nothing wrong with that, just saying that if you think it is teaching your people you are supporting the state convention, it is a little hidden.

I too will leave the convention with whatever the vote is, but I will be heard of my dissatisfaction of GCG. If the convention votes to allow it then we will move one. If they vote not to allow it, then we will move on. I will not term the convention with Ichobad written over it whether or not we vote this part down.

Blessings,
Tim

Tim Rogers

Brother Dave,

But I wonder how you know the motives of every person in the GCRTF? They unanimously stood and supported the report. Every one of them is acting out of a selfish motive?

Have you ever thought about writing for a drama series? I have not said that the motives of every person on the GCRTF was for selfish reasons. What I said was that the GCG will be promoting the selfish pride of “look what I give”.

Now, let me dialog with the one statement you made in all of that ad hominem.

2) How is reporting GC Giving any different than reporting CP giving? Couldn’t everything you say about selfish motives be attributed as well to the reporting of Cooperative Program dollars?

First, I cannot believe you are even asking the fist question. GCG is pointing to the giving done by the local church for mission work that benefits only the local church. Doesn’t need any cooperative effort at all, just do something we want to do and tie it into the SBC and we get credit for doing Cooperative Missions. That is how it differs. CP mission $$’s go to missions that were put together by multiple churches and those missions are worked out among the churches. For example, a couple of years back you complained about the NAMB stopping the communion during the World Changers event on Wednesday evenings. They stopped it because churches operating cooperatively together requested that NAMB look at the BF&M2k and follow what cooperating churches believed. We cooperate together in good and bad times.

Now to your second question. Yes, it could if you wanted to say it. However, you would be on shaky ground. Why? You would have to prove that cooperation was not best for all. IOW, cooperative giving is giving that is released to the convention to prove that the one releasing the funds trusts the various entities and conventions.

Which brings out another point and I believe I am going to add it to the main article. GCG reveals the lack of trust of the leadership in the conventions.

Blessings,
Tim

Les Puryear

Dave Miller,

If memory serves me (and that is very debatable) I believe you are on the NAMB BoT, correct? As a NAMB trustee, do you want to encourage people to stop giving to the CP, which provides $46M (40%) of the total NAMB revenue? Both CP & AA provides 90% of NAMB annual revenue. Do you really think designated giving is going to improve on that number?

If you support Great Commission Giving, you will indeed be encouraging people not to give through CP. Is that what you want to happen?

Les

Tim Rogers

Brother Les,

You have pointed something out that I was not aware, Dave Miller on the NAMB BoT? You mean Dave Samples don’t you? I think your memory is failing. But, if Dave is on the BoT let him correct me and affirm your memory.

Blessings,
Tim

Dave Miller

I am an Iowa Baptist and we are so small we do not even get BoT representation. Dave Samples, who used to write at sbcIMPACT is who you were thinking of, I assume, Les.

Dave Miller

Les, I think the idea that supporting GC giving is “encouraging people not to give through CP” is unsubstantiated and wrong.

John

I have to ask a question out of personal ignorance: What does it mean to be a SBC church in good standing as far as the CP goes? Is anything required? $1 per year? I have been in many churches in my life due to frequent moves. Some gave all their missions budget to the CP, while some split it between CP, CBF, BWA, etc. And as far as I know, none of these really cared if they were recognized for what they were giving. They just sent it to where the congregation voted to send it. So is there a minimum CP participation required to stay a SBC church?

Tim Rogers

Brother John,

Your question is one of subjection rather than objective. I honestly do not know how to define one that is a SBC Church in good standing. What I do know is that a church must give at least $250 through the CP to be able to have one messenger. Thus, a church that give $2500 to CP can have 10 messengers. Now, if a church give $10,000 directly to the IMB and give $250 to the CP, then they only get one messenger. Of course in NC we have to give at least $890 to the CP because the first $640 that comes from a church goes straight to Guidestone to pay for the insurance and investment the state places in the staff retirement.

Here is the bottom line. The CP is the method that the convention fathers put into action in 1925 when societal giving was killing many of the entities. Some point to societal giving as being the cause of the HMB crisis. However, add to the fact that there was poor oversight at the HMB and people did not want to give to that entity you have a recipe for failure of an entity. Once we relegate the CP to just one of many options to give to missions you will find that CP will no longer be a viable giving apparatus.

Blessings,
Tim

Les Puryear

Dave Miller,

Sorry for the mixup.

Les

John

Tim,

Thanks for the answer. I have been a Southern Baptist my entire Christian life, and I agree with you that the defining thing is the CP. Without that, we are just a bunch of independant churches with really nothing to bind us together. Why would one stay in the SBC without it? We as a group may disagree and fight about a lot of things, but the CP is the only thing as far as I can tell that holds us together.

Christiane

Hello JOHN,

You wrote this to Tim: “I have been a Southern Baptist my entire Christian life, and I agree with you that the defining thing is the CP. Without that, we are just a bunch of independant churches with really nothing to bind us together.”

I can’t understand this part: “Without that, we are just a bunch of independant churches with really nothing to bind us together.”

The part I don’t get is ‘with really nothing to bind us together’ . . .
can you explain this to me a little better.
Thanks, if you can help.

John

Christiane,

Sorry, I was between limbing trees and planting the garden when I wrote that, and obviously didn’t explain myself very well. I was mainly speaking to missions, not theology or basic beliefs, or anything else for that matter. I think what truly binds us together is our salvation through Jesus. Beyond that, the BFM is a good reference for SBC church basis beliefs, and that binds us as a group of like minded Christians we call Baptists. What I meant was: the CP is what has, at least in my lifetime, defined us in missions, both here and abroad. Rather than being independent Baptist churches that sponsor our own mission work, we have been able to pool our resources and fund a great missions program, seminaries, etc, that we could not do seperately. I have friends in other non-SBC churches who do fund their own missions work, and decide who they’ll support and when. Missionaries spend their time at home going from church to church to enlist support from seperate congregations. Our missionaries don’t have to do that. Our seminaries don’t have to spend time and money going from church to church to get money to run a seminary.

The way I see it, if churches pick where they want to send their funds, that’s fine. Every Baptist church is a church. We are not part of some hierarchy. The SBC cannot tell a church what to do with their money. Each church hopefully seeks God’s guidence as to how they operate. I just think if we want to come together to fund common causes that one church cannot do by themselves, then we provide an outlet, like the CP, for them to do it.

I hope that answered your question, and I’m again sorry if I was misunderstood.

Tim Rogers

Christianne,

I am not John, but I would like to take a shot. If Brother John doesn’t agree, then is certainly free to express his position.

The GCG is not binding us together but making us more independent. We are all independent churches. That means that we all agree on basic doctrines and we all agree that we must reach the nations. However, how to go about doing that individually is the problem. The SBC was established because we have a mindset that we can do more together than we can separately. The CP was established because we were giving to each entity and some entities were about to fold due to lack of funding. We as SB said we could not allow that to happen and the CP was established. While every church bleeds missions and evangelism, it is the CP that is the veins for that blood to flow. Thus, it is the CP that is keeping us together because no one desires to harm the missions pipeline that has been established.

Blessings,
Tim

Christiane

Thank you JOHN and TIM for your kind responses.
John, I rather thought it was something like that. I realize that the topic is ‘missions’, and your explanation makes perfect sense.

John, we put our garden in over a week ago, but we have a ‘rabbit’ on the grounds.
I guess we’ll be planting more lettuce. Lots more lettuce. It’s a VERY LARGE rabbit. I think it’s going to have BUNNIES !!!!!
God is good. :) SPAM word: ‘joy’

John

Christiane,

God is good indeed! We have a lot of rabbits too so I always plant some lettuce for them and then put a fence around ours. So far they’ve gotten the idea and it’s been a peaceful truce! Take care,

John

Louis

Tim:

The amount that is given to the CP is reported even BEFORE one becomes a candidate or a potential trustee. SBC culture makes this a big deal. Every year they list what churches give and such.

Since the SBC and the state conventions are separate legal entities, with separate conventions, then it is not a bad thing necessarily to treat them separately.

The SBC Consitution and Bylaws do not make giving to any state convention a requirement to full participation in the SBC. Giving to the SBC IS required. And that makes sense.

Likewise, participating in the state conventions probably (I haven’t checked) conditioned on giving to the state conventions. And that makes sense, too.

But is it an oddity to say that giving to one’s state convention proves one’s love for the SBC.

In fact, if we sent all of our money to the state, the SBC would get LESS. So, by sending some directly to Nashville, the SBC is getting MORE. And that shows more support for the SBC, not less.

Why is this so hard to understand? I am not arguing for societal giving. I am not arguing for designated giving. Each gift – the one to the state and the one to the SBC goes into their respectively adopted allocation budgets. Those gifts are not designated to certain entities.

It just seems to me that any gift to the SBC ought to be recognized even if it did not get chopped in half by the state on the way to the SBC.

Tim Rogers

Brother Louis,

But is it an oddity to say that giving to one’s state convention proves one’s love for the SBC.

Coming from a state that has debated this issue for years, I can tell you that we have certainly argued that churches are neither SBC or NC Baptist churches. We are all SB serving in churches located in NC. Thus, we are in SB churches.

I want everyone to understand that I celebrate every penny that is given to SB entities. However, my celebration is not that funds were given but that the gospel was advanced. The GCG elevates the funds given instead of the Gospel that was advanced. The CP doesn’t celebrate the amount given but the sacrifice of the people to advance the Gospel. For me that is the difference.

Blessings,
Tim

Tom

Southern Baptists own the Cooperative Program as a giving method, but all Christians own Great Commission Giving. Read more:

http://wp.me/piODZ-bm

I believe this action, if approved, may push young leaders away as they reject controlling institutional denominational leadership.

Blessings,

Tom Cocklereece

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