The name originally given to the Cooperative Program was "The Co-operative Program of Southern Baptists." The CP did not (and does not) belong to the SBC alone; nor does it belong to the cooperating state Baptist conventions alone. It is a joint venture that belongs to Southern Baptists, cooperating with and contributing to both their respective state Baptist convention and the SBC.
Put another way, the "Cooperative" of the Cooperative Program refers to the cooperation between the Southern Baptist Convention and state Baptist conventions to work together in such a way that a local church can financially support the missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention and the church’s state Baptist convention through writing a single check each month.
The definition of Cooperative Program giving as adopted by the messengers to the SBC annual meeting is as follows:
"The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists' unified plan of giving through which cooperating Southern Baptist churches give a percentage of their undesignated receipts in support of their respective state convention and the Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries."
While every gift given to Convention causes is celebrated, gifts directed by cooperating churches around either the state Baptist convention or the Southern Baptist Convention or any entity of the SBC are not, by definition, Cooperative Program gifts.
How CP Funds are Disbursed
The SBC Executive Committee disburses all Cooperative Program and designated funds within five business days each week. This provides a steady flow of funds to all SBC entities the Executive Committee received from the state conventions and other sources.
Cooperating Southern Baptist churches contributed $481,409,006 in Cooperative Program contributions through their respective state Baptist conventions in 2011-2012. Of this amount, $186,640,481 (38.77 percent of all CP contributions) was forwarded to the SBC for support of the Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries.
In addition, 428 churches and numerous individuals contributed an additional $5,038,514 directly to the SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget through the SBC Executive Committee. The Executive Committee was responsible to distribute a total of $191,678,994 in its CP Allocation Budget to SBC ministries. This amount was distributed as follows:
|$96,268,287||International Mission Board||50.223 percent|
|$43,683,643||North American Mission Board||22.790 percent|
|$139,951,930||Total, World Missions||73.013 percent|
|$9,357,129||Southwestern Baptist Seminary||4.882 percent|
|$9,227,969||Southern Seminary||4.814 percent|
|$7,873,451||New Orleans Seminary||4.108 percent|
|$7,694,689||Southeastern Seminary||4.014 percent|
|$4,003,525||Midwestern Seminary||2.089 percent|
|$3,859,273||Golden Gate Seminary||2.013 percent|
|$460,030||Historical Library and Archives||0.240 percent|
|$42,476,065||Total, Theological Education||22.160 percent|
|$3,162,703||Ethics and Religious Liberty||1.650 percent|
|$6,088,296||SBC Operating Budget||3.176 percent|
The SBC Executive Committee also received $190,744,940 in designated gifts for SBC ministries. Of this amount, $189,681,107 was received and disbursed through the seasonal missions offerings for International and North American missions and the World Hunger Fund. The balance of designated gifts were for the other SBC entities (seminaries and ERLC) and the SBC Operating Budget.
Churches that contribute directly to an SBC entity do not appear in any written SBC record as being contributing churches to Convention work. Churches that contribute directly to SBC causes through the Executive Committee are reported in a list in each year’s SBC Annual.
The "1% CP Challenge"
LifeWay's SBC Omnibus 2012 Cooperative Program survey revealed last fall that 7 percent of Southern Baptist pastors had accepted or planned to accept the "1% CP Challenge." Another 8 percent had not yet accepted, but planned to accept in the 2012-2013 budget year.
Frank S. Page had asked the convention's 46,000 churches to consider a 1 percent-of-budget increase in Cooperative Program giving which, if every church accepted, would add almost $100 million to the funding stream for Southern Baptist missions and ministries. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, reported earlier this year that the "1% CP Challenge" for increased Cooperative Program giving has been a "surprising success."
"'The 1% Challenge' began just two years ago and has received a great deal of positive attention. Honestly, more than I thought it would," Page said. "I thought it might have some traction until we got a more comprehensive strategy in place."
But the challenge has caught on, Page said, and at least 15 percent of Southern Baptist churches either have adopted the challenge or are seriously considering it. "It's making a difference," he said.
According to figures released in the 2012 Annual Church Profile earlier this summer, 3,192 churches—6.93 percent of Southern Baptist churches—showed an increase in the percentage of their missions giving through the Cooperative Program by at least 1 percent.
The survey also showed that 38 percent of Southern Baptist pastors had not heard of the "1% CP Challenge." Clearly, much work remains.
Who Supports CP? Churches!
2,025 churches reported giving a combined amount that equals 50 percent of all Cooperative Program gifts given through the state Baptist conventions — more than 240 million dollars ($240,704,503).*
Among churches that gave this amount are:
- 89—churches with more than 2,000 in worship attendance
- 56—churches with 1,501 to 2,000 in worship attendance
- 163—churches with 1,001 to 1,500 in worship attendance
- 158—churches with 751 to 1,000 in worship attendance
- 348—churches with 501 to 750 in worship attendance
- 886—churches with 251 to 500 in worship attendance
- 277—churches with 126 to 250 in worship attendance
- 19—churches with 125 or under in worship attendance
- 29—churches did not report their attendance
These 2,025 churches gave, on average, 8.1 percent of their undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program.
6,300 churches reported giving a combined amount that equals an additional 30 percent of all Cooperative Program gifts given through the state Baptist conventions — more than 144 million dollars ($144,422,702).*
Among churches that reported giving this amount are:
- 16—churches with more than 2,000 in worship attendance
- 21—churches with 1,501 to 2,000 in worship attendance
- 40—churches with 1,001 to 1,500 in worship attendance
- 45—churches with 751 to 1,000 in worship attendance
- 110—churches with 501 to 750 in worship attendance
- 880—churches with 251 to 500 in worship attendance
- 2,723—churches with 126 to 250 in worship attendance
- 2,334—churches with 125 or under in worship attendance
- 131—churches did not report their attendance
These 6,300 churches gave, on average, 7.6 percent of their undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program.
21,946 churches reported giving an amount equal to 15.32 percent of all Cooperative Program gifts through their state Baptist conventions — more than 73 million dollars ($73,758,621).*
Churches that did not report their Cooperative Program giving on the Annual Church Profile gave the remaining 4.68 percent of CP gifts — $22,523,180 — through their state Baptist conventions.*
For the first time since fiscal 1999-2000, the percentage forwarded by the churches through the Cooperative Program did not decline.
In 2011, the average percentage giving from all churches was 5.407 percent.
In 2012, the average percentage giving from all churches rose slightly to 5.414 percent.
*All church statistical data are based on self-reported attendance, undesignated receipts, and Cooperative Program gifts from 2011-2012, unless otherwise noted. All non-church statistical data are based on audited financial records of the SBC Executive Committee and cooperating state Baptist conventions.
Great Commission Advance
Messengers to the 2010 SBC annual meeting in Orlando requested the SBC Executive Committee "to consider working with the leadership of the state conventions in developing a comprehensive program of Cooperative Program promotion and stewardship education" in alignment with the Great Commission Task Force report adopted that year. Three months later, Frank S. Page became the sixth president of the Executive Committee.
One of Page's first moves as president was to bring Cooperative Program promotion directly into the president's office, naming C. Ashley Clayton as special assistant to the president for Cooperative Program and Stewardship. During 2011 and 2012, Page and Clayton facilitated numerous listening sessions with pastors, state convention executives, stewardship directors, and other groups in preparation for this year's more focused strategy development. Page introduced the "1% CP Challenge" as an interim "mini-strategy" until a more comprehensive strategy could be rolled out.
The Cooperative Program Advisory Council, comprised of six state convention executive directors, two state CP directors, four SBC entity representatives, and a pastor, has been meeting throughout 2013 to develop a comprehensive Cooperative Program strategy which will be formally launched out at the 2014 SBC annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.
The initiative will be called Great Commission Advance and will highlight an aggressive global vision while seeking to maintain a strong home base—the two prongs of the SBC purpose statement ("to promote Christian missions at home and abroad").
This article is available in brochure format for easy distribution. The file is available for download here.
Directions: Right-click here and "Save Link As." Print double-sided on 8.5x14"-sized paper and fold in half.
Click here to download the "Cooperative Program: An Agressive Global Vision with a Strong Home Base" poster. This poster can be customized using the shape of each state or regional convention with a tailored list of the state convention ministries. To order a customized poster design in a digital file format, contact SBCLIFE@sbc.net.