While I applaud the reaffirmation of the Cooperative Program stated in the fifth component of the report, previous elements seem to undermine it. Eliminating cooperative agreements between NAMB and State Conventions will garner the unintended consequence of dramatically reducing CP dollars being sent from the states. They will be forced to choose between total NAMB control of staff hires or internally funding the positions. Make no mistake about it—CP dollars from the State Conventions will shrink long before control is ceded. That is not meant to impugn character, it is simply acknowledging the fact that all people see their position as essential and will protect it to the best of their ability. There are some positions within our convention that I do not see as essential—maybe even counterproductive—to accomplishing our mission. But I can guarantee that each of the individuals in those positions can ably justify their existence. When forced to choose between funding a position one personally sees as essential and a distant, national, organizational pool of funds, the choice is a foregone conclusion. To see things otherwise is naïve at best.
Concerning designated gifts “counting” as CP giving, this seems to be a non-issue for a rural, small-church pastor like me. The fact that my church’s contributions to a local food bank, a crisis pregnancy center and a Bible in the Schools program don’t “count” toward our 15% CP giving bears no impact on the furtherance of the Gospel. The only context in which I have heard this issue raised was during the election of our previous president. While I freely admit ignorance as to the importance of the need for “credit”, it does seem petty and trivial. Even if there is some unknown Gospel importance to this accounting change, it certainly does not seem to rise to the level of the importance of the other components.
The next post will complete my impressions of the GCR Interim Report.