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EXEC. COMMITTEE: 1% Challenge receives push

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- A challenge for churches to adopt the "1% Challenge" in Cooperative Program received added impetus from the SBC Executive Committee during their Sept. 20-21 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.


The recommendation from the EC's Cooperative Program subcommittee asked executive directors of the 42 Southern Baptist state conventions to "encourage their churches to give 1% more to the Cooperative Program in support of the Executive Committee president's 1% Challenge, and in doing so, further enhance God's work worldwide."

During the 2011 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix, Executive Committee President Frank Page set forth the "1% Challenge," a renewal of commitment to unified ministry by Southern Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program.

EC members in Nashville watched a video showing that a 1 percent-of-budget increase in Cooperative Program giving from SBC churches would add $100 million to CP. The video explained that in 2010, Southern Baptist Convention churches gave an average of 5.8 percent to the Cooperative Program, totaling about $500 million. If Southern Baptist churches gave 6.8 percent, that total would be nearly $600 million.

A small increase on the part of many churches would allow hundreds of churches to be planted across the United States, Page said. Internationally, 380 missionaries could be commissioned to join the task of reaching the 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups worldwide. A 1 percent increase could boost seminary student enrollment by 16,000 students.

The "1% Challenge" video is available for viewing on the Internet at www.cpmissions.net and downloadable at http://vimeo.com/27051737.

The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists' method of supporting missions and ministry efforts of state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention. State and regional conventions retain a portion of church contributions to the Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to Southern Baptist national and international causes. The percentage of distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention.



A call for online participation in the annual meetings of the SBC was declined by the Executive Committee.

The EC, responding to a motion during this summer's annual meeting in Phoenix, listed eight reasons for its stance, which will be reported to the 2012 annual meeting in New Orleans:

"* the simplicity of conducting business at a single site is preferable to the complexity of doing so via innumerable and complex off-site computer configurations;

"* the Convention has a continuing interest in positively affecting various regions of America with as great a physical presence of Southern Baptists as possible during the Convention's annual meetings and ancillary events such as Crossover;

"* the dependability of conducting business at a single site is superior to 'distance' messenger participation because of the susceptibility of the technology to interruption or failure, which would negatively and significantly impact the meeting, its actions, and the relationships of those involved;

"* the present 'public' method of casting ballots involves some level of 'in-person' and 'eye-witness' assurance that ballots have been received and cast only by qualified messengers, and is therefore preferable to any other system which would permit an individual to receive and/or cast a ballot privately and electronically from a remote location without accountability;

"* ministry and service opportunities and resources are now well-conveyed by high exhibitor participation, which would decline if attendance were to become less concentrated;


"* fostering and strengthening relationships with and between various affinity groups that schedule their meetings to coincide with the Convention's annual meeting is best accomplished by encouraging the physical presence of messengers;

"* the funds required to undertake the study and then for any implementation would likely be substantial; and

"* diverting missions offerings to pioneer the use of such technology (there being no known model for web-based constituent participation in any similarly-sized, deliberative body) would be an inappropriate prioritization."

Addressing another motion from the Phoenix convention, for the prayer room to be open 24 hours a day at each annual meeting, the Executive Committee responded: "in responsibility to 'have oversight of the arrangements for the meetings of the Convention' (SBC Bylaw 18 E (4)), it will continue to coordinate the ministry of the prayer room with local Baptist partners and keep the prayer room open as long as the contracted meeting facility permits subject to provisions of the use agreement and as may be reasonable and appropriate."

The Executive Committee adopted a resolution of appreciation for Jimmy Barrentine who will retire Oct. 31 as the Baptist Convention of Iowa's executive director-treasurer.

Among Barrentine's achievements during his 10 and a half years of leadership among Iowa Baptists, as noted in the Executive Committee resolution:

-- "He led the Baptist Convention of Iowa faithfully to support the missions and Gospel causes of Iowa Southern Baptists and the Southern Baptist Convention, educating local churches about the power of cooperative giving through the Cooperative Program for the purpose of reaching the state of Iowa, the United States, and the nations of the world with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ...."


-- "Through two five-year ministry initiatives, 'Empowering Kingdom Growth Strategy Plan, 2006-2010' and 'God's Plan for Sharing Strategy Plan, 2010-2015,' he helped lead the Baptist Convention of Iowa to develop intentional strategies for assisting churches to reach the people of Iowa through church growth, church health, evangelism, and church planting initiatives...."

-- "During his tenure, the Baptist Convention of Iowa experienced significant growth in its number of churches (74 to 94), its number of congregations (91 to 107), church membership (10,539 to 12,919), and the number of individuals enrolled in Sunday School (6,990 to 10,136)...."

Prior to serving with Iowa Baptists, Barrentine had served as missions director for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (1991-2001); director of missions and executive director of missions with two associations in Arkansas and Texas (1982-90); a missionary to Paraguay with the International Mission Board (1975-82); and as pastor of four churches in Mississippi and Texas (1965-75).

Also during the EC meeting:

-- Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, presented a check to the Executive Committee for $582,000 for SBC missions raised this summer at the various children's and youth camps hosted by LifeWay, including CentriKid, Centrifuge, M-Fuge and X-Fuge. The offering encompassed gifts from 78,182 campers, Rainer said, noting that 60 percent of the amount will be allocated to the International Mission Board and 40 percent to the North American Mission Board.


-- The firm of CapinCrouse, LLP, was approved as the Executive Committee's auditor for three years, beginning with the 2011-12 fiscal year.

-- A request of LifeWay Christian Resources was approved for a new magazine, "More Living: Zest for the Seasoned Life."

Compiled by Baptist Press staff.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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