What will the rest of 2018 bring for Southern Baptists?

I’m a little late, so sue me. Being retarred, I’m not on anyone’s time deadline.

Will the average church Cooperative Program percentage crash through the 5% barrier?

The average church gives 5.16% of their undesignated offerings through the Cooperative Program, as reported by the SBC Executive Committee for the latest available period, 2015-2016. The old 10% goal, the church’s “tithe” to the CP, is a relic of the distant past. Whatever entity leaders are saying about increasing the CP percentage, I suspect that they’re not looking in the rearview mirror at 10% but rather on the road ahead on which the 5% barrier is drawing near. Churches in my state, Georgia, are already below 5% on average.

Plodder’s realistic prediction: No, we will not crash through the 5% barrier but will hover around the same, slightly-above 5% level. We will know in June when the Executive Committee assesses the data.

What will happen with the lawsuit against the North American Mission Board?

A former state convention executive is suing NAMB in federal court and our second-largest entity is defending themselves. The suit has to do with internal denominational workings. The plaintiff alleges interference in his employment. There will likely be motions and other legal stuff in 2018. This lawsuit is, in my opinion, appalling.

Plodder’s contemptuous prediction: There will be no final disposition of the case but if it gets to depositions it will get much more interesting.

Who will be the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention?

Steve Gaines has served two terms and has done well. One recalls that he took office in 2016 as a result of J. D. Greear’s concession after a very narrow ballot. That was one of the SBC’s best moments in some years. If J. D. Greear desires to serve as president one would think he would be unopposed, but then, we’ve got the anti-Calvinist crowd to think about.

Plodder’s wishful prediction: Greear will feel led to be nominated and will be unopposed.

Obviously, things have progressed on this. My best hope is for only a modicum of pre election rancor. I’ll predict a solid victory for Greear in June.

Will any of the SBC state conventions throw 50/50 overboard and push for an increasing share of Cooperative Program receipts?

This is a trick question, since the state convention is still keeping slightly under 60% of the Cooperative Program monies that churches give. The 50/50 is a thrust, a movement, that has seen the percentage drop below 60% for the first time since around the time I was born. I think Mickey Mantle was a rookie that year. Given a choice unencumbered by constituent churches and pastors, the states would keep all they could and find justification for spending more CP dollars within their state borders.

Plodder’s insightful prediction: Yes. Some states will do this. Frankly, if a new, younger state exec has a bold plan for church growth in his state (I’m talking mainly about the old line, legacy southern state conventions where 90% of the CP revenues are collected) and is willing to stake his job on it, I’d favor the proposal.

Will the SBC be a model of Biblical harmony?

Will the Calvinist lion lay down with the Traditionalist lamb and there be sweetness and light all around?

Plodder’s non-aspirational prediction: No. The whole raison d’etre for the Traditionalists is to oppose Calvinists. It used to be the same going the other way but since the Cals have been doing so well, they’re happy with the status quo. The presidential election will show us something. If it is hotly contested, sans parallel at least since the hot days of the CR, we’ll be in for some grief. Just to toss in more foreign phrases, if the Trads go en masse on us because they don’t want the Cals to have carte blanche in the SBC it will be an annus horribilis rather than an annus mirabilis. My wish is for the election of Greear to be a fait accompli. Otherwise, it’s bon voyage for SBC amity.

Will any SBC entities or state conventions have a crisis?

IMB had their downsizing in 2015/2016. Southwestern Seminary disclosed serious financial struggles just recently and implemented about a 10% cut of staff. What entity calamity will befall us in 2018? From what is commonly known, a couple of entities face challenges.

Plodder’s doleful prediction:  Yes. Probably a couple…and perhaps something that isn’t even on the radar at present.

How will our two major offerings, Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong, fare?

Lottie was at $153 million, third highest ever. The LMCO has stayed in the $150 million range for several years now, the only exception being the extraordinary $165.8 million post-crisis year, 2015-2016. Annie was at a record $59.6 million this year, slightly topping the previous record in 2007 which was before the Great Recession of 2008.

Plodder’s aspirational prediction: Records for both. Sometimes I like to be optimistic even if my feelings are otherwise.

Will IMB have a new leader before the year is out?

Plodder’s prayerful prediction: Yes, and a leader who will have the confidence and support of all SBCers.

 

 

 



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