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NASHVILLE (BP)—Southern Baptist pastors have high opinions of the convention’s Cooperative Program, according to a study conducted by LifeWay Research.
The survey of 1,066 SBC pastors found 81 percent agree the Cooperative Program fuels an aggressive global enterprise of reaching the unreached people groups around the world. Similarly, 80 percent say the Cooperative Program provides partnership opportunities for local, state and national missions.
The study also indicates that pastors’ support for the Cooperative Program does have its limits. One in five pastors (19 percent) say the strategies of the SBC entities that receive Cooperative Program dollars are not moving in the appropriate direction and that SBC entities are not using their contributions effectively. However, the majority (55 percent) agrees the SBC entities supported by the Cooperative Program are moving in an appropriate direction. And 52 percent say the entities are using their contributions effectively.
Seventy-three percent of pastors say the Cooperative Program supports the ministries and missions valued by their churches.
“As pastors question every dollar they spend, it is not surprising that some are wanting evidence they are being good stewards with their mission dollars,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. This study shows pastors believe the efforts supported by the Cooperative Program matter. However, “some do not overlook the need for further ministry improvement in the efforts of the SBC entities supported by the Cooperative Program.”
Southern Baptist pastors also indicated how closely they agree with the current allocation of national Cooperative Program funds. The median responses for the entities—International Mission Board (IMB), North American Mission Board (NAMB), six SBC seminaries, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and SBC operating budget—were all within 0.3 percent of the current allocations, which pastors were shown as they answered.
About one in five pastors entered amounts exactly matching current percentage allocations. A majority listed higher percentages for NAMB and at least half listed lower percentages for IMB, SBC seminaries and SBC operating budget.
“Pastors’ opinions on CP allocations are remarkably similar,” McConnell said. “Even when comparing mean percentages, which can be swayed by those wanting large changes, the responses have not changed significantly from a survey of pastors completed in early 2008 for the Executive Committee.
“Both the earlier survey and this study show mean percentages within 1 percent of the current allocations for IMB, ERLC and the SBC operating budget,” McConnell said. “Another similarity is both surveys show preferences for a slightly higher allocation for NAMB and lower allocation for SBC seminaries.”
Nearly 70 percent agreed with the statement, “The SBC allocation budget places a high priority on penetrating lostness both locally and worldwide.”
Pastors also were asked to indicate the priority their church places on 12 missions and ministry efforts funded by the Cooperative Program. The majority of pastors indicate “sending and supporting overseas missionaries to reach unreached people groups around the world” is the highest priority. Almost 70 percent of pastors rate it essential or a high priority, and it is the only ministry effort that less than 10 percent of pastors rate a low priority or not a priority.
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