The nation's largest Protestant denomination says in a new report it could face a crisis without increased giving.
The Executive Committee unanimously adopted the report, "The State of Giving in the Southern Baptist Convention," on September 23. It follows a series of staff and missionary cuts over the summer by the SBC's International Mission Board.
Local church giving to the denomination has dropped from 10.5 percent of income in the 1980s to 7.39 percent in 2002, a decline of 29.6 percent. Citing the research agency empty tomb, inc., the report also says Southern Baptists currently give 2.03 percent of their earnings to their churches.
The SBC Funding Study Committee cited health insurance and building expansion costs and "political infighting" as possible factors in budget problems at the Cooperative Program, the denomination's central funding mechanism.
In recent years, some Southern Baptists have redirected millions of dollars to programs outside of the control of denominational leaders.
Recently, other denominations and parachurch organizations have experienced similar financial woes, but observers are surprised at the dip in a denomination known for giving.
Other CT reports on Southern Baptist financial cuts include
Baptist Alliance Stung by SBC Cuts | Southern Baptist Convention trims funds to Baptist World Alliance. (May 02, 2003)
Cracks in the Convention | Texas South Baptists slash $5 million from Southern Baptist Convention. (Nov. 03, 2000)
Southern Baptist Leaders Lament Funding Cuts | Texas board's action to reduce funding called 'bad for common missions causes' (Oct. 02, 2000)
The Southern Baptist website has more information on the denomination.1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more