The Vision 2021 Transition Team made a wise decision to delay a vote on moving forward with the implementation of a plan that has been published and will be presented at the annual meeting next week in Chattanooga.  I personally appreciate the decision that our team made together.  The year ahead will give us much needed time to dialogue and communicate about the particulars of Vision 2021 and make adjustments where wisdom dictates.  Tennessee Baptists should always have ample time to consider new directions, especially when these strategic decisions impact historical relationships.  Major changes should only come when faced with current major opportunities and challenges.  Our network of churches across Tennessee are at an historical moment in time when both fresh opportunities and new challenges are presenting themselves.

The decision was made by our Convention at its annual meeting in 2010, and affirmed again in 2012, to move allocation of Cooperative Program receipts to equal distribution (50/50) between the work of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and what we all accomplish through our Southern Baptist Convention ministries.  History, strategy, and priority meet at this juncture.  A recommendation on how we move to 50/50 was placed squarely in the hands of our Transition Team by the approval of last year’s convention.  But they, like all of us, should not be motivated by a mere move to 50/50.  We are bigger than that.  We must be motivated by the priority of impacting lostness locally and globally.  The 50/50 distribution of Cooperative Program funding was the historical intent when we began this “missions mutual fund” in 1925.  But a key component in the historical aspect was the anticipation that churches would send 10% through the Cooperative Program channel.  For many years, both equal distribution and churches giving an average above 10% was a reality.  And during that time, mission boards, compassion ministries, and educational institutions were greatly funded with urgency and generosity.  But over the last few decades, the average CP gift has dropped from above 10% to 5.5% from our churches.  As we impact lostness locally and globally, a move to 50/50 must occur and we must reverse this downward trend of average CP giving from churches.  It can be done; it must be done.  It will not be accomplished overnight.  It took us two generations to get where we are today.  But we must start somewhere, and we must start now.  The Tennessee Baptist Convention has made progress toward 50/50 over the last 17 years.  In 1996, the CP distribution was at 64.27% TBC, and 35.73% SBC distribution.  If our 2013/2014 ministry budget is approved, we will take another step toward equal distribution that will place us at 58.75% TBC and 41.25% SBC.

The strategy is not motivated by history, but priority.  History teaches us well.  Our strategy, to meet today’s opportunities and challenges, must serve us well.  Mission resource’s allocation must be based upon present Great Commission priorities.  We will continue to move toward 50/50, and the goal is to be there by 2018/2019 as adopted by our Convention meeting last year in Bartlett.  I’m fully supportive of this great goal.  So, let’s move ahead, impact lostness, and teach our people once again what it means to cooperative together with generous hearts in accomplishing Great Commission work.

Now you might ask what my Mom has to do with it.  Really, not much.  I just knew that my Mom would be reading this and I wanted her to know I was thinking about her.  Hi, Mom!

It is a real joy to be on this journey with Tennessee Baptists…and Mom.

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