Southern Baptists see huge decline in giving and now conservatives demand forensic audit.

Is Woke church planting responsible for soaring costs?

Cooperative Program giving is in serious decline, according to analysis by conservative Southern Baptist leader Randy Adams. Adams is executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention (Washington and Oregon states). Adams presented a detailed analysis complete with charts showing the SBC’s decline. However, even Adams’ analysis is optimistic. It fails to adjust for inflation. Doing so, shows a 34-percent decline.

Dr. Randy Adams’ analysis is based on these numbers for total CP giving by year:

                Cooperative Program

2005       522,256,617

2006       533,464,682

2007       532,705,542

2008       541,898,661

2009       520,355,537

2010       495,168,022

2011       487,884,065

2012       481,409,006

2013       482,279,059

2014       478,700,850

2015       474,272,984

2016       475,212,293

2017       462,662,332

2018       463,076,368

2019       462,299,010

2019’s CP number is $59,957,607 less than 2005. That’s a decline of 11.4 percent.

This decline is even worse when adjusted for inflation. One dollar in January 2005 buys as much as $1.35 in January 2020 (and that’s before the trillions and trillions of global stimulus created by COVID-19 pandemic work into our system.) Since we have numbers for 2005 and 2019, we’ll use the calculation for those years, which shows a cumulative inflation rate of 30.9%.

So, 2005’s $522,256,617 becomes $683,658,781.02 adjusted for inflation.

Compare $683,658,781 with the current $462,299,010 and you’ll see the real decline.

That’s a decline of over $200 million in inflation adjusted dollars, or roughly 34.6 percent. You can try it for yourself with this calculator.

About 2010, the Southern Baptist Convention insiders began promoting a new church planting and growth strategy. You can get more details in The Causes of Things podcast. However, in short, Ed Stetzer promoted working to expand the SBC into urban centers with appeals to minorities, immigrants, refugees and hip millennials working in the big, expensive cities.

That might have contributed to the ballooning cost per church plant that Dr. Adams research also shows. According to Dr. Adams, “Though NAMB has increased its church planting budget from $23 million to $75 million, total church plants have declined to less than half the number of a decade ago, and NAMB’s cost per church plant has exploded.”

Another cause of the decline could be the growth of non-denominational churches. There are more than a few big churches who style themselves non-denominational but partner with the SBC in church planting. It would be nice to know how many dollars these churches are receiving from the SBC for these “partnerships.”

Are these churches really contributing to the SBC or draining it of resources? Only a forensic audit will tell us.

Also, for generations, Southern Baptists learned about the benefits of Cooperative work. Yet, many in these megachurches who are in the SBC have a disappointing track record of giving to the CP.

And many of these megachurch members are not even aware they are in an SBC church. These churches don’t wear SBC on their sleeve. Is it any shock there are lower levels of CP support among people in the pew?

The SBC failed to teach its members the benefit of cooperative work and now its entities are failing to work cooperatively.

The SBC pursued a Woke church planting strategy for the last decade. All it has to show for it is continued decline.

SBC Elites have failed. Now it is time for an accounting. It must start with a forensic audit to show why church planting costs skyrocketed and what there is to show for these exorbitant expenses.