NEWS | New International Mission Board President David Platt answered media questions by phone shortly after IMB trustees elected him on Wednesday. Platt addressed concerns about his church’s giving through the Cooperative Program and the importance of local churches to the work of the IMB.
On cooperation in the SBC
“There are scores of non-traditional churches that are totally disengaged from the SBC and the Cooperative Program and even from the IMB,” Platt said. “…I don’t think the way to mobilize them is to tell them they ought to give or make them feel guilty for not giving but to show them that this is worth giving to.”
Platt added that cooperation within the Southern Baptist family is “the wisest, most effective means for working together with other churches to see the Gospel spread.”
On local churches and the IMB
Local churches are central to the IMB’s work, Platt said, noting that congregations must do more than merely provide funds for overseas ministry.
There is a common misperception that “the local church just exists to send money and send missionaries and then the IMB kind of takes care of it,” Platt said. “We’ve really got to make sure that paradigm is turned upside down so that the local church is the agent that sends missionaries and shepherds missionaries, and the IMB comes alongside local churches to do that.”
On the Cooperative Program
Platt was asked whether he will urge churches to give to missions through the Cooperative Program—Southern Baptists’ unified program of supporting missions and ministries—or encourage designated giving directly to the IMB. In response, he acknowledged a constant need to evaluate and improve CP but said it should continue to be “the primary economic engine that fuels” Southern Baptists’ cooperative ministry endeavors.
“The last thing the SBC needs is a do-it-alone IMB that’s trying to in any way undercut the Cooperative Program,” Platt said.
Platt was asked specifically about the CP giving of the congregation he pastors in Birmingham, Ala., The Church at Brook Hills. The church has contributed to the SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget and, according to an IMB news release, has contributed directly to the IMB. Gifts sent directly to the Executive Committee or an SBC entity are defined as designated gifts, not CP giving.
In 2013, The Church at Brook Hills gave $100,000 to the SBC CP Allocation Budget through the Executive Committee; $25,000 to the Cooperative Program; $12,500 to the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home; $15,000 to the Birmingham Baptist Association; $300,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions; and $325,000 to the International Mission Board in special designated gifts, for a total of $777,500, or 8.9 percent of the church’s total receipts for the year, to Alabama Baptist and Southern Baptist causes.
Projections for 2014, according to the IMB report, are: $175,000 through the SBC Executive Committee; $25,000 to the Cooperative Program; $15,000 to the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home; $68,000 to the Birmingham Baptist Association; $300,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions; and $718,000 to the International Mission Board in special designated gifts, for a projected year-end total of $1,301,000, or 13.8 percent of total projected church receipts.
Platt said he does not consider The Church at Brook Hills a “perfect model of giving” and is not holding it up as an example for every church to emulate. However, he said the church was “totally disengaged” from the SBC when he arrived eight years ago and has made “major strides” in cooperation.
It has been a blessing, he said, “over the last eight years, to see how we have made by God’s grace major strides in working with associations [and] conventions in planting churches here in North America, and then through the IMB sending church planting teams overseas.”
As he works with churches, Platt said he will advocate CP as a means rather than an end.
“What I want to trumpet more than anything else is the Great Commission and disciples made here and among the nations,” he said. “That’s what we cooperate together for, right? It’s not just cooperation for the sake of cooperation. We’ve got cooperation with a goal in mind: We want to see God glorified in the church here, God glorified among peoples around the world that haven’t even heard the Gospel.”