ATLANTA (ABP) – A task force studying the future of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is recommending a new funding plan that moves decisions about how money is spent closer to the local church.
Wrapping up a two-year process that included more than 100 listening sessions, the 2012 Task Force led by Alabama pastor David Hull will bring a working draft report to the CBF Coordinating Council Feb. 23-24. In the meantime, the 25-page report and a series of introductory videos are available on the CBF website.
The task force, appointed in 2010 to assess the Fellowship’s organizational structure on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, recommends replacing an existing 64-member Coordinating Council with a smaller Governing Council of 16 members that would focus narrowly on governance and work closely with the CBF national staff.
Two new councils would focus attention on missions and ministries. The largest, named Ministries Council, would include one representative from each CBF state or region. Non-voting ex-officio members would include coordinators of each state and region, a representative of each partner included in the CBF funding plan and a representative of the CBF consortium of theological schools.
Hull said in the videos that state and regional partners did not exist when the CBF was organized 21 years ago and they should have a place at the table. Structured originally as a representative body for various constituencies, he said, the Coordinating Council has grown to the point that “there are some challenges that come when you have a governing body so large.”
The new funding plan would allow state and regional CBF organizations to determine percentages of funds to be divided among national and state missions and ministries and various partners. Individual churches may support the plan adopted by their state CBF or adjust their giving to better reflect individual spending priorities. Those funding agreements would be shared in the Ministries Council and then passed on to the smaller Governing Council to be used in developing a CBF budget.
Hull said the proposed changes are designed to reduce duplication of effort by CBF staff, partners and local churches. Rather than thinking of CBF as a national resource provider, Hull said the new model envisions a “seamless cooperative community” in which independent and autonomous groups share resources throughout the system.
Hull said permitting churches to designate which ministries to support would allow for better stewardship for churches desiring to focus support in ways that it adds the most value to their own priorities.
“This combines freedom at the point of those who are giving the money, the contributing churches, but it also puts that together with cooperation,” Hull said. “Together we think that will make for strong and generous stewardship.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.