Sixth and Final Report of the SBC Funding Study Committee February 19, 2008
Sixth and Final Report of the SBC Funding Study Committee to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention February 19, 2008
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
The SBC Funding Study Committee (FSC) is an ad hoc committee of the Executive Committee (EC), having been charged by action of the full Executive Committee in February 2002 with the task of studying Southern Baptist Convention funding issues. This final report represents the discussions and deliberations of the FSC from June 2007 to the present.
PRESENT COMMITTEE MEMBERS
The present members of the SBC Funding Study Committee and the staff liaisons to the Committee are listed below:
Bill Anderson, chair
1997 – 2005
Christian School Headmaster, Former Pastor
1999 – 2004
1997 – 2006
Bruce Coe (former member)
1995 - 2002
W. Ted Kersh (former member)
1996 - 2003
1997 – 2005
Bank President, retired
1998 – 2004
Editor, Georgia Christian Index, Former Pastor
1997 – 2004
1997 – 2005
1998 – 2006
David Hankins (former EC staff)
1997 – 2004
State Convention Executive
1998 – 2007
State District Judge
Staff Liaisons: Morris Chapman, Bob Rodgers, Sing Oldham (served as Committee member from 2005-07), and August Boto
This report provides a brief summary of the work of the Funding Study Committee and highlights three issues which call for further study - and perhaps action. They are (1) determining the impact of prebaccalaureate and baccalaureate programs in our six seminaries on minister production; (2) finding ways to intentionally and effectively track graduates to facilitate assessing ministry assignment fulfillment; and (3) assessing whether instituting a qualification process to better dispense tuition discounts would be helpful. This is the final report of the Funding Study Committee.
The Committee’s History
During the September 17, 2001, meeting of the Seminaries Workgroup, a motion was made for the workgroup to consider studying the issue of seminary faculty salaries with a view to finding a way to increase them. The workgroup agreed to investigate the matter and deferred any action until its February 19, 2002, meeting. During its February 18-19, 2002, meeting, the Executive Committee adopted the following recommendation:
That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention recommend, in light of the financial challenges to the seminaries, the Executive Committee chairman appoint a committee to study SBC funding issues; and
That the SBC Funding Study Committee report to the Executive Committee in its September 16-17, 2002, meeting.
-- Minutes, SBC Executive Committee February 18-19, 2002, p. 12
The Committee’s origin was rooted in the expressed financial needs of the Convention’s six seminaries, but its assignment by the Executive Committee was to study Convention-wide funding issues. That not withstanding, the FSC diligently examined funding issues related to the SBC’s seminaries, because the Committee is convinced that the future of the Convention depends a great deal on constantly maintaining a healthy and vibrant seminary system. Therefore, and to the extent possible, each recommendation that the Committee made was aimed toward that end within the limits of Convention polity, Convention intent, and sound biblical doctrine.
Presently, a Cooperative Program course is taught at each of our Southern Baptist seminaries. The intent of this course is to improve the training of seminary graduates. Before the course was instituted, it seemed that many graduates were not knowledgeable of the value of the Cooperative Program (CP). This course highlights the strategic role of the CP in funding initiatives that enable every cooperating church, regardless of size, to participate in the fourfold missions assignment of Acts 1:8.
The text for this course is entitled One Sacred Effort, written by Dr. David Hankins, a member of this Committee and previous Vice President of Cooperative Program for the Executive Committee, and Dr. Chad Brand, Associate Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Associate Dean of Biblical and Theological Studies for Boyce College. Additionally, a companion workbook developed by Dr. Brand is now available for use.
The Committee expects that the use of such materials in persistent and intentional Cooperative Program instruction, when taught completely, universally, and uniformly, will reap a harvest of more thorough and widespread Southern Baptist loyalty to giving through the Cooperative Program to take God’s Word to the ends of the earth. The Committee believes that the long-term impact of aggressive promotion of the Cooperative Program by our seminaries will help provide our churches with Cooperative Program advocates throughout the twenty-first century.
The Funding Study Committee recommended to the Executive Committee (approved in June 2007) that the Executive Committee resolve a major issue associated with Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s (GGBTS) ability to grow strategically. The Committee recognized the unique challenges impressed upon Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary as a consequence of its location. The average residential property value exceeds $1,000,000, and any reasonable commute to the Mill Valley campus begins in communities and neighborhoods with similar property values. This fact alone is a significant disincentive for growth and expansion on the Mill Valley campus. Obtaining adequate faculty and student housing is extremely difficult, undermining any meaningful growth strategy. The Committee also understands the impact of the “main campus” cap on funded FTEs, and knows that this cap, as applied to Golden Gate, is inconsistent with a growth strategy that is required to support GGBTS and the large geographical region it now serves. The approved recommendation changes the seminary funding formula, combining both the Mill Valley and Brea campuses into one main campus for the purposes of calculating main campus FTEs, resulting in a cap increase provided by the formula. This action will provide resources to fuel a needed growth strategy for GGBTS.
During the proceedings of the Cooperative Program Subcommittee, February 19, 2007, a final decision on a portion of the CP Allocation Budget (GuideStone Financial Resources’ voluntary permanent relinquishment of its .76% of that budget) was delayed until the subcommittee’s June 11, 2007, meeting pending input from this Committee. The Committee noted that the SBC’s two largest seminaries (SWBTS and SBTS) have significant endowments and are less cash constrained than the three smaller seminaries (SEBTS, GGBTS, and MWBTS). The Committee also noted that NOBTS continues to receive special consideration and protection in the CP Allocation Budget through budget years 2008-2009. Therefore, the Committee viewed the 2007-2008 budget year as an opportune time to specially assist the SBC’s three smaller seminaries. Additionally, the Committee recognized that the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is a vital component of our comprehensive world mission strategy and a worthy beneficiary of a portion of the allocation budget released by GuideStone. The Committee also recognized that the Executive Committee accepted the new ministry assignment of Stewardship in June 2006 without additional financial resources, and that this transformational ministry must be resourced for success. The Executive Committee approved the following action recommended by the Funding Study Committee:
Budget year 2007-2008. A one-time distribution (for this budget year only) will be made to each of the SBC’s three smaller seminaries as follows: $347,710 to SEBTS, $347,710 to GGBTS, and $347,710 to MWBTS. The allocation for ERLC is increased from 1.49% to 1.65% (a .16% increase). This will result in a net increase to ERLC of $320,962 for this budget year. The allocation for the Executive Committee is increased from 3.32% to 3.40% (a .08% increase) for the expressed purpose of providing funds for the Stewardship ministry of the Executive Committee. This results in a net increase of $160,480 for this budget year.
Budget year 2008-2009. ERLC’s allocation will continue at 1.65%, and the Executive Committee’s allocation will continue at 3.40%. The remainder of GuideStones’ historical .76% allocation (.52%) is added to the overall seminary allocation, increasing the seminary allocation from 21.40% to 21.92 %. These percentages should remain in place for the near future.
The Committee felt it appropriate to provide the disposition of all previous recommendations it has made to the Executive Committee, below.
Recommendations from the Funding Study Committee’s Second Report, February 17-18, 2003:
That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Conventioninclude in the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget proposals the provision that the first $250,000 received above 100% of the budget be allocated to the SBC Operating Budget for use in developing programs for enhanced Cooperative Program education among seminary students at the six Southern Baptist Convention seminaries; and
That the SBC Funding Study Committee consult with the seminary presidents and Executive Committee staff to develop a mutually agreeable specific program proposal to be presented for approval to the SBC Executive Committee at its June 16, 2003, meeting.
Disposition: The above recommendations were adopted by the Executive Committee on February 18, 2003. (See 2003 SBCAnnual, page 111, and then included in the 2003-2004 and the 2004-2005 CP allocation budgets by the Convention.)
Recommendations from the Funding Study Committee’s Third Report, September 23, 2003:
That the Executive Committee, in concert with the Great Commission Council, call Southern Baptists to prayer concerning the serious decline in giving and the impact it is already having on our Convention ministries.
That the Task Force on Cooperation appointed by the Executive Directors of the Baptist state conventions and the Great Commission Council be asked to create a strategy to involve the leadership of all entities receiving Cooperative Program funds for the purpose of reaffirming the premises of the Cooperative Program, evaluating the effectiveness of the Cooperative Program, and strengthening Cooperative Program partnerships.
That creating any additional special annual offering be discouraged in favor of making Christian stewardship and the Cooperative Program a top priority in Southern Baptist life over the next several years.
That the SBC Funding Study Committee, in conjunction with the Task Force on Cooperation, enlist and engage pastors across the Convention in creating a pastor-led strategy for reinvigorating stewardship and the Cooperative Program in the churches.
That the seminaries complete, as rapidly as possible, the implementation of the Cooperative Program course which has been funded by the Southern Baptist Convention.
That the SBC Funding Study Committee work with LifeWay Christian Resources to find ways to have an annual emphasis on the denomination/Cooperative Program through the Sunday School and discipleship materials.
That the mission boards work with the Cooperative Program Development Division of the Executive Committee in a joint Cooperative Program/missions education process.
Disposition: The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention received as information the report of the SBC Funding Study Committee and adopted the recommendations therein on September 23, 2003. (See the 2004 SBCAnnual, pages 129-131, and for results see the 2006 SBC Annual report, pages 170-198.)
Recommendations from the Funding Study Committee’s Fourth Report. February 20, 2006:
1. That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention recommend to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, that the Southern Baptist Convention request that the Executive Committee post the Organization Manual on the SBC.net Web site and print it in the Southern Baptist Convention’s Book of Reports and Annual each year, to make as many Southern Baptists as possible aware of each entity’s assignment and to provide a backdrop against which entity reports of progress and accomplishment can be made.
2.That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention recommend to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, that the Southern Baptist Convention request that the Executive Committee take the initiative in collaborating with each entity to develop appropriate metrics which can be reported consistently each year in the Ministry Reports and SBCAnnual beginning no later than 2008, and which measure the value each entity adds to their Cooperative Program allocationin their respective areas of ministry assignment, all with the goal of engendering increased awareness of and trust in the Cooperative Program, and increased contribution through it.
3. That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention recommend to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006,that the Southern Baptist Convention request that the Executive Committee and all SBC entities take every opportunity to explicitly remind all Southern Baptists and appropriate others of the Cooperative Program’s benefits by including motivating references to it noticeably and continually on all regularly issued printed materials, characterizing it as the most efficient way of funding worldwide missions and ministry, and directing readers to the Cooperative Program Web site to learn more about it.
Disposition: The above recommendations were adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention on June 13, 2006. (See the 2006 SBCAnnual, pages 94, 161, 204, and 205.)
Recommendations from the Funding Study Committee’s Fifth Report, June 11, 2007:
1. That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention change the current seminary funding formulato combine Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s northern and southern California campuses into one main campus for the purposes of computing Golden Gate’s main campus Full-time Equivalents in the funding formula beginning in budget year 2010-2011.
2. That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention adopt the Cooperative Program Allocation Budgets for 2007-2008 as reflected by the amounts and percentages shown in the Attachment [to the Fifth Report and as shown on page 3 of this report].
Disposition: The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention adopted the recommendations on June 11, 2007. Recommendation 2 was included in the 2007-2008 Cooperative Program Allocation budget adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention on June 12, 2007. (See 2007 SBCAnnual, page 59.)
This report is the final report of the Funding Study Committee and concludes the business and deliberations of the Committee, subject to the approval of the Executive Committee.
Committee Maintenance and Approval
The Committee serves as an advisory body to the Executive Committee as a whole, and any recommendations or reports, such as those contained in this report and previous reports, must be rendered to, received by, and voted on by the Executive Committee.
FINAL OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
First Observation: The Committee reviewed the percentage of total hours devoted to other than basic and advanced degree programs. (A basic program is at the master’s degree level, and an advanced program is at the doctoral degree level.) The Committee believes most Southern Baptists expect their offerings to be used primarily to fund such graduate level instruction. While the income generated by inclusion of other than basic and advanced degree programs is significant enough to consider it a worthy part of a seminary’s funding stream, the Committee wonders whether the escalation of instructional hours for other than basic and advanced degree programs may over time undermine the priority of producing graduate level ministerial training.
Almost fourteen years ago, the seminary presidents found themselves concerned about the potential for unhealthy competition among the seminaries through unrestrained expansion of undergraduate programs. In the seminary presidents’ 1993 report, The ColoradoConcord, they recommended that the number of allowable undergraduate hours be limited in the seminary funding formula to 70 to limit the proliferation of such programs and attendant competition and conflict. The Committee is less concerned about the issue of competition and conflict among the seminaries than it is about the potential for adverse impact on ministerial production by growth in undergraduate programs.
Beginning in 1986-87, an examination of prebaccalaureate and baccalaureate hours as a percentage of total hours produced by the seminaries with a corresponding look at total Master’s and Doctoral Degree production reveals the following:
Combined Hour Production of All Seminaries
Total Pre B & Bacc Hours
Total Hour Production
Percentage of Pre B and Acc of Total
Total Master’s and Doctoral Degree Graduates
Total Seminary CP Disbursements
The above chart illustrates the Committee’s concern. Had the Committee existed in 1999 and reviewed such statistics then, the issue would have seemed more compelling due to the steady decline in graduate degree production up to that point against a history of undergraduate program expansion during the same period. Since 1999 graduate degree production has begun to increase once again, though perhaps not in direct proportion to that experienced in the undergraduate area.
To further illustrate the point, four of the SBC’s six seminaries produce significantly fewer total hours than the combined 47,959 hours allocated to the production of prebaccalaureate and baccalaureate hours. The significance of this fact is that the Convention is funding the equivalent of a seventh seminary exclusively for prebaccalaureate and baccalaureate programs. The above system-wide review shows that of the total credit hours funded by the formula for the last five years, twenty-five percent (25%) of those hours were undergraduate hours, which may or may not have formed a platform for ministerial graduate degrees.
Therefore, the Committee feels attention should be intentionally directed to determine the impact of undergraduate programs upon graduate degree production figures over the next several years. Additionally, as those production figures are assessed, a simultaneous study should be undertaken to determine how best to direct (or redirect) CP funds to assure a ratio of conferred ministerial graduate degrees to CP funding that is optimal and sustainable.
The Committee is voicing its concern now because we believe that during the next ten years, the potential exists for the growth of prebaccalaureate and baccalaureate hours to cause harm to the optimal and sustainable ratio of graduate degree production by our seminaries, and we believe that in the budget year 2012-13, the Executive Committee should begin to assess this potential harm.
RECOMMENDATION # 1
That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention appoint a special committee beginning in budget year 2012-2013, to study and review graduate degree production by the seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention and the impact of prebaccalaureate and baccalaureate programs upon that production, and make appropriate recommendations to assure a ratio of conferred ministerial graduate degrees to CP dollars is optimal and sustainable.
Second Observation: The Committee recognizes that there are several ongoing processes to strategically evaluate our seminaries, including those required for accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools. One of the Convention’s seminary presidents recently said that every student who graduates from his seminary is expected to be a missionary on the international field or actively supporting the global Great Commission task from North America. The Committee agrees with and applauds that understanding of theological education and its purpose. We pray for God’s continued care of that effort.
There is, however, an apparent reluctance of our seminaries (with one exception) to measure the extent to which seminary graduates are fulfilling that stated purpose of serving in our churches and on the mission field. When the Executive Committee asked the seminary presidents a broad range of questions about employment rates of graduates, the presidents declined to answer, citing reasons such as a violation of Baptist polity, church autonomy, or the privacy act. The Committee understands that some of the questions posed may have ranged beyond the purview of available information, but believes strongly that the four questions listed below are clearly within the scope of information that is useful and reasonable for the SBC to know to what extent expectations are being met. The coherence questions follow:
- What percentage of ministry graduates from the class of [ten years ago] are still in the ministry today?
- What percentage of ministry graduates from the class of [five years ago] are still in the ministry today?
- What percentage of ministry graduates from the class of [last year] went into the ministry?
- How many graduates of your undergraduate class of [last year] enrolled in a basic degree program?
Other colleges and universities routinely report the percentage of graduates hired after graduation or the number of alumni accepted into a particular field of study. With a total number of only about 2,000 graduates per year spread across six alumni offices, the Committee feels that this information is both ascertainable and vital to helping Southern Baptists see and understand how their Cooperative Program dollars are multiplied through effective ministry of the ministers and missionaries trained by our seminaries. In any given year, the seminaries simply need to track the present ministry positions of three graduating classes – from ten years previous, five years previous, and the previous year.
Therefore, in keeping with the Convention’s stated desire that such statistics be collected and presented (see item 160 in the 2007 SBCAnnual), the Committee makes the following recommendation:
That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention specifically request the seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention to conduct a survey of their respective alumni every odd numbered year to determine the following, as well any other pertinent statistics, and report the results as part of their ministry report for that year:
- What percentage of ministry graduates from the class of ten years ago are still in the ministry today?
- What percentage of ministry graduates from the class of five years ago are still in the ministry today?
- What percentage of ministry graduates from last year’s class entered vocational ministry?
- How many graduates of your undergraduate class of 2006 enrolled in a basic degree program?
Third Observation: The Committee believes that the vast majority of Southern Baptists expect that their CP dollars go to support theological and ministerial training of God-called students coming from Southern Baptist churches. Historically, Southern Baptist churches have been those churches in “friendly cooperation with the Convention and sympathetic with its purposes and work,” and who have been “a bona fide contributor to the Convention’s work during the fiscal year preceding” (see SBC Constitution, Article III.1).
The Committee has reviewed numerous examples of churches employing what appears to be token or artificial affiliation with the Convention as a means of securing a Cooperative Program tuition discount for a member of the church. Clearly, some of these churches have no awareness or understanding of who Southern Baptists are or how Southern Baptists operate. For example, the Executive Committee routinely receives letters from established churches with no prior SBC affiliation at any level (associational, state convention, or SBC) with an enclosed check designated as the annual “dues” to be an SBC church. Some churches have enclosed checks designated to a particular seminary where a church member has recently enrolled. Some are so bold as to write a note indicating the accompanying check is given so the church can qualify to receive the Cooperative Program discount given to students from SBC churches. Some letters even indicate that, on occasion, a seminary staff member, usually named, assisted, or advised the church on the above-stated process of minimal affiliation.
Obviously, such actions by a church are questionable at best. More important to this study, however, is the effect of such actions. Tuition discounts inappropriately obtained by such actions have the net effect of diluting potential revenue to one or more of our seminaries and diminishing the reach of CP funds to help underwrite the costs of operating our seminaries for service to ministers called from established SBC churches. The Committee encourages the Council of Seminary Presidents to work with the Executive Committee to develop a policy of granting the CP tuition discount in some manner designed to assure that the relevant church’s affiliation with the SBC is genuine.
That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, in consultation with the Council of Seminary Presidents, develop a plan by which the application of Cooperative Program support through tuition discounts be granted only to students from bona fide SBC-affiliated churches with a proven track record of support for the Cooperative Program and other SBC causes or, in the case of new churches, an expressed understanding of and commitment to the mission and purposes of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Summary and Conclusion
The Funding Study Committee has been committed to helping ensure that our seminaries be on the best financial footing possible to continue to provide outstanding theological education. The Committee believes that continued Cooperative Program funding is the best means of insuring success. Our seminaries are led by principled men with unswerving allegiance to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the full trustworthiness, authority, and inerrancy of His Holy Word. Our seminaries are unexcelled in the provision of low-cost, high-quality theological education and ministerial preparation, steeped in sound doctrine and centered on Biblical authority, and are thus worthy recipients of our full support verbally and financially. It is the prayer of each member of this Committee that the efforts of this Committee will produce tangible, substantial, and long-term benefits for our Convention, for Southern Baptists individually and collectively, and for the cause of Christ around the world.
That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention receive this, the Committee’s final report, and in so doing, declare the assignment of this Committee to have been completed.
On behalf of all former and current Committee members, it has been an honor serving the Executive Committee and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Respectfully submitted, Bill Anderson
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