The fourth component of the report is far narrower in its scope than the previous components and seems to be the only one that proposes direct ministry changes to the Executive Committee. This proposal continues the theme of decentralization that is seen throughout the report, but does so in a much more consistent way. As a general rule, I prefer decentralization because it moves the decision making process closer to the people who implement those decisions.
I am, however, having difficulty pushing past the rhetoric in this component to see what potential impact it will have. I fail to see how a marketing campaign (on any level) will bring the spiritual change necessary for individuals within a local manifestation of the body of Christ to treasure Him above their possessions. There is a fatal theological flaw to a marketing based approach to stewardship, in that it never fails to treat the primary issue as a money problem. The Southern Baptist Convention does not have a money problem. Neither do any of our local churches. Money is just a small symptom.
The problem lies in the fact that we treasure things (including buildings, budgets and baptisms) more than we treasure Christ. The fact that, “the average church member gives only 2.56% of their income away,” says less about stewardship than it does about lordship. Shifting marketing responsibility from the Executive Committee to the State Conventions will do nothing to solve that problem. Neither will, “Preach[ing] a series of messages on biblical stewardship annually.” Banging a topical drum might produce temporary reform, but that temporary reform has the potential to come with the added baggage of psychological (as opposed to spiritual) guilt, manipulation, pride and self-sufficiency. The fact is that God is not needy. He will accomplish more with humbly sacrificed lives that He ever will with pledge cards and stewardship campaigns—whoever promotes them.
The next post will consider the fifth component.