Monday, December 19, 2011

Money Monday: BGCO's OBU Subsidy Dwarfs All Oklahoma BCM Budgets Combined

This is a theme to which we'll return again and again on this blog, but it must be repeated: The BGCO spends more money on OBU than on collegiate ministries at all the other Oklahoma colleges combined.  The 2011 BGCO financial plan allotted more than $2.5 million to OBU (a whopping 17.6% of its Oklahoma Cooperative Program allocation).  In contrast, the BGCO spends barely $2 million on collegiate ministries at 32 other colleges in the state.

What does this mean?  If the BGCO relinquished its control of OBU and spent its CP dollars more efficiently, it could more than double the amount it spends on collegiate ministries in Oklahoma.  And it could still expand the size of its OBU BCM.  Even after all that, there would still be hundreds of thousands of CP dollars left to allocate to vital ministry areas.

There are 207,000 students enrolled in Oklahoma colleges and universities, 205,000 of whom are not at OBU.  Yet BGCO elites so value owning and controlling OBU that they are willing to spend more money on fewer than 1% of Oklahoma college students than on the remaining 99% combined.  What does that tell us about ministry and mission priorities?  It tells us a few things:
  • BGCO spending on OBU is clearly about controlling an institution, not about ministry
  • Oklahoma Baptist messengers, laypeople, clergy, and BCM directors/staff/supporters should question this shocking disparity
  • The BGCO could easily double its investment in more than 200,000 young, mostly unsaved people from whom tomorrow's clergy, lay leaders, and missionaries will emerge.  Instead, it spends lavishly on an institution populated almost exclusively by people who are already saved and baptized, many of whom will go on to non-SBC seminaries, make their homes and careers in other states, and bring the BGCO little return on its investment.
  • Baptist state conventions that have relinquished control over Baptist colleges have been able to dramatically expand the scope of their collegiate ministries.
  • We already know that Baptist youth who go to state schools actually emerge more doctrinally orthodox than Baptist youth who attend Baptist colleges.  So, clearly BCM programs are better at keeping Baptists within the fold than OBU (see Table 5.2).
So, Oklahoma Baptists and BCM leaders, do you value your ministry enough to fight for the funds you could so obviously use to better effect than the BGCO's $2.5 million institutional welfare check to OBU?  Or are you satisfied with the BGCO's explanation -- that the prestige of controlling an institution is more important than expanding your ministry?  Please consider joining the Oklahoma Baptists who have already joined our effort.


  1. Although I see the logic of your argument, I can't help but think that if I were a BGCO representative I would easily defend the choice to give OBU the most money because that's where the most Oklahoma Baptists are at college. It is fair to say that if evangelizing is the purpose of all BCM's, then, surely, OBU is a fool's investment. But I'm not sure that anyone would agree that evangelizing is the only or even main task of these institutions. If instead, the idea is to support Baptists while they are students, then it makes great sense to send most of that money to OBU. Just a thought.

  2. Point taken. But:
    -OBU is NOT where the most Oklahoma Baptists are at college. I think a very liberal estimate would be that 1,000 Oklahoma Baptists are at college at OBU. And 50x that amount are at colleges such as OU, OSU, UCO, and the several dozen smaller state and private colleges where the BGCO has a BCM presence (200,000 students, let's say 1/4 of whom are Baptist, and I think this is an extremely conservative estimate). So whether evangelism is a primary purpose or not, the Cooperative Program funds are distributed in such a way that $2.5M is spent to nurture 1,000 OBU students and $2M is spent to nurture the other 50,000 Baptist college students. So, even if the idea is to support Baptists while they are students, the BGCO's OBU subsidy is straight institutional welfare of the worst kind.
    -While evangelism is certainly not the only goal of BCM, it is surely a primary one. If your experience with BCM was at OBU, then you won't see the evangelism angle because everyone was already saved (or let's say 99%). But at a state school, you might see a much more explicit focus on converting the heathen damned.
    -The other main purpose of BCM, as I understand it, is to nurture Baptist students in their faith. I'm sure a lot of supposed experts say that if you can keep them in church-based activities and away from frat houses and book learnin', they will stay orthodox/faithful. But we already know (from the study I cited above) that Baptist colleges actually make students more moderate and less fundamentalist than their state school peers. This is because in state schools, all they have to do is go to BCM or Young Life or Campus Crusade or whatever and keep believing the same literal Bible they were taught in Sunday school. But at religious schools, even very conservative ones like OBU, the mere fact that they have the space and encouragement to think through these issues (plus, significantly, faculty who model a thinking faith rather than a naive one) leads students to become LESS orthodox and fundamentalist.

    Just a different nuance, I guess.


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