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The Open Door

 

Each year toward the conclusion of the year, I receive a report from Dr. Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. In this report, Dr. Chapman details information regarding the growth of the Cooperative Program and its distribution to the entities of the Southern Baptist Convention. Also as a part of this report, he gives specific information about how the Cooperative Program funds from the Baptist Convention of the State of Georgia were distributed in the preceding year among the entities of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Not only do I believe that it is important for you to see this information, I feel that you should be encouraged by it. In the first letter, Dr. Chapman speaks of the wonderful response of more than 43,000 Southern Baptist churches all across the nation. He gives information both about Cooperative Program receipts and special offerings. In the second letter, Dr. Chapman expresses appreciation for the faithfulness of Georgia Baptists and reports the distribution of Cooperative Program funds from the Georgia Baptist Convention among the Southern Baptist Convention entities.

You may remember that at the annual meeting in November I reported to the Convention that in the preceding year we had received over $72 million in mission gifts from our churches. Of those gifts, more than $38 million was sent on to the Southern Baptist Convention. Fifty-three percent of all mission dollars received from our Georgia Baptist churches are forwarded on to the Southern Baptist Convention.

A recent survey sent out by Dr. Chapman’s office in Nashville to churches throughout the Convention asked if the respondent was pleased with the percentage of the division of Cooperative Program gifts between the state convention and the Southern Baptist Convention. Actually, the decision regarding the division of resources with the Southern Baptist Convention is made in the annual meeting every year as a part of the presentation of the Cooperative Program budget and the Georgia Baptist Executive Committee report. The percentage of the division of the resources is not an arbitrary number. It is actually approved by the Convention in annual session upon the recommendation of our Executive Committee.

This is similar to the way your church takes action on its annual budget. The local church in its autonomy approves the distribution of its resources to various causes including the Cooperative Program. By action of the church, the percentage of the division is determined. Similarly, the Convention, acting as an autonomy body, determines how its Cooperative Program receipts from the churches will be distributed, both in Georgia and beyond Georgia. This approach is consistent with the development of the Cooperative Program from the very beginning in 1925.

You will be pleased to know that the Georgia Baptist Convention continues to lead in dollar gifts distributed to Southern Baptist Convention causes. My personal desire is to see Georgia Baptists not only to continue providing this kind of leadership, but also to exceed anything that we have ever done before by giving more to missions through the Southern Baptist Convention. This will require our greatest commitment and our best effort in support of preaching the Gospel of Christ across the world. To this end, I encourage your church to do more than ever before in supporting missions through the Cooperative Program. I encourage you to increase your Cooperative Program gifts by a percentage amount on an annual basis.

In recent years, numerous Southern Baptist churches have cut back on their support of missions through the Cooperative Program and through this shift of resources to other areas, we have failed to do what we could have done had we been as faithful as we were just a few years ago. In Georgia, if our churches would increase their Cooperative Program dollars by one percent overall, it would make a difference of $7-8 million, which would significantly increase our missions ministry here and across the world. In 2008, I hope you will give serious consideration to increasing your level of support for missions through the Cooperative Program.