Published September 11, 2008
The Cooperative Program is vital to the success of the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, our six seminaries, and to all the other entities of Southern Baptist life. We have all been blessed by the many ministries supported by and through the Cooperative Program.
I am well aware of the fact we need a spiritual awakening in America. We must place a greater emphasis on evangelism and missions. Our mandate from Christ is before us.
During our first eight months in evangelism/missions, Dianne and I have had the privilege to minister in 42 different churches and ministry settings proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. We understand that as Southern Baptists we must get back to the basics, and that is winning people to Jesus Christ. We know the great task that is before us, and we realize we are privileged people whom the Lord has called and equipped to win the lost.
Yet, that has not deterred us from being Cooperative Program supporters. Instead, we are more determined now than ever before to promote the importance of giving through the Cooperative Program. The need is so great to win our world to Christ.
I desire to see more vocational (full-time) missionaries on the foreign fields and in the homeland. It thrills me when I hear of increased enrollments in the seminaries. Certainly, we all want to witness baptisms reach an all time high. We need the initiative from NAMB to give every person in the United States an opportunity to respond to the salvation story and then be saved. For all of that to happen, we must work together through the Cooperative Program.
The Cooperative Program is the means by which God has blessed Southern Baptists to be effective in evangelism and missions, education and stewardship, and ethics and public affairs. Every Southern Baptist church needs to give its very best to the Cooperative Program. We are not talking about equal giving, but we are encouraging equal sacrifice. That goes for the small church to the mega church.
We do not need to redefine how we count missions giving through the Cooperative Program. I have been told by several men in the Baptist political world there is a need to redefine our giving. I actually heard it from the platform at the national convention during Ted Traylor’s nomination speech of our current president, Johnny Hunt.
Traylor said, “Last year at First Baptist Woodstock, Georgia, they invested $3.3 million dollars to Southern Baptist Convention missions-related causes, through the Cooperative Program at the direct request of the International Mission Board and in partnership with our own North American Mission Board and their state convention there in Georgia.”
The 2007 Annual Church Profile reported FBC Woodstock as giving $393,798 through the Cooperative Program.
If we redefine our giving to the Cooperative Program and begin to count all monies given outside of the Cooperative Program, whether it be designated to the missions boards, seminaries, agencies, or entities, the following will take place in Southern Baptist life:
• Societal giving will be resurrected;
• Called out missionaries will have to come home;
• Seminaries will be closed;
• The Cooperative Program will go bankrupt;
• We will have created an independent Baptist philosophy of ministry.
We are Southern Baptist! Yes, we need a revival. We may need to restructure and refocus on the priorities of our beloved convention. We know we need repentance in our land!
Please, do not try to reinvent the wheel. The redefining of the Cooperative Program giving is divisive, deceptive, and destructive. May the consuming power of the Holy Spirit lead us in the days ahead as we will answer the question in the very near future, The Cooperative Program – To Be or Not To Be?
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