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Two Open Letters to Georgia Baptists Concerning the Cooperative Program

 

7.1 million lost in Georgia and 90% lost within the perimeter of Atlanta

Jack Lee

During this past Georgia Baptist Convention it was reported that the average Cooperative Program giving of SBC churches was five percent. I realize this downward trend of CP giving and baptisms must be reversed if a lost world is to be reached for Jesus Christ. CP giving is not just about dollars and cents, but about lost souls and showing them our Savior. When churches cooperate together in giving financially our light for Jesus will go farther and reach more lost souls.

I personally believe that Cooperative Program giving is reciprocal. CP giving provides a return in the local congregation in several ways. Mission giving prompts Christians to be excited about giving.

It is a joy for me to remind our church that CP money translates to changed lives and souls saved. Excited giving means increased giving! I was thinking, what would happen if Georgia Baptist churches examined with prayer their CP giving and by faith raised it 1%? For a church with a $200,000 budget, a 1% increase would only be $167 a month. When you break it down like that, increasing is attainable.

Our church, just as all other Georgia Baptist churches, benefits from the support and encouragement of Georgia Baptist Convention missionaries and staff made possible by CP giving. Their work is invaluable in assisting churches.

Cooperative Program giving becomes a backdrop that provides a focus for all other mission endeavors, a focus that looks across the continents of lostness back to the darkness in our own state. Our church family desires to be mission-minded, giving 20% to the Cooperative Program.

Being “mission-minded” also means sharing Jesus in our wonderful state of Georgia. Recently I was personally challenged by Dr. J. Robert White, who shared that the “Mission Georgia” offering should be emphasized just as much as the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong offerings. The numbers speak for themselves: 7.1 million lost in Georgia and 90% lost within the perimeter of Atlanta.

When I revealed these sad and sobering numbers to our church, our Mission Georgia offering doubled. I will prayerfully challenge our church to set our Georgia Missions offering goal the same as our Lottie Moon offering in 2014.

My prayer would be that Georgia Baptist churches would step out on faith, raise their CP and Georgia Missions offerings, and work together to see more laborers in the fields and lost souls saved in our state and around the world (Acts1:8)!

 

Jack Lee, pastor
Altamaha Baptist Church
Jesup

 


 

The challenges we face

Gary W. Black

In the coming days we are all likely to enjoy a rendition or two of the carol “Do you hear what I hear?” The melody is pleasant, the lyrics simple. The questions asked throughout the song are penetrating. Do you hear? Do you see? Do you know? One question is missing. Have you listened?

I hope to enjoy the carol more in 2013 because I am now sporting a newly prescribed pair of hearing aids. My wife convinced me that my auditory-challenged condition demanded attention, and the doctor agreed. When fitted properly with batteries the devices opened a seemingly new world to me this past summer. I can now hear a mockingbird’s chirp, soft-spoken presenters at meetings, and yes, the unwrapping of a peppermint across the aisle just prior to the sermon. Hearing is a wonderful gift from God.

Now that my hearing has improved, the Lord recently asked, “What about your listening?” Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I am convinced that many of our challenges lie not in the area of hearing, but in listening.

Attributed to John Keith are the ageless words of “How Firm a Foundation,” penned in 1787 to stir our souls as we consider the hearing-versus-listening debate. “What more can he say than to you he hath said; to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled.”

I think Brother Keith had some friends who had heard but not listened.

Perhaps you have heard that we have challenges with the funding of our Cooperative Program. Have we all listened? Will we listen and act now? On 54 college campuses in our state the Cooperative Program is helping fund the fight for the next generation by ministering to students. The Cooperative Program funds efforts in domestic and international mission fields to reach lost, spiritually-bankrupt people across the globe.

My new friend, our missionary in Tokyo, Japan, Richard Oue and his family, are on the front line providing the only hope that heals – the forgiveness of the Lord Jesus – to a friendly but incredibly lost people. Through the Georgia Mission Offering, missionaries will travel all over our state to add value to church ministries, provide training, and focus on church revitalization and spiritual renewal in 2014.

Supporting the Cooperative Program is how all of us through these ministries and countless others can help fulfill the Great Commission. At least that is what I have heard. But have I listened? Have you listened?

Listening requires intentional interaction with the one delivering the message. I listened this morning to another 250-year-old hymn and God challenged me to listen to His call to support the Cooperative Program, the Georgia Mission Offering, and my friends like Richard.

The words to the hymn are: “Oh to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be.” Let us all be “doers of the Word and not hearers only.” Georgia Baptists, listen! God’s call to us to support the Cooperative Program has never been more profound.

 

Gary W. Black, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture
Member, Maysville Baptist Church