By Baptist Press Staff
EDITOR’S NOTE: Sunday, April 10, is Cooperative Program Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.
NASHVILLE (BP) — Southern Baptist churches are advancing the Gospel state by state — and around the world — through their commitment to the Cooperative Program.
From national and international mission boards to church-hosted evangelism training — amid a multitude of mission and ministry initiatives — the Cooperative Program plays a key role in introducing people near and far to Jesus.
Among those with a grassroots vantage point to see the broad scope of Cooperative Program outreach are many state convention leaders, to whom Baptist Press turned for their insights.
Here are seven leaders’ reflections. Baptist Press will relay additional leaders’ input as they are received.
Executive Director | Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
The sun never sets on the work of the Cooperative Program, thus never setting on the ministries of churches that give through the CP. Oklahoma churches are making Kingdom differences. For example, together these churches fund Baptist Collegiate Ministry on 36 campuses across Oklahoma, reaching and developing the next generation for Kingdom impact. Or consider that each summer, 52,000-55,000 students and sponsors attend Falls Creek during eight weeks of camp; each year, 2,200-2,500 of those students come to faith in Christ with more than 1,000 committing to missions and ministry. Leaders of the IMB have said repeatedly that there is no place on earth where more missionaries have been called. Without question, Oklahoma Baptists can do more together than we can ever do alone. The Cooperative Program is Oklahoma Baptists united to carry the Gospel from the front door of the church to the ends of the earth.
Executive Director | New England Baptist Convention
In an era when declining baptisms is a matter of great concern among Southern Baptists, New England Baptists rejoice in how God is using the Cooperative Program to help propel evangelistic efforts across our region. Because of the faithful Cooperative Program giving of 350 churches across the six New England states, Bruce James, BCNE evangelism director, and Tim Buehner, BCNE mission mobilization director, have trained more than 1,800 people in the last year in a wide variety of evangelism efforts. James said, “We decided that instead of having one big annual evangelism conference, we would have a lot of smaller conferences that focused on various people groups around New England.” The BCNE helped sponsor, and fund, 24 small conferences that have had as few as 20 and as many as 150 people present. Though this approach may not feature a flashy big-name speaker, in the end, more people were trained and mobilized to do evangelism, which has resulted in the third year in a row of record baptisms in the BCNE. The Cooperative Program also helps us provide direct grants to churches for specific evangelistic projects. Without the Cooperative Program, many of our smaller churches would lack the training and resources needed to reach their communities the way they feel led to.
Executive Director | Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
Pastor Glen Pearce shared at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Cooperative Luncheon on Feb. 29th the simple axiom that you can’t out-give God. When Glen became pastor of First Baptist Church in Iowa Park, Texas, the church was not meeting their bills. Cooperative Program was budgeted but other items received priority. At times staff was unable to get their salary checks. Even with this gloomy situation, pastor and people rallied to take care of God’s work. They decided to send the CP investment even when the income didn’t look promising. Several years later the church has returned to financial stability and renewed mission vision. Pastor Glen and the church rejoice in the provisions from God. It will take this type of sacrificial generosity from churches but we can reach our states and the nations through the CP.
Executive Director | Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention
The Cooperative Program is the lifeline for Southern Baptist Great Commission advance. In Wyoming people are our greatest resource and the Cooperative Program provides ministry resources to churches through the Wyoming convention staff, both in the office and in the field. The Cooperative Program also provides materials and other resources for churches. Those people and material resources are possible through the support of churches and their members through CP giving. CP supports church planting, church evangelism projects, leadership development and support of churches in transition. As an example, for two years at the National High School Finals Rodeo, CP supported over 100 volunteers sharing the Gospel nearly 4,000 times, with over 275 reported salvation decisions. Twelve church plants and 16 seed congregations are another example of CP support. It’s true — together we can accomplish more than any of us can do on our own. Cooperation is key to Kingdom advance.
Executive Director | Montana Southern Baptist Convention
The amazing part of the Cooperative Program for us in Montana is found in fact that many of the churches in our Montana convention are small, remote and feel rather isolated from the heartbeat of Southern Baptist life. Yet, by giving to missions through CP, even the smallest, most isolated church in Montana touches people living in the most isolated and remote places of the planet. This is an incredible reality and sets us apart from other mission-minded evangelicals. This fact of CP has resonated very strongly with Montana Baptists.
Executive Director | South Carolina Baptist Convention
Since its inception in 1925, the Cooperative Program has provided a consistent channel of both financial and strategic opportunities for Southern Baptists to impact the world with the Gospel. Our culture is marked more and more by change, and in many ways, chaos. Kingdom partnership through the Cooperative Program brings stability into our ever-changing world. Here in South Carolina, the Cooperative Program allows churches to do more together than any one of them could ever do alone. The genius is that regardless of the size, style or setting, every church can be a part of getting the Gospel to every person, beginning at home and stretching across the globe. I personally thank God for the many ways the Cooperative Program has impacted my own life and ministry and pray that future generations of Southern Baptist ministers and leaders will see the value added by heartily supporting the Cooperative Program. While we know God never changes, the world does, and the Cooperative Program is a stabilizing ministry factor in today’s chaotic world.
Executive Director | Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists
Every once in a while, a people of God stumble across something that proves to be an act of genius. In 1925 our Southern Baptist forefathers instituted a mission funding process called the Cooperative Program. Soon after its inception, the United States was plunged into the Great Depression. CP survived and thrived. CP proved itself as a consistent way to finance missions through all kinds of conflicts from World War II to Afghanistan. CP has survived the ups and downs of the economy, denominational strife and denominational restructuring. I am convinced that it is still the best way any group of believes has come upon to fund the Great Commission efforts of God’s people.
Compiled by Art Toalston, senior editor of Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.