The Executive Committee of the SBC wants to hear from young leaders in our convention! We believe that the Cooperative Program is the best large-scale collaborative model for sending the gospel to the nations that the church of Jesus has ever utilized. We all share the calling and opportunity to complete the Great Commission. To that end, we need to hear from you and other young leaders regarding the future of the Cooperative Program. Would you take five minutes and go to the link below to help us out? Thanks!
I live in the shadow of South Mountain in Phoenix, more specifically a suburb of Phoenix called Ahwatukee. Yeah, I know, Phoenix is easier to pronounce! South Mountain happens to be one of the largest municipal parks in the country with over 50 miles of hiking and biking trails. Consequently, I live in a very health-conscious culture. Among hiking and trail riding is the ever-popular sport of cycling; think spandex, helmets and long rides. Okay, maybe don’t think spandex!
In the church where I serve, there are dozens of men and women who cycle. They get up early and often litter the landscape of various roads all throughout the town where I live. In fact, there are signs everywhere indicating lanes specifically for cyclists. Some of these individuals will do rides as long as 100 miles – yes, 100 miles! Actually, most won’t even bother with going on a ride if it’s not at least 25 miles or so. You might be thinking to yourself, “Any moment now he’s going to enlighten me as to how cycling is relevant to the Cooperative Program. This is the TalkCP website, so I’m assuming at some point he’s going to make the connection.” Great thought – here’s my humble attempt.
Though cycling can be an individual sport, I’ve rarely encountered individuals who ride by themselves. Instead, they coordinate rides with other like-minded individuals with similar physicality, experience and equipment. On some occasions when a group of riders get together, some of the skill levels present are divergent enough that two groups of riders will form. One group may be just 2-3 miles per hour faster, which doesn’t sound like much, but on the road cycling mile after mile this makes a big difference. Sometimes there’s a rider in the second group that will think to themselves (rightly or wrongly) that they’d like to make the jump from one group to the next. As they muster the fortitude of will and pedal furiously to reach the second group, something happens: they’re suddenly not only having to exert more energy to make the transition to the next group, but they’ve also removed themselves from the benefits of drafting. What is drafting? Put simply, drafting is a phenomenon that takes place when a group of riders in a shared experience act as a whole, thereby reducing the energy needed to complete a ride. In fact, some cyclists say that drafting rides use up to 30% less energy than solo rides.
My point is a simple one. A cyclist by himself cannot do what a team of cyclists can do together. Being better together is not only a reality for cyclists, but it is also true for the cooperation and collaboration of churches all across North America. The parallel is a simple one, isn’t it? Imagine your church attempting to fully fund a missionary in Central Asia to reach Muslims. The financial burden would be great, and the burden would be compounded as you think through the pervasive lostness in Central Asia. Think through the financial responsibility and burden of sending young man after young man off to plant a church and embracing the role of a dad or mom where you “own” all of the expenses, rather than an uncle or aunt who stops by their niece or nephew’s dorm room to take them to a meal. But imagine the joy and impact of a myriad of men and women rallying together to equip, resource and fund a couple to go to Central Asia. [Read more…] about Better Together!
Despite being raised in Baptist churches most of my life, the North American Mission Board and Cooperative Program were foreign organizations to me. Before I became a church planter’s wife, I had very little working knowledge of what it was or what purpose it served. Today, my understanding of the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program has deepened. Instead of seeing it as a distant, corporate entity, I recognize it as a friend and resource, equipped and eager to maximize efforts in aiding church planters and their families to reach people for the glory of God.
Bryson and I have been married for a little over 5 years. I knew when he proposed that his passion was to reach as many people as possible with the gospel of Jesus. It was mine too, so we made a good match. Soon after our wedding, we moved from our home state of Texas to Arizona. Six months after we moved, God led us to a small Southern Baptist church plant in North Phoenix called Valley Life Church. We quickly recognized the mighty work God was doing through this church to reach the community with the gospel of Jesus and were eager to jump on board. The church’s vision is to “Make disciples and plant churches.” It was a matter of time before Bryson’s desire to plant was married to a real opportunity. When my husband started his paid internship with NAMB, we were in an unusually challenging season of life. Bryson worked long, tiresome hours as a car salesmen to make ends meet and our time with him at home was minimal. Our family had expanded to include a feisty little boy and I was expecting baby number two. I knew that if all went according to plan, and he was able to plant a church in 3 years time, our family would be well supported by this organization which poured so much genuine love and care into its church planters.
That was two and half years ago, and in the course of time God has used NAMB to encourage, equip, and enable our family to begin this journey of church planting. Today my husband has planted the 4th Valley Life Church, and we’re so excited to help build a legacy of making disciples and planting churches. Friends and family often ask me about our church plant and how I feel about Bryson being a pastor. Sometimes their excitement for us is coupled with a sympathetic caveat about how hard it will be on the family since pastors are often “on call”.
For our family though, it is the opposite. [Read more…] about Thankful for the Cooperative Program
I do not usually thank God for the Cooperative Program when I pray over my meals, but there are some people who do.
The International Mission Board (IMB) is the hallmark of the Cooperative Program. In 2012, IMB field personnel shared the message of Jesus with 1.7 million people and started 6,200 churches. Today we have almost 4,000 international missionaries deployed throughout the world. The size and strength of our missionary force is compelling and possibly even unmatched. For years, I have been thankful to be a Southern Baptist in large measure because of the Cooperative Program. Over the past two years however, something changed for me as I experienced the grand vision and strategy of the Cooperative Program in a personal way.
My recent experience with the Cooperative Program reminded me of how John described his personal experience with Jesus when he wrote, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us — that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” 1 John 1:1-4
Similar to how John heard, saw, and touched Jesus — I recently have heard, seen and touched the Cooperative Program.
About two years ago, our student pastor, *Thomas Morgan, and his family of six answered God’s call to go to the ends of the earth. As they pursued their calling, the IMB partnered with our church to send the *Morgans to go on mission. They started intensive language training as soon as they hit the ground and began to acclimate to a new culture and way of life. Last summer, I along with two others from my church visited the *Morgans. We arrived at the airport, hugged the *Morgans, jumped into their car, rode to their home, ate in their kitchen, felt the cool air from their fans, and slept in one of their beds. As I laid down that night, it dawned on me that I had just hugged CP missionaries, rode in a CP car, ate in a CP kitchen, felt the cool air from CP fans, and was sleeping in a CP bed. The Cooperative Program was coming alive to me in a very personal way. I was filled with gratitude for the tens of thousands of Southern Baptist churches that give generously to the Cooperative Program as I saw how the *Morgans were sustained through CP giving. As the week went on, I was stunned to hear *Thomas speak in the local language so well after just six months of intensive language training! He successfully led us through the city, navigated the open air markets and ordered our meals. As I listened to him, I knew that I was hearing the CP with my ears. [Read more…] about Thankful for the Cooperative Program
When I talk to people in Salt Lake City, Utah about serving in full-time ministry, they are often perplexed and want to know more because most religious clergy in Utah serve as volunteers.
They are equally as bewildered when I tell them I serve full-time with the Southern Baptist Convention because many don’t even know what the Southern Baptist Convention is. Needless to say, the people around whom I live have no idea what the Cooperative Program (CP) is, what it does, who is cooperating, or why it is relevant. Sometimes I wonder the same about our own Southern Baptist brothers and sisters and our understanding of the CP.
Put simply, the Cooperative Program consists of thousands of autonomous, like-minded congregations around the world cooperating together for the sake of missions and ministry. It has often been referred to as the greatest cooperating effort of autonomous congregations in the history of Christianity. I couldn’t agree with that sentiment more. However, since the CP was founded in 1925, many may wonder if it is still relevant to us today. Maybe a better way to fund missions and ministry is out there waiting to be discovered. Or, maybe, just maybe, even though it is nearly 100 years old, the CP is still relevant for today and is the best way to fund our joint efforts of missions and ministry. I stand, unashamedly, and say the CP is absolutely relevant and is, without a doubt, bringing together autonomous congregations who may not be working together otherwise. Is, however, the CP still relevant?
First, without the Cooperative Program and the gifts sent to our area in Salt Lake City, we would not be able to fund the overwhelming need we have for missions and missionaries. Here in Utah, our population of 3+ million people is 98% non-Christian, meaning there are fewer than 65,000 Christians in the entire state. When taking into account the percentage of those who are Southern Baptist, the number drops dramatically.
As of 2010, there are approximately 13,000 Southern Baptists in Utah, meaning we make up 0.4% of the population. There is no way 13,000 people can provide missions funds to reach their 2.9+ million neighbors. That would basically mean every individual Southern Baptist in Utah would be solely responsible for the budget of a 230 person church. Only cooperative efforts of all Southern Baptists around the world allow us in Utah to reach all of our neighbors. Without these efforts, our missions efforts in Utah would not be possible. That is directly relevant, temporally and eternally, to the persons with whom we share the gospel.
Second, as a former professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, a percentage of my salary was provided by the Cooperative Program. I am thankful Southern Baptists see the need to invest in quality education and provide for biblically sound educators to train the next generation of pastors, missionaries, church staff members, and professors. Without the CP, Southern could not have afforded to provide for my entire salary and I would have needed to raise additional funds or be bi-vocational. Being full-time at Southern allowed me to stay in my office after class to focus on research, writing, and investing in students as they dropped by my office for advice, prayer, and counsel. Though the classroom was extremely important, I found that much more teaching came in my office or over coffee than in the classroom. The CP provided that opportunity for all faculty to care for students in this way. That is directly relevant to the training of the next generation of ministers.
[Read more…] about The Relevance of the Cooperative Program
In the fifth grade, my math teacher conveyed an idea that I’ve never been able to forget. Her goal was to draw a parallel between God and the concept of infinity, so she attempted to explain how deep numbers can go.
She posed this question: “Take something small, like seconds—how do we measure 60 seconds?” We all responded unanimously, “One minute!”
She smiled, then continued, almost as if jabbing at our intellect, “Good. How do we measure a billion seconds?” The room became uncomfortably silent. That wasn’t fair. We were in fifth grade! She started laughing, then continued, “Right now, it’s the year 2002. A billion seconds ago, it was 1970.”
My mind was blown. Ever since that day, I’ve never been able to look at the word “billion” the same. That word holds much greater weight than it did before.
Consider two facts…
- There are billions of people who do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
- Billions of those people live outside of our neighborhood, city, state, and country.
Please let that sink in for a moment.
These facts beg an obvious question for me. How is it possible for me, along with my brothers and sisters of the faith, to reach so many lost souls?
Prior to my junior year of high school, I did not know of a single entity capable of achieving such a daunting task. I understood the commission given to believers in Matthew 28, but I could not pragmatically comprehend an effective way to reach the billions of lost souls with the Good News. At that time, the truth of Luke 10:2 truly began to resonate—“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”
Realistically, there is just no way my local church can accomplish this missional command alone. Furthermore, even the largest local church in America cannot accomplish this missional command alone. So how do we, as a church, accomplish the task of reaching so many people? Historically, as I learned through my local church, our answer to this has been the Cooperative Program, which comprises autonomous churches cooperating together to advance the Gospel.
With this in mind, I must ask, is the Cooperative Program the best answer to this problem? Is it still relevant today? Is it still worth sending money to an entity that may not even be needed anymore?
As long as there are lost souls in remote parts of the earth, new believers who need to be discipled, and brothers and sisters within our churches who have been called to ministry, there is a need for the Cooperative Program. In the words of notable Southwestern Seminary alumnus Frank Page, “I have yet to see any model that can accomplish what Southern Baptists have done through the Cooperative Program.” So unless someone has another model or method that far exceeds what we have been able to do collectively through the Cooperative Program, I will continue being a loud advocate.
Ministry, at its very core, is man taking on a small role in the grand play orchestrated by God. Likewise, the Cooperative Program allows Southern Baptists an opportunity to play that small role. As Southern Baptists, we are made distinct by the way we go about fulfilling the Great Commission and Jesus’ command in Acts 1:8. If we are not building toward making disciples and advancing the Gospel, then we are desperately missing the mark. Therefore, everything we do as believers must point at actively building toward these two commands. The Cooperative Program effectively helps us do just that—which points even further to its relevance. [Read more…] about Is the Cooperative Program Needed Anymore?
I believe the Cooperative Program is still relevant for the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. Each church must determine how they will fund gospel work across America and throughout the world. Personally, I have determined the Cooperative Program is the best way to accomplish this grand task. Why do I believe the Cooperative Program is still relevant?
It is still relevant because it is: BIBLICAL
Each local church must wrestle with how they will fulfill Acts 1:8 through their church. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
I believe the Cooperative Program is built upon a biblical conviction. This conviction each church should have is that God desires us to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.
When my church gives through the Cooperative Program, we are doing so because of our deep biblical conviction that we must fulfill Acts 1:8 in as many ways as possible.
It is still relevant because it is: MISSIONAL
This biblical conviction drives our passion to be missional as a church. I believe the Cooperative Program is relevant because it is missional. It is missional in that it permits our church to fulfill a compelling vision.
The compelling missional vision of Jesus Christ is for us to be His witnesses regionally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. The Cooperative Program has been built upon, is built upon, and must be built upon in the future with this compelling missional vision driving all we do as a convention of churches.
It is relevant because it is: COOPERATION
The Cooperative Program exists to serve the churches in helping them accomplish their God-given responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission; it does not exist for the churches to serve it. Due to this, the spirit of cooperation is so important in funding our work together.
It is cooperation that elevates your church and its work around the world. Competition may be cool in the world, but not among churches. It is cooperation that repudiates competition. For example, a societal method of financial support for our gospel work together would fuel competition between our state, national, and international work.
The Cooperative Program eliminates competition between our entities as it provides a balanced approach for support. [Read more…] about THE RELEVANCE OF THE COOPERATIVE PROGRAM
Several years ago while working with a group of SBC affiliated churches outside the continental United States, I learned a very important lesson. This association of churches had recently admitted a new congregation into their association and on the Sunday following a week long conference I was invited to preach to this new congregation. My wife and I arrived early and discovered that this very small congregation was particularly excited that morning. I joined in some of the preservice conversations and discovered the source of their excitement. The members had learned about a fantastic new idea that was a revolutionary concept to them. There was something called “The Cooperative Program” and they were going to be able to help send missionaries all around the world.
Having grown up in Baptist life, I did not remember a time when there was not a Cooperative Program. I took it for granted. To me it was not a revolutionary idea but rather something that was always there, quietly doing its work without requiring a lot of attention. On that Sunday morning I was reminded that the Cooperative Program absolutely was something I should always be excited about. No matter how small or large. Every congregation could be a part of work all around the world.
Several years later I find myself with the privilege of serving as a Global Missions Pastor with responsibilities for missions across our country and the world. My perspective has matured from just knowing I should be excited about how the Cooperative Program helps every church send missionaries around the world to a place where I depend upon the resources the Cooperative Program provides to facilitate my work.
As we participate in planting churches here in the United States, I do not have to vet potential church planters. When a potential church planter sits down at my desk, I have the resources of the North American Mission Board at my disposal. NAMB assists with vetting, training, counseling and placing these church planters while allowing me to focus on helping these new church plants with finances and personnel. Imagine the resources I would have to expend to do the work NAMB does for me. The Cooperative Program helps fund NAMB. NAMB does for me the tasks they can do better than me. I can focus on applying the talents and gifts of my congregation to the work of planting churches. Ultimately, the Cooperative Program provides efficiency and excellence that would be difficult to obtain otherwise.
Internationally, the Cooperative Program helps fund our International Mission Board which partners with my local church in our efforts to serve around the world. Today’s ever changing geo political situations necessitate the making of wise decisions about how to apply our physical and personal resources. Our excellent IMB personnel are a critical resource in making those sort of decisions.
The traditional role of CP funding to facilitate missionaries on the field is critical to Englewood Baptist Church’s strategy. From our perspective, being able to connect our mission efforts through our SBC personnel both in the United States and around the world allows us to skip over the vetting process that would be necessary without our mission agencies. We trust that if the SBC sending agencies have approved these persons we can work with them with confidence.
We also have the knowledge that our work is not something that is “one and done.” We are part of an overall strategy for a particular place or people group that will have ongoing work taking place even when we are not present.
Having CP funded personnel on the field makes our work more effective. We work in many locations and it would be difficult for us to master all the cultural norms that would make us most effective without the training and guidance provided by our field personnel.
BAPTIST PRESS – October 5, 2016
NASHVILLE (BP) — The Southern Baptist Convention ended its fiscal year $9.23 million over its 2015–2016 budgeted goal and $6.57 million over the previous year’s CP Allocation Budget gifts, according to Frank S. Page, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee.
The SBC received $195,730,508.04 in Cooperative Program Allocation gifts for the year. This amount is $6,570,276.63, or 3.47 percent, more than it received during the last fiscal year, and is $9,230,508.04, or 4.95 percent, more than its budgeted goal of $186.5 million.
“Our Southern Baptist churches have responded powerfully to the call for missions support and ministry support through the Cooperative Program,” Page said.
“I would say two factors are present here — sacrifice and strategic decisions,” he noted. “We thank God for the sacrifice of thousands of churches who truly believe we can collaborate together and do more for the Gospel than we can do alone. This sacrificial giving will minister on the mission field, in theological education and other areas stronger than ever before.
“We are also thankful for the strategic decisions of many of our state conventions who are forwarding more and more to the national level,” Page said in written comments to Baptist Press. “We have just finished five years of increase [from the states], only the third period of time in our history when national CP forwarded from the states has reached or exceeded 38.75 percent. We are thankful for our state partners and thankful for the strategic decisions that many have made.”
In designated giving, the fiscal year’s total of $204,671,725.92 is 4.95 percent above the previous year’s $195,013,412.58. Of this designated amount, $204,135,367.21 was disbursed to IMB and NAMB through the seasonal missions offerings and Global Hunger Relief. The balance was designated for other SBC entities or the SBC Operating Budget. Combined designated gifts to SBC causes and CP Allocation Budget gifts showed a 4.22 percent increase over the same time last year.
The convention-adopted budgeted amount was distributed as follows: 50.41 percent to international missions through the International Mission Board, 22.79 percent to North American missions through the North American Mission Board, 22.16 percent to theological education, 2.99 percent to the SBC operating budget and 1.65 percent to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Of the amount received that was over the budgeted goal, IMB received a full 51 percent of the $9.23 million overage, while the SBC operating budget received only 2.4 percent of the overage. Other SBC entities received the same percentage of the overage as the allocation formula in the 2015–2016 adopted CP Allocation Budget.
“We believe the Acts 1:8 strategy includes local, state, as well as national and international ministries, and we are thankful for our state partners!” Page added.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow. While we give thanks for the strategic decisions and the sacrifice of God’s people, the heart of the issue is always stewardship,” he said. “We need to continue to call upon our people to be diligent in fulfilling the biblical tithe and going beyond so that we can truly see our world touched for the Gospel.”
September gifts through CP totaled $16,569,490.69, while designated gifts were $4,681,908.00. Monies include receipts from individuals, churches, state conventions and fellowships for distribution according to the 2015–2016 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget and to SBC causes as stipulated in designated gifts.
The CP is Southern Baptists channel of giving, begun in 1925, through which a local church can contribute to the ministries of its state/regional convention and the missions and ministries of the SBC with a single monthly or weekly contribution.
Month-to-month swings in the amount received through the Executive Committee reflect a number of factors, including the timing of when the state conventions forward the national portion of Cooperative Program contributions to the Executive Committee, the day of the month churches forward their CP contributions to their state conventions, the number of Sundays in a given month, and the percentage of CP contributions forwarded to the SBC by the state conventions after shared ministry expenses are deducted.
CP allocation budget receipts received by the Executive Committee are reported monthly to the executives of the entities of the convention, to the state convention offices, to the state Baptist papers and are posted online at www.cpmissions.net/CPReports.