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.