Being relevant is a hot topic in our world today.
In everything we do, if we have not determined whether or not we are relevant in our context, we are potentially wasting resources. Without intentional steps in our day, we can find ourselves walking through life missing the opportunities and actions that God designs for us. At the heart of the Gospel is the reality that without a Christ-centered life, we are irrelevant to the Kingdom work that surrounds us.
As Southern Baptists, we have often been characterized as those who believe the integrity of the Bible, who are evangelical in doctrine and practice, who are missional in ministry focus and who are cooperative in pursuing the Great Commission. Although there are many other distinctives, these four are fully represented in the relevance of CP.
1. The Integrity of the Bible
From our earliest years, Baptists have fought for the truth of the Scriptures, against the tide of traditions and cultural influences that swayed others. Influenced by the Reformation, Baptists held a deep belief in upholding the Bible above every other religious guide. This belief led to the changing of long-held practices, which even earned the early Baptists their name.
This affirmation of the Bible has brought about the strength of our six Southern Baptist seminaries, fueled in a large part by CP. Every corner of our nation and our globe is being impacted by the work of these institutions of Biblical integrity. For our churches trusting in the training and experience gained by our seminary students leading into the coming decades, I know CP is relevant.
2. Evangelical in Doctrine and Practice
We also hold a deep belief in the truth that without the sharing of the Gospel, lives cannot be transformed by God’s power. In our earliest years, Baptists strived to verbally communicate the Gospel message, in spite of the persecution, suffering and rejection they faced. They understood that as the early church of Acts was sent out to boldly proclaim the amazing message of salvation in Jesus Christ, so were they sent.
And that understanding still drives Baptists of today. Statistics show that we have fallen behind over the past years, but a wave of resurgence is growing.
Our North American Mission Board is again raising the banner of evangelism in every church and through every believer that we may see our communities revived and reached for Christ. Through CP giving, resources are being poured into local churches and made available for equipping more than ever to share the message of Jesus Christ. For those who are hearing the Gospel in a fresh new approach that moves them to saving faith, I know CP is relevant.
3. Missional in Ministry Focus
One of the core principles of CP was to fuel mission endeavors around the globe. With the establishment of CP, financial support flowed to every region of Southern Baptist work, locally and globally, without individual petitioning that took valuable time and energy away from the mission field. CP also enabled every church to partner together in the sustaining of the mission, regardless of size or financial ability.
Our International Mission Board is committed to reaching the world through sending and empowering missionaries from all walks of life. Through technology, the globe appears to be more accessible, but without the dedication of our IMB field personnel, and support staffs, the hope of reaching the world for Christ could not be attained.
The missionaries could not adequately serve if they were responsible to financially resource themselves. The churches could not comprehend the work without the resources to share the reports and testimonies directly from personnel around the globe. The vision of limitless people engaging the field could not be possible without the flow of CP. For those in places not yet penetrated by the Gospel message, I know CP is relevant.
4. Cooperative in Pursuing the Great Commission
As a Southern Baptist, cooperation was taught to me from an early age. I recall the times when missionaries would speak to our RA’s group, our association was hosting an outreach or when our church was assisted by other churches to meet a need. I never knew our church to be alone in the pursuit of the Great Commission.
Now, as a state director, it is my joy to connect churches with amazing resources, such as missionaries, equipping opportunities, evangelism materials and much more! I am most blessed when I can connect churches in the harmony and unity found in working together, on mission in Christ, through CP. And I know that CP is relevant.
Sometimes, we can find ourselves under a burden to move ahead in ministry, forgetting that we have each other to help bear the load. We may think that our CP giving is only feeding a machine of sorts, that takes our money and grinds along without our understanding of its impact. Many thoughts can shift our minds to think that giving to the Cooperative Program is futile and outdated, wondering if there is a better way to follow the mission.
Remember that these thoughts will always exist—but, CP has proven to be an incredible connection of ministry, fueled by churches of all sizes, empowered by Christ to do the things that we cannot do in ourselves.
Is CP relevant for today’s Southern Baptist ministries? The lost world demands a ‘yes.’