We have a compelling story. Who we are and what we’re about as Southern Baptists is in no way superior than any other faithful evangelical denomination or network, but I believe we are more effective than any other faithful evangelical denomination or network. The reason that I believe this is true is the Cooperative Program.
As Southern Baptists, we have always been a Great Commission network of churches. We began this way. In 1845, our denomination was organized for the purpose of “directing the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort, for the propagation of the gospel.(1)
What began with a few small churches has grown to over 45,000 churches! And to this day, we are still directing the financial energy of the whole denomination for the propagation of the gospel from your city to the end of the earth!
Recently, I returned to my alma mater to preach to the students at Boyce College on the campus of Southern Seminary. That night, I watched a chapel full of college students training for ministry declare the faithfulness of God through song. I was reminded of my own journey since making that decision to move to Boyce.
I was twenty years old and two years into community college in Knoxville, TN, when I heard about Boyce. I had been called to ministry at seventeen but wasn’t sure what that looked like. All I knew was I wanted to preach the gospel to students. So, when I heard that Boyce was the training spot for student pastors at this time, I knew I wanted to go, but I wasn’t sure what that meant for me and my family financially.
After researching tuition, I came to realize an incredible financial benefit; half of my tuition would be paid for by Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program. This was incredible to a young man who desired to be trained in ministry but didn’t have the funds to pull the trigger. With this news and my parents’ blessing, I endeavored on a journey that would change my life.
The decision to move from Knoxville to Louisville completely changed the trajectory of my life. That one decision has walked me all the way to where I am today. Since then, I have completed two other degrees from Southern Seminary. Affordable theological education is one of the greatest investments the churches in the SBC make through the CP.
Right now, Boyce College is training over 1,000 college students for global gospel ministry. That doesn’t take into account the colleges that sit on the campuses of our other seminaries. That also doesn’t even consider the amount of seminary students we have currently training for ministry. We have approximately 21,000 students enrolled in our six seminaries. What an amazing effort towards the future propagation of the gospel!
Interestingly, while I was back at Boyce preaching this month, a friend of mine who serves with the International Mission Board in North Africa was in town. We sat down over dinner and caught up. He and his wife have four beautiful children and have been serving on the field for four years.
He shared with me about their struggles learning the language, learning the culture, making friends, and doing ministry. He also shared with me stories of the gospel bearing fruit in the lives of the locals. There were stories of Muslim men and women confessing Christ as Lord and the immediate familial rejections they would find themselves in. Stories of radical life change and immediate desires to grow through reading God’s Word. Stories that made all of their struggles worth it. [Read more…] about One Sacred Effort: Propagating the Gospel Together