The overflow crowd crammed into the small room and spilled out into the street. You needed to be early or fast to get a good seat. Neither of those are an option when you can’t walk. Late arrivals are relegated to the farthest reaches of the human sea …and a long way from hope.
That is unless you have friends committed to doing whatever it takes to get you to the Savior’s feet. Jesus sees your faith. He speaks to you. Seconds later, you get up and walk – possibly for the first time ever – through the astonished and parted sea.
But that never happens if not for a shared vision brought to fruition by the tangible commitment of four people each grabbing a handle of your stretcher, cooperating for your spiritual benefit.
Of course the story is from Mark 2 where the paralytic man’s friends dig a hole in a roof to lower him to Jesus’ feet. I believe there are billions of people today across Tennessee, North America and around the world just like the paralytic man. They are in need of spiritual healing and are in desperate need of friends who will do whatever it takes to get them to the feet of Jesus.
Southern Baptists must be those types of friends if we are to share our life-altering message of hope. Fortunately, our Baptist forefathers created the Cooperative Program to ensure Southern Baptists could lay hand to the pallet and usher the lost to our Savior. That legacy of cooperation rooted in the doctrine of missions is 90 years old and is still the tie that effectively binds us in our Great Commission cause.
There is, however, a tug across our denomination away from cooperation. I believe the tug is born out of a genuine commitment to spiritual urgency. However, I also believe our well-meaning efforts to focus only on our individual part of the missions effort positions us to eventually pull against each other. The result would be detrimental to our local churches, our denomination and most importantly to the world’s spiritually lost. The proverbial “roof top” will be full of millions who will never make it to Jesus’ feet.
Here’s our reality: By any measure our churches have generally plateaued in growth or are declining. Nothing new there; people have said that for years. We’ve spent a significant amount of time camping in that macro-level conversation. Unfortunately, less time is spent at the micro-level, the church health level, identifying the root of the decline. I believe there are many contributing factors but one that rises to the surface is a failure to teach and embrace our historical Baptist distinctive of missional cooperation exorcised through the Cooperative Program. [Read more…] about Are You Grabbing a Handle of Cooperation?