Just a quick post to point out this encouraging video from NAMB president Dr. Kevin Ezell regarding the impact of SBTS. In every agency across the SBC, we are better together!
As part of the Executive Committee’s Young Leader Initiative, the EC has engaged four pastors from around the country as catalysts to help connect with young pastors and pass the torch of the Cooperative Program to the next generation. The four CP Catalysts are:
Northeast Region: Curtis Cook, Hope Fellowship Church, Cambridge, MA
Midwest Region: Chad Keck, FBC Kettering, OH
West Region: Nathan Millican, Foothills Baptist Church, Phoenix, AZ
South Region: Matt Crawford, FBC Sebring, FL
South Region CP Catalyst Matt Crawford introduces the CP Catalyst program in the following video. Thanks for watching!
Evansville Baptist Church will always hold a special place in my life. I have never been a member of Evansville, but that congregation had a significant impact on my understanding of the Cooperative Program. Evansville Baptist is in a very small community near Dyersburg in the northwest part of Tennessee. When I was a teenager who had been called to ministry, that church allowed me the privilege of leading my first Sunday morning worship service.
On the morning that I spoke at Evansville, fourteen people attended the service. When you consider that nine of those people were family and friends that had come because I was preaching, the math quickly tells you that only five church members were in attendance that day. I know that the definition of “small church” can be somewhat fluid, but five members in attendance certainly qualifies as small. We had a great time of worship that morning, including two people responding to the invitation. And while I always appreciate a service where forty percent of the membership responds to the invitation, something else in the service has remained with me for over twenty years.
In the middle of the service, one of the laymen at the church walked onto the platform to lead us through the time of the offering. As he encouraged the congregation to give, he said, “A part of what you give today will be used to tell people all over the world about Jesus.” I remember sitting on the front pew of that small, Baptist church and realizing that what he said was absolutely true. By themselves, those five church members might not have been able to do much in supporting missionaries all over the world. However, when thousands of churches like Evansville work together, they are part of the largest missionary sending partnership in the history of the world.
And it is not just that CP giving supports missionaries that we may never meet during our time on earth; CP also provides opportunities for us to go and join in the work being done around the world. My grandfather, Rex Edwards, was a store manager and truck driver who ended up at another small church around Dyersburg called Southside Baptist Church. He served as a deacon and as the Church Training Director at that church for several decades. He was also the first person I knew that participated in a short-term international mission trip.
As a partnership of local churches in the Dyer Baptist Association, my grandfather and several other men traveled to the Philippines to work with local pastors to evangelize their communities. When he returned, he brought gifts to each of his four grandchildren. My gift was a brightly colored Jeepney toy (a replica of the most popular form of travel in the Philippines). As he told me about the Jeepney, he talked about the trips he took around the village and the people with whom he shared the gospel. And while I was thankful for the gift that he gave to me, I was more impressed by the gift he left in the Philippines.
When my grandmother picked him up from the airport, she noticed that he had flown back from the Philippines without shoes. When she asked him what happened to his shoes, he simply told her that a Philippine pastor who had been walking miles every day to share the gospel did not own a pair of shoes. So, he gave him the shoes off his feet. That story was shared over and over again in our family. I thought about the story again many years later as I was putting a new pair of shoes on the feet of a little Brazilian boy who had also never owned a pair of shoes. And as I placed those shoes on his feet, I was sharing the gospel with his mom in the chair next to him. Both of those trips were made possible because of churches that were partnering with the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention.
That is the most beautiful part of being a Southern Baptist to me – the collective power of the Cooperative Program to impact the world. Every member of a church that gives to CP is participating in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. In my life as a Southern Baptist, I have been a member of churches with membership from a couple of hundred to thousands. And in each of those churches, my offering has supported the work of missionaries in some of the toughest areas of the world. Through partnership with CP, I have also been able to participate in trips from Kalamazoo, Michigan, to Los Angeles, CA, to the cities of Brazil. And for those reasons and many, many more, I will be forever grateful for the Cooperative Program.
If you aren’t listening to the excellent “SBC This Week” podcast, you should check it out! This podcast is hosted by Jonathan Howe and Amy Carter Whitfield, and it is a great way to keep up with what is going on all around the SBC.
This past Friday’s episode featured an interview with our Cooperative Program Catalyst for the South Region, Matt Crawford. The conversation focuses on young leadership in the SBC and their involvement in the Cooperative Program, including a discussion on the survey for young leaders hosted at TalkCP.com.
Here’s the web link for the episode: http://www.sbcthisweek.com/statements-from-erlc-and-dr-moore-signal-unity/
It’s also available in podcast apps if you search for the podcast “SBC This Week.”
Carlos is a Hispanic artist who is well known throughout Phoenix for his large murals along ally-ways and high-rise buildings. He is considered, by both the powerful and the powerless, a bridge builder in the gentrified city, where rapid changes are taking place among diverse cultures and peoples. James is an African-American entrepreneur, community developer, and friend to many in downtown Phoenix. James considers himself Agnostic, and shares a common distaste and distrust for religious institutions due to the scorched earth of religious experience of his past. Davida is a single mother who recently went through a difficult season of life. She lost her job and struggled to make ends meet, thus, facing the prospect of homelessness, an experience that was too familiar in her not so distant past.
A few years ago, Karla and I had no idea where it was that the Lord was asking us to go. We were willing to go anywhere. Over a series of events and years of discipleship and mentoring within our local church, God began to stir a passion for making disciples among dense and diverse people groups in the urban city center. However, we still had no idea specifically where God was asking us to go. And then it happened.
Monty Patton, a Send City Missionary, along with Bruce Ford, a Director of Missions for the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, visited Raleigh, NC and met with my pastor. They expressed their heart for Phoenix and inquired if our local church had any church planters who might consider planting in Phoenix or come alongside a church in effort to revitalize. It is amazing how the Lord works through Kingdom collaboration! We arranged to meet with those brothers prior to their departure back to Phoenix. Our hearts were compelled to go to Phoenix, to make disciples in downtown Phoenix, and plant a church.
A few weeks ago, I was commuting to a New Testament class that was being held at an extension campus in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I commuted with my professor and friend, Dr. David Johnson, Missionary Executive for the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention. He said, “We can do what we do because every dollar comes from a Baptist.” He is right. [Read more…] about Benefits of the Cooperative Program – KINGDOM IMPACT
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