A Plea For Cooperative Program Support - Part 1

June 2008

While I was on the recent Portugal Mission Trip with the KNCSB Singing Men, I had opportunities to talk with many of the missionaries who are there. One day I got into a conversation with one young missionary about the cost of living in Portugal. It is a rather expensive place to live. We talked about how hard it must be for the International Mission Board to keep pace with the changing value of the Euro. Then, surprisingly to me, the missionary said that one of their worries was the viability of the Cooperative Program (CP). This missionary had heard that CP was in trouble.

Now, let me say first of all, I encouraged this young missionary to have confidence in the Cooperative Program. I don’t believe that it is approaching its demise by any means. However, it disturbed me that one of our missionaries would even consider the possibility.

This month we will elect a new president of our convention. I don’t know who that person will be. I am not writing to support one person over another. I am writing to say that I hope that our new president will bring the same passion and record for supporting the Cooperative Program that Frank Page has brought to our convention.

I recently had the opportunity to share with my church a presentation on the Cooperative Program. I wanted them to understand how vital and central it is to our life as Southern Baptists. I shared with them that the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) exists essentially to allow churches to work together to carry out the Great Commission. I know that we have many agencies and institutions, but the bottom line is this, apart from missions, there would be no reason for the SBC to exist.

Since 1925, the SBC has been funded through the Cooperative Program which has proven to be the most efficient way to fund a mission program. Being Southern Baptist and supporting the Cooperative Program go hand in hand.

You will hear many say that it is more important for a church to fund its own mission endeavors than to participate in the Cooperative Program. They will cite the personal involvement of their people with the mission endeavor. They will cite their ability to be directly involved in the field with the missionary. There is truth in this. However, this is the way that independent Baptists operate.

I pray that God will bless those churches that want to carry on their own mission programs. But I would challenge any church that desires to be Southern Baptist to consider that being Southern Baptists means giving through CP.

Mr. SBC President, whoever you may be, champion the Cooperative Program. In my opinion that is the highest calling of your position. And make sure that your church sets an example for the rest of us to follow in their Cooperative Program giving.

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