From the 2nd Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention:
For the record, I don’t make any money from the Cooperative Program (the 2nd VP position is not a paid position); no one encouraged me to write this post. My church supports the Cooperative Program with 16% of our monthly undesignated receipts. New Salem Baptist Church believes in the Cooperative Program. I do too. You should as well…
As a youngish Southern Baptist pastor–32 years of age–I’m concerned about the waning support of the Cooperative Program in the SBC. I’ve heard young Southern Baptist pastors complain about the Cooperative Program–how money is wasted in the Cooperative Program. Whatever your reasoning may be for not supporting the Cooperative Program, I invite you to reconsider your reasoning. I invite you to come help us reform our ministries and entities according to Scripture, and to sweat and bleed with us until all nations praise His name!
The reality is that we cannot build or support as much as the Cooperative Program supports on our own. If we try to build something equivalent to the Cooperative Program, it will be susceptible to the same sinful waste as any other missions endeavor. The answer is reformation, not exodus. The answer is correcting the waste or whatever the other issues we perceive that keep us from supporting the Cooperative Program. We shouldn’t try to “reinvent the wheel.” Thus, I plead with all pastors, young and not-so-young, to support the Cooperative Program because it’s still the best cooperative missions endeavor in the world… and we can make it even better together…
We should support the Cooperative Program for at least these 4 reasons:
1. The “All nations” Great Commission:
In Matthew 28:19, Christ told His disciples to “make disciples of all nations.” The Cooperative Program “through the International Mission Board (www.imb.org),” supports “approximately 5,624 missionaries who are engaging 655 people groups, of populations greater than 100,000, around the world” (source here). Plus, the International Mission Board has the resources to train these missionaries, place them, take care of their families, etc.
2. The Church Planting Disciple-making Biblical Model:
What did the disciples do in obedience to Christ’s Great Commission command (Matt. 28:18-20)? They started churches throughout the known world. Through supporting the Cooperative Program, “new churches numbering over 1,364 are planted through the efforts of more than 5,304 North American Missionaries.” These “efforts are coordinated through your North American Mission Board (www.namb.net) and individual state conventions” (source here).
“Working together, Southern Baptists saw 855,756 new believers baptized in 2009!” (Source here)
3. The Confessional, Biblical-Training by Top Christian Scholars and Seasoned Pastors:
Through Cooperative Program giving, you support “six Southern Baptist seminaries (Southern, Southeastern, Midwestern, Southwestern, Golden Gate, and New Orleans)” that “educate in excess of 16,000 pastors, missionaries, and future church leaders each year” (source here).
4. The Confessional, Christian and Southern Baptist Worldview Representation in the Market Place of Ideas:
Through cooperative program giving, we support the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). The ERLC “is dedicated to addressing social, moral, and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families and their faith. They also provide print resources that offer scriptural responses to the moral and ethical problems of our culture” (source here).
If you tried to start another missions endeavor similar to the Cooperative Program, could you make it immune from the imperfections you see in the Cooperative Program today? No. As long as imperfect Christians lead these ministries, and the evil one is still looking for people to devour, our best endeavors will be susceptible to sin and error. The answer is constant reformation according to Scripture, not exodus.
Furthermore, how long would it take you to start and sustain a “perfect International Mission Board,” a “perfect North American Mission Board,” six “perfect seminaries,” a “perfect representation on Capitol Hill,” etc? Not only are perfect entities a myth, it would take more than 1 lifetime to start and grow a missions endeavor comparable to the Cooperative Program today (of course, God can work miracles). Thus, instead of trying to “reinvent the wheel” by sending our monies elsewhere, the answer is to reform our entities and ministries according to the Scriptures alone. In other words pastor, if you think you can do a better job than our current leaders and entities, instead of going off on your own to start something new, get involved in the local, state, and national associations and convention(s) to help us reform our ministries and entities! Help us constantly ask and answer the question, “Are we using God’s resources in the best possible way to fulfill His Great Commission for His glory”? Come help us reform our ministries and entities according to Scripture, and sweat and bleed with us until all nations praise His name!
What are your thoughts?