Here’s an article I was honored to have published in the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions section of “The Alabama Baptist” this past week. Alabama is not the largest state convention, nor are we the richest state convention. However, we lead all states in both total Cooperative Program giving and per capita Cooperative Program giving. In contrast to the growing popularity of many other missions giving paradigms, the Cooperative Program is a tried and true avenue for supporting the Great Commission. May we continue to do missions right!
In 1988, when Kentucky Fried Chicken said, “We do chicken right,” who could argue? They were not trash talking. They were speaking the truth in love – with generous amounts of grease and sodium thrown in as well.
One may reasonably wonder what it is that we as Southern Baptists “do right.” It is NOT congregational clapping. In 1980, the Go-Go’s recorded “We Got the Beat,” but they clearly never bothered giving it to any of the Southern Baptist congregations where I have ever been privileged to worship and serve!
It is NOT bungee jumping. We may be among the most risk-averse people on the face of the earth. And it is NOT the ability to stay quiet. I know one Southern Baptist who will strike up a conversation with anything that moves.
But there is ONE THING that we as Southern Baptists most definitely “do right.” We do missions right!
In 1925, the Cooperative Program was a stroke of organizational genius mixed with good, old-fashioned sense.
It still is today.
When we give through the Cooperative Program, we do it out of the conviction that there is absolutely no other exercise of Christian stewardship that results in a greater promotion of the Great Commission.
Why is the Cooperative Program the right way to do missions?
1. Churches of all sizes are able to participate. While the largest of our churches can afford to send out missionaries all over the world using their own resources, such an undertaking is beyond the reach of the typical Southern Baptist church. However, through the Cooperative Program, we can send them out together.
2. We are able to broaden our Great Commission focus. Yes, we send missionaries to reach North America and the world for Christ, but the Great Commission also mentions “teaching them to observe all things.” This requires seminaries for the training of ministers and state missionaries to equip and assist pastors and staff members in their work.
3. We learn from the experiences of others. I personally rely on the expertise and experience of missionaries with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions several times a year for a variety of purposes: evangelistic tools, administrative advice, stewardship resources, leadership ideas and inspiring stories of excellent work.
Our heritage as Baptists is one of autonomy. Our churches make their own decisions and are free to choose the mission strategies they prefer. But we are at our best when we freely choose to work together and generously support the missions mutual fund that is our Cooperative Program. In doing so, we do missions right!