Your reaction to the title might be, “OF COURSE we own the Cooperative Program. What’d you think, that we had sold it to the Methodists?”
Or, perhaps, you might react by saying, “The Cooperative Program is not a THING to be owned. We own the entities. We own the assets. Nobody owns the Cooperative Program.”
But I’m using that word in another sense altogether. When President Obama first entered office, every problem with the economy in every speech that he gave he blamed on the Bush administration. But now, all these years into his presidency, that’s a lot more difficult for him to do. President Obama “owns” the economy now. In other words, to whatever degree a president can actually affect the economy, Obama’s policies have more to do with it than do Bush’s, and he’ll have to take responsibility for what becomes of the economy from this point forward in his administration. He owns it.
In like manner, you and I, fellow Southern Baptists, OWN THE COOPERATIVE PROGRAM. It is what it is in 2014 because of the decisions we made in 2013 about our budgets. It will be whatever it will be in 2015 because of the budgetary decisions that many of us are making right now.
- There is no inexorable hand of statistical trending that will “push” the Cooperative Program one way or another. The charts and graphs are not forces in and of themselves; they are merely reports about the decisions that our churches make every year when they adopt their budgets.
- There is no historical voodoo that gives the Cooperative Program a “shelf life” and makes it obvious or unavoidable that it must outlive its popularity and die.
- There is no generational shibboleth that requires you, based upon the bracketing of your birthdate, to support it or abandon it.
Rather, there is only this simple truth: THE COOPERATIVE PROGRAM WILL BE WHAT WE MAKE OF IT—we…you and me…this year. Our predecessors no longer own the Cooperative program; we do. What will we do with it?
Whatever we do, do not blame the leaders of past generations. Do not blame national leaders or state execs. The Cooperative Program is yours…it’s ours. Use it wisely.