Imagine with me what would happen if each of the 46,125 local churches that comprise the Southern Baptist Convention would give financial support to one cause wrapped around one purpose: presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ globally and making disciples of all the nations. I really want you to think with me for a moment about this. I want you to further imagine what happens when we give financially each month through our world missionary enterprise called the Cooperative Program.
When our 46,000+ churches cooperate to take the gospel to the world, let me tell you a few things we do together. We are:
- Mobilizing 4,810 missionaries internationally that are fully supported by these churches financially; in fact, through the ministries of these missionaries last year, thousands of churches were planted, 114,471 new believers in Christ were baptized, and we are continuing with the strong commitment to finish the task of engaging the final 3,052 people groups who are both unengaged and unreached.
- Planting gospel churches in 32 of the major cities in North America as well as in many underserved regions of North America; in fact, our churches together are committed to plant an average of 1,500 churches annually, believing God that over the next ten years we will see 15,000 new gospel churches planted in North America.
- Mobilizing thousands of volunteers to minister when national disasters come in America; in fact, we comprise the 3rd largest national disaster relief organization in the United States. Additionally, we respond around the world when various crises and disasters occur.
- Equipping 16,000 seminary students through our six seminaries who will serve as local church pastors and staff members, missionaries around the world, and leaders in some realm of Christianity.
- Engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ and speaking to issues in the public square for the protection of religious liberty and human flourishing; in fact, we even have qualified leadership in Washington D.C. speaking for our churches about these issues.
- Ministering through our own states and even close to our own churches through the 42 state conventions of churches and 1,100 regional associations of churches.
- Partnering to make a major difference regionally, across each state, nationally, and internationally; believing that God has called us together to reach the world for Christ.
When our churches give through our Cooperative Program, these are just some of the things we do together.
Churches determine what they give through the Cooperative Program
Each of our churches should pray, seek the Lord, and determine voluntarily on our own how much we should give toward our grand gospel work together. No one forces us or tells us what to give; each church decides on our own. We should reassess what we are doing annually. We should always lead our church to be generous in regards to advancing the gospel globally.
What happens to the money we give through the Cooperative Program?
Each church gives to the Cooperative Program through their respective state conventions. Some of the monies stay in the state for ministries and partnerships they are committed to doing together, and they send the remaining monies to the Southern Baptist Convention’s work nationally and internationally. Each state convention determines the amount of monies they keep inside their state and the monies they give to the Southern Baptist Convention. Then, at the national level, a formula is used that distributes the monies for the work of Southern Baptists both nationally and internationally. Everything that I shared with you that these churches accomplish together is funded through our world missionary enterprise called the Cooperative Program.
You see, what began in 1925, God is still using today. These 46,000+ churches are working together by giving monies through the Cooperative Program, all given for the purpose of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ globally and making disciples of all the nations.
Let me tell you our Cross Church story
Let me share a personal story. Through the course of my ministry life and leadership, I have been very committed to leading my church to reach the world for Christ. However, within the last several years as the Southern Baptist Convention and state conventions really began to increase their commitment toward reaching the world for Christ, my church has increased our financial support through the Cooperative Program. Over the past several years, we have increased our commitment substantially each year. Why?
You see, I determined that it was and is incumbent on me, as a stewardship of the gospel, to lead my church to do all we can to rally together with 46,000+ other churches to finish the task of presenting the gospel globally and making disciples of all the nations. After several years, I became absolutely convinced that we can do more together than we could ever do on our own. So our church’s giving through the Cooperative Program has increased greatly and will continue to do so. In fact, when our church adopts our 2014-2015 Ministry Budget in the next few days, we are making a strong commitment to increasing our gifts significantly again this next year.
Lead your church to give more
Listen friend, from the most rural church to the most influential metropolitan church, from the smallest membership church to the largest membership church, Jesus calls us to do everything we can with all we have to reach the world for Christ. The lostness of our own nation and the entire world continues to increase. People are dying without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Personally and as a local church pastor, we must do all we can with all God has entrusted to us to penetrate the lostness of the world.
This is why we must connect together and partner cooperatively. We can reach more people, send more missionaries, plant more churches, demonstrate more compassion to more people through hunger and relief ministries, and equip more ministers and missionaries when we give more together through the Cooperative Program.
There are churches, conventions, networks and denominations all over the world that stand in amazement at how the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention fund our Great Commission work nationally and globally. They are amazed at what we accomplish together in partnership for the gospel.
Challenge your church
Let me challenge you to lead your church toward a greater commitment to reaching the world for Christ by giving through the Cooperative Program. Additionally, extend another challenge to personally increase their financial support to your church so that your church can do more toward fulfilling the Great Commission by giving more dollars through the Cooperative Program.
Vision for all generations
I have been thinking about the vision God is now creating through the Southern Baptist Convention. I believe this vision is strong and becoming more clear all the time, that it appeals to all generations — from the youngest to the oldest. In other words, it is a cross-generational vision that is emerging through what we are doing. What is it?
- Theologically conservative, committed to biblical fidelity.
- Reaching the unreached peoples internationally.
- Strategically planting Gospel churches nationally.
- Extending compassion through hunger and disaster relief ministries dynamically.
- Engaging the culture, always lifting high the cause of religious liberty globally.
- Cooperatively working to reach the nations regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Pastor, church leaders, and laypeople: if you present these things to any age leader or church, telling them about what God is doing, I believe they will see this vision as being compelling, concise, and clear.
Never forget, this vision is only possible to continue to live and enlarge as the churches of our Southern Baptist Convention give monies generously through the Cooperative Program, all for one main purpose and vision: Reaching the World for Christ. Thank you for what your church is doing right now to God’s glory.
Stay tuned, because next week I will be writing more about this subject.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is currently serving as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 15.7 million members in over 46,000 churches nationwide.
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