Celebrate CP Day: Sunday, April 10

April 10 is Cooperative Program Day in the Southern Baptist Convention. This is an excellent time to share with your congregation about how we work together through combining our financial resources. Let me share some of the personal involvement you have through the Cooperative Program.

Chuy Avila is in Laredo as a church planting coordinator. He is committed to starting new congregations in one of the most unreached cities in Texas. Chuy and his wife left an established ministry and loved ones to take one of the most difficult assignments imaginable. Your prayers and participation are important. Your gifts through the Cooperative Program are vital.

Texas is a multi-cultural mosaic. Vietnamese is the third most spoken language. One hundred thousand East Indians live in Dallas-Fort Worth. Refugees from various parts of Asia resettle here. The SBTC has people group ministers like the Sorrels and Loreys sharing the love of Christ. You are having a part in their work through the Cooperative Program.
Churches like Faith Baptist in Chandler have struggled. They are beginning to see God’s blessings again because of the assistance they are receiving through the SBTC staff. The Ezekiel Project helps scores of churches come back strong to reach their communities with the gospel. The Cooperative Program makes this possible.

Students at Criswell College like Garrett get a portion of their education paid through the SBTC. Garrett is getting on-the-job training through an internship with the convention. Young men and women are ready to contribute in ministry. Your church has a part in every life through the Cooperative Program.

The churches of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention send their Cooperative Program gifts with a desire to see the Kingdom of God advance. Forty-five percent of the SBTC Cooperative Program is invested in Texas. Your SBTC is doing more with less in Texas so others in North America and around the world may hear the name of Jesus.

Fifty-five percent of Cooperative Program dollars go to the Southern Baptist Convention. Five thousand-plus International missionaries are penetrating lostness around the world. Southern Baptist missions have been the envy of other denominations and parachurch organizations for decades. Our funding system of the Cooperative Program has enabled us to place unprecedented numbers of missionaries around the world. They have a safety net most independent missionaries do not have.

The North American Mission Board is going through a complete overhaul. Following the mandate of SBC messengers, the missionary service is being refocused in a different way so Jesus may be made known in our nation and Canada.
Fifteen thousand seminary students receive a quality biblical education at a significantly reduced cost because of the CP. Every church that gives to the Cooperative Program is investing in the lives of God-called servants.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission speaks to Southern Baptists and for Southern Baptists on social, moral and first amendment issues. We desperately need this voice for the life of the unborn and for marriage between a man and woman. Defending freedom to practice our beliefs in the public square is a major assignment funded through the Cooperative Program.

The Executive Committee is the administrative arm of the SBC. It operates on a minimal part of CP contributions.
All of these SBC ministries are a part of the Cooperative Program story. Real people make up those stories.

Recently, some factors have negatively affected cooperative missions and ministry causes. Percentage giving in the local church budget through the Cooperative Program has been in a steady decline for a number of years. The local church decides how much should be forwarded to Southern Baptist causes. Some Texas churches decided to designate their funds either through or around the state convention about 20 years ago. Churches have the right to designate, but it will ultimately damage our ability to accomplish the most for the Kingdom. I ask you to consider the original genius of the Cooperative Program, which is undesignated giving.

Another popular practice is to cut cooperative giving in order to do “hands-on” missions. It is commendable to involve church staff and members in direct missions. Funds should be directed to underwrite these efforts but reducing gifts through the Cooperative Program will have unintended consequences on SBTC-SBC missionaries and ministries. “Hands-on” missions and “hands-on” giving through the CP are complementary, not in competition.

Sadly, history could repeat itself. We could return to the days of the offering du jour. Gifts will go to the most emotionally appealing, the one that appears most in need or the one that has some personal connection with the church. This is a failed system of societal giving. Other Christian groups envy the unified budget plan Southern Baptists have in the CP. Those who don’t have it want it. Some who have it don’t use it.

You have heard how the Cooperative Program can be personalized by the stories at the beginning of my column. These are real, live people who minister because of your gifts through the CP. There are literally thousands of stories that could be told about how the Cooperative Program is a tool that advances the Kingdom of God. No church is so large that it can reach Texas or touch the world by itself. No church is too small to have a part in a great work for God impacting millions of lives.

Soon your church should receive a packet of information about Cooperative Program Day, April 10. I ask you to share with your church how we can Reach Texas and Touch the World together. It is important that the people in the pew understand the Cooperative Program. Years ago someone said that denominational leaders made a “sacred cow” out of the Cooperative Program. It is not a sacred cow but it a “sacred how.” God has used the CP to build a platform like no other for the furtherance of the gospel. Please share with your congregation the most unique networking tool available for carrying out the Great Commission. Tell them the stories of the Cooperative Program. Join with others through the CP in Reaching Texas and Touching the World.

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