LAS COLINAS—Joshua Crutchfield, vice president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, affirmed the SBTC’s commitment to the Cooperative Program (CP) of the Southern Baptist Convention to 490 guests filling the grand ballroom of the Irving Convention Center for the CP luncheon held Feb. 27 in conjunction with the 2018 Empower evangelism conference.
“For the past 10 years, the SBTC has sent 55 percent of all undesignated CP gifts to the SBC, with 45 percent retained for missional ministry in Texas,” Crutchfield said.
As the SBTC celebrates its 20th year, Crutchfield encouraged Texas congregations to be “all in,” supporting the Cooperative Program, challenging churches to hold a special offering April 8, CP Sunday.
Kenneth Priest, SBTC director of convention strategies, introduced a video on the CP’s “nuts and bolts,” featuring local, national and international ministries made possible through CP giving. Priest described videos, bulletin inserts, even speakers available to promote the Cooperative Program, accessible at http://whatiscp.com/. He also highlighted SBTC stewardship resources, including the SBTC Foundation.
Michael Criner, pastor of First Baptist Bellville, discussed the “big picture” of CP giving as a means of fulfilling the Great Commission, tracing the CP from its beginnings in 1925. On average for every church, CP giving in 1925 was 11 percent; today it is between 5 and 6 percent, Criner said.
“Do not give to the Cooperative Program. Give through the Cooperative Program,” Criner urged, adding, “Get in the game.”
Steve Cochran of Round Rock’s Crosswalk Church detailed the history of his church plant which grew to 250 in five years.
“I am here to give glory to God and gratitude to you for the SBTC CP dollars [making] it possible for us to do what we’ve done,” Cochran said.
“CP has been our lifeblood. I am not talking about all that we have received. I am talking about God’s blessing as we have participated to give through the Cooperative Program,” he said, confirming that Crosswalk has donated 8 percent of its receipts to the CP annually from the start.
“When the Bible says give, we are going to give,” Cochran said, relating examples of extraordinary blessings Crosswalk has received.
Mike Dean of Fort Worth’s Travis Avenue Baptist Church, called his church’s CP giving a “serious and sacrificial” practice. Dean cited the example of a predecessor, C.E. Matthews, who halted CP giving only to come down with a life-threatening tooth infection shortly after. Matthews, later director of the Home Mission Board, believed his illness occurred because he had counseled the church to cut missions giving. He called for a reversal of that decision.
“Since then, I have been very, very leery of touching the Cooperative Program,” Dean said as the crowd laughed.
CP giving reflects “our purpose to be a balanced Great Commission church,” said Dean, highlighting CP-supported entities and programs: seminaries, church revitalizations, disaster relief and missions efforts.
Nineteenth century missionary William Carey told his friend Andrew Fuller, “I will go down into the pit if you will hold the ropes,” Dean said, adding, “That’s what we get to do as partners in the Cooperative Program.”
“You can’t afford not to give,” Crutchfield reminded guests in closing, promoting April 8 as CP Sunday.