The Cooperative Program… I know you’re familiar with it. Since 1925, it’s been the centerpiece of Southern Baptist missions and, dare I say, Southern Baptist cooperation period. It seems to me that, in many ways, it’s why our convention even exists as we know it today… it’s a primary source of funding for almost everything Southern Baptist.
Of course, the Cooperative Program’s success depends on every Southern Baptist church. Each one has a critical decision to make… when considering missions, how much should it budget and how much of that budget should be given to the Cooperative Program?
You see, I’ve always leaned toward believing that high CP giving is best, both for missions and for the SBC in general. Clearly, the theory behind the Cooperative Program works… that the SBC can do so much more in terms of missions than what individual local churches can accomplish on their own…. right? And after all, not every church can afford to send missionaries to the ends of the earth… in fact, with small churches being the norm in our convention, most can’t even afford to support a single full-time missionary of any sort. For me, the question has generally been, “why wouldn’t a missions-minded church want to give everything it can to the Cooperative Program?”
But I’ve found it’s more complicated than that in recent years. Some churches take issue with individual state convention allocations, seeing inefficiencies and overlap in missions efforts. Others simply want to allocate missions dollars to efforts that their church members can be a part of… to missionaries who have a name and a face that they can be directly involved in supporting. Others see dysfunction in their state conventions, or even the SBC itself.
It can be a pretty complicated decision.
So that’s the issue I want to examine today… what factors should individual churches consider when setting up their missions giving? Perhaps more directly put, what has your church done and how did they arrive at that decision?
Perhaps we can have some productive dialog to help SBC churches with this tricky issue.