By Ronnie Floyd
NASHVILLE (BP) — Jesus died for every person in every town, city, state, and nation. His call to us is to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations. None of us can do this alone, and no church can do this alone. Jesus’ call to each of us is overwhelming, but it is not impossible. How will we accomplish what Jesus is calling us to do?
This is the question Southern Baptist leaders were asking almost 100 years ago when they formulated the Cooperative Program. Since 1925, this strategic plan of action has been and still is the financial fuel that funds the advancement of the Gospel we do together regionally, statewide, nationally, and globally.
Giving through the Cooperative Program is the most effective way to accomplish the unfinished task given to us by Jesus. For the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Program is our unified strategy to be part of finishing the task of reaching the world for Jesus Christ.
How does the Cooperative Program work?
It starts with the church member. Loving God with all we are and all we have been given leads us to obey God with a grateful heart. We do this by giving to God at least the first tenth of all He has given to us through our local church where we worship Him weekly. This is commonly called a tithe and represents the first 10 percent of income (Leviticus 27:30, Malachi 3:10). We have a new FREE resource to help churches teach these principles. Go here to get your free digital download of TEN PERCENT: A Call to Biblical Stewardship.
The church takes the next step. Every year, churches consider how much of their undesignated gifts will be committed to reaching people regionally, statewide, nationally and globally through their Cooperative Program contributions.
As they prioritize the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, they also consider elevating and accelerating monies to accomplishing this Great Commission mission and ministries we do together as Southern Baptist churches. This financial amount is usually a percentage of their undesignated gifts or an amount they determine together. Their Cooperative Program contribution is usually forwarded to the appropriate state convention.
Each state convention determines the amount of these gifts received from the churches in their state to use for their own Great Commission ministries within their state, and then to forward on to the Great Commission mission and ministries across North America and the world. Each year in each respective state convention annual meeting, the messengers from the churches in the convention vote on the state convention budget, which determines the allocation of the funds between the state missions and North American and global missions.
The percentage for state and local missions stays with the state convention budget. The percentage for North American and global missions is forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee to allocate to the national entities that carry out our Great Commission ministries across North America and the globe.
The strategic vision is for each state convention to forward one-half of its budget to the Great Commission work we do across North America and the world.
The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee prepares and presents a Cooperative Program Allocation Budget at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting each year. In this annual convention, the messengers from the churches vote on the allocation of funds to national SBC entities.
As these gifts are received by the SBC Executive Committee, they are sent to our SBC entities for the purposes of sending and supporting missionaries, training pastors, missionaries, and other ministry leaders for our churches; addressing social, moral, and ethical concerns relating to our faith and families; and meeting needs through compassion ministries in times of crises and disasters.
What are good reasons to give through the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention?
It is about the mission, not the money. The Cooperative Program is built upon mission, not money, as the end goal. Cooperating together will help each of us to give Good News to the whole world.
It is about unifying us and not dividing us. The Cooperative Program keeps the convictional call before our churches to take the Gospel to every person in every town, city, state, and nation.
It is more about working together than working alone. Working within your own church may get you somewhere faster, but it will never take you further in accomplishing the Great Commission. We can do more together than we ever can alone. We need each other to finish this great task together.
Giving through the Cooperative Program helps each church to reach the world for Jesus Christ.
Whatever the cost, whatever the risk, this worldwide mission must be our priority.
Now is the time to lead.
Ronnie Floyd is president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.