To put myself through seminary, like many a financially struggling student, my wife and I had to find odd jobs. The Lord opened the door for me to work at a local jewelry store in the Crabtree Valley Mall for about 30 hours per week. It was there that I really learned to appreciate diamonds. From the time I offered a diamond engagement ring, I had known that a diamond was a pretty stone. But during my tenure as a diamond specialist, I learned that four C’s mark the worth of that little rock: the cut of the stone, the clarity inside, the color it yielded, and the total carat weight.
Like my introduction to the precious nature of diamonds, I have learned that our Southern Baptist Cooperative Program for missional giving also has some theological reflections that dignify its worth. Of course, since 1925 the CP has been an effective way to consolidate missions giving for the convention so that one missions cause isn’t left at a disadvantage. But the CP can also be appreciated for four thoughts that begin with the letter C.
The first C is Community. When Jesus commissioned His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20, he didn’t pick out just a few of them to be missionaries. He called them all. The use of the second person plural in His command to make disciples signified His expectation for them all to be on mission as they would be going. In fact, perhaps a better modern translation of the passage might read, “Go ya’ll therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Kudos to the southern colloquial in helping us understand the plural of you. There is truly joy in being in community both in our going and in our returning to celebrate missions. I personally can testify the humbling elation of meeting other Southern Baptists I’ve never known and thanking them for their Cooperative Program giving that allowed me to be their missionary.
The second C is Commission. Jesus was clear in Matthew 28:19 that every ethnicity was to be reached with the gospel and made into disciples of Christ. Clarifying further in Acts 1:8, His continuation of the discourse right before His ascension affixed four mission fields. For the 120 disciples listening to Jesus, they heard the locations named Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. That commission designated a local field, a regional field, a national field, and international fields. The beauty of the Cooperative Program is that it holistically addresses all fields by allowing our giving to support joint works locally as monies are pooled to strengthen local churches throughout the state. In Georgia, it targets the most unchurched zip codes in each region by supporting joint evangelistic efforts and new church starts. It supports the North American Mission Board’s work across this continent to plant new churches in key cities. It also finances the mission work of international missionaries through our International Mission Board.
Comprehensive is the third C. Just as missions is more than a mere trip, missional giving must support the holistic missional engagement of the world. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus explained that making disciples would entail evangelism resulting in baptisms and discipleship resulting in spiritually mature leaders who follow Jesus’ commands. We rejoice with each report of new baptisms throughout Georgia, America, and around the world. We praise the Lord when we hear of new small groups and new churches planted in places where there were none. And in gratitude when He raises up new ministers and missionaries, we support ministry training in seminaries through our Cooperative Program gifts.
The fourth C is Continuity. The beauty of Jesus’ Great Commission for the church was that He was not leaving them to the work alone, but He promised in Matthew 28:20 that He would personally be with them until the end of the age. This promise based on His complete Authority in verse 18 is guaranteed with His complete Presence in verse 20. The longevity of missions must be fueled by a pipeline of missionaries for the future until He returns to close this age. The supply for missions must be resourced, and the advocacy of missions must be voiced. Our Cooperative Program allows us to do both to ensure a future support system for all of those who will one day be our missionaries.
While some may speak of abandoning missions praying, giving, or going, we should issue yet a greater call for the diamond status of our joint missions efforts. As beautiful as missions can be, it is even more precious when we see our cooperative work theologically reflect a community commissioned and comprehensively supplying the resources with continuity for the future. May our joint missions work be as precious to us as diamonds.
Buck Burch is the state missions catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.