Georgia Baptists give nearly $36M through Cooperative Program in 2023 to keep missionaries on the field


SUWANEE, Ga. — Georgia Baptist churches gave nearly $36 million last year to support state, national and international missions through the Cooperative Program, a Southern Baptist initiative that’s been described as the greatest evangelistic initiative of the modern church age.

"This is just another example of how God is moving in the hearts of Georgia Baptists to dedicate their lives and resources to reach the world for Christ," said W. Thomas Hammond Jr., executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

David Melber, chief operating officer for the state Mission Board, said financial contributions from the state’s 3,400 churches exceeded budget projections by some $2.5 million in 2023.

“This level of generosity suggests Georgia Baptists are enthused by the significant increases in salvation decisions and baptisms we’re seeing in the state and internationally,” Melber said. “They also realize Christianity is under attack, and they want to ensure that those on the frontlines have the resources they need.”

In a financial report Tuesday, Melber said the Cooperative Program finished 2023 at just more than $34.8 million in unrestricted contributions and $1.15 million in restricted funding. 

Melber has projected a 4.2% increase in overall budgeted funding for the Cooperative Program, which, for nearly 100 years, has been the primary means through which Georgia Baptists have supported missionaries and ministries at the state, national and international levels. That would be the lagest projected increase in more than 25 years.

“God is just moving,” said Tim Oliver, the pastor at Lakeside Baptist Church in Milledgeville who serves as chairman of the Georgia Baptist Administration Committee. “We look at the world and we see what’s going on in the Middle East with Israel and Hamas, and we look around our country and we see the sociopolitical unrest, all that’s going on at the border and this contentious presidential primary, and yet, when we step back and look, we see the hand of God at work.”

Georgia Baptists are projected to give more than $60 million overall for missions this year. That includes Cooperative Program funds, plus financial gifts from Georgia churches to the Lottie Moon offering for international missions and the Annie Armstrong offering for North American missions.

“What we’re seeing is evidence of Georgia Baptists’ commitment to sharing the gospel with everyone, everywhere,” Melber said. “We’ve seen a continual drift away from Christianity, even in the Bible Belt, and we’re bent on reclaiming the lost ground.”

Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow called the Cooperative Program giving “further evidence that we love to work together for King Jesus.”

“What I think keeps us giving is what we do together — evangelism, church planting, missions,” said Saefkow, pastor at Flat Creek Baptist Church in Fayetteville. “We continue to prove we can accomplish a whole lot more together.”

Oliver said Georgia Baptists have rallied behind Hammond and the Mission Board staff's vision for reaching the state, nation and world with the gospel.

"There seems to be a renewed enthusiasm in the hearts and lives of our people," he said.