Point of View: The Cooperative Program: God-given and missions driven
by JOHN SULLIVAN
Executive Director-Treasurer

Article Date: May 5, 2014

Dr. Robert Naylor was president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary when I heard him in a message call the 1925 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Memphis, Tennessee, “the convention of destiny.”  

Three things happened during that meeting that captured and catapulted the SBC into the missional denomination it is today:

The Commission on Cooperative Program brought a report that was adopted as a working plan for best accomplishing the Great Commission.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary was accepted by the SBC and trustees were elected. This gave our denomination a seminary in the West, recognizing it as a national institution and the SBC assumed all support for the seminary.

►The adoption of the Baptist Faith and Message in the Memphis meeting allowed Southern Baptists to define themselves without using the Baptist Faith and Message as a litmus test of fellowship. That was a difficult feat for Baptists to do.

So in 1925 the messengers of the SBC “wrestled the bears” of how to do our most effective mission work; how to define ourselves theologically without a creed; and how to financially and emotionally support theological education in an accelerated way.

My belief is that all three of these enormous decisions were God-given and missions-driven. 

In the next few weeks, I hope to personalize the Cooperative Program and demonstrate it as a missions delivery system of quality and significance. And I will use this banner to explain why.

My walk with Cooperative Program has been for a lifetime. It is all I have known and promoted.  It is more than a method—it maximizes our ability to do the Great Commission. I acknowledge my debt to my past is part of the vision of Southern Baptists enlarged in 1925. My debt to the present and future is intertwined in my experiences as a believer and a preacher.

I was saved in a church that was assisted in getting started by Cooperative Program funds.

I attended a college that paid a major part of my tuition from Cooperative Program funds.

I attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Baptist Seminary at a great reduction through Cooperative Program funding—even then it was an 11 1/2-year journey!

The list could continue, but suffice it to say, I believe the Cooperative Program was God-given and missions-driven!

The Public Relations/Promotion Office has prepared an exceptional piece on the Cooperative Program “Doing Together What We Cannot Do Alone” for every Florida Baptist church to use as a resource for their members that can be found at www.flbaptist.org/cooperativeprogram. You may have seen some of the promotion in the April 3 issue of the Florida Baptist Witness. To order additional copies, email cp@flbaptist.org or call 800-226-8584, ext. 3024. 

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